Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Three Peaks Challenge

The Backpackers:
Contz Cirujales
Liz Honrade
Ivan Laurence Ignacio
Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.
Ralph Flores
York Advento
Frank Aguilar

Angel Cawaling
Marion Macapagal
Gwen Recalde
Weng Topasi
Clue Fajardo
Andie Yardan
Alex Santos

Mt. Gola > Mt. Bagong-Bali > Mt. Manalmon 
San Miguel, Bulacan

Survivors of The Three Peaks Challenge:  
The BACKPACKERS and Friends
By: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

From left (back row): YORK, CONTZ, Gwen, Clue, Weng, Andie, FRANK, and Marion; (front row) RALPH, LIZ, Angel, IVAN,  HEINZ, Alex
[In CAPS: The Backpackers]

The first time The Backpackers had a taste of true adventure as a team in Madlum (see our blog "Mt. Manalmon and the Big Five Madlum Adventure" posted Sunday, April 3, 2011) was on March 31 to April 1, 2011. We had a perfect blast back then so all of us agreed to bringing more Backpackers and friends to Madlum to experience what we had - mountain climbing, caving, swimming, Tyrolean traverse, and zip line.

Once again, the Punong-abala Ivan Ignacio did all the planning (from the itinerary, t-shirts, budgetting & sending out of invitations). From the original 3-day trip, Alfonso or AL, our trek guide from our first Mt. Manalmon trek, helped us cut it into just a 2-day trip. And since we are not complete as a group (Len & DP cant afford to apply for VLs and Jovy went to Baguio with...), some of us invited some of our closest friends & loved ones. Frank w/ his koi koi Andi; Ivan w/ her babe Angel; Ivan also brought with him Sir Alex (former trek buddy) & Clue (an officemate, who invited Weng); York also invited another officemate, Gwen; & I invited Marion, also an officemate & wavemate. And the most awaited day had arrived--May 19th, a day after my birthday, The Backpackers: Three Peaks Adventure was officially a go. ~ Ralph Flores

Our next blog entries will cover the three mountains we climbed  (Mt. Gola, Mt. Bagong-Bali, and Mt. Manalmon) respectively. But to give a summary of our adventure, here's what happened...

> ETD from ES Transport was 09:00 AM.

> We reached the Brgy. Kamias in San Miguel, Bulacan (by taking a bus to Cabanatuan) at almost noontime. It was nice to see this nice guide again, Kuya Al (who was also our guide when we had our first Madlum adventure). And, good thing that a jeepney, which will take us to the jump-off at Sitio Madlum of Brgy. Sibul, was already waiting for the group. It parked in front of an eatery where everybody bought his lunch meal.

> Reaching Madlum definitely heightened our excitement. We reached the Sitio at around 01:00 PM.

> Tyrolean Traverse. Everybody crossed the Madlum River through this course. And everybody enjoyed it especially our first timers.

> The Backpackers and Friends: REGISTERED!

> Lunch at the Madlum Multipurpose Center was even made more enjoyable with unstoppable jokes and teases.

> Climb to Peak 1: Mt. Gola. It was quite a long trek. Enjoyed the view from the summit. Everybody enjoyed the photo-ops.

> Descend from Mt. Gola. It was manageable though the heat of the sun added some challenge.

> Climb to Peak 2: Mt. Bagong-Bali. A longer and more challenging trek it was. A lot of crossing-the-river challenges, muddy, rocky, sloping, and sometimes dangerous trails. And all of those (?) in almost total darkness of the night! But still had fun and abundant LOL's (many got tripped, slid, and got soaked) hahaha!

> Setup the camp. Cooked and Ate Dinner. Had a simple and very light socials. Mostly attended by the boys (which was very understandable because of the exhausting assault to, so far, two peaks). Don't get us wrong girls, you really worked tremendously hard to be at those peaks with us.

> Woke up at 6:00 AM (well, mostly did) of the second day. Whoa! The view was very compensating! It was nice to see Mt. Arayat from afar and recall unforgettable memories when The Backpackers climbed it. And Mt. Mabio (unsure of the spelling) from a not-so-far distance looked inviting, huh!

> Descend from Mt. Bagong-Bali. It was bearable as expected. Lighter packs now and the daylight. Crossed the river again several times again and coursed the stony to rocky trail.

> Gigantic Rock Challenge. The most dangerous and extremely challenging part, perhaps especially to newbies, was reaching the other side of that giant rock and the only way to reach it was to literally hug and hold on to its rough surface while our feet made use of the almost impossible footholds carved by time on the side of that enormously huge rock!

> Lunch and chilling out by the Madlum River. Some had a swim. Ate lunch after some rain shower.

> Heinz and Gwen was not evicted from the challenge. They just needed to go back to Manila due to work and personal emergencies. The Backpacker Lead and Climb Master, Ivan guided the two back to Sitio Madlum. (Thank you for keeping your word, Parekoy. You're the best!)

> Climb to Peak 3: Mt. Manalmon. Soon as Ivan was back to the group, it started its final climb- to the beatiful peak of Mt. "Manlalamon" (knowing the folklore story behind the same Mt. Manalmon will give you goosebumps... ask your local guide). It was an easy climb for seasoned climbers. Bearable for newbies. The view on top was great. Trees, rock walls, river, and neighboring mountains form a lovely scenery!

> Descend from Mt. Manalmon. Everybody had the feeling of fulfillment. Three peaks conquered!

> Night Spelunking. Crawled. Ducked. Side-walked. Jumped. Flashlights flashed. Camera clicked and flashed. Cold temperature inside and in the underground. Fear of darkness conquered! Definitely an unforgettable extreme cave adventure it was!

SURVIVORS of the Three Peaks: The BACKPACKERS and Friends
> Home sweet home.

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