Monday, January 30, 2012

Mt. Cristobal Traverse

Dolores, Quezon; San Pablo and Nagcarlan, Laguna
Major jump-off: Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon

Mt. Cristobal Traverse:
The BACKPACKERS Pilot Adventure for 2012 
2nd Induction Climb
By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

January 25 and 26, 2011 - The BACKPACKERS had its pilot adventure for 2012 via a major climb - traversing the famous Mt. Cristobal, also known as "The Devil's Mountain". Seven official members (Ivan, Angel, Ralph, Liz, Heinz, Weng and Jovy), two inductees (Chons and Percy) and a guest (Wilson) bravely accepted the challenge of camping at the mountain's crater overnight, descending on the other side of the mountain, and the possible encounter with spirits(?). Let's find out...

On February last year, Ivan, Angel, Heinz and Mon climbed this mountain. The first three still believe that they had an encounter with the "TUMAO", the guardian of the mountain, after hearing heavy footsteps beside their tent when they were about to sleep. It was a hair-raising experience for them because they did not see a shadow or any sign that would have proved that those footsteps belonged to someone, say one of the campers.

To check the other Mt. Cristobal entry, CLICK HERE


The Group left Manila at 7:00 AM by JAC Liner bus and reached San Pablo, Laguna at 8:50 AM. The skies were all clear on that morning, which added more excitement to everyone, especially to those who would be climbing Mt. Cristobal for the first time. A hired jeepney continued the Group's transport and brought them up to the major jump-off point located at Brgy. Sta. Lucia in Dolores, Quezon.

The actual trek started at almost noon. The continuous slope of the wide way ("intermittently" cemented), which marked the first phase of the trail, plus the scorching heat from the sun served as a strength-consuming warm-up for the climbers.

Seeing Montelibanos' House gave relief to the already tired backpackers. Everybody put down their backpacks to rest. After a good 30 minutes, packed lunch was served after heating the food using Wilson's cooking set.

It was a long and a good break. Every one had a full tank. Bodies rehydrated. Strength was revived. After a set of photo ops, the Group continued the trek through the second phase, which was a relatively easy trail. Trees served as canopy protecting climbers against direct heat from the sun. And, the refreshing January wind was definitely a great helped to their breathing.

The final phase of the trail undeniably required more use of energy. Though branches and roots were there for support, the trail was a continuous ascend through the rain forest and up to the crater's threshold marked by huge rocks by a cliff. The group took its time until everyone had safely crossed that difficult portion. Exotic flora, wild ferns and orchids, giant trees with mossy branches, and the cold breeze- those were the treats the Group received when they reached the higher elevation.

It was already past five in the afternoon when The BACKPACKERS reached the campsite, the crater itself.  It was, as usual, foggy and because of the water it formed a small reservoir.

It is believed that there is a quicksand somewhere in the crater yet no accident, which involves it, has been recorded as of this writing.

Jovy and Wilson made a perfect epitome of a newly-wed couple when they cooked dinner together while the rest extended hands in pitching tents. The Group enjoyed the food and socials started right after that dinner.

Lost and wandering spirits joined the socials? Spooky...

Ivan took some pictures during the socials and he showed a creepy shot. It was a picture taken inside "Marcelino", The-Big-Tent. In the picture were some of The BP members and the tent itself was their backdrop. Images of children, a boy was the most noticeable, who appeared to be watching over the Group while they were drinking had formed against the backdrop. Believe it or not... It was agreed that the picture be kept unpublished.

It was very chilly throughout the night, the reason most of them were not able to have a good sleep. Angel even had a slight fever because of exhaustion plus the algid temperature at the campsite. Good thing Jovy was all ready with her medicine kit.


On the rainy day two, everybody got up almost at the same when Wilson exclaimed "Gising na kayo, luto na yung pasta!" Hungry and trembling, they munched some sandwiches and pasta, and sipped hot coffee (while Ralph preferred to gulp some cola) for breakfast. 

The Group broke the camp after the rain had stopped at around nine o'clock. Led by Wilson, the girls went ahead up to the Bulwagan Saddle while the rest of the boys waited for Kuya Rowell, porter for Marcelino The-Big-Tent.

Bulwagan Saddle witnessed The BACKPACKERS 2nd Induction Program. 

The Group continued the course right after the Induction Program. The exacting and difficult and muddy trail going down Mt Cristobal started from Jones Peak.

The descent itself was generally challenging. Most part of the trail was muddy thus slippery. Earlier phases of the trail were very steep. There were parts where there were no stable footholds and the only way so you could advance was to face down and hold on to cogon grasses as your feet struggle to step down for a progress. There were lofty phases barricaded with logs and boulders due to landslides. Strength, balance, and determination were tested. Who did not want to go down, anyway?

Reaching the foot of Mt. Cristobal gave everyone a sense of fulfillment. The BACKPACKERS camped at the crater, reached the peak, and completed the traverse

It was already past seven in the evening when the Group finally reached the cemented road in Sitio Awas that is connected to the main road of San Pablo, Laguna. As it was already dark, they preferred to wait on the side of the road until the hired jeepney arrived and fetched them. It brought them to where they would celebrate this successful traverse - Bato Springs Resort.

Please meet the newly inducted BP Members.

Introducing the New Members of The BACKPACKERS: PERCY

by Clue Fajardo on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 12:25pm

PERCiVAL RIVERA, also known as PERCY

- 25 years old as of this writing
- Born on June 22, 1986
- From Marilao, Bulacan and currently resides in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila Philippines

- As a typical city boy, Percy got tired of the usual city life. He wanted to try something new, go to places he's never been. In a paper interview, Percy quoted "When I received the invitation to join the climb [in] October, going to Mt. Pico de Loro, I accepted it right away."

- He was invited by members Ivan and Clue to join the friendship climb in November last year when the group conquered Pico de Loro. That was his first climb and his first ever interaction with the mountain. From there, he developed deep interest in mountaineering.

- When the group had its Christmas climb in Mt Manabu, Percy was also present.

To our readers, join me in welcoming PERCY to the mountaineering community!

Introducing the New Members of The BACKPACKERS: CHONS

by Clue Fajardo on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 12:11pm

CHONA G. ZOSA, also known as CHONS

- 33 yrs old as of this writing
- Born on Oct 19, 1978
- From Navotas City, Metro Manila Philippines

- Chons has been a nature lover. Mountains have caught her special attention and that's where she derived the passion to conquer them. In a paper interview, Chons quoted "I love nature,  I love God's creation. I want to be in group of people who has the same interest as me. No matter who they are, where they came from as long as we have the same interest and passion, I strongly believe we will be come ONE."

- Just like what an ancient principle says about common interest which binds people, The BACKPACKERS got the opportunity to meet this young lady thru social networkin by no less than this FACEBOOK. Chons had contact with Mon, the BP member who invited her to join the climb in Pico de Loro last November. Upon invite, Chons was not hesitant to accept the invitation and that started her interaction with the BP. Quoting Chons "I don't know Mon that time. We just chat and tell our common interest (climbing/trekking), then he told me that he can invite me on their next climb. I was so excited coz that time I was searching for a group. I already emailed 3 groups of mountaineers and unfortunately nobody responded. Maybe because Im for BP. THANK YOU VERY MUCH BP!" 

- We got same interest, same affection with the nature, same dream of conquering mountains - Our readers, please join me in welcoming CHONS!!


Celebrating Successful Traverse at 
Bato Springs Resort

Introduction of the New Members by Clue Fajardo
Photos by Liz Honrade and from random cameras of other BP members
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