It was the second month in a row that The BACKPACKERS visited Batangas, a nearby province blessed with several impressive mountains. Nestled in the town of Nasugbu is Mt. Talamitam - a mountain no stranger to many of us as we have seen it when we visited its sister mountain Mt. Batulao a year ago. We have conquered several mountains to date but each new mountain that we encounter does not fail to impress us in its own unique way. Backpacker Anna said it best when she posted this on her facebook wall after a successful Mt. Talamitam climb:
|BP Anna at Mt. Talamitam summit|
The mountains indeed have their own unique beauty. And that makes them incomparable to each other. ~BP Anna
Aside from the breathtaking landscapes, you will get your unique experience from the people that you climb with, the unexpected challenging encounters and the beauty offered to you by the destination during the time that you step on it. These are some of the reasons why it is very difficult to replicate a climb so one should always make the most out of it.
ON NIGHT TREKS, COW ATTACKS & SEA OF CLOUDS
The BACKPACKERS IN MT. TALAMITAM
July 14-15, 2012
by: Ivan Ignacio
THE WAY TO NASUGBU
|The commuters Weng, Ralph, Chons, King, Alyssa, Anna, Mon, Freddie|
Photo captured by Alexi
The group was divided into two: the commuters lead by BP Vice Ralph and the group serviced by Tami ~ a box type L300 owned by the friend of BP Lead and our guest, Wilson. The commuters huddled at McDo Pasay at around 11AM and rode a Nasugbu bound bus at 1PM. This team consisted of BPs Ralph, Anna, Chons, Weng, King, Mon and three guest climbers: Alexi, Alyssa and Freddie. They arrived at Brgy Aga jump off point at exactly 4:15PM.
The group serviced by Tami was lead by BP Lead Ivan. Aside from him and guest Wilson, all were BP Girls who assembled at The BACKPACKERS' headquarters at 10:30AM. They were Conts, Liz, Jovy, Angel, Marion, Bogs, April and Des. Because the group had private transportation, they reached Cavite earlier than the first group. They had a lot of time to spare so they spent a portion of their time searching for Balite Falls: the venue of their sidetrip after the climb. While the group was passing along the road in Amadeo, Cavite, rain began to drop from the dark clouds in the sky. After surveying the park, and a last minute shopping of supplies at SaveMore Tagaytay City branch, they headed to the jump off point. The two groups met at the jump off point at 4:20PM. They got a reprieve when the rain stopped. Although it was a moment of relief, we knew that it left us with an expected challenge in hiking during the rainy season: muddy trails.
|Its BP Bogs' birthday climb|
|Briefing at Mt. Talamitam jumpoff point|
|The BACKPACKERS and friends with Kapitan Ted|
Kapitan Ted, the head of CCEM, gave an orientation to the group and explained why the association decided to mandate arranging for guides when climbing the mountain. There has been a known feud regarding who should take control over the hiking activities that take place in the mountain but we, The BACKPACKERS choose to be neutral about it. After the briefing of Kapitan Ted, we started our journey to Mt. Talamitam campsite.
|The trailhead of Mt. Talamitam|
|BP Jovy and our guide|
FIRST OFFICIAL NIGHT TREK
|Bogs and Conts with a young local girl on second bridge crossing|
BP Vice Ralph waiting for them on the other side
The typical trailhead of Mt. Talamitam involves crossing two bridges. After crossing the bamboo bridge, the trail becomes a straightforward assault through the woodland until the grassland is reached.
The group started the hike at around 5PM. There was still light from the sky but everyone knew that it would not be the case after a couple of hours. We prepared for our first night trek. There were climbs when we night trekked unintentionally, but this was the first official announced night trek of the group. The challenge was on after crossing the bamboo bridge as we had to maneuver an assault made more slippery because of that afternoon's downpour. But everyone secured an early feat as we sighted upon a very scenic green grassland. The view of the clearing made us all excited to lay our things down and rest. We enjoyed the magnificent view of Mt. Batulao in front of us. BP Jovy handed out bananas and boiled eggs, a quick fill for our hungry stomachs. But no matter how exhausted our bodies were after the slippery uphill start, our spirits never diminished. We bonded while relaxing, and the girls jumped in the bandwagon to record their version of the viral 'Call Me Maybe': mountain setting.
|Relaxing at the grassy hill - our spirits don't get tired!|
|BPs Angel, Mon and Weng|
|The hostile cow|
We only encountered one spoiler at this resting area. Above the hill was a raging cow! It was full of anger that it tried to ran towards us as if we were all enemies. I have never seen a cow so hostile like that in my many years of hiking and mountaineering. Kapitan Ted gave us a tip that if presented with a situation wherein a cow is on its way to give you an unlikely headbutt, all you have to do is ward it off by putting your hand on its forehead, and push it away. Good thing that none of us had to try this process as it was tied up to a rope and no matter how many times it tried to ran towards us, the rope pulled it back to places where it can only stay. It tried to intimidate and scare us. But even if the mad cow never reached us, we had to move as the sky was getting dark already. It was a short assault up the hill when we finally reached the semi-plain part of Mt. Talamitam. This part was not steep. We had to make our way along some corn fields and other land full of vegetation. The temperature became kinder as cold breeze started to kiss our skin. At this portion, we saw the peak of Mt. Talamitam. We pretty much had an estimate on how much further we needed to hike. But regardless of that, we still could not stop ourselves to halt for some moment and enjoy the inviting panoramic pink sky. The sun was setting and the color of the sky was so beautiful! It only meant another round of photo ops! Before we put our flashlights and headlights, we took time to marvel at the awesome contours of the clouds, the sky and the setting sun.
|Our bibbo guest, Alexi|
|BP Des and the ardent sunset|
|We do not care if the land is slightly slanted, we need a.. Jump shot!|
COW + DINOSAUR = BAKASAURUS
|Mt. Talamitam's Bakasaurus|
I have read somewhere that part of the reason why they required guides in Mt. Talamitam was because of cow attacks. Rumor has been circulating that cows in the area are so easily agitated that they can just attack you without warning. This was contrary to what I experienced during my first climb in Mt. Talamitam. Five months ago, they were so gentle and peaceful that I did want to dismiss the idea of them being a climb hazard. How bad can a cow attack be? When we passed by the tied angry cow at the hill, the one which attempted to attack us, I was convinced that the trail was a set up. It was established in a Jurassic Park-like manner where tourists will get a first hand encounter of the dinosaurs that walk freely around the park. The first cow that we encountered was as angry as a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was a very successful and thrilling commercial set up, I thought. It was going to be one heck of an adventure to be spooked by several bovines that can not really hurt you as they were all tied up. Welcome to Jurassic Park ~ Mt. Talamitam style!
Lights were readied and the journey to reach the beginning of the assault to summit ensued. After walking for a couple of minutes, it turned completely dark. We were saved by the sources of light that we carried. The darkness and the muddy path made the trek more challenging. It was made more frightening with the help of the Bakasaurus that roam this generally flat portion of the trail. Because it was dark, you can not see them quickly. You could only hear their moos and roars. A lot of us were surprised everytime a cow will interrupt our soft small talks during the hike. Going through the trail was easy as we just needed to follow the way towards the summit, but the journey was done like a maze because we had to evade the Bakasaurus. We traipsed over grasses and mud just to avoid them. And alas, there was one part where I was proven wrong. Not all of them had ropes. Some agitated Bakasaurus were freely roaming the area. Seeing us passing by was like a threat to their rights on their domicile. One Bakasaur in particular angrily ran towards my direction while I halted the rest behind me to stop. We were divided into mini groups and our guide was at the back of the pack. We were mostly silent but their keen sense of hearing plus seeing the light on our lamps made them very aware they had company. And they were obviously not happy. I had to wait until an angry Bakasaur stopped its tantrums before I signaled the continuation of the hike. No matter how serious or flippant a cow attack can be, the experience was made surreal.
|Mt. Talamitam ~ our very first official Night Trek|
Because of the waylaying trails, we got unexpectedly divided into two groups. One group: Anna, Alyssa, Chons, Weng, Mon and Freddie stumbled upon the infamous 60-70 degree straightforward assault which we did not plan to take. But it was already dark so the six went on with the leg shattering assault. The second group took the Zigzag trail created by the UP Mountaineers. We huddled at the base before the assault where we learned of another species of Mt. Talamitam dinosaur: Kabayosaurus. Apparently, BPs Bogs, Conts and Ralph who were at the tail pack with our guide, were chased by a horse. It was an experience these three BACKPACKERS would never forget as they walked in a much faster pace while they held each other's hands. Bakasaurus and Kabayosaurus ~ it's more fun at Mt. Talamitam!
|Night trekkers Clue and Heinz|
Picture taken morning of Day 2
It was also during this time when two Backpackers started their Mt. Talamitam journey: Clue and Heinz. Both had prior arrangements and could not join the group earlier so the two decided to just follow the gang. They also night trekked their way up Mt. Talamitam.
The group taking on the harder, steeper assault indeed had a more strenuous experience. Some of the girls even said that their knees were already touching their shoulders while they maneuver up the steep course. The second group on the other hand, had some impediments too: the mud and the blades of the talahib which embraced them all throughout the zigzagging course. But regardless of these obstacles, both groups reached the desired campsite: the shoulder of the mountain which offered the group privacy and closeness.
|The wonder girls who also accompanied us on our journey to the campsite|
The first order of business after getting into the campsite was to cook dinner immediately as it was already late. While most of us started to arrange our tents, the kitchen cooks began their task in preparing dinner. Our guest Alexi, was confronted with an obstacle when she found out that the string of one of her tent poles was broken. They worked hand in hand on it until they finally got her tent up. Whew. When dinner was finally ready - we had pork giniling, hotdog and boiled egg - everybody jumped in. Delicioso!
|Huddling for dinner and socials|
After dinner, some of the members went to the summit where late party Clue and Heinz stayed. Weng and Mon fetched Clue who battled a grueling 60-70 degree ascent with a leg injury. Such a trooper! She thought she could no longer go down the campsite and decided to stay at the summit alone. Of course we would not want that so the others brought in some positive encouragement and managed to walk her down the campsite. When everything's set, we prepared for the socials. Suddenly, lights started to go our direction from the summit. We had guests from NWNC Group lead by Sir Bitoks who wanted to join us on our socials. With him were Sirs Wency, R.A, Roque and Resty. It was nice! Aside from our four guests who we wanted to know more, we chanced upon these friendly mountain comrades whom we can share stories about our common passion.
|Huddling up for socials!|
It was a hilarious and memorable socials as we got to mingle and laugh with the other persons who have the same respect towards mountain climbing. It was also a venue for us to know Alexi, Alyssa and Freddie who were our guests during the trip. Guest Wilson had to sleep early as he got tired that day driving from Manila to Cavite, and Cavite to Batangas. GSM Blue and The Bar were being passed around as we introduced ourselves, played games, talked about our mountain climbing experiences and cracked jokes with each other. NWNC bade goodbye to head for their campsite and we kicked off the hay at around 4AM.
A BREATHTAKING MORNING
The morning was very promising as we had the perfect morning weather in Mt. Talamitam. A sea of clouds greeted and completed our morning! We assaulted to summit by batch and while ascending we could not help but stop, stare and marvel at the breathtaking and awesome view on top of Mt. Talamitam.
I will end the write up here and I will let the pictures speak on how we spent a very inspiring and beautiful morning atop Mt. Talamitam.
|A sea of clouds on top of Mt. Talamitam|
|A climb for friends|
Guest climber Alyssa with BPs Ralph and Heinz
|A climb for lovers|
BP couple Angel and Ivan
|A climb for roommates|
Friends April, Des and Liz
|BP Weng's favorite --- PLANKING on top of a mountain!|
You are the PLANKING QUEEN!
|A BP daredevil at the edge of a cliff|
|our guest Alyssa|
|our guest Freddie|
|our guest Alexi|
"That was the 1st ever with a GROUP OF MOUNTAINEERS !!
THE BACKPACKERS ... I so love/like you na!!!
Daming pagod, sakit ng katawan , takot kay CORNED BEEF (wild baka) Sakit ng puson LOLZZ!! atleat pag katapos ng lahat ng yan, Walang iBang kagandahan ng kalikasan ang kapalit pagdating mo sa tuktok ng bundok!!" ~Alexi
"the sea of clouds and the summit climb was an awesome experience" ~ BP Anna
"The BACKPACKERS and Guests earned the priceless rewards of climbing Mt. Talamitam- seeing breathtaking views and watching the sun as it slowly rose up behind a sea of clouds." ~ BP Heinz
"Mt. Talamitam conquered! Parang Mt. Pulag dahil sa sea of clouds. Had fun as well jumping sa may cliff and swimming sa Balite Waterfalls. Thank you The BACKPACKERS for another action-packed adventure :) Dahil jan kailangan ko ng body massage at footspa now na! haha" ~ BP Marion
"SUBRA-SUBRA ang saya ng weekend climb...
Nahirapan man sa mejo maputik na daan at sa ilang bagsak na pagbaba,but still nakacatch-up pa din!!
Ramdam na Ramdam ko ang sakit ng likuran at mga binti ko, nanibago siguro sa ilang buwang pahinga-
But anyway salamat sa mga guests Alexi Lee, Wilson Albert Galapon,Freddie B. Fernandez, Alyssa Palileo sana naenjoy nyo ang climb!!
At salamat din sa NWNC Mountaineer, hangang sa muling session mga kabundok!!
See you guys sa marami pang summit!!
Salamat sa ngiti at tawa, sa kulit at kwento!!
Salamat The BACKPACKERS!!!" ~ BP Mon
"Done conquering another summit (Mt.Talamitam).
A rare easy climb for the whole group and guests.
Good thing I had another wonderful weekend with wonderful people! o_O"
~ BP Ralph
|Batch 2: Angel, Clue, Marion and Weng|
"It's Marion, Angel, Weng and I who compose the 2nd batch of The Backpackers, a mountaineering group! We became official members of the group after the induction held in July 2011 at Mt Tarak, Bataan, and that was after completing the required number of minor and major climbs. To celebrate the first year of our solid membership, Marion insistently asked me to join the Talamitam Climb."
~ BP Clue
~ BP Clue
"CONGRATS in completing your Anniversary Climb together, Batch 2!
Angelica Cawaling, Marion Erika, Wengzky Topasi and Clue Fajardo!!!
---you were the first ones who walked with us
and now you are all truly part of the family!"
~BP Lead Ivan
~BP Lead Ivan
|The pioneers giving each one a big hug!|
|Batch 3's Chons and Mon|
|Batch 4: Anna, Des and April|
|Thank you to our guests - Wilson, Alyssa, Alexi and Freddie!|
|MT. TALAMITAM CLIMB - A SUCCESS!|
2nd row: Mon, Alyssa, Heinz, Weng, Angel, Marion, Ralph, Liz, Alexi, Freddie and Wilson
Front row: April, Anna, Conts, Chons, Ivan, Des and Clue
Photo captured by King
Photo credits: Alexi, April, Des and King