Year Starter Climb
in Mt. Daguldol
by Ivan Ignacio
Eleven BACKPACKERS and five guests kicked off the start of 2013 with the group's adventure at Mt. Daguldol in the coastal town of San Juan, Batangas. Mt. Daguldol is known as one of the mountains near Manila that offers a wide selection of scenic viewpoints from its grassland peaks. This mountain is even included in one tourism site's Top Ten Must Climb Mountains in the Philippines joining the ranks of Mt. Pulag, Pico de Loro and Apo. When the group climbed this mountain last weekend, we definitely agreed that it is truly deserving of these praises as our expectations were satisfied by the wonderful vistas on its peaks.
|The scenic Mt. Daguldol|
Heinz Alvarez Jr
Louie de Villa
WELCOME TO SAN JUAN, BATANGAS
|Late lunch at Queen Grace Restaurant|
Brgy. Hugom is where the registration area is located. The standard registration fee is 35Php and the guide fee is 350Php. The barangay caretakers are now issuing official receipts for the said fees. Even if we had second timers in the climb party, we still needed to hire a guide because it became mandatory. We gladly hired one, Ate Geraldine, who if I may say, is one of the nicest guides I have met. Some may feel robbed of being compelled to pay for the guide fee but let us just look at it in a perspective that it is our own way of helping the community in the mountains. Aside from planting crops and buying and selling goods and refreshments, this organized guide system has greatly helped these families residing in the village along the trail of Mt. Daguldol.
|Hiking in front of the tempting resorts!|
|BP King capturing the beach trek moments|
The first phase in a typical Mt. Daguldol climb is a hike along the "aplaya" (the beach) of Hugom. In this early phase, we had to battle with the sand and the stony shores. It was even more difficult to move your feet when it gets eaten by sand. And hopping from one rock to another may not be fun when you have your full packs on. But the ability to breathe the welcoming scent of sea water and its views were very much enjoyable and inspiring. We passed by several resorts in the area which was a real temptation especially to the beach lovers. BPs King, Marion and Ghei joked around altercations in our itinerary of spending the night at the beach instead of the campsite of Mt. Daguldol. We passed by several excursionists enjoying the beach and the resort facilities. As we walked with our backpacks, the curious eyes of these beach goers can not help but stare in fascination at our chosen adventure: mountain climbing rather than hitting the beautiful beach of San Juan. After forty minutes of 'beach hiking' we finally reached the base of the mountain trail at Sitio Biga in Brgy. Hugom. There we had our first 'Take Five' as we prepared for the real deal.
|A known beach lover, BP Marion did not give in to the temptation!|
|Kenji's first climb!|
FAREWELL, TATAY LIZARDO
|Rested after the first sight of houses in the village|
|BPs Mon, April, Clue and Resty munching green mangoes|
|BP Heinz and the locals of the village|
|Farewell, Tatay Lizardo|
A NIGHT TREK ON A MUDDY PATH
After forty minutes of resting and bonding at the benches in front of Nanay Adeline's humble hut, the group carried on. I reminded them to prepare their headlights as it will be dark soon. Yes, the second half of our pursuit for Mt. Daguldol was an anticipated night trek. This was where I appreciated our guide Ate Geraldine. She really took her time and acted as a guide because she would wait patiently for the end pack whenever we would pass by some forks. These multiple locals' trails were part of the introductory part of the assault. Then after passing by these maze-like trails (which funny enough, are just heading in the same direction), it was a dejavu of long and ascending zigzag trail until we reached a resting station in the form of an empty hut. It was already dark by the time that we got there. And although tired from trekking for almost four hours, our spirits were still incredibly high!
|Our farmyard friend - the ovulating goat|
A BEAUTIFUL MT. DAGULDOL
|In one of Mt. Daguldol's grassland peaks|
After some fifteen minutes of seemingly endless jumpshots, group shots and profile picture shots, we headed for the summit. We passed by the target campsite which also had nice view but since it was jampacked with hikers, we just headed for the grassland that offered the grandest and most scenic view in Mt. Daguldol. Treading by a muddy narrow trail, we were greeted by some hikers who were on their way down already. After a good ten minute walk, a vast crater like grassland appeared before our eyes! What caught our attention was the numerous huge crows flying and hopping from one tree to another. Our presence made them wary, hovering in the air to make sure we were aware that it was their territory.
|Mon and Kenji doing a 'Dawn Zulueta' in the crater like grassland|
We were supposed to be descending down the mountain by 10AM but because of the awesomeness of the summit of Mt. Daguldol, we were actually just going back to camp by that time. We immediately broke camp, cleaned the campsite and proceeded with the descent.
A BEACH-IFUL SIDETRIP
The descent was very laxed and easy. We just had to retrace the zigzag and gradual trails until we reached the village. We were divided into several small groups as we took this easy descent. BPs Heinz, Resty and Nick, together with our guest Kenji even enjoyed a trail run in this course. The lead pack, led by our guests Louie B., Mau and Shyne, who were all second timers in the mountain, together with couple BP Ghei and Louie V. easily reached the village. BPs Clue, Marion and myself would stop everytime Clue would take pictures by the trail.
We stopped by Nanay Adeline's house to cook and eat lunch. After forty five minutes, we bade goodbye to Nanay Adeline and her grandson and continued the descent for the much awaited sidetrip - hitting the beach!
|Ready to hit the beach!|
|The Genew Forces|
|BPs April, Marion and Liz|
|Into the open sea|
|After the beach bumming|
Mt. Daguldol was really appreciated and may have just landed in some of the BACKPACKERS' favorite mountains list. All of us were really satisfied with that weekend adventure. As our guest Sir Kenji mentioned, it was The-Best-Weekend-Ever!
The-Best-Year Starter Climb-Ever!
PHOTO CREDITS: BPs King, Clue and Liz