Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mt. Apo (Part 3)

The Final Trail Going Down

By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

Reaching the summit of the Philippine’s Highest, Mt. Apo, provided each and every one of us the sense of having great accomplishment. After years of climbing mountains with varied difficulties, we were able to see ourselves standing at the topmost peak of the grandest mountain in the archipelago. It felt like we have finally received the trophy as Pinoy mountaineers! And that was the ultimate reason we were able to surpass post-summit assault challenges.

Mt. Apo as seen from the west.
Feeling accomplished and content, we treated those challenges as part of the adventure. We laughed despite the sharp icy temperature. We continued despite the unknown weather that was waiting for us. And we survived the sleepless, extremely cold, and raining night in a camp by the Lake Venado. God is good! The following day brought the prize- a promising weather for us to fully enjoy the adventure along the final trail going down.

Complete by the lake: April, Liz, Ivan, Wilson, Tin, Heinz, Ms. Weng, Clue, Shyne and Louie

Leaving Lake Venado

Thanks to Kuya Omel and his boys for preparing hot coffee very early on that freezing Sunday morning. Because of it, we were able to go out of our tents and prepare for the final leg of our descent. We broke camp after that romantic scene with Louie’s marriage proposal to Shyne.

BP Lead Ivan with Kuya Omel (far right) and his boys
BPs with other Mt. Apo Challengers

As the sun continued to unhide itself from the clouds, Lake Venado became more and more mesmerizing. Its calm water reflected the trees that stood by its west side. And, it’s so amazing to think that it keeps the east side free from trees, so people can camp by it.

West bank of Lake Venado
The campsite by east of Lake Venado

Practicing The BACKPACKERS way, we prayed before leaving Lake Venado. And as I started to trudge away from that paradise, I glanced back to that side of Mt. Apo that’s facing Lake Venado and silently prayed May God bless the people who are part of the team that rehabilitates you…

The Trails

We set our expectations that the trail could be muddy and slippery as it rained overnight. The initial part of the trail was watery, definitely because it passed that area, which becomes part of the actual lake (we thought) when it rained heavier than usual in that part of the mountain. Once passed that, the next part of the trail snakes through mossy forest again, but this time, it’s noticeably going down.

If it was Everyday flowers that inspired us to complete the trail coursed on the east side of Mt. Apo, the trail passed Lake Venado was almost evenly guarded by giant wild ferns. Amazing literally giant trees showed up along the trail too!    
The difficulty of the Kidapawan Trail changes from one particular point in the descent to another.

Staircase to heaven?

There were parts where one wrong move and we could have been falling down the ravine to death. There were times when we needed support from ropes to be able to go down a slippery 90 degrees steep. And, there were couple of instances when we found ourselves in bamboo stairs because they were not trails anymore (at least in our assessment) but cliffs to survive. In those undertakings, we just reminded ourselves with The BACKPACKERS way- work your way slowly but safely.

BP Liz making it down that cliff.
Kudos to Jhun, one of our porters, who literally ported injured BP Tin for 11 hours safely (despite those bravery-disturbing trails) all the way to Kidapawan!  

Camp Coong

We started the descent from Lake Venado at around 8:00 AM. By passed 12:00 NN, we were already enjoying our lunch break in a garden-like camp named Coong.

Ms. Weng loving the charming Camp Coong

Camp Coong has several benches made of bamboo and wood planks. They were actually enough to have us all seated while Kuya Omel and his team prepared our lunch, which we shared with that Fil-German mountaineer and his climb buddy, who we met back in the summit.

A Fil-German mountaineer joined us for lunch.

BP April relaxing moment
Spending a lighter moment with co-Mt. Apo challengers
BP Lead Ivan tried to grab a sleep.
A luncheon session.


Perhaps my favorite, though I admit I felt butterflies in my stomach, was the river-crossing. The group had to cross the same river thirteen times, and when we did, we needed support from our guides because of the strong current.

The action in the river.

Personally, I thought that the death-defying series were all over when we reached a “sayote” (chayote / pear squash) farm. But I was wrong because of the next river crossing that we need to face.

Literally river-crossing.
A foot bridge.
Footbridge is more fun in the Philippines.

The river-crossing by that vegetable plantation was the most dangerous one; not because the water current was intense (and we did not actually touch the water, anyway), but because we needed to cross over that long and high old bamboo bridge that has been partly ripped off by previous flooding.


Finally Kidapawan

Reaching “Lost and Found”, a hot spring private resort, at the end of that very long trail going down Mt. Apo means you have finally hit the rural Kidapawan.

BP Clue and I were amazed when we saw those waterholes on the ground because the water that’s coming out was literally boiling. If only I had an egg that moment, I could have placed it in there for some experiment.

Pine trees and relaxing breeze. They welcomed us to Kidapawan City.

"Reaching Mt. Apo's summit and being able to traverse through, 
along its varied types of trails safely, was a great blessing for us as a Group." 
~ BP Heinz

Photos by Liz Honrade and Clue Fajardo

Revisit these stories anytime...

MT. APO (Part 1)
By Ivan Laurence Ignacio

Mt. APO (Part 2)
By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

Mt. APO (Part 3)
By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.
Post a Comment