Friday, December 20, 2013

Mt. Sembrano 2013 (Revisited)

Mt. Sembrano 2013 (Revisited)

By: Nickson Garcia 

My First time with TheBackpackers (BP)

August of last year, I joined a group of mountaineers on their climb at Mt. Sembrano. It was again my first time to climb since time immemorial and unlike my previous climbs, I was unprepared. I had no mountaineering gears, it was a rainy (“bagyo”) season, and we’ll be sleeping overnight. My only purpose in joining that climb was for me to relax and forget (even just for a short time) all the bad events that happened recently on my life. Sadly, upon reaching the summit, zero visibility welcomed us and I just said that one day I will return and see the beauty of this summit. Little did I know, that experience was the start of my mountaineering life and surprisingly, it also marked the day where I met this set of people whom I will have a deep connection with.

Meet the “Biglaan” Gang and the journey

While some BP’s were in Albuera, Leyte to finish the #BangonAlbuera (click here for the Bangon Albuera Outreach) Project, I together with friends (and regular BP guests) Rexie Vergara and Isabel Fonte decided to take a dayhike to Mt.Sembrano. And to complete the gang, I also invited my long lost friend Pam Vinuya to join us. We met at Robinson’s Cainta at around 7:30am. At around past 8:00am, after passing by MCDO to buy breakfast, our journey started.

On our way to Pililia, the weather suddenly changed gloomy and we were jokingly telling Isabel that it was her fault (it was an inside joke around BP) but upon reaching our destination, the weather became sunny.

Situated at Brgy. Malaya, Pililia, Rizal. It took us around an hour and half (by car) to reach our destination. The jump-off point would be the Brgy. Hall where we registered and paid Twenty Pesos (P20.oo) for every person as registration fee.

And then it starts… (The first half of Mt. Sembrano)

Cemented road
On the first few steps of the climb, we passed by an inclined cemented road and houses on each side before we reached its rocky trails. Walking during the first half was very easy and the trail was somehow narrow. I used to say during the walk that “I remember this, I remember that…” The first pit stop would be the coconut store, apparently, it was closed that time so we just rested. Looking back on my first climb here, I was really tired from
Coconut store
jump-off to the coconut store but this time I’m still ready to push forward.

There are lots of fork trails along the way and on the very first fork, we went the wrong way luckily a local saw us and shouted that we were in the wrong trail. On the second trail, we were correct but on the third fork, again, we walked on the wrong trail. As far as I can remember (and I maybe wrong), it was right…right…then left on the three forks. After a few hours, we arrived at the Manggahan camp site.
Nick, Isabel and Pam
Thank you Rexie for taking the pictures
Upon arrival at the camp site, we paid Five Pesos (P5.oo) as entrance fee and were greeted by fellow mountaineers who had a rainy overnight stay at the camp. Finally, we had a taste of fresh buko being sold at Mt. Sembrano. Supposedly, we will have our lunch at the campsite but we’ve been eating along the trail, therefore, our stomachs were full upon our arrival. Instead of having our lunch, we rested, while again, eating some junkfoods.

The climb continues… (The second half of Mt. Sembrano)

The second half of the trail was a complete assault to the top and can be divided into two parts; the first part was an assault but with shades of trees and the second part was an exposed grassland summit.

There have been several instances when I myself was put to the limit. On the first part, we were faced with rocky stones with distances that required our legs to be stretched and teamwork as we pull each other up. The second part was the time where I was completely drained, the reason…HEAT OF THE SUN!

As soon as we reached the summit, I immediately laid down the grass. I can feel everyone’s fatigue during the uphill on the grassland. Gladly, we were somehow prepared against the sun since we brought an umbrella but we did not anticipate that we will end up having no water due to exhaustion.

We have an umbrella!

Literal na Group Summit Shots
Solo Shots at the summit

The Rexie and US pictures
The famous Rexie selfie
Isabel, Pam and REXIE
Isabelm REXIE and Pam
REXIE and Isabel
REXIE and Nick

Pam and REXIE
Isabel, REXIE and Nick

I’m not really into bringing huge amount of water during climbs, even if it is overnight but this climb was the first climb where my water is totally drought and there was no water source. Imagine having four people eating lunch in a bare grassland summit with water less than 1liter. We expected that upon reaching the Manggahan campsite on our descent, there will be buko to re-energize ourselves but for some reason, the locals were nowhere to be found. Maybe, they were watching the Pacquiao-Rios fight. Good thing, Pam had a bubble gum to rely on throughout the descent

Manggahan Falls
Located just below the Manggahan Campsite. Rexie, Isabel and I had ourselves washed up while Pam had a little chitchat with fellow mountaineers before continuing with our trek.

Mini Magganhan falls
Overall, it was an exhausting climb especially atop of the summit. We again learned to never underestimate a mountain even if it is classified as minor. Will I be back again for the third time in this mountain? Without a doubt...YES! When that time comes, I'll be overly prepared.

And to the people I've been with in this climb, remember our theme song? #IkotIkotLang

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