It was really a good decision that I moved the Cristobal Traverse climb to July 02-03, the prior weekend was very wet because of the Tropical Depression that affected parts of Luzon and most of Southern Mindanao. Below is my blog entry of our traverse trek to Mt. Cristobal.
After alighting the bus from Manila, we hired a jeep going to the jump-off in Dolores, Quezon. From the jump-off it’s around a 1 hour walk up to the first rest stop and landmark which is the Montelibano House. My assumption is that this house was created as a rest house but is rarely use by the owner. We met the caretaker who advised us that we are free to take fruits around the yard and refill our containers with water.
From Montelibano was the start of the “real” trek. Continuous assault under the cover of thick and mossy forest. The inclination is around 45-60 degrees. Good thing that there are lots of protruding roots on the trail, this made our foot hold much easier. You’ll be able to see very large trees that I believe are centuries old. The early part of the assault was so humid that I think I consumed my water ration more than I budgeted. I was literally sweating like a pig! And since there is no water source in this mountain, each of us brought 5 liters of water making the assault more difficult. When you reach around ~1000 masl it becomes a bit colder and trek is now much easier.
|The trail (pic from one of the hiker in the group)|
The trail is mostly the same until you reach the crater campsite. I was really surprised that there is some sort of mini lake right across the campsite. The water was not pristine but was clean. Though we were the first to arrived at this camp, we camped on another campsite a few minutes from the crater. This was for the reason the crater camp has a tendency to be flooded if there were persistent rain. The other campsite (bulwagan saddle) can fit around 8-10 tents, and mossy trees surround it making cooking a breeze. My estimate is that temperature is around 15-16C degrees in early morning.
|Salad looking plants|
We commenced our traverse at exactly 8am the next day. The early part of the trail was established but very beaten. Its very hard to go down unless you hold the cugon grass on your sides. After a few hours walk (or slide) the trail will become covered by trees again then it will become another open area. I believe this is the part where we made the wrong turn. Our intention was to exit in Tala, San Pablo, we should now be able to see the cross of Tayak Hill after a few more minutes of walk. But after passing banana plantations we ended up in an open farm where there are pechay and kamote (sweet potato) crops, the hill and cross was not in sight. We assess the situation and took our lunch.
Some of my companions said that they were able hear dogs barking. Me and our sweeper did an ocular inspection of the place. After around 15 minutes of descent we were able to find the source of barking. It was the hut of the crops owner (~650 masl) were there lives 3 old folks. They said that the trail that we found was actually the original traverse trail exit, but ever since the Tala exit became popular rarely did climbers pass by their hut (exit point) anymore. They showed us their logbook which has a record date 2008 as the last entry.
From their hut it was around 30 minutes of easy rolling trail. When we got to Sta. Elena (~400 masl), we talked to the contact person given by the old folks regarding the hiring of tricycles. But before going back to San Pablo, we took a very rewarding and relaxing clean up in their “Batis”. A big water pipe which water flows to a small pond.
Upon reaching San Pablo, we took a hearty meal of Gotong Batangas and Bulalo, after which we took our respective bus bound to Manila.
This is one of my most enjoyable climb of PALMC. This is not because I’m the EL (Expedition Lead), but because I really love old school mountaineering. Itinerary was followed diligently and drinking was just to warm the cold body and without over indulgence. Everyone was so independent and showed due respect to nature. All of the participants showed patience when lost our way. I’m really hoping to participate in more climbs like this in the future.
Trivia – Banahaw and Cristobal long had the perception of being mystical, positive and negative respectively. Let me share to you my experience I had during our climb.
We slept early as we were all tired from the trek and we had minimal sleep the previous day. At around 11:30pm I woke up because I need to pee, I was trying to hold it but since it was so cold and there are 5-6 hours before dawn I had no choice but to do it. So hastily, I pick up my head lamp got out of the tent even though the hair on the back of my head was already standing up. I bowed my head so that I wont be able to see anything but the creep keeps on sinking in…… I turned off my headlamp…. What I saw was there are sort of round rings that are glowing on the ground, green round rings that looks like a glow in the dark item. And there are lots of them even from afar. I keep rubbing my eyes thinking I’m just seeing things. But were really there...... I felt that that was the longest pee I ever had. The next morning, I woke up at around 4:30, I checked but the neon lights were not there anymore… it was still very dark.
I told this to the group in the morning and a companion said there was scientific explanation for what I saw…. Bioluminescence. What I know about bioluminescence is a plant emitting light, but not circular lights. What ever it is, still a very scary experience.
note: most photos were from Linson and some from Aris our guests.