Nature-ral High

Nature-ral High
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

November 2, 2018

Mt. Ngusong Kabayo + 4 Falls: A new good destination

For the past several years, the security condition (insurgency) in Rizal improved dramatically. For this reason, being a mountainous province, lot of mountains in the area had been explored and open to tourism. 
One of most recently "opened" mountains are the ones located in Brgy. Laiban, Tanay, Rizal. They are not that high as it just stand roungly around 600++ MASL. The brgy is also well organized. The guides are knowleageable and they have IDs while doing guideship. The brgy also give receipts for the registration fee. Before the actual start of trek, the guide do a short briefing that includes the coverage of the entire trek plus a little bit of history of the mountains. 
Barangay Laiban is approximately 7KMS from the main highway. The road is very rough plus you have to cross 9 rivers. Locals ride "habal-habal" (a chartered motorcycle) for their travels but for us we hired jeepney. Being in a remote area, the village is sort of secluded that they dont have electricty. 

Natures best creation

The team doing stretching before the hike

The trail is gradually ascending and is not yet overused. The best time to climb I believe is around 7-9AM as this is the time clouds start to form in the nearby mountains that is overlooking on the trail. Memorable spots are the "Ngusong Kabayo" Peak which literally translates to Horses Snout. The place are rock formations with a prominent figure that resembles an animal. Actually for me it looks more like a tiger or a t-rex. My theory is that the locals does not know a lot of animals, which they name the formation to the closes which is the Horse. And the other one is the "Tangwa" Peak, which translates for Edge. It is the highest point of our  hike and has a 360 view of the surrounding. 

View along the trail

The gang in one of the pre-mark stations

One of the several rest stops made by the locals

One of the several rest stops made by the locals

Not just one, but all Traces!

Ngusong Kabayo rock formation

The Gang!

One of the good viewpoint. Its a long drop!

Tangwa peak

Yes we know Mon that you can do yoga!

Mary Poppins in Tangwa Peak

After Tangwa, its all descent. The trail now passes a river which consist of 4 cascading waterfalls distantly apart. The best water falls is of course the first one as the water in here is fresh from the mountains. But the best part to dip is the 3rd one albeit its not as clear as the first one. The other two is best for photo-ops. 

Tagpuan Falls. The cleanest of the four 

Mahangin Falls

Panat-In Falls. Here is where we took a dip. Water is very cold but refreshing

Kalaparan Falls

Water is almost dry as it is almost summer

Nearing the start of point. Beside here is another river (not on pic) which connects to the river of Mt Balagbag

So how did the hike went? I loved it! The place is still pristine as it was open to the public just 2 years ago. Plus the locals are kind and accomodating. They treat you as a visitor and not as a customer. 

June 5, 2018

Return to Mt Tabayoc and Mt Pulag Climb via the Tawangan trail

Mt. Tabayoc and Four lakes of Tabeyo

The last time I was in Mt Tabayoc was 9 years ago. We came for an outreach with PALMC and we did the climb as a sidetrip together with the visit of the lakes on the mountain. Nothing has changed much in the mountain, almost exactly the same we climb it. I could not say the same around the mountains base and the surrounding area. There is a creeping human invasion, turning the vegetation to farmlands. During our last visit, the Mayor was in conflict with the people of Ballay, Kabayan on not to convert this land into vegetable plantation. I don't know what happen since then, but it seems the mayor lost his fight.

There are 4 lakes in this place but we managed to only visit 2. Tired from the Dayclimb and reserving our energy for the hike the next day, we opted to skip the other 2.
Camping in between the mountain and the lake. Mountain is covered in cloud every afternoon 

The lake is just a few meters from our tents

Locals set up traps in the lake, then harvest this type of fish

Local getting his traps

Would have been perfect view if not for houses!

Wild berry picking. The mountains is now covered by farms!

One of the view decks

View deck at the summit which is dangerously unstable. Have not been properly maintained

Ambulalakao Lake. We assume lake Tabeyo was like this a long time ago

Highest lake I had bee so far!

Tawangan Trail of Mt. Pulag

Tawangan is actually the name of the village at the start of the trail. Early the next day after our Tabayoc dayclimb, we proceed with our Pulag push using Tawangan trail. The trailhead measures around 1600 Masl. After a few meters walking on the pavement, immediately the trail became uncomfortably steep and the trees became very dense. Limatik (tropical leech) was also very plenty in an instant, albeit they are not as aggressive as the ones I experience in Pantingan Peak. The trail is amazingly pretty, I believe it is very rare that locals and hikers pass by the place. The incline trail goes up to 1900 masl, after which it becomes moderately steep and partly rolling. As the altitude goes higher, the limatik encounter became less and less.  When we reached 2300 masl, the limatiks were almost,if not totally gone. My hunch is that this leeches cant live on colder temperatures. I was really amazed by the vegetation, it is very mossy, lush and pristine. I did not thought such a place still survived within the northern area of the PI.

Lush and steep

One of the several rivers

A different kind of mushroom

Limatiks are residents of the trail

Mossy as can be. One of the mossiest mountain I had been

View of where we started

One of the few uncovered areas

Locals call this spot Junior Pulag. Probably because of he grassy terrain

Noel emerging into junior pulag


Another open area.

Junior Pulag seen from afar

Pretty mushroom. 

Mt Pulag Grassland

When we reached 2600-2700 masl, we emerge from the forest and set foot on the famous Mt Pulag grassland. This side of the grassland is also very pristine. It would have been more grand if it was not raining when we came out on this area. It was around 5PM that day and wind was blowing hard. Camping in camp3 (saddle) was not allowed and we planned to settle in camp2. Fortunately and luckily, no other hikers were staying overnight in the mountain. We were allowed to stay in the bunker house of the guides. If not it would have been very cold to pitch and damp to stay in camp2.

I was very happy to see that the change in park rules not to allow campers in the mountain (for those coming from ambangeg trail) has a very positive effect. The trails is now recovering and so is the mountain. It was very far from the sorry state I saw the last time I visited.

Ranger station is now very bustling and has lot of development, but I think its fine. From memory, I recall it was my friend who pushed for homestay as an alternative to camping. He suggested this to PASU (park superindent) Mering Albas, also the same time when we last visited.

Clearing at last!

Trail to Ranger station now has railings. This is due to the influx of tourist.