This mountain trek adventure happened on 19th of April, 2015. I wasn’t able to write it early due to the busier times of the month which included an upcoming 21k fun run and my nephew’s birthday).
It was the hottest time of the year (and by the time of writing this article, the weather is still hot as ever), not the ideal time to go for a mountain trek especially if the that mountain is Batulao, best known for its grassy trails and dirt roads. But, I’m always in for when it comes to an active outdoor lifestyle especially now that I have developed a liking for mountain hiking.
The road to Batulao isn’t smooth, I met up with my trekking buddies at a 7-Eleven store along Zapote road around 7 am. We went to the grand terminal at the former Uniwide Coastal Mall and it was a long wait for the Nasugbu-bound bus as it took almost 2 hours just for a bus to finally show up. We boarded the bus some time around 9 am and another mishap took place before we reached Tagaytay. The bus broke down at Silang, Cavite, likely caused by a clutch problem. So we waited for the backup bus to take us to Tagaytay and take a jeenpney ride to Nasugbu, Batangas. So, instead of the original plan to trek at around 10 or 11 am and eat our lunch at the pit stops or camp sites along the way, we arrived at the entrance of Evercrest Golf Course and ate our lunch at a nearby canteen at around 12 noon.
We started trekking before 1pm and it was a very hot and dusty hike. We reached our first pit stop and rested for awhile, a small hut that sells refreshments like buko juice.
The first segment trail isn’t that hard, it has moderate to high elevation, but won’t push you too much. The real difficulty at the time was the very hot temperature, which is why hydration is the most important, and the dusty road that can be annoyance especially when the wind blows by and dust gets into your eyes and nose. Another small thing that can be considered an obstacle is cow poop. They’re scattered all over the trails like landmines, step on one and an explosion of stink will burst on your foot. Luckily, none of us hit the jackpot.
The trail is also great for trail running newbies, in fact, we encountered a couple of trail runners passing us by, going uphill. Seeing them in action shows how strong runners differentiate from fast pavement runners (and they also leave behind a huge trail of dust. Eat my dust? get it?).
The 1st half of the trail, from Peak 1 to 6 isn’t hard, like I mentioned earlier, the only difficulties were the heat and dust, so it’s ideal to hike Batulao on on the cooler seasons of the year.
There was an activity by volunteer mountain rescuers (can’t remember the group’s name) at the time. They even gave us an insight at the vision and mission of their group. They prefer recruiting seasoned hikers/trekkers because of experience. Joining them would be beneficial to anyone because of the physical training and survival skills you can learn from them, but be sure to spare time for their activities and training, it’s very important.
I really like the buko juice in Batulao, it’s ice cold and replenishes energy. There are numerous resting spots around the trails that sell buko juice and they only cost 40 pesos, you can even request for the buko to be cracked open to eat it.
Some of us climbed another peak (dunno if it’s peak 7) with a steep trail. It was a bit difficult, but the view from the top was worth it (photos below).
Now comes the more difficult part of the trails, There are spiky rocks, some steep climbs and some even require you to use the ropes on the trail to help you climb. This time around, there were other hikers we’ve seen along the way, some of them are foreigners.
We reached camp 10 (not sure of the peak, can’t find the signs), it is probably the best and highest camp site of Batulao. It has a great 360 view and the uphill and downhill trails we passed through and about to pass by looked like the Great Wall of Chin (sans the wall, of course).
Descending from Camp 10 can be difficult for beginners. One segment requires you to rappel a certain height of the mountain. It may seem scary at first especially to some who have some slight fear of heights, but I think most people will get use to it halfway down.
We reached Camp 7, another nice camp site that has a tree in the middle and another nice view of the mountain peaks.
Descending again from Camp 7, we reached the last camp site. We stopped and rest again for a few minutes while drinking sodas before moving on as the sun goes down.
Mount Batulao is currently my favorite mountain to hike. Sure, there’s no trees or forest to shade trekkers from the heat of the sun and the dirt will always guarantee uncomfortable moments, but the scenery and the experience is worth it. The trails can be challenging, but they are a breeze to walk through most of the time and the views from the peaks are simply breath-taking. For the first time in my trekking experience, I actually bathe in one of the houses nearby (for only 20 pesos) before going home and my clothes accumulated so much dirt, I feel like ants are about to make a home in there if I don’t wash them ASAP. It was an exhausting and dirty hike, but I enjoyed it so much that I wouldn’t mind going back there as many times as possible. Who knows, maybe one day, I might try trail running there.