Hiking at Mt. Ope with Romblon Baktas Mountaineers

One of the things I want to do is to climb mountains and see things from above, I was fascinated of seeing the sea, the city/town from the peak.  Way back in Korea I was able to hike three mountains, two in Seoul (Dobongsan in Bukhansan National Park is at 740m and Seoraksan at 1,708m, we did the Yangpok Course), and one in Jeju which is Hallasan (1,950m) the highest peak in South Korea, we hike around March which is spring season but Hallasan is still in a blanket of snow and fog.

[Hallasan Peak, Jeju]

I have been asking my family for a long time if we could hike a mountain, but they keep saying if I like it so much I must do it alone, they found it tiring and since I don’t know where to start and how to do it alone because if you don’t know yet mountains in Romblon isn’t like those in Korea or in other countries, there are no developed trails, in Korea they are fully developed and made it to a park where a lot of hikers and mountaineers where doing a day hike to the peak.   What else should I expect when I can’t even dragged them at DIWA (Gabawan Vista Point).  To ease my itchy feet for an dventure they tour me around to different towns and do road tripping around Tablas. Gladly, I was able to find out through my sister’s friend about Romblon Baktas Mountaineers, a group of enthusiastic  people who climb mountains in Romblon for adventure and for a cause (tree planting activity). I was able to go with them on their third climb as a group at  Mt. Ope (433m) located in Camili, Alcantara, Romblon.

As an introvert, it was been a long time since I went out of my comfort zone, I was anxious how to deal with different people I am going to meet on the scheduled climb, I don’t know if it was anxiousness or excitement, but I wasn’t able to sleep the night before our climb, I was wide awake the entire time.  We scheduled to meet at 4:30 in the morning at Children’s Paradise and while we are there I have found out my shoes were not in good condition. I have used it only once and it was being stocked for a few years, gladly I have a pair of slippers with me because going back home to get a new pair of shoes isn’t possible since we are about to leave.

We left Odiongan at 5:30 in the morning, one hour passed from the agreed time, we reached the town of Alcantara after an hour or so, while waiting for the others everyone made their self busy, registering and submitting the application form and etc. My application form was already crumpled being in my bag for a very long time, as I have looked back at my old posts years ago, it seems I had a mistake in it.

Bad luck, as you may call it, something happened to my loose pants when I used the flooded comfort room, I was uncomfortable with it so I asked my sister/mother to buy me a new one at the town market, so they did.  I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but I have noticed there is something stopping me to climb because days before the climb I accidentally step on the stand of mosquito coil which resulted to a wound in my sole, then my left feet feels weird after a minor sprain which I didn’t tell my family because they will not surely allow me to go on hiking, furthermore a day before the hike my toe nails swell and then my shoes broke before we could even leave the town and before going to the foot of the Mt. Ope I ruined my loose pants.  Weird isn’t it?

After a few minutes of stretching we started walking, the trail isn’t that great, it was like a dry river full of large stone and boulders, it looks like waterways, when it rains the water from the mountains passed through it. Since, it will be my first climb after so many years and without gym activity I felt tired, especially I am carrying a large and heavy hiking bag with me, I perspired a lot, so I removed the jacket I am wearing.  The trail wasn’t that hard, you will not get lost because it has been just a straight road without going left or right.

We rested a bit on top of a hill and then we continued hiking at the adjacent higher elevation which is already the Mt. Ope, everyone went busy creating memories, pictures here and there and of course a group picture will not be forgotten. After which, we stayed in a shed where a raffle takes place and getting to know each other. If you asked me what did I say, I also forgot what is it aside from introducing my name and being stuck for a few years at home and wanting to do an adventure, I was very tense, it was my first time again  to interact with many people after long years being surrounded only by people I have known since my childhood, I would like to say more, but someone says I already speak too long, I felt slightly offended but I shrugged it off and laughed with it because I already expected to meet different types of people.

The scenery from the peak of Mt. Ope is breathtaking, it was beautiful and scenic, you can see the beauty of Alcantara at its best. It was like the sea was just one fly away from the top, thanks to my sister’s friend I was able to have solo pictures and thanks to self-timer and monopod as well I was able to take my own photo. We stayed for a bit and decided to go down for lunch, we initially agreed to have lunch at the peak, but some of us already went down ahead so we followed. We rested a bit at the house of our guide and have photo opps with her and we descended and rest a bit again in a store to drink a cold cola.

We had lunch at the place where the vehicles were left. It was a bonding moment, sharing each other food and eating while sitting in the grass. I didn’t know the names of the people around me aside from 2-3 of them, but it wasn’t a problem at all, after lunch a short meeting takes place deciding where to climb next and it was voted and agreed to climb back to Mt. Payaopao (665m) as others included me wasn’t able to climb the peak.

Mt. Ope is a good place to hike for beginners, it wasn’t that long to reach the peak, it was only about one hour and 30 minutes, but if you are an expert climber/hiker you can maybe reach it in less than one hour. It was very short compare of my hiking experience in South Korea, where it took me 3-4 hours to reach the peak, honestly, most of the RMB members felt disappointed on the short hike, they wanted more.

As I have heard from the experienced hikers/climbers at RBM Mt. Guiting-guiting is the real deal in Romblon maybe because it was the highest peak in the province, as I have searched the Mt. Guiting-guiting summit it is about 2,058m which is only 108m high compare to Hallasan.  Ahm, I wonder if I could hike it without panting or catching for my breath, well, we did Hallasan in one snowy day so maybe yes or maybe no I could make it at G2 summit someday.

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Out of Town: Alcantara, Home to Only Airport of Romblon

Just the day after Christmas we are on the road again for another road trip, since the day was perfect to travel around, it is a bit cloudy and not too sunny. We headed up to Looc and decided to continue to the next town, Alcantara, a 5th class municipality of Romblon and home to only airport of the province.

Alcantara, Romblon

Alcantara is being promoted as hiking destination for backpackers because of its mountains covered in lush tropical rainforest. The town centre was not that far from Looc town, we stopover to snap some photos and then we travel some more until we reached the intersection going to the airport. We turn right and passed by the closed airport (no plane) where there are some people standing outside which looks like airport employees.

We ended up in sea side and part of the airport runway; we decided to stop so we could take photos. The waves are a bit strong; their shoreline is made of stones or pebbles instead of the normal sea sand, I played with the waves and ended up with a broken slippers. lol

Tugdan Beach

We didn’t take long because it is kind of windy and chilly; we travel a little more and decided to return back to the downtown because we don’t know where will be the road is going to take us. We return to the downtown and turn left to an intersection going to the sea, we stop for more photos and found their old port and public market, after a few minutes we travel back home using the other road that well end us to Brgy. Anahao of Odiongan.

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