Hiking and Caving at Mt. Puting Bato

Life have been so busy for me these past few months in school, especially the month of March, working with outputs, conducting and writing three field study books and preparing for the final exams.  It has been almost a month since our class ended, but I didn’t have time to be back in blogging, I have been procrastinating and been busy with other things at home.

A week ago, was Romblon Baktas Mountaineers second year anniversary and I am more than excited to climb with them again, but finding someone to drive my motorcycle was not easy, my sister can’t drive and my cousins were working, that’s where a hiker friend asked me if I want to climb with them on the same date to Mt. Puting Bato, as I looked through the name of possible hikers I have noticed most of them were my friends, I was told there was an issue with the old group and it was too long to elaborate, so I didn’t ask anymore about it.

Since, the proposed hike was just nearby and my father can drive for me to the jump-off, I decided to hike with them.  It was me who arrived first at the jump-off, my father didn’t left until my hiker friends came. We are only 10 hikers at the jump-off, and five of us were unfamiliar to me.  After a few minutes of prepping and meeting our hiking guide and another hiker friend,  we started walking to the foot of the mountain. It was very easy hike compare to the first time I hike at Mt. Puting Bato whereas I hyperventilate, I passed at the peanut farm without grasping for air, it seems walking through the school campus made me fit to hike.

Our guide told us that there is a new trail to the peak, it is nearer but we have to climb through higher rocky elevation, so we did. Within one hour and fifteen minutes we arrived at the peak, the peak was more friendly and spacious than before, our guide told us that a lot of locals where hiking to the summit and with this, they clean around the peak and constructed some wooden bench up top.

We stayed at the peak, waiting for our two hiker friends who followed. We did a normal hiker will do, enjoy the scenery below and took many pictures as many as we want, RJ as one of the late comer became our instant photographer with his unique photography skills, it was quite very funny because a hiker friend Iphone 7 became the group official camera, whereas most of our pictures, solo and groupies were taken in the said phone, as the outcome of the pictures were good, the colors were so vivid and clear.

We stayed at the peak for three hours and thirty minutes, resting, taking pictures, telling stories, laughing and we also ate our lunch in there. When we think, we already have enough and we stayed quite longer, we started walking down the other side of the mountain, same trail we used in our first hike at Mt. Puting Bato, our hiking trip will not be complete without going to the cave, along the way we passed through a place that looks like a God forsaken land, the trees were cut and the grasses were born to die, kaingin.

Anyway, we did some caving and unlike before where I didn’t go inside the cave, I did go down this time using the pole that where already there.  The cave was undeveloped and unprotected, there were bats, birds and stalagmites. It was not that large like the popular cave in Jeju, but spacious enough to accommodate 20 people. We looked around and took pictures, then we decided to go up and continue going down the mountain, whereas everyone felt electrified upon seeing a guava tree, our guide climb the tree for us and he even asked permission to the old man we meet if we can have some buko or young coconuts, so we did along the trail.

When we reached a small hut under the tamarind tree, we rested and waited for the second group and that’s where we got the copies of our photos from a hiker friend’s Iphone 7,  we arrived at the jump off at three o’clock in the afternoon.

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A Day Hike at Mt. Puting Bato in Odiongan, Romblon

This is a long overdue post but since life has been so busy and my laptop broke it wasn’t so easy to blog again.  It was on January 28, 2018 when I climbed again with Romblon Baktas Mountaineers it was my second climb with them. I wasn’t able to go with them at Mt. Payaopao revenge climb because of some circumstances, no driver and bad weather.

Climbing to Mt. Puting Bato was a rush decision, the day before the climb I wasn’t sure if I want to go. I didn’t prepare my bag, nor the things I have to bring, I did it the morning of the climb. I have asked my father to be my driver, when I reached the meeting point as if I was the only one they’re waiting because the group left after a short prayer.

It was already past 8 AM when we started trekking to Mt. Puting Bato, it took so long because we have to wait for other members and we did stretching and short information drive on what to do and what not to do while trekking or in the summit.

There are a lot of new faces on Mt. Puting Bato but I was glad to find familiar faces, I trekked with them and it wasn’t a bad decision because we have so much fun.  We have to walk passing through a small village and a small farm in the upland. I hyperventilate when we are going up a hill, it was very sudden. I think I am feeling anxious of the other hikers behind me, what if I am walking so slow and I am making them wait, I decided to stop and let them pass and when I arrived at the top of the hill I am literally grasping for air, my heart beat so fast and it was hard for me to breath. One of the members told me it happened because we talked so much while walking little did he know I am hyperventilating because I am feeling anxious of the people behind me or maybe there is other reason unknown to me.

The trail at Mt. Puting Bato isn’t a joke, it was bushy, narrow and there was a lot of sharp stones and rocks. Just one wrong step and you hurt yourself, it was scary at first, but once you get used to it, it became easy to walk and find your step. It was surely a lot harder than the hike at Mt. Ope.

We found a small cave along our hike, around lunch time we reached a point the senior hikers called 90 degrees, you have to climb at the top of the tree using a rope and your skills. There was a long line since you can’t stay longer in the tree because it cannot accommodate lots of people, I have tried it, but I didn’t able to reach the top because I wasn’t able to fit myself in the small open space so I could climb backwards, instead of trying harder I went down to avoid getting into an accident because it feels like something is stopping me to do it. Honestly, I have wondered why I didn’t try harder because it wasn’t the normal me, I usually don’t turn my back to a new thrill

We did some experimental climb at the adjacent small cave for the sake of pictures, it was easy going up, but going down was a bit scary because one wrong move and the cave or soil will collapse on top of us.  We continue, walking with the help of our local guide, the road is becoming steeper and higher. We reached a point where some members were resting, but then we are told we missed the viewing point, so we have to go down to climb at another point god thing I brought a walking stick with me, it was already drizzling at the time, we are starting to be soaked in the rain.

We stayed there for about 30 minutes and we started walking again, it was already raining hard and our clothes were already wet when we decided to have lunch since some of us were already starving, the first group was already ahead of us.

We had lunch together and with the help of some umbrella we are able to make our food safe from rain water. We didn’t take long, after we ate we started walking up and down. It wasn’t easy because the trail was already slippery, along the way we saw giant flowering taro into my amazement. Then our guide shows us a cave down below, with the help of an unstable pole they went down to see the cave, I tried it, but I was very scared because it doesn’t feel right, the pole wasn’t that strong and it was quite high and slippery. At that moment, I don’t know but I have remembered my biological grandfather.

Only five of us were left to stay to wait for them, we are already soaked and cold but those who descended was taking their precious time below (lol).  To cut it short, we started walking again, descending the mountain from the other side and since it rained really hard already and the path was already used by the first group, it was really slippery I can’t remember how many times I fell down or slid maybe because I am wearing a running shoes with me. I removed my shoes and wear my slippers, but when the slippers were full of mud I started to slip again so I walked barefooted, it hurts and its killing my sole.

If there was only another way to go down the mountain I will gladly choose it because the path going down isn’t getting any better, slippery and full of sharp rocks. It was a good thing we have a young member who helped us a lot and offer his hands for us to hold on when there was nothing to hold on to.  There was one moment I can’t forget when I fell down because I made sure that everything is good before I stoop down but then I still fell down breaking my hiking stick, it was like a flat line or a feeling that someone was gone. We are the last one to descend the mountain or should I say I was the last one to go down. Our shoes, clothes and bags were full of mud.  I didn’t take a lot of photos because it was very dangerous, my phone might get broke from being soak in the rain or it might broke every time I slid and fell down.

Want to hear a sad story? The next day, I have found out that my biological grandfather died while I keep slipping and hurting myself while descending Mt. Puting Bato, he was frantically rushed to the hospital, but he didn’t make it, he died of heart attacked. I have wondered that maybe when I started hyperventilating and my heart is beating so fast  my grandfather is fighting with his life. I am not able to talk yet with my grandmother what time he had an attacked and died.

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