Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Journey to the Peaks of Mount Makiling

Previously, we have discussed the wonders and mysteries of the mystical Mount Makiling. Living in Laguna means you also have to breathe in and drink up of its beauties and mysteries. Being taga-Laguna (from Laguna), it is important that I get to know more about my precious province. Journeying to the peaks of Mount Makiling is both a duty and an adventure for me.

Together with five friends, namely Faust Ferdinand Eusebio, Lalie Calapis, Grace Evangelio, Mauriza Tuazon and Joanne Constantino plus 15 other acquaintances, we hiked to one of the summits of Mount Makiling, popularly known as Peak 2. Although the peak is 1,109 meters above sea level, the trail that starts from UP College of Forestry and ends in Peak 2 is around six kilometers long. There are 30 stations, the final of which is in Peak 2 itself. Each station shows how far above sea level you are. Among the twenty people I had as company, 11 of them were Foresters.

Our hike started at 9 am. We rode a jeepney to the College of Forestry of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, where we stopped by the Ranger’s station and registered our number. We continued to ride the vehicle up to Station 10, the last station where any vehicle is allowed. From there on, we hiked towards Makiling’s peak. The hike officially started at 10 am.

At the beginning of the hike, the trail was vast as if a vehicle can pass through it. The trees can grow up to 60 or 70 feet, with a diameter of 10 feet.

This is the Dipterocarp forest part of the mountain. As we climb higher, however, the trees and plants become smaller yet denser. Moisture also became apparent. The trail gradually became allowable for only a person so we formed a single line, maintaining visual of our hike leaders.

It is a tiring but fun hike, taking pictures of various floras all the while.

If you want to camp in Mount Makiling, be sure to camp before Station 15, or the Wilderness Zone. If you want to go beyond, day hikes are recommended. Camping is not allowed after this point.

We reached the peak at exactly 2pm, where we had our lunch (consisting of chicken and pork adobo, a famous Filipino dish, and some steamed rice that we prepared and packed earlier that day). We sat under the cool shadow of the dwarf, mossy trees.

At 3pm, we started to head back, afraid to be caught in the midst of the forests of Mount Makiling when the sun sets. The journey back was less eventful, being busy as we were picking up pieces of trash that some hikers left on their way up. The Foresters that were with us brought trash bags along with them to help clean the trail as part of their duty to protect forests. I am sure Diwatang Makiling would be glad of the simple gesture that we did for her beloved mountain.

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