This entry was supposed to be posted last year, but another katangahan moments hits me. It was unintentionally deleted as well as the photos due to technical problems on my laptop (virus sucks!). Anyway, let’s continue and join me on my adventure on this exhilarating mountain.
A lot of people are having interest on doing hiking/mountaineering/climbing (whatever you may called it). They opted to have their travel and leave credits (for those having their work) on this kind of outdoor activity rather than on the beach, city tours, among others. Trending ika nga! I considered this climb as a “tick-off’-the-bucketlist” and out of plan adventure (will tell you later the reason on why is it an “out of plan” adventure).
I’ve been into this activity for two years already and I find it hard to look for day hike activity especially if you’re residing in Mindanao unlike in Luzon area, and so I opted to join multi-day traverses hike. What I like on multi-day hiking is that you were able to experience tough situations which tests your patience and ethics towards mountaineering. As I become more inclined into this kind of activity, I also felt like getting better and better not just physically but also how to perceive the world as it is.
Climbing one of the toughest traverses here in the Philippines, Mount Kalatungan-Mount Wiji/Macaupao is considered to be a triumphant and one for the books on my mountain list. Standing next to Mount Kitanglad, Mount Kalatungan is recorded as 5th highest peak here in the Philippines with an elevation of 2,880+ MASL. Mount Wiji on the other hand has an elevation similar to Mount Kalatungan (approximately 2,819+ MASL). Mount Wiji was also known by some as Mount Macaupao because of the wildfire that occurred at the peak long time ago. Usual itinerary on this climb is 2-3 days. For hardcore, a dayhike can be done, but expect for a draining and grueling ascent-descent. haha!
It was also documented by PHILVOLCS that Mount Kalatungan is an active volcano with no recorded historic eruption. Latest update on lists of highest peaks in the Philippines regarded this mountain as the 6th highest peak next to Mount Piapayungan (2894+ MASL). Mount Kalatungan is an abode of flora and fauna with it’s deep forestry which is also a source of livelihood by the locals just like in Mount Dulang-Dulang, Lumot and other mountains in Northern Mindanao.
We arrived at Pangantucan via Maramag, Bukidnon from Davao City at 7 AM. After having our breakfast, we immediately proceed to Brgy. Mendis which is the jump-off for registration and permit. A brief orientation was conducted as well as tribal ceremonies akin to that of Mount Dulang-Dulang. Actually this climb was out of plan and being offered few days before the scheduled date. Anjo messaged and offered this climb on a very low rate to complete his participants and I didn’t hesistate to avail his package event and immediately signed up on this adventure. haha!
I thought this adventure was just a plain hiking but on my surprise, the participants are having an outreach activity. Actually, the group was divided into two and contacted Anjo as their event organizer. The group united and conducted an outreach activity and it was my first time to join a climb with this kind of set-up. At first, I find it hard to mingle to them because almost all of them know each other, but it never hinder me to converse and forge friendship on them. What I liked on this event was that, the participants were very kind and had a compassionate heart of helping others on their own little ways. Seeing the locals wearing their welcoming and priceless smiles as we arrived and during the activity was such a fulfilling and worth cherishing one. The outreach activity comprises the following: feeding program, teaching, and gift giving. The activity lasted for about 2 hours.
After we had our outreach activity, we officially started the climb with a prayer of guidance, safety and insightful lesson throughout the adventure.
A 1-2 hours trek welcomed us as we started our adventure. The trail starts with an open trail and expect for a draining slope going to View Deck. Yay! The open trail comprises of beautiful fields of wild sunflowers which gave an alleviating feeling despite enduring the unbearable heat brought by the trail. What I appreciated about the whole trek are the directions and signposts along the trail just like in Mount Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang. This will guide the hikers on how far or close they are from the direction. A bamboo foot bridge connects the trail going to the View Deck. After the agonizing hike, we finally arrived at View Deck. View Deck was a tree house built by the locals so that hikers can have a comfortable stopover and rest. In View Deck, grandeur views of Bukidnon and mountain ranges fed your wandering soul. Also, there was a large map of the whole trail (Kalatungan-Wiji) and each point of the map had signs to guide the hikers from their point of direction. The team decided to spend the day at the View Deck so that we can prepare for tomorrow’s activity.
We were fortunate to witness amazing sunrise on the View Deck as we are preparing our breakfast and slowly packing our belongings for today’s adventure. Sunrise reminds us of a new beginning and hope to never give up on everything you are up to right now. Char! Anyway, as we leave the area, a very visible uphill forest can be seen which gave me dubious feeling of proceeding. As I saw the uphill forest and being hyped by what Kuya Willy (guide) said to us of what awaits after the View Deck, I decided to gave a title of “UNENDING ASSAULT AWAITS” on this blog. hahaha!
Kikikoka peak is the first stopover of Mount Kalatungan. The trail was established with trail signs and they also provided bench for the hikers to take a quick rest. As we arrived at the rest area to get some fresh air and feel the wilderness of the forest, I was grasping for air already like I was being chased by a dog or what. haha! As I looked at the map, I realized we were at 1/4 of the trail and my energy was drained already. My mind always telling me this cliche line “Ano ba tong pinasok ko? huhu” but that never hindered me to proceed and continue.
Along the trail, I noticed this flora and fauna. First picture: a weird looking centipede (I think?) crawling at the moss tree with a length of a hand surprised me. Second picture: another weird flower having a tuft of petals sprout beside the tree (Whoever has an idea of the names of the above pictures, you can comment below at the comment section. haha).
Continuing our hike going to Buko-Buko sa anay, a splendid open trail with a scenic views of mountain ranges awaits. Here, you can already see the uphill trail of Buko-buko sa anay and I was silent and speechless as the long uphill trail continues to go higher and higher. 😦
This is it! I thought that the ascent a while ago was the agonizing uphill trail that the guide telling us, but we were deceived because it was on this trail that the treacherous and perilous uphill trail awaits! As I looked up at the trail, I was asking for some wilderness wisdom to think calmly and instill the idea of mind over matter. Good thing that the weather was gloomy as we approached this area. less draining! haha
Buko-buko sa anay trail ends with an outstanding and alluring feat of Muleta falls. We were so blessed to witness and have it right before our eyes. Our guide tells us that few people were able to witness as clear as the picture above the beauty of Muleta falls. most of the time it was covered with fogs especially if the weather is gloomy. We stopover and took some memento on it. Some of my companions didn’t have the chance to have a glimpse of it’s beauty because of the fogs covering the falls itself.
We arrived at the Junction area which was the last stop before reaching the summit around 3 PM. We were pretty early than the expected time of arrival based on our itinerary. Our group which was divided into two decided to split on setting camp. Our group which was led by Ms. Tony were on the Junction area and the others, led by Ms. Junnaliza took the summit. A 10-15 minutes away from Junction area is the summit wherein you can also opted to pitch your tent. At junction area, water sources is available but take note that the water on this area were stagnated unlike in View Deck and jump-off. For those having sensitive stomach, much better to bring with you your water filtering devices for there is no other water sources near the area. While waiting for others, we look for a good spot to pitch our tents. Right after fixing our tents, outpouring of rain comes which cancelled our plan on visiting the summit for sight-seeing. We spend the night at the Junction area for our socials and dinner while the other group was at the summit. In terms of how cold camping at Junction and summit, yeaaah it’s freakin’ cold! You can already see the vapor coming from your mouth – it’s like you are in abroad in a winter season. haha!
We woke up around 4 AM to prepare for the last day of this adventure starting at preparing our breakfast with a hot coffee to insulate us from the frigid temperature. After preparing, we visited the summit for sunrise seeing and picture taking as well.
We were lucky to have a good weather and witnessed the vastness of Kalatungan summit. We were able to watch the sunrise at the east part of the summit, then Kitanglad ranges at the northern part and Ragang, Sumagaya, Apo and other ranges at the western and southern part. Just like in Mount Sumagaya, dead branches were also present at the summit.
Let me introduce to you, TEAM SIBOL. TEAM SIBOL was founded by Ms. Tony Rose Emman, the girl with a bonnet at my top (first picture). This group of people are fond of traveling and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) trips. Annually they conducted outreach activity on different places. This is what I appreciated most of their group. They’re not just after the fun brought by the trip/adventure but they had a mission of bringing joy to the local people. I hope to have moments with them on their future outreach activities. Majority of them were office workers.
We leaved the Junction around 8 AM. From Junction, 2-3 hours of up and down trail is required to reach Mount Wiji/Macaupao summit. Me, Jay-r, Flor, Rodolfo and Albert were assigned to lead the group.
Dwarf Bamboo Camp is the next stopover after Junction area. You can also set camp at this area and has a lot of water sources which was way more cleaner than the Junction area. We didn’t camp at this area because it’s a little farther going to summit. A lot of red wild berries were also present sprouting anywhere. As we continuously approached the trail, visible dead branches and trees were present akin to that of Mount Sumagaya. Just like in buko-buko sa anay, another unending assault with a lots of deceiving peaks awaits. It was noon time that we were climbing this area. You can really feel the heat penetrates your skin. We were a bit slower as we venture the trail because of the draining feeling of unbearable heat frying us. *sigh! Mount Wiji was locally known as Mount Lumpanag and it has been commonly used as a traverse trail by most of the hikers. Also, it was called “Mount Wiji” (shall we say, it’s commercial name I guess?) because this summit was discovered by a Japanese explorer and maybe it was named after him, just like other areas having a name on a certain stops of a particular mountain (Camp Neil Perez of Lumot, Manny’s Garden in D2, etc).
Finally, we were able to step foot at Mount Wiji/Lumpanag summit around 12 noon. The mountain was shrouded with fogs. We stopped and took our lunch while waiting for others to arrive. Prominent and abundant large dead trunk and trees were present. We took some photos for documentation and moment to remember purposes.
I thought we were done on venturing the worst part of the trail, but that little hope of expectation was just wishful thinking. Next to Mount Wiji’s summit is the Dead Nail’s Trail or “Danger Zone”. It is the last leg of the mountain before reaching the jump-off. It is coined by the mountaineers as well as the locals as Dead Nail’s Trail for the obvious reason of having your toe nails being injured every time you passed this trail. The notion of naming the trail on that manner lingers on me to not let my guard down. What makes this portion a little bit technical was the presence of fogs along the trail which makes the trail hard to see. Majority of the trail was pure heavy grass leaves. Be careful of your steps when you are at this area because it has a lot of perilous and steep portion which is sometimes unnoticeable plus the fact that it is a fog prone area. If we had the best of weather in Mount Kalatungan, here was the opposite. Thus, we had few photos on this trail (documentation purposes).
Yey! Finally! We exited the mountain around 2:30 PM and reached Sitio Mahayahay. From Sitio Mahayahay to Brgy. Mendis (Jump-off), a 40 minutes is required to reach Brgy. Mendis. Open trail welcomes us as we arrived at Sitio Mahayahay and there’s an abandoned “bahay kubo” wherein you can have your quick stopover and rest. One of the indication that you’re halfway through Brgy. Mendis was the presence of wild sunflowers and feather grasses. After a long and tiring hike, we finally made it! Of course, the first thing I did was to look for a house and took a bath and slurp and taste the magical power of Coke to alleviate the numbing sensation of your feet caused by the demanding and grueling trail of this mountain.
Let me introduce to you, Sir Willy Belco. He is one of the most oldest and known local guide in Mount Kalatungan. If you wish to hike on this mountain, look for him as your local guide/porter. He is very accommodating and has a lot of information about the folklore and history of the mountain. He likes to talk and entertain his participants and not the timid type of local. haha kidding!
Some of my companions arrived around 8 PM. Some of them are being injured descending the Dead Nail’s Trail causing the delay of their arrival.. Some are being assisted by our guide who acted as sweepers. On that night, I realized that it’s not about being able to conquer a particular summit with pride and honor. It’s more about having a caring heart and be conscientious as well. As they say “Climb for fulfillment, not achievement”. Mountaineering is not just about having the glory, honor and achievement just because you’ve done things that others don’t have, it’s about building deeper relationship with Him and nature, finding meaning on every trials of the trails that you endured and lastly looking and understanding the world on a different perspective. I really believe that mountaineering should be govern with fulfillment. Fulfillment is personal. We climb for different reasons. For me, I continuously doing this activity to see the world on an optimistic and holistic approach – which some people find it weird and hard to fathom. Like everything in life, nothing comes easy and intant just like in climbing a mountain. Hard work and perseverance plays a vital role not just for hiking but also in every aspect of our lives as what Rock Lee says in Naruto (A Japanese manga series), “Hard work beats talent and genius”. You know, it’s very memorable and fulfilling seeing your hardship payed off. They kept on asking me same questions on why I’m so addictive and inclined on this kind of activity, well there you have it. I just elaborated few reasons on why mountaineering is a drug for travel junkies just like me haha! Well, it’s better to try and see for yourself and have a taste of it! 🙂
Overall, Mount Kalatungan teaches a lot of insightful realization on me not just having fun and conquering such summit. I thought I was one of the victim and member of the “Kalatunga” climbers. Kala tunga in layman’s term means individual who didn’t able to leg the summit and completed the whole hike. Fundamentally, mountain climbing is all about having the sense of gratitude – blissful scenery, lessons along the trail, making new friends, witnessed the normal scenario of the locals, appreciate nature at their raw form, among others. Truly, Mount Kalatungan traverse Mount Wiji never fails to prove to us it’s 8/9 difficulty scale as rated by pinoymountaineer. Definitely one for keeps!
Special thanks to Anjo Dorado (suki event organizer), for successfully handled as many as 27 participants. To our puissant local and porter for their guidance and assistance especially in times of grueling situation. To my new friends for making this event a meaningful and fun-filled one. Lastly, to our Almighty God for keep us safe and sound throughout the whole climb. We couldn’t leg this climb without His guidance. 🙂
Again, see you on my next blog post! 🙂
HOW TO GET THERE:
1. From Davao (Ecoland Bus Terminal), take a bus ride bound for CDO (Rural Tours) and drop at Maramag Terminal, you can negotiate a jeepney or habal-habal going to jump-off.
TRAVEL TIME: 4-5 hours
2. From CDO (Agora Bus Terminal), take a bus ride bound for Davao and drop at Malaybalay Terminal. Take a jeep at Kibanggay, then take a habal-habal going to the jump-off. (pinoymountaineer.com)
TRAVEL TIME: 3-4 hours
EXPENSES AND SPECIAL INFORMATION:
1. For bus fare and schedule of trip, you can refer to https://davaoterminal.page.tl/North-bound-Bus-Schedules.htm
2. Mountain permit = P300/head (pay at Tourism Office, Municipal Hall)
3. Guide = P350/day (max of 10kg load. additional P50 for every 1kg excess)
4. Porter = P400/day (max of 15kg load).
NOTE: you can negotiate the locals to be a guide/porter, but there will be slight adjustment in terms of the fees.
5. NO RITUAL FEE REQUIRED: Mountaineers are required to bring offering such as chicken, wine, coin and fabrics for tribal sacrifices. Same set-up in Mount Dulang-Dulang.
NOTE: The above expenses are subject to change without prior notice. It’s better to keep updated by means of having your own research.
1. Available sites for water sources: Mendis Base Camp 1 (near jump-off), View Deck, Junction/Sanggaya Campsite (not very abundant), Dwarf Bamboo Camp
2. Known and established campsites: View Deck, Junction Area Kalatungan Summit, Dwarf Bamboo Camp, Lumpanag/Wiji Peak (optional)
3. Contact Personnel:
Anjo Dorado: visit TEAM EXPLORER page on facebook or you can directly message him at 0909-228-0108.
Banjo Syting: visit Day-off Adventours page on facebook for list of events here in Mindanao or you can directly reach him at 0910-179-9875.
TIPS AND REMINDERS:
1. PLAN AHEAD OF TIME. Every climb or hike requires and intensive planning especially if you’re first timer on the destination. This traverse is never and easy climb. Make a back up or side trip plan if you think you can adjust your itinerary earlier than the usual itinerary. 🙂
2. PREPARATION. Majority of the mountain here in Mindanao is a multi-day traverses so expect for a grueling and knee-pounding one. Proper physical and mental preparation is a must! 2-3x jogging a week is my usual physical preparation. Also, have enough carbohydrate diet and avoid stressful activity prior to climb.
3. COORDINATE WITH YOUR EVENT ORGANIZER. Ask and clarify any queries you had in your mind to your event organizer as early as you can. Do not be complacent just because the event organizer is the one who will handle the itinerary. This is for your own awareness and this might help you on what to look forward on your destination.
4. WHAT TO BRING. I will categorize this portion into 3 parts.
- Climb Gear: Cookset, burner, personal equipment (essentials), tent or hammock (depending on the weather). You can also negotiate your companion to divide the things you can bring. It would be more practical and save a lot of space on your bag. But as much possible be a self contained hiker.
- Emergency gear: It’s a must to always bring with you your emergency equipment. Medicine kit/supplement, poncho and rain cover, extra jacket to shield you from hypothermia, extra power bank and batteries. Also bring ziplocks/cellophane and garbage bags for waste materials. LNT principle dude!
- Food: Always have a meal/food plan. This will guide you on what to buy/bring upon the whole duration of the climb. For food with meaty meal, make sure to have it on a pre-cooked manner, then budget it according to meal and put it on ziplock to save more spaces on bag. Trail food? I usually bring with me my jellyace, nuts, candies, raisins, etc.
5. PERMITS, TRANSPORTATION, AND OTHER SPECIAL CONCERNS. Always coordinate with the local tourism to avoid any time constriction and unexpected turn of event. Bring with you your climb permit at all times and secure a well trusted local guide and porter. Inquire ahead of time through blogs and articles on social media. Always treat and feed your local guide/porter the way you treat your companion. Remember, they are part of the team and they’re the ones who will facilitate and assist us especially on unexpected circumstances.
6. BE STRICT ON YOUR ITINERARY. Always follow your itinerary. Itineraries are made to guide your trip on a particular period of time.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE and be on time as much as possible in terms of pacing, packing your belongings, etc
7. NEVER LET ANY MEMBERS OF THE TEAM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. This is one of the things I really appreciated on this climb. On my previous adventure, I always think of myself and hike faster than any members of the team (pasikat ika nga). This climb teaches me to be sensitive on others and never let your companions out of your sight. If you like to be a lead on the team, have an interval on your pacing and wait for them. Climbing a mountain is not define by how fast you are able to reach the summit.
8. DELEGATE ROLES ON YOUR TEAM. This is a very important but sometimes being forgotten and taken for granted by most mountaineers. Always assign roles and responsibilities on your team. Have a lead, middleman and sweeper in the group. Also, assign a member who will bring emergency medical equipment/medicine (any forms), etc.
9. ALWAYS HAVE A CONTACT INFORMATION ON A TRUSTED LOCALS. It’s a must to have a contact on a ground point person for they will serve as a connection between your team on the climb and outside the climbing environment especially on unexpected turn of events upon your adventure. Update them about the status of your team and your current location as possible as you can if you luckily found any signals along the trail.
10. PRAY FOR THE SUCCESS OF THE ADVENTURE. This was always the major contributor on every ascent I had in the past two years. Always start and ends with prayer and thanksgiving every time you have a climb. Sometimes, this part of the adventure is taken for granted, but for me, I always remind everyone to pray before the climb starts. Ask for His provision and guidance along the duration of the adventure and don’t forget to give thanks regardless of all the hardships you had on your adventure. 🙂