Today is the day. I have woken up early, even though I have already prepared the night before. I take a shower and wake up my brothers. One of them says the grounds outside is wet, and that it has rained. But I insist that it should be a good day to go mountain hiking, at Mt. Talamitam, today. He shrugs and dresses up.
We head out before the sunrise. It is dark, but I am excited since last week, when it also rained hard and our trip has been cancelled. My youngest sibling drives fast, and it has taken us only somewhere in between one and a half hours to two hours to reach the jumpoff point at Sitio Bayabasan, Barangay Aga, Nasugbu Batangas.
Nearby residents point us on where to park, and a local boy has taken the role as our trail guide. His name is Angelo. We start our journey right away towards the registration site. We sign our names and hand P10 each for environmental fees. As we are walking along, we pass-by two big groups, who are being briefed on the hike.
The first sign of the hike itself is the crossing of the river. There are two bridges, one is a cemented walkway and the other a rickety bamboo bridge. I take a couple of pictures. It is peaceful with just the sound of the rushing waters. A wonderful sound of nature. However, the trek is just about to begin.
The next part is going through a canopy of trees, a small jungle. It is a bit of a work out since it is muddy and slippery. I step on the leafy floor to the next root that sticks out, going up for about 20 to 30 minutes. I am panting for breath and is at the back. They wait for me. Angelo gives me a stick to help with the climb, and he takes my backpack.
And then there is the open field of grasslands. Here I see a couple of cows, carabaos and horses. I can see the beautiful view of the mountains. I feel like I should sing and dance to the tune of “the hills are alive with the sound of music…” like sister Maria in the Sound of Music movie. It is an amazing sight with just the mooing and neighing of the animals. The trek in this part is quite easy and a good resting place to catch our breaths and take pictures. There is a dog following us.
We pass through some bamboo, lantana shrubs and cogon grass to another open field. There is a small house and resting hut and a few tents. The lady caretaker says that this is the campsite for overnighters. I ask how much to set up camp. She says it is free. There is a pretty cool rock stacking on the site. We sit for awhile and sip some water. Some of the group hikers catches up with us.
We decide to leave, before the rest of the group arrives. An incline going to the summit is just about to start again. This time passing through a muddy and rocky path that are really slippery. I climb slowly, making sure each step is secured. It is probably an hour before we reach the summit point.
As we enter a bend of cogon grass, we are welcomed by the sight of a foggy, open space and a small resting shed. There is even an ice cream, halo-halo and hot coffee vendor. But the best part is, we are at the summit! It is a wonderful feeling, the sweaty, muscle aching and tiresome long trek up is like worth the effort. And then there is the welcome sign. It says, Welcome to Mt. Talamitam Summit 630 MASL (meters above sea level). Everybody are just lining up to have a photo op. According to our guide, the fog should go in a bit and show a view of the surrounding valleys and mountains. The fog thins out and a hazy view can be seen. It is an awesome sight.
After a few minutes of rest and chewing some power up food, like dried mangoes and bread, we have decided to head back down. Going down is as treacherous as going up since it is as slippery. I even broke my walking stick in one of my many slips. And one of my brothers have scrapes on his arm by the time we have reached our car. We gave Angelo his payment. The running rate for a guide is actually P300-350, but since he has helped me with my backpack and his uncle taking dangerous photo shots in the summit, we have decided to give P500. We also paid P50 for parking, and another P10 each to use the bathroom to dress and wash-up a bit.
All in all, it has been a 4 hour commune with nature, which has left my shoes dirty, wet, muddy, and most of all, a feet that is stinky as hell. Our hike at Mt. Talamitam has left us with aches and pains physically; but it is a great mammoth of a story for my diaries, for our friends and family, and a memory installed in our hearts and minds forever. Cheers to our next adventure!