The challenges were going back up the trails and retrace our route from the summit to find the right way. Luckily my teammates followed my suggestion of packing light so despite the crumbling ground, with teamwork they were able to pull through with relative difficulty. I however didn’t with my weight training. Mt. Maculot was having its revenge on me. I was practically unscathed the last time we met; now I was experiencing the runner up for the scariest moment of my life—hanging onto dear life as my arms were solely carrying my entire weight, clinging onto roots that I dug while the ground beneath me that offered little support was slowly eroding due to my weight! I seriously felt like anytime the roots would give out, I’d slide down, and be unable to climb back up the eroded ground. And I can’t keep carrying my entire weight for long!
Luckily our sweeper Allen did great at his duty and stayed with me (from stable grounds of course) during my struggle and lent a hand until I was able to pull through. I was also lucky that the others didn’t saw what happened to me as it was really scary.
I climbed up and grab onto the root we originally used going down. As the ground crumbled I had to expose more of the root and cling to it with both arms. I had to think fast and dig for some more roots before the ground totally erodes, and eventually I found another on my left where there’s a more stable ground. The problem was that a really thorny plant was blocking my path to transfer. I was running out of time as the ground totally gave way so I just reached and grabbed that root and before I was able to successfully transfer to it I felt a lot of thorns gracing my face. From there I don’t really remember how I managed to reach for the stable ground where Allen was staying. All I know was that I got away from it all with some small holes in my upper lip area (no thorns were carried apparently) and an inch of cut on my left knee, aside from some minor scratches of course. Thanks Allen for staying!
I wasn’t smiling right after that incident and I thought that “this isn’t fun anymore!” I felt that my heart beat was really elevated and my right quads was throbbing—all muscles of it, ready to have cramps at any second. Fortunately running thought me some lessons so after some rehydration and proper management of effort we were all going back to the summit to find the right trail down. And of course the idea of finding the right way brought back my smile. 🙂
We were back on top and Mt. Maculot had already given us more adventure than we seek. Eventually the right path made itself visible to us and so we were on our way to the campsite where the infamous store used to stand. Of course going there still gave us some challenges as we encountered crumbling trails on the way down.
From the camp site most of us went to view the Rockies but only two went to it due to laziness brought about by the heat. After resting for quite a while and some cold drinks we started our descent just before 3PM.
Sadly the numerous Buco (Coconut) juice vendors that frequent the trail a year ago were also gone but one still managed to stay completing my day. Again, ingenuity.
Climb Tip: The advantage of descending near the mountaineering store was the proximity of houses where you can take a bath, for a fee of course. A tricycle terminal is also located nearby.
After our descent we opted for some nice bath, halo-halo, and barbecue, all of which in the vicinity of the mountaineering store. From there our buses back to Manila are just a tricycle ride and ₱20 (per person) away.
To those also planning to follow our path here’s the summary of our route: start at the jumpoff point (Grotto trail), climb to summit, head towards the camp site (Rockies), and descended to the mountaineering store area (descent from summit is approximate as my GF405 ran out of batteries). But don’t forget to register first!
Appeal: I kept mentioning the word “tourists” in this post to refer to the sets of people that litter the mountain leaving all sorts of junk that they carry with them. Unfortunately Mt. Maculot is in a very bad shape because of them and is in fact worse state now than my last visit a year ago. Don’t be a tourist, be a responsible mountaineer by bringing all your trash with you on the way down! Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!
At the end of the day I was pretty satisfied with the way things turned out. It didn’t go “according to plan” the same way our last visit did but the unanticipated moments of getting lost and finding our way back really made it into an adventure—the thrill of spontaneity. If everything went “according to plan” we may not have enjoyed our climb as much, and even I who thought knew enough the trails of Mt. Maculot had new lessons learned.
Congratulations to my group particularly the first timers for completing their first trek/traverse! Great job guys and I hope you learned some valuable things with our assault, and hope this is just the start of many more climbs to come!
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Mt. Maculot Revisited: