Mt. Batulao

Friday, October 7, 2016

One Thursday three weeks ago, I was suddenly raring to climb another mountain. I was feeling stressed and I wanted to take some time off. Since it was spontaneous and unplanned, I did some research on mountains that are good for day hikes located near Metro Manila and safe enough for a solo climb. Mt. Batulao, with a height of 811masl, in Nasugbu, Batangas seemed like a perfect fit for those criteria. So with very little planning, I woke up in the wee hours of Saturday morning, packed my stuff (a change of clothes, a small towel, my Simple Hydration bottle, some trail food like energy bars and a hard-boiled egg, portable charger, some cash and of course, my phone), and left the house.

I arrived at the jump-off at 6am. When I was checking out some blogs on Mt. Batulao, I read that guides are actually not required. I debated with myself on that and decided to get one for safety purposes. After a quick briefing, we started the trek at a little past 6am.

From the jump-off, my guide, Mang Jun, led me onto a rough road. It was a good ten to fifteen minutes of trekking on a hilly rough road of dirt and rocks before reaching the trail head going to Mt. Batulao. 
Mt. Batulao and all its twelve peaks - this view will greet you once you reach 
the start of the trails

My guide told me that there were already six groups who started the climb before me. Because I was being my usual competitive self, I told him that I want to be the first to reach the summit. So off we went on a moderately fast pace. About fifteen minutes into the trek, we reached a store. Near it was a fork leading to two paths: the old trail on the left and the new trail on the right. Mang Jun asked me which one I would prefer. Since I was feeling adventurous, I decided to do both by traversing from one trail to another. With this, we started on the new trail which was mostly of dirt, going up and down as we went from one peak to another. Initially, it was easy since the ascents were very gradual. However, as the trail progressed, the ascents became steeper and steeper, especially at what they called the "camel's back", with two peaks looking distinctively like the humps of a camel. At one point, I was using both my hands and feet to climb up some rocks. Good thing I brought my trekking gloves with me.
at the first peak, with the second one behind me
 "Look, Ma! Both hands!"
one last stop before reaching the summit

Eventually with some running on the trails and very few and quick stops, I reached the summit, which is also the twelfth peak, and I did it in less than two hours. Because I was the first one there, I got to enjoy and savor the view all to myself. The view was so stunning in all angles that I was left speechless. For a moment there, I found myself sitting quietly and just admiring everything that I was seeing.
 one of the perks of having the summit all to yourself: lots of ample time to 
take photos with no photo-bombers

After about thirty minutes of taking photos, resting, and eating some snacks, Mang Jun led me to the descent going on the old trail. This was the most difficult part because from the summit, descending through the old trail started off with rappelling. Although it was challenging, I always find rappelling fun. Too bad I didn't have any photos taken! After the rappelling part, I had to carefully climb down some steep rocks. I met a couple of trail runners in one of the camp sites and had a quick chitchat with them. The rest of the trail was of dirt, again going up and down, and they were great for running, so I did some more trail running. There were some muddy parts on which I walked. We were back at the jump-off with a little over an hour on the descent. We arrived around 9:30am, from what I can recall. Sooo, Mt. Batulao in less than three and a half hours, check!

Travel Notes:

How to get there:
  • Via public transportation: Board a bus bound to Nasugbu from Buendia, Pasay, and get off at Evercrest. Earliest bus leaves at 4am at the DLTB Bus Terminal. From Evercrest, ride a tricycle that will take you directly to the jump-off.
  • Via private vehicle: From Metro Manila, drive to Tagaytay via SLEX, going through Greenfield exit. Proceed through the Tagaytay-Nasugbu road, and turn left at Evercrest. Go past the gate, and then follow through until you reach a fork. Turn left at the fork and go through the rough road until you reach the jump-off area.
  • bus fare - Php220 (from Pasay to Nasugbu, and back)
  • tricycle - Php200 (from Evercrest to the jump-off, and back)
  • registration fee - Php60 (one registration area at new trail for Php30, and two registration areas for old trail for Php20 and Php10)
  • guide - Php500 for a maximum of ten persons (contact Mang Jun at 09293181863)

I got what I was craving for that weekend: some me-time, a quick getaway from the city, a detox from the toxic monotonous life and from all the stress that I was feeling back then, and solace that only a taste of nature could bring me. It was an experience that I would do all over again.

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