Do you prefer hiking with a specific group of people or do you like seeing new faces? At its core, mountain climbing is not just about reaching the top. Most often, what matters most are the experiences and memories we shared along the trail. And admit it, when you look at those instagrammable photos, your mind travels back to the conversations, big or small. Those candid laughter, comfortable jokes and banters, little slips, unguarded expressions, and many more.
This is why WHO you go in the mountains with counts. Friends or strangers, each has its pros and cons that can make or break the success of any climb.
If this was two years ago, I would avoid any chance of meeting new faces. But the mountains had taught me the beauty of building connections… in nature and in people. So now I don’t mind — at least not much.
Where expectation meets reality
What started in Alto Peak was followed by the Tres Marias climb. And now, we found ourselves reunited for another adventure. Hiking with me are familiar faces — Shiela, Jovy, Chiarra, Kevin, James, An Jurvel, Shandy, Shiekina, Ate Sherlyn, Hardi, Renson, Phil, Sir La Yell — with the addition of Maurice, Idas (Laag Sparkles) and CJ Estrada. Our destination? Mt. Talinis.
Towering at 1,903 meters above sea level, Mt. Talinis, also known as Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros), is the second highest mountain in Negros Island after Mt. Kanlaon. This complex volcano located in the province of Negros Oriental was given a 6/9 difficulty level.
Among its many routes, we followed the Apolong-Apolong trail, which is the second longest course going to the peak. From blogs and firsthand experiences, we set our expectation that the climb will be challenging. And indeed it was.
We were blessed with a sunny day and it was quarter to 8:00 am when we started the hike. Since most of us are climbing Mt. Talinis for the first time, there was extra excitement among the group. The tall trees and rich biodiversity are nature’s natural cooling system, making it bearable for us to walk through the unlimited steep ascend.
We trekked towards the ranger’s station (the first water source) where we met our first setback. Shiekina, due to her excitement at the sight of the water (or was it the bebeboys), sprained her ankle. Gladly, we have two PTs, An Jurvel and Shandy, to the rescue.
The lead group proceeded with the hike, leaving Shiekina, An Jurvel and Shandy, to wait for the sweeper group so Shik can rest for a while.
We reached Rancho (the last water source before Lake Nailig), an established campsite by the Cuernos De Negros Mountaineers, where we had our lunch. But since the team decided on a same-day summit, our pacing was slightly brisk with less rest in between. We passed by Kaipuhan Sulfur River then continued to the monkey trail. Unlike Alto Peak, there were no ropes to hold on to and you only have to trust the roots to help you up.
It was past 1:00 pm when we got a glimpse of Lake Nailig and just when we got too close to our camping ground, James injured his knee. It was a mix of excitement and anxiety. Excitement for a guaranteed “clearing” at the summit and anxiety for our injured friends and those left behind.
From Lake Nailig, the peak is accessible by a 30 to 40-minute trek through a forested trail. At the top waits a panoramic view of Negros Oriental’s natural forests. No wonder why it is dubbed as the province’s “last frontier.” All of us were in awe at the sight of the lake from above.
It was almost sundown when the rest of our friends headed to the summit. As we descended back to the campsite, we passed by Shiekina and James — sprained ankle and injured knee — lagging behind the second group. Despite the threat of the rolling dusk and their injuries, these two braved the trials of the trails.
The night and its terror
Night time and the two groups started cooking our meals. However, five of us have not gone down from the summit. Later on, Hardi and Renson arrived with faint headlamp. The two said that they lost track of Phil, James, and Shik. It was already dark and most of us started to worry. After what seemed like a lifetime, James came rushing into the campsite telling us to send people to assist Shik who met an accident. Our head guide, Sir Chris, along with Shandy, went and look for the two. With that mishap, plus the strong gust of wind, our socials during the night turned into a slumber party. We were too tired to stay up and decided to conclude the day.
Lake Nailig greeted us with a dramatic backdrop. The morning was cold and we were surrounded by thick fog. Personally, I regret that I did not give this Crater Lake a second look the day before when it was clear.
But despite our “bondpaper” background, the group was still in high spirit enjoying the breakfast (except for the lost tuna patty) and selfies!
It was past 10:00 am when we decided to trace back our trail. Another day of experiencing the straggle and struggle of Apolong trail — only this time, it’s the opposite. Yesterday’s unlimited ascent is today’s unlimited descent. And from arid forest path, we are faced with muddy track. *insert heavy breathing*
It started drizzling when we reached Kaipuhan Sulfur River but this did not stop us from enjoying its one-of-a-kind view. The sulfur vents, the dead trees, the bleached rocks — it was like being transported into a barren realm.
As time passed, the drizzle turned into a heavy rain and we hurried our way back to the jump off. Hiking in the rain comes with extra threats: the trail is dark and slippery with a chance of landslide and getting sick. Gladly, we all reached the jump-off safe and sound. How was the experience? UNLIMITED. Unlimited ascent, unlimited descent, unlimited HAHA! Mt. Talinis is one of the places where your expectation meets reality. Definitely a place worth coming back to. 🙂
If you ever go and do it for the Gram, take your trash with you — every piece, every gram.