Have you ever got that feeling when you know exactly you’re about to do something big? It’s like all the small moments pile up into something bigger and you find yourself saying, “No going back now. This is it.”
That was how we felt on the dawn of November 22. After all the plot twists and yesterday’s rain, we’ve probably seen the worst possible scenarios. Things seemed less daunting now and we’re ready to do what we’re meant be doing. That is to climb Mt. Kalatungan.
Kalatungan Mountain Range has an estimated area of 55,692 hectares that is bounded by the municipality of Talakag on the north, the municipality of Lantapan and the city of Valencia on the west, and the municipality of Pangantucan on the south. Mt. Kalatungan, it’s highest peak, is now officially the 5th highest mountain in the Philippines at a height of 2880 MASL.
Following the itinerary, the group were up at 2 am. With me were my comfort people when it comes to my outdoor life. It’s amazing how far our hikes in Mt. Aminduen, Tres Marias, and Mt. Talinis have brought us together. Tagging along with us were the travel blogger duo, Junji of wanderingfeetph and James of asanasadsijames. Also, marking their first ever major climb were Kim, John and Zan.
It was still pitch dark when we got ourselves all geared for the hike. With limited depth perception, walking on the trail became a guessing game for everyone. But one advantage of hitting the trail early is the cool wind. It made the arduous climb a lot more bearable.
Hours passed and we finally saw the morning light gently unfolding in the sky. The great thing about the Kala-Wiji trail is the presence signage along the way. It gave us something to look forward to. A reason to push through despite our huffing and puffing and our trembling knees.
The open trail of buko buko sa anay welcomed us and we knew right then it would be a long and steep hike. It was called as such because the ridge resembles to the back of a sow.
Another advantage of starting early is you get to avoid the scorching heat. We worked our way through the cogon grass until we finally saw a glimpse of the Muleta Falls.
After a quick breakfast, we proceeded to the forested trail — thankful for the momentary shade. It was here that we started experiencing Kalatungan’s mossy forest. We were tired but pumped up after a beautiful weather and a clearing.
By 10 am, we arrived at the junction area where jump off for the 30-min trek to Mt. Kalatungan’s summit is. Our group was divided into two since the 12 of us have different pacing and also to avoid crowding one area during photo ops. The first group were Shiela, Ate Sherlyn, Kim, Zan, James and I. The second were CJ, Kevin, John, Jovy, James and Junji.
Majestic is not an exaggeration when it comes to describing Kalatungan’s vast montane. The trail is lined with trees wrapped in thick moss. We were so immersed in this dreamlike encounter that didn’t notice we’ve finally arrived.
Truth is, there is nothing too scenic in Mt. Kalatungan’s summit — at least not in the physical sense. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Wiji (Mt. Lumpanag) fronting the southern part of the Kalatungan Mountain Range. Other than this, the peak is an open area, like that of Tres Marias, surrounded by shrubs and trees.
But what makes it one of most rewarding climb is the experience you get along the way. The pride of surviving the assaults with our heavy loads. Those moments of almost giving up but choosing to move forward. And of course, the chance to witness the whole of Kalatungan’s beauty in clear view.
We were actually way too ahead of our itinerary, reaching the summit at 10:30 am when we’re supposed to do it at 2 pm. Kuya Babu and the rest of our porter guides suggested that we take our lunch in the Bamboo Camp (the campsite) instead of the Junction Area.
The way to the Bamboo Camp a steep decent. The steps became fewer in number, bigger and farther apart. We even agreed that the trail looked like a combination of Mt. Talinis and Mt. Aminduen, with the addition of the mossy forest.
We walked through the muddy steps and fallen logs, then finally reached the campsite.
Arriving four hours earlier than our expected time, we pitched our tents, ate our sumptuous lunch and sipped our well-deserved coffee. By nighttime, the temperature dropped lower and we were on layers of clothes. There was no socials that night after dinner and we hit the bed with excitement for tomorrow’s climb.
Will we still get a lucky day? That will have to wait. 🙂
For now, check out Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 1 (The Plot Twists)