The date was March 26, 2012, it was supposedly a Mt. Cristobal Traverse dayhike from Dolores, Quezon to Nagcarlan, Laguna but our plan was ruined by an unexpected harsh weather condition.
I was recently affiliated with a mountaineering group (Panik Kabataang Pinoy) whose members are PT students from the Pamantasan. Since some of its members, including me, just graduated last March 25, the group planned a post-grad climb (traverse) to Mt. Cristobal just a day after the graduation date. I haven't tramped its trail yet, so I was tempted to join.
Although Mt. Cristobal was dubbed as the "Devil's Mountain", never did I fear to hike it up. My curiosity overruled the fear brought by stories of mysterious disappearances and unwanted apparitions on its trails.
From Manila, we traveled to San Pablo City via a Lucena-bound bus (I forgot how much it cost). Then another jeepney ride from San Pablo City to Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon. An estimate of 4 hours travel time from Manila to the Jump-off.
| Blogger's Tip: Don't fall victim to some greedy tricycle drivers if you don't want extra expense for this climb. The public market, where you can find the jeepney terminal to Dolores, is walkable from the highway.
|the jump-off point is also the location of a Smart Tower|
|on our way to Montelibano house|
Minutes have passed, but there were still no hopes that the rain will subside. Pero wala nang atrasan, we want CrisTrav for our post-grad climb. After 30 minutes, Montelibano House finally showed up.
| Montelibano House is the popular stop for many Mt. Cristobal hikers. It is the last house you'll encounter along the Dolores Trail, thus it's also the last water source. Bladders and water bottles can be refilled in this house, only if you have permission from the owners.
|the montelibano house|
|some parts were really muddy, and slippery|
|obstacle course sa trail ng Mt. Cristobal|
|Mt Cristobal is a dormant volcano. The flooded area is its old crater|
We reached Mt. Cristobal's "Lovers' Lane" aka saddle, but the wind there was at its mightiest. We'll freeze to death if we stayed there longer so we walked further to Jones Peak. We walked over a maze of tall grass still on hunt for a good place to eat, lucky us we found a small campsite in the middle of the grassland.
We stayed there for lunch just in time that the rain subsided a bit. But because the wind was still there and blowing at its mightiest, we were shivering the entire lunch time. No one can speak smooth, every part of our body was shaking badly. Grabe talaga ang lamig. After lunch, we resumed tracing the maze-like path to Jones Peak.
|us lunching at the maze-like grassland area.|
sorry for the blurry shot, malamig kasi e, I was shaking.
To give you an idea what we faced at Jones Peak. Please see this video by my fellow hiker. You will notice my improvised rain coat on 0:30-0:33.
|cloudy Jones Peak, zero visibility. |
we were expecting a view of Laguna's Seven Lakes, but obviously, there's none.
We followed the same trail we tramped earlier, but this time it was muddier. We were constantly hearing butts slamming on the muddy trail during the fast-paced descent. In less than three hours, we're back at Montelibano House. We knocked on the door but it seemed that no one was inside, so we just continued our descent towards the jump-off.
No jeep was available at the Brgy. Sta. Lucia jump-off. At first, we thought we'll gonna walk it all the way to the next barangay which is about 3km away. Thank God we met this man on the road who offered us not only a ride back to San Pablo City but also a place to freshen up ourselves.
They let us use their bathroom, served us hot coffee, and gave us a kilo of freshly picked sayote for a very cheap price. Excellent service from a local. oohyeah! Only then that I realized my camera was already shooting at its own. After spending some time inside my wet pants' pocket, water reached its system, thus it met its mortality - so sad.
We left for San Pablo City at around 4:30 PM, and by 8:30 PM, we're finally back in Manila.
This failed traverse on Mt. Cristobal is by far my most disastrous climb, but the experience I gained and the lessons I learned from it make it one of my best and unforgettable climbs ever. This climb reminded me that I'm not an invincible being, that I also have limits.