Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mt. Banoi | My Second Solo Mountain Adventure

I turned my eyes towards Mt. Banoi after our planned climbs to Mt. Amuyao (plan A) and Mt. Malasimbo (plan B) got cancelled. And since no one seemed to be available on my preferred date of climb, I went there solo. I'm no longer afraid to go solo on a hike, I've done it once at Mt. Tagapo. In fact, I find it more thrilling whenever I travel solo (napaka-introvert lang diba). 


Sunday - August 26, 2012

Aboard a bus bound for Batangas Pier, I left Manila at 04:30 in the morning, quite not sure where exactly I'm alighting. I just told the bus conductor to drop me where I could ride a jeep to Lobo. He told me that there are jeeps at the Grand Terminal. So I agreed and paid P125.00 for the ticket.

At 6AM, the bus reached the Grand Terminal. I was welcomed right away by many barkers of jeepneys that ply different routes. Clueless of what jeepney I should take to go to Lobo, I asked them. They then directed me to a Balagtas-bound jeepney. I told the driver to drop me to the terminal of Lobo-bound jeeps, then I paid a fare of P13.00.  
Somewhere in Batangas City, I alighted the jeep. The terminal to Lobo was just right in front of me. So I entered one jeep, waited for other passengers to fill the jeep, then off we went to Lobo. Fare was P53.00 straight to Lobo town. 

Almost 8 AM when I finally reached Lobo, whew. Commuting to this Batangas town was indeed too strenuous as it involves various transfers of vehicle. 

It was Sunday morning at the Town of Lobo, everyone seemed to be heading to the church for their Sunday obligation (na-guilty ako bigla kasi matagal na akong hindi nakakapag-simba). Anyways, hindi naman ako masyadong religious so hindi na ako umattend ng misa. And besides, kelangan ko nang simulan mag-hike. But before that, I looked first for the police station to register. I asked some people around where I could find their police station, they pointed towards the blue building beside the bridge just a few blocks from the plaza. 

Municipal Hall of Lobo
Police Station near the bridge
I was interviewed by the police officer when I told him that I will be hiking solo. He asked for my ID and mobile number before letting my proceed with my hike. No need to pay any registration fee, yehey

Outside the police station, I saw a tricycle, I asked him if he could bring me to Malabnig, in Brgy. Balatbat. And he said yes, but I notice that he's quite uncertain of the place. He told me that the fare to Sitio Malabnig is P100. Still clueless with this Sitio Malabnig, I agreed with the P100. 

When we reached the end of the concrete road where a signage "Malabnig Village, 1.5 kilometers"  is posted, the driver asked me again that he'll add P20 to the fare since it's off the road already. Aggrrhh, medyo uminit bigla ang dugo ko, pero ayoko masira ang araw ko kaya um-oo na lang ako. I told the driver to just drop me and I'll start my trek from that point, I gave him P120.00 and proceeded with my trek (hindi na ako lumingon ulit sa kanya, kasi alam kong pinagkakitaan lang niya ako). While I was walking towards Malabnig Village, two horse-riding women approached and told me that I should've paid P55 only. Aarrghh!! na-goryo ako ni kuya, pero smile na lang.

my trek started here
When I learned that these women are heading to Sitio Malabnig, I told them that I'll just walk with them until the village. The trail, which ascends gradually, passed through rivers and coconut plantations

the friendly locals I met along my way to Sitio Malabnig
there's a number of river crossings when goin to Sitio Malabnig, it may swell up to knees during rainy season
I enjoyed walking and exchanging thoughts with these two locals (we walked for almost an hour up to Sitio Malabnig). Conversing with locals really fascinates me. Andami nilang chismis.

As we approached the split-trail, I had to bid goodbye to these two friendly locals (nakalimutan kong tanungin pangalan nila). The left-upward trail, as what they have told me, will lead me to summit.

the split where I bid goodbye to the friendly locals, left trail leads to Mt. Banoi, right trail leads to lower Malabnig Village
At 09:20 AM, I reached the empty house in Malabnig Village. Pahinga muna sandali. After about 10 minutes, I proceeded again with the trek. The trail was very obvious and ascends gradually (walang steep akong na-enkuwentro).

straight forward and very obvious trail of Mt. Banoi
the peaks seen from the trail
you're still on the right trail if you see this
malapit ko nang maabot
Past the village, I followed the obvious straight forward trail. But suddenly, it led me down towards a house. I know it is no longer the right trail so I trekked back until I noticed the narrower upward rightward trail. Hindi talaga siya madaling mapansin.

the not-so-obvious upward, rightward trail to the peaks
The trail then gained a little steepness beyond that fork. Medyo hinihingal na ako. I still encountered another fork, but I always took the rightward trail which soon led me to the first electric post.

first electric post
I continued following the trail until it leads me to another electric post.

second electric post
two towers peak seen from the second electric post
Lobo Town from the second electric post

a panoramic shot of the view from the second electric post
I can see the two-towers peak and I wanted to get close to it. So I followed the trail, very well hidden behind bushes and fallen trees, which will lead me to the towers. The trail was quite messy and obstructed by fallen trees and bamboo, so I crawled under those obstacles. Then I climbed over two wood fences.

the very well hidden trail to the two-towers
the second wood fence
There were no more trees beyond the second fence, time was 10:30 AM and the sun was already burning me. I followed again the obvious trail as fast as I could, I thought it will lead me to the two-tower summit but I ended up again at a wrong place. Along my way, I met four adult cows, and these cows came close to me and started sniffing me.

if you follow the obvious trail, it will lead you downward to this muddy trail
the cows that sniffed me
medyo kinabahan ako kasi baka suwagin ako ng sungay nila 

I slowly walked back to where I can see the tower closest. I really did not see any trail leading to it so I just assaulted the trail-less grassy slope.

closer to the tower...
dito pa lang, makikita at maririnig mo na ang paggalaw nung old towers
even closer..
and closer..
The towers are very old and rusty, and it shakes with the wind. Medyo kinakabahan akong pumunta sa ilalim kasi mukhang bibigay na siya any minute. According to the locals I met earlier, these towers were sabotaged (bombed) by some rebel groups a few years ago because the local people failed to pay their tribute. After that incident, locals took the parts of the tower bits by bits and sold them to mangangalakals.

The summit offers a view of Mindoro mountains, Verde Island, the town of Lobo, as well as the nearby mountain ranges.

a fallen part of the old tower
under the tower
Sitio Malabnig as seen from the summit
probably the main peak, seen from the two-towers peak
I soon left the summit at 11:30 before noon, talagang natatakot akong mag-stay sa ilalim ng tower kasi parang babagsak na talaga. So I rushed down the summit, met the cows again, reached Sitio Malabnig, and by 1 PM, I'm back again to the ground. I rode a tricycle back to town center, paid only P10 (aarghh, nakakabitter pa rin yung tricycle na nang-goryo sakin)  

My solo trip to Mt. Banoi was superb, the weather was perfect, the climb was relatively easy (composed of almost entirely gradual ascending trail), and the people, especially the ones in Sitio Malabnig, were very nice and welcoming. I started my trek at 8AM, finished at 1PM - 5 hours total trekking time.

Since I finished my hike too early than expected, I looked for possible sidetrips in the town of Lobo. I got two options, go to the beach or visit an old lighthouse. I chose the latter because I am fond of visiting old historically important structures. 


solo dayhike to Mt. Banoi, my 19th mountain, success



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