Warning: If you don't want to read excessive whining and grouchiness about the mountains of San Jose, please leave this page immediately.
Just days after hiking my most favorite mountain, Mt. Kanlaon, I was invited by some friends to join them on a hike in San Jose, Tarlac. They said it's gonna be a triple mountain adventure in a day. Back then, I felt excitement, three mountains from Central Luzon would be a great addition to my Kabundukan collection, so I happily gave them a thumbs up.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Not knowing that a hellish hike awaits for us in Tarlac, I joined my friends on a Sunday hike. Aboard a north-bound bus, we left Manila at 2 AM and reached Tarlac City (near Siesta) after about 3 hours. My friend Chris, with the help of GAMENEST, have arranged everything for this hike beforehand (woohoo, salamat senyo) so upon arriving at Siesta, the jeep that brought us (a group of 8) to Sitio San Pedro was already waiting. It still took us probably an hour to finally arrive at the jump-off of our would-be crazy triple mountain hike.
Mang Johnny enthusiastically received us when we arrived at Sitio San Pedro. He quickly brought out a logbook and a map of their mountainous area. There were at least 6 mountains surrounding Sitio San Pedro and we told Mang Johnny that we plan to hike three of these. At first he was surprised as it is usually done in two days or three, but did not turn us down since 2 groups have done this previously.
|Mang Johnny showing to us a sketch map of the mountains of San Jose. "Mukhang magkakalapit lang naman, kayang-kaya."|
|the crazy ones, still full of energy before the hike|
It was enjoyable at first. Rural scenes of green rice fields and carabao herds brought good vibes to us as we walk towards the foot of Mt. Kawayan, the first in our trilogy circuit hike. By that time, everyone was still very happy, still smiling and still excited for the hike.
|a nice countryside view while trekking towards the foot of Mt. Kawayan.|
|petiks walk in the park|
|a very challenging ascent to Mt. Kawayan|
By 07:45 AM, after hiking for almost 2 hours, the ground leveled again. But still we're not over from the mountain's torment. The trail turned into an open grassland, no tree or anything that would keep us from the sun's torturing heat.
|still a long way to the summit|
|refreshing trail food.|
|open trail means extreme heat, and I hate it!|
|almost at the summit.|
|group shot at the summit of Mt. Kawayan. One down, two to go.|
Mt. Bungkol Baka
Mt. Bungkol Baka (Mt BB) rests not too far from Mt. Kawayan hence, getting there from the summit of the latter mountain took less than an hour through the ridge that connects the two.
|on the way to the second mountain.|
|obligatory group shot at the peak of Mt. Bungkol Baka. Nagsisimula na kaming manlumo.|
As our hike continued onto the third and last mountain, Mt. Tangisan, challenges we met from the previous two intensified three-folds. First, we had to descend or rather slide down through the long, steep, dusty trail of Mt. BB. It was slippery, and again, no stable branch or root to cling on. Second, our hike caught up with the midday sun, thus, the heat was at its peak. Third, we were starting to ran out of hydration, the next available water source is located at the foot of Mt. BB. Fourth, unlike Mt. Kawayan and Mt. BB which are connected by a ridge, Mt. Tangisan is a free standing mountain, therefore, we had to trek down back to the ground, walk a distance towards the foot of Mt. Tangisan, then climb up again for its summit.
|descending another steep and slippery trail.|
|lunch break along the trail. Our spirits slowly being torn apart by the challenges these mountains of San Jose were giving us.|
Before I exploded due to overheat, we reached the only water source just right in time (oh thank God). All the bottles were quickly replenished. I even poured a bottle of water onto myself just so to relieve myself from extreme heat.
|There's probably only one water source throughout the circuit hike. Kaya binuhusan ko ang buong sarili ko, binasa pati ang damit para lang mag-cool down. Pero after several minutes, tuyo na ulit ako. Ganon kainit sa San Jose Circuit.|
Although walking pretty slow and demoralized, we still carried on with the challenging hike. At around 1:30 PM, we reached the ground again, passed by fields of rice and a huge mango tree where we rested for some time. Honestly, at that point, I was already thinking not to pursue for the third mountain anymore, but my hiking spirit motivated me to do otherwise.
|sugod sa puno! We want Shade!|
|Just like an oasis in the middle of Sahara, this huge tree is a gift from above.|
Hiking up Mt. Tangisan, although lasted only for 2 hours (actually it should just be an hour up on an average pace) seemed like forever. In my eyes by that time, Mt. Tangisan was the worst, most unremarkable mountain I've ever climbed. I kept on telling myself and my team, "you will want to climb the mountains of San Jose just to say you're able to reach their summits".
|the not-so-motivated hikers.|
|almost at the summit (or was it even the summit?)|
|summit at last.|
|the plains and river as seen from the summit of Mt. Tangisan|
|And of course, the obligatory group shot at the summit of our third mountain|
|Done with San Jose Circuit after 10.5 hours|
After the hike, we washed up ourselves at Mang Johnny's place, he's a good man and very welcoming so we thanked him very much. Soon after that, we left the place and headed back to Tarlac City, filled our tummies on a carinderia nearby before catching up a trip back to Manila. What an exhausting but still very fun day.___________________________________________________________________________
A few days after doing the San Jose Circuit, I realized that climbing the three peaks in a day is a crazy idea, especially if it's summertime. I'm not saying that the mountains of San Jose are ugly or not worthy of a climb, it's just that these mountains has no special distinction from each other. It's like eating three different pies but all has a taste that's pretty much the same. Eventually, you'll get fed up even before consuming the first two completely. Perhaps doing just one mountain or two in a day would be good enough. That's just my two cents.
And might I add, these mountains are a big no no as a summer destination.