Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mt Balagbag (Bulacan/Rizal)

"helipad" of mt balagbag

Mt balagbag
I am scheduled for an exam saturday afternoon, and since there's nobody home in pampanga, i didnt want to head to province. 

On only one asking, i got a yes from my housemate who's even more willing to go out and do a climb.

Since there isn't much time to spoil for an outing other than the night of saturday, of all those mountains listed in southern tagalog for hikable mountains in pinoymountaineer, mt balagbas is the most convenient. Just about time as this mountain is of grasslands and night treks are apparently easier.

starting the trek in mt balagbag

quasi helipad

I met my climb buddy in PHILCOA about 5:30 just right after my exam. Took the bus to Tungko. By 7:10, we were in tungko terminal where we bought supplies, had dinner, and rode the jeep to licao licao. Access to the terminal is straight to the back of BDO bank which i next to the Shell fuel pump.

shot just next to where we camped in mt balagbag

It was around 9pm when we started the trek. Almost all households from the licao terminal are asleep, and probably because it was blackout at the time. Thank goodness, a tricycle who lives next to the terminal is still awake and dropped us in san isidro jump off. From the terminal is uphill incline and we were really wondering if the tricycle can handle it. You'd hear the engines squeaking and surprisingly, fare was only 70 (thats whats on the blog and what the trike charged us; locals say it's 60). 

trail to summit or helipad in mt balagbag

From the jump off, we started the trekk and dogs were at every household, kept barking, and luckily did nothing but barked. They'd come close at some point, but we just walked straight and as far away as possible from where they are.

As it said in the blogs, the trail is clear.  If you are on 4x4, you can even drive all the way to the helipad (though u will have to negotiate as the spaces up there are fenced). While it is unlikely that you'll get lost, the inclines are steep enough for you to require take-5s more often than normal, especially if you have a relatively heavy load.

view from summit or helipad of mt balagbag

view from summit or helipad of mt balagbag

From there it took us close to another 30mins to get to the helipad. We were stuggling to get up as the sunlight was beginning to sting, and considering we haven't had breakfast. We planned to have it up in the summit, but because there wasn't any shade, we looked around til we descended to a house just behind the summit.

The owner of the house just left, and we thought about utilizing his kubo to rest and cook. While waiting for the brunch to get done, a number of groups of people were passing by back and forth; we took the chance to ask directions going to the falls.

one hut we parked in mt balagbag

Majority of the people said it will be easier and faster if we walk back towards the jump off and walk from there. However, since we were off the summit already and did not want to climb back, we agreed to take a shortcut til we get back to the trail we used upon going up.

The households which we came across though were saying it's faster if we just descend from there straight, as if just rolling downhill, taking the traverse.

fishponds next to houses along the trails of mt balagbag

traverse trail in mt balagbag

you'll come across this part to rest if you take the traverse in mt balagbag

By 10:45, thinking we were at what we thought was the helipad. We camped right in front of a private lot's gate. The space fits d description on the blog being good enough for even 20 tents. 

The morning after, we were approached by the caretaker of the private lot, who confirmed it isn't the helipad/summit and we are still about less than half an hour away. He showed us the trail to the summit which was just next to the gate. 

heading upward to mt balagbag family resort 

So we did as adviced. The trail was easy in that the different forks seem to lead you to the same destination. What was difficult though was enduring the heat above some thick bush which kept scratching my legs. We came across a number of fishponds next to the houses and water pipes to supply water to the homes.

After a little more than an hour, we got almost to the foot of the hill where houses become more often. We sought directions at every house and from there, unfortunately, the story was suddenly different. Everybody we asked were saying it's quite far, and will take another 2 hours. And since it's high noon by the time we got there, we thought to let it pass and take Ocho-ocho falls instead.

Meantime, i thought it was more interesting to go to the pool resort instead, so i asked my mate, and he agreed.

We waited for a trike as we cpuld barely take the incline all the way back to the midway of the trek to helipad. Then again, the trike can only grt us to the terminal in san isidro. We had to hike the rest of the, i'd say, 500m to the resort.

The sun was so high up and the heat was really hurting. We haf to take several breaks for that very short distance.

From the trail path, the resort looks quite interesting already because of the way the rocks were arranged; and at the very top of the mountain is the pool; the landscape was perfect and quite artistic. I did not waste any time while my hike bud was more into napping. 

pool in mt balagbag family resort

pool in mt balagbag family resort

mt balagbag family resort

Just a moment later, 2 men came with aanother 13 and it was just too small to fit us all. The pool is just probably 3 square meters overall, and since I had my deep and am a little refreshed, gave way to the newcomers. Then, just a little while later, about 3:30, we decided to pack up as the rain was beggining to warn.

By about 4:30, we were in licao licao already. The jeeps dont fill up and leave regularly at interval of i'd say, just 15mins.

Add'l details:
For large groups, you may want to negotiate a jeep to bring you all the way up to san isidro. On my way back to tungko, i asked the driver if that was possible, and he said you'll have to arrange while still in tungko. Once you get there in licao licao, it will be a heated argument with the tricycle drivers.

Fare from tungko to Licao Licao is 28 pesos. We paid P70 on the trike for both me and my bud. Return fare was only P15/head since they dont really consume the same fuel during descend.

Last trip of jeep from tungko to licao licao is 10pm, while the return to tungko is at 6pm.

There are several stores on the trail til you get midway. From the terminal in dan isidro, you'll come across 3 more stores. Some even sell headlamps. Commodity price as: 3-in-1 kopiko at P8. Cigarettes at p40/malboro 20s. Softfrinks, sakto at p10.

According to tge resort owners, ocho ocho falls is a flowpath of the pig shit. The group we met in licao licao who went to the falls said it was clear though. I don't suggest doing it in the iti now that there's such reports. Besides, it's good enough for rather pictures i guess.

We were asked to register with the final lot's caretaker for P10. Other people registered from the first private lot to encounter. Not sure if it has to be twice since we passed by the first lot at night when they were already asleep.

You may be interested in taking the traverse. Trail is far delicate but it's the regular thing you take in any other mountain. You'll come across the houses' fishponds which were amazing (in the sense that each household was self sustaining; they plant their vegetables and have their own hose for their water supplies).

An umbrella or something to cover ur head might be a gem in the trail.

We paid P50.00/head in the resort. They did not charge us cottage fees for (they dont really have a cottage except for one shade thats probably a general). They have a hut for those wanting to stay overnight. Seemed interesting but other than the bed and the washroom, there's nothing else. They also run on generators so electricity is limited at night. According to the owner, they charge P1,000 for overnight.


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