June 19, 2006
Mt. Gulugod Baboy is a popular level 1 climb as UP Mountaineering would call it and is located in the heart of Anilao, Batangas. It is also becoming popular as what people call a night trek spot where you climb the mountain at night with only headlamps and the one in front of you as your guide. These social climbs are becoming popular and what is good about Mt. Gulugod baboy is that you can reward yourself afterwards with a nice swim in the beach resorts of Anilao :) This was my first climb and it was an awesome mountain climbing experience organized by the premier Mountain Climbing organization in the Philippines, UP Mountaineering which produced Romi Garduce, and the premier Jaycee organization in the Philippines, Manila Jaycees!
This is my personal account of the Mt. Gulugod Experience Climb.
Our jumpoff point was the Arthur's resort in Anilao which was a more challenging trail to Mt. Gulugod Baboy. There is an easier trail with a jumpoff point at the Philpan resort and this is where the night climbs usually starts. Since it was our first time to climb for most of us, UP Mountaineering team decided to start at the mid point of the paved trail. We drive through this narrow one lane road towards the forest of the mountain. What surprises us was that despite the steep winding road along the mountain, the roads were paved. We got excited as we drove up and from the road and was already seeing the anilao waters with sombrero island as a horizon landmark.
Robert Leoncio was our climb master and we started the trek with proper stretching and prayers. We parked our car in the sari-sari store by the basketball court and it was a safe parking spot according to the UP mountaineers. We only have one lady in the group, Babes, who was part of our UP mountaineering guide and the rest are all boys coming from Manila Jaycees.
The trail cuts across a community and these are the typical houses that you would see along the route. We were reminded by our guides that safety cannot be compromised and don't leave anything behind in the mountain. Even the trash we generated in the climb, we had to bring it down.
At first everybody was excited for their first mountain climbing experience. We were still climbing our way through paved roads and through the community. At this point, the backpack weight was still bearable but as time went by, it become heavier and that is why the number one advice for people who is climbing the first time is "pack light". At first I thought it was a cliche, but after only a few minutes of hike, I kept on repeating the advice in my head and promised to follow the advice on my next climb.
Some of the trekkers, have nice hiking backpacks courtesy of Conquer which is a local brand competing against the likes of North Face. Most of them would have this standard all weather cover to protect the bags from the occasional rains.
After the paved road ended, we were faced with the rough trail and we now realized that this mountain climbing was for real. I thought that it was really an easy climb and the experience thought me never to underestimate a mountain ever again. I was wearing crocs during my trek and I'm glad that it surpassed the test of the mountain. I did not slipped or get into any accident with my crocs however, after a few weeks, I realized that my knees are hurting. Some of the climbers, even though they have hiking shoes, it was already brittle after years of being stored in the closet. Just imagine hiking shoes with a mouth and you'll get what I mean. It's a good thing that some people brought duct tapes to secure the hiking shoes.
Resting is a familiar scene specially for the smokers and for the first timers. At the start, a lot of people are taking pictures which gets less and less as the load of the backpack becomes heavier. It is important that your hands are free when you climb the mountain and you have a strong back to support your load not to mention one pair of strong legs and feet. I originally brought with me only a jansport bag and a plastic bag of 4 liters of water that I plan to bring along the trek. I'm glad that my friend, Gabby, insisted that I borrow the extra hiking bag of Babes, so that I can carry the 4 liters of water on my backpack.
Along the hiking trail, you will be greeted with a welcome stare from the cows of Mt. Gulugod Baboy. So it should not be a surprise if the trail is full of landmines (cow dung) which fills the air with its aroma mixed with the smell of the forest.
I can't blame Mike for stopping and at this point I was exhausted too and we were not yet on the halfway of the trail. For the first hour of the trek, you would only see trees, forest, cows, and uninspired scenery. This was the boring part and it gets better as you find yourself halfway through the trail.
Finally, we arrived at the midpoint of the trek almost an hour after. We rested along a slope with a good view of Mt. Gulugod Baboy. Actually, I originally thought that we arrived already because this part already have a 360 degrees view of the surrounding mountains.
One of our teammates, Lawrence, was very exhausted and he needed an extra feet using the tree trunk just to barely stand up. Phew, this was not an easy climb.
At the halfway point, as we rest, Robert the climb master pointed towards the highest tip of Mt. Gulugod baboy. We cannot believe that we planned to hike all the way up there and reaching it, would be a fulfilling accomplishment for the first timers.
After 15 minutes of rest, we started to hike towards the summit. At this point, there were already a lot of jokes about Mount Everest, Sherpas, and how do you have a "big brother" confession session (if you know what I mean :).
A black cow greets you as you enter the foot of Mt. Gulugod Baboy. We were told that these cows can be dangerous at times, so we proceeded to pass with caution.
This waiting shed is an important structure specially when it rains or during the middle of a hot summer day. Imagine this is the only cover you would have if it rains. As you can see from the profile of the mountain, there are not a lot of trees on the way up to the mountain peak.
We started our ascent. It was a grueling ascent to the top and the steep slope reminds you that you need to get back into shape.
Since I was playing badminton at least once a week, I thought that the hiking can be manageable but I found myself catching my breath and I already sounded like Darth Vader. I was truly out of shape and this experience reminded me of the importance of endurance and exercising frequently.
This was the scene of Top of Mt. Gulugod Baboy. Robert was encouraging us that it would only take a few more step and this was the steepest slope that I ever climbed in my entire life (hehe, since it was my first time :).
Finally, I arrived and exclaimed my first words at the top, " Yoohoo!" which a bit similar to Romi's first words on top of Mt. Everest. This was the camp site for the night and we have to set our tents fast because we can see that the dark clouds are fast approaching. The site was clean of debris but there were a lot of dried cow dungs which did not bother us as the night goes by.
This was my Mt. Gulugod Baboy summit picture, as customary to every climb. I survived just wearing my favorite green crocs and my lucky favorite blue nike sphere shirt. Overall, the climb took us about 2.5 hours to reach the Mt. Gulugod Baboy peak. Thanks to UP mountaineering and Manila Jaycees for this exciting experience. Yoohoo!!