Mt Timbak and Mt Tabayoc of Benguet

My first hike this 2013 is not the usual climb that I do because I hiked the 3rd and the 2nd highest mountain in Luzon, which are Mt Timbak and Mt Tabayoc. Both mountains are located in Benguet so expect a cold and freezing trek ahead.

The right clothes
A friend of mine invited me to join Baroc - a mountaineering group, as they will climb the said mountains. So I packed all my mountaineering gears and most importantly my anti cold equipment. I suggest you bring jacket [of course], sweatshirts, gloves [which I forgot to bring], thick socks [have an extra], and If you're planning to stay in a tent at night have a sleeping bag as well. This will prevent you from chilling and have a stress free sleep :]

How to get there?
The travel time from Manila to Baguio is 6 hours, and I might say it is enough to gasp some sleep. And as we land to Baguio, additional 2 hours were needed to reach KM 55 - the jump off of Mt. Timbak. Don't worry, the additional 2 hours will not bore you because the scenic during the travel is breath taking and can be compared to other places that we see in postcards.

A signage with "Welcome to Mummy Caves of Timbac" denotes that you are already in Mt Timbak's jump off. Trail starts with a steep paved road and take note of this: in every fork you'll meet, always take on the left until you reach the elementary school.

That is my friend Edward (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
(photo from Bry Ocampo)
I find Mt Timbak as a large farm full of vegetables planted on it - from potatoes to carrots to cabbage, etc... etc. Until you reach its peak you will see vegetation. So trekkers are informed to walk lightly and don't step on the ground with vegetable plots. These vegetables give colors to the mountain and somehow makes Mt Timbak different from other mountains that I already climbed. The way they plant vegetables here are similar to terraces. So there are carrot terraces, cabbage terraces and potato terraces here. Hehehe

That's me, the third person from the top (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
Another thing that I love about this climb is even though we started the hike late in the morning and have been exposed to the sun during the afternoon, the cool and fresh breeze were still present which kept us in sweatshirts and jackets the whole trek. It was almost a "no sweat trekked" at all. :]

At the peak of Mt Timbak, a mini calvary lies. Along with it is an amazing view of the Benguet proper which amazed and stunned the whole team. We took some time at the peak for photo opp before we trek back down again.

(photo from Bry Ocampo)
Our next stop is Mt Tabayoc. Other called it Tabeyoc but I prefer Tabayoc because Tabeyoc seems like a conyo word to me. Hahahaha After my experience with the 3rd highest mountain in Luzon, I will now traverse the 2nd highest mountain.

The team rented 2 elf trucks to bring us from the elementary school down to Lake Tabeo. Lake Tabeo will serve as our campsite and a jump off area for our Mt Tabayoc hike on day 2. The travel was too long and really exhausting due to rocky road [as in a very rocky road]. I lost tracked how long it was but the view going there never fail to entertain us. It is also a good opportunity to bond with your friends.

(photo from Byron Cantonjos)
(photo from Byron Cantonjos)
Baron, Julius, Edward and Me (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
It was dark when we reach Tabeo Lake and the fog is getting thicker and thicker. So as soon as we reached the campsite, we immediately assembled our tent, cleaned up ourselves and things, cooked and prepared our dinner, and hide under our sleeping bags [with sweatshirt and jacket underneath and socks on] and went to sleep.

We woke up at 4:30am and started our hike to Mt Tabayoc at around 5:30am. It was still dark and the air/fog really makes everyone chill. Gloves is really essential in this kind of trek. It wasn't enough to just cover your body and feet. Trust me.

Hiking this mountain reminds me of the movies Predator 1 and Avatar. Mt Tabayoc's trail is covered with trees, trees, trees and trees [plants, mosses and ferns are also present]. Of all the mountains I hiked before, Mt Tabayoc is the thickest rainforest I have penetrated. Bonsai are all over the place and berries [not sure what exactly they are] are also scattered in the trail.

(photo from Byron Cantonjos)
Beware, Mt Tabayoc is considered to be a major climb. Meaning, the difficulty to trek it is no joke and needs additional caution traversing it. I don't want people reading my blog to be afraid traversing Mt Tabayoc but let me share you the accident that happened to me during our trek.

(photo from Bry Ocampo)
As we approached to the view deck [45 mins left and you'll reached the summit], I had my left knee dislocated. What happened was, the next step of mine is pretty high and i have to slightly turn my body to the right in order to go up to the next platform. Unfortunately, as I twist my body and legs to my right in full force, my left foot got stuck on a branch which result to make my patella bone to almost come out of my skin. It was too painful that I couldn't walk anymore and my teammates had to call mountain rangers to rescue me. We reached the view deck but I wished we have also reach the summit however others didn't push through because of what happened to me. We all had to go back down while assisting me. And as they help me with the pain, my left knee suddenly popped and when I checked it, it returned to its normal form again. Still we didn't continue.

Again, the reason why I wrote my story is not to make people be afraid to hike mountains, instead I wrote this as a precaution to those who want to try this activity. Hiking is an extreme physical activity and we should not take it lightly. We're there to enjoy it but we should not put our guards down and negligent on our actions. 

My rescue operation . Thank you Baroc. (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
After the incident, my love for hiking doesn't change a bit. Accidents can happen to anyone in an unexpected time and place. I guess it wasn't my luck that day. I am so thank you that I was in good hands when it happened to me. I would like to thank Baroc Mountaineers for helping me and the patience you give during that time. That incident only makes me stronger and be more careful the next time. Yes, there will be next time. I'll come back again to Mt. Tabayoc and promise to reach its summit.

From the view deck (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
So going back, as we reach again the campsite and gave me the aid. I feel incredibly fine (thank God). We took our early lunch and had a photo op at Tabeo Lake.

At least I tried :]  (photo from Byron Cantonjos)
(photo from Bry Ocampo)
My favorite shots of mine that day:

(photo from Byron Cantonjos)
After the photo opp. The team go back again to Baguio. We reach Burnham Park at 8:30pm. Took our dinner at Beggang Restaurant [try they're combo meal D -- the one with the spareribs on]. Afterwards, bought some pasalubong at the near shop. Then head back to Manila at 9:30pm and landed at 3:30am. 

Budget for this tour
The whole tour/hike costs me 1,800 php. It was organized by Baroc mountaineers and it comprised of Bus rental [Manila to Baguio and vice versa], Elf rental [Mt Timbac summit to Tabeo Lake campsite / Tabeo Lake Campsite to Baguio], and tour guides [both Mt Tabayoc and Mt Timbac]. 


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