My First Hike: Mt. Maculot and the "Rockies" of Cuenca, Batangas


It's time for some Throwback Thursday (Blog Edition)!

My love for mountain hiking started back in 2009 when I was invited by a college friend to have an overnight on top of a mountain. He has done hiking before and he wanted to encourage others, along with my other college friends, to try out this adventure. Overnight on top of a mountain sounds fun so everybody accepted the invitation... or should I say, the challenge? Paul (the one who invited us) chose Mt Maculot of Cuenca, Batangas. Reasons are: 1) It is considered an average in terms of its height in which it is ideal for newbies like us. 2) He's also familiar with the place because he'd already been to Mt Maculot.

PS: Please ignore our outfits in the following photos. They are inappropriate for hiking and we regret wearing them. #lol 

Cuenca, Batangas - Blurring out those campaign ads (Photo from Edward Calugtong)
How to get there:
From Buendia/Gil Puyat, take a bus going to Lemery. Usual bus rate is 147 pesos. Inform your conductor that you'll go at Mt Maculot and drop you off at Cuenca, Batangas. From there, you can hire a tricycle that will bring you to the jump off point of Mt Maculot. Fare is 20 pesos per pax. But before going to the jump off, ask your driver to stop you at the Registration Area which is near the Barangay Hall of Cuenca. Registration fee is 10 pesos per pax. Log everybody in the logbook. This is our first lesson about hiking. Never miss out to register because that will be used for emergency purposes.

Sign that we are heading to the right direction =] (Photo from Edward Calugtong)
After the registration, we headed at the jump-off point to gear up and start the hike. We started the hike with a prayer followed by a stretching. That's our second and third lessons. Always ask for guidance from our creator and prepare your body with this extreme adventure. These two are very important. We should never fail to ask assistance to God as this kind of sport comes with lots of danger. Also, stretch out to increase your range of motion, which means your limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs.

Yup, this is our official outfits for Mt Maculot hike. #throwbackThursday  (Photo from Edward Calugtong)

I can still remember my excitement that day on this first hiking adventure of mine. I really don't know what to expect up there and I thought this was just a plain activity. Well, everybody is excited and oozing with energy on the first quarter as we went up to the peak of Mt Maculot. Everybody is chatting, laughing, joking and even singing. But those were minimized as we gone through the second and third quarter. Trails are getting stiffer and harder. We started to feel our weight and the weight of our things that we carry. Lesson number four: Only bring what you need. Do not bring unnecessary things. Just keep it light.  There are also some parts of the trail that requires you to grasp on soil, grass and branches in order to continue. Never hesitate to put your hands on this things. This is not the place for people who has an "attitude". One must have a strong legs and feet to surpass the obstacles. That makes us realize that this activity should be taken with precautions.

Start of our trek
Trail are getting difficult...
Everybody was tired and sweating hard. The sun sets to its highest position. Getting thirsty is inevitable. Fifth lesson: Have enough water supply. This is a vital thing that mountaineers should bring on every hike. Thank God, there are stalls in different parts of Mt Maculot that sells "buko" juice and other cold beverages. Yup, its cold but they're a bit pricey too. We bought drinks on most of the stalls we passed by. Having cold drinks in this tiring activity is priceless! You'll come to appreciate them. It is also a way to conserve our packed water. So instead of drinking them, we reserved it and will be used while our stay on top and going down the next day.

 Store in the middle of the trail | That's my friend, Julius (Photo from Edward Calugtong)
What I also noticed is that as we encounter other mountaineers, they always greet fellow mountaineers even they're are strangers. "Magandang umaga/tanghali/gabi sir/ma'am" (good morning/afternoon/evening sir/ma'am) and/or "ingat po" (take care) are the most commonly used greetings. That is lesson number six: greet fellow mountaineers.

Emac, Eteng and Julius finding doing their own ways
After 2 hours of trekking. The group finally reached the top! Our hard work paid off and what I felt upon reaching the top was un-explainable (but I know it's in a good way). The view on top of Mt Maculot is superb.

Heaven and Earth
Sunset at Mt Maculot
After a quick tour on top, we started to pitch our tent. The camp site of Mt. Maculot is quite big and can a accommodate large group of mountaineers. Then we started to cook and prepare our dinner. It was a great dinner even though only canned goods and noodles were served in the table ground. We talked about our experiences and thoughts as we went up to this mountain while eating. Energy is getting high again. The dinner was followed by socials. Lesson number seven: Have fun. Though hiking is an extreme activity, mountaineers should also enjoy and have fun!

EdPau pitching the tent
Socials that night - Pinoy Henyo and 1,2,3 pass (Photo from Edward Calugtong)
After the socials that night, all went to rest. And that was my first sleep on top of a mountain. Beat that!

The Rockies

Day 2 of our Mt Maculot Hike
The following morning, everybody woke up early to prepare and eat breakfast. This time we will be heading to a so-called place, Rockies. Rockies is a piece of Mt Maculot that offers its visitors an amazing view. Just refer on the photos below to see what I mean. It is just a 30 minutes or less of trekking from the camp site of Mt. Maculot. Extreme caution should be observed since the wind blows hard on this part of the mountain and the space on top of Rockies is a bit narrow.

Off our way to Rockies
We are young, wild and free... also extreme!
Edward and Paula - moments of love. Yiiiihiii
This shot is much better when taken zoom out...
Am I right? :]
After almost an hour of stay and photo op at Rockies, the group decided to descend back to our camp site and start trekking down. Lesson number eight arise here: Take Nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footsteps, Kill nothing but time. No need to explain further, right?

Climbing Mt Maculot is definitely a great experience. Though trekking up and down can sweat the hell out of me, the view on top and the pride you may feel and get as you reach the peak pays off all those hard works. Just like the famous saying... No Pain, No Gain - I guess that's the ninth lesson.

Breakdown of Expenses:
Bus ride (Pasay to Lemery, Lemery to Cubao) - 300.00 PhP (two-way)
Tricycle (Lemery to Jump off, Jump off to Lemery) - 20.00 x 2 way = 40.00 PhP/pax
Registration - 10.00 PhP
Food: **.**