Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mt. Maynoba: The Closest Place Above the Clouds

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."    
                                          - T. S. Eliot.


Mt. Maynoba circuit is just a few hours drive away from Manila and with only 728 meter altitude, a sea of clouds cover the foot of the mountain ranges around it.


(CAYABU-MAYNOBA LOOP)
Tanay, Rizal
Trailhead: Brgy. Cayabu, Tanay, Rizal
LLA: 14°36′22.4′′N, 121°25′18.6′′ E, 728 MASL (+470m)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor hike, Difficulty 3/9 (Summit); 4/9 (Loop hike), Trail class 1-4
Features: Sea of clouds, scenic views of the Sierra Madre, waterfalls

BACKGROUND
Arguably the mountain with the highest success rate of viewing the sea of clouds of all the Rizal mountains, Mt. Maynoba (pronounced may-noo-ba) was an instant hit from its opening as a hiking destination in early 2016. Easy enough to do in a few hours – and reachable from Metro Manila by private transport in an hour or two, this mountain at the foothills of the Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal offers breathtaking views of the Sierra Madre mountains, and enough variety in the trail to sustain one’s interest throughout the loop hike – from a steep, forested ascent up the so-called “Mt. Cayabu” (which is actually more of a subsidiary peak of Maynoba), a grassy, open trek at the higher reaches, and a descent through woodland that culminates in a small river system with a good number of waterfalls. (read more @pinoymountaineer)


We initially planned to leave for Mt. Maynoba on a Sunday at around 4:00AM. But after PinoyMountaineer.Com released an itinerary for the circuit, multiple events in FB for that weekend were created. This pulled in our climb from 4:00AM to 12:MN.

We thought that the plan to not sleep at all and leave at midnight will take a toll on our climb. However, it turns out that our plan was the best time to do our hike.


We arrived the jump-off site at around 3:00AM. Some of us quickly ate our early breakfast then we started our assault at around 3:30AM. The trail going up is mostly assault so you need to prepare those knees and breaths.


When we arrived on the jump-off site, there were around 20 vans already parked. There's a huge group climbing Mt. Maynoba circuit. Huge group of hikers == EDSA along the trail. It took us a little longer to reach the summit because of the traffic along the trails.









Even though we moved on a slower pace, we were able to reach the summit just in time for sunrise.










On our way down, we were greeted by 8 waterfalls along the trail. Below is the tallest of the 8.







All photos are taken using Apple's IPhone 6s Plus.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mt. Ugo: A Walk from Nueva Vizcaya to Benguet

To be a climber one has to accept that gratification is rarely immediate.” 
                                                                        - Bernadette McDonald




Mt. Ugo traverse, our second mountain to reach this year, is quite a challenging climb. Not because of the steep and dangerous terrain, nor the unpredictable micro weather system, but simply because of its long trail. It takes patience and persistence to endure the long trail up and down the mountain range.We literally cross two provinces during the entire climb. However the pain we endured is nothing compared to the treats our eyes had while standing on the edge of the mountain and looking down on one of God's great creations.

          MT. UGO (2,150+)
          Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
          Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
          LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
          Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
          Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
          Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks


BACKGROUND

Mt. Ugo (sometimes Ugu) is a major destination in the Cordilleras. Although its elevation is low compared to the lofty heights of Mt. Pulag and Mt. Napulauan, it has stately pine forests and spectacular views similar to its higher counterparts. Also, the traverse connecting N. Vizcaya and Benguet is a challenging trail that serves as the southeast entrance to the Cordillera mountain chain – opening possibilities such as a traverse to Mt. Pulag.

This mountain was “discovered” in the aftermath of a PAL aircraft crash on June 26, 1987. Flight PR206, a Hawker Siddeley HS-748, bound for Baguio, crashed in the slopes of Mt. Ugo while attempting to land in a monsoon, killing all 50 people onboard. Rescuers, including mountaineers, found the wreckage five hours after the crash, 200 yards below the summit. Subsequent operations paved the way for trails, and soon, word spread about a new hiking destination. Today, hundreds of climbers climb Mt. Ugu yearly; there is an established guide system, and the mountain is one of the more popular hikes in the Cordilleras, together with Mt. Pulag, Mt. Amuyao, and Mt. Napulauan. (read more in pinoymountaineer)


Our journey started in Manila at around 9:00PM. We rented a van which brought us from Quezon city to Kayapa jump-off. We arrived in Kayapa at around 6:30AM. We had our breakfast in one of the food stall in the market, then prepare our bags and gears, and registered in the police station.



We started our ascend at around 7:30AM. We have one guide and two porters. One porter is for our supply, while the other one is for the tents and gears of some of the members.


The view a few minutes of initial assault.

The first of the many waiting sheds along the trail.

Our guide, Manong Tony. He's old but he's much faster than any of us...

Take 5 in one of the open level ground on a non-stop assault.

Initially, the trail goes on a zigzag pattern, but after a few steps, it shifted to a straight upward assault. You will need to stop more than twice to catch your breath during the entire length of this assault.

The second waiting shed.



The best stop. A sari-sari store with long benches and softdrinks. We had our lunch here and stay for a few minutes to recover from steep assault.


The next part of the trail is an open wide road which stretches from Kayapa to the last waiting shed at the foot of Mt. Ugo.
















The third waiting shed.



This mountain range serves as a boundary between Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet.


Yes, that is Mount Ugo. After more than 6 hours of hiking, we can now see Mt. Ugo.


If you look closely on this photo, you'll easily find the trail...



Yes, we came all the way from that last mountain on the left...

The small community at the foot of Mt. Ugo.


The sixth waiting shed. We did not stop on the fifth waiting shed since the other mountaineering group occupied it.

The beginning of another steep assent.





Take 5!




Camp site... at last... After about 9 hours, we've reached the campsite. A few minutes away from the summit.

Sunrise








































































































That all folks! I hope you enjoyed my entry about Mt. Ugo. I will update this post this week to add more details.