I don’t know when the term ‘Nasugbu trilogy’ first came into circulation within the mountaineering community but apparently it meant dayhiking 3 mountains in the Nasugbu area: Pico de Loro of Mt. Palay-Palay, Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Batulao. It is challenging to say the least and the person who coined it probably had a severe case of dementia and masochism. But hey, it caught on so maybe there was something to it after all. 😀
Crazy as it was, my coclimbers were far crazier. And maybe you could count me among those because I asked if I could tag along. 🙂 I guess gone were the days when a climb would constitute a simple overnight itinerary and scaling just one peak. This time, we wouldn’t be satisfied with anything short of an 11-hour dayhike or climbing 2 or in this case, attempting 3 peaks in a single day!
It started since one of our guides when we climbed Mt. Apo, Sir Bal Acuña, was taking care of some stuff in Manila so he decided to squeeze in some Luzon-hikes while he was visiting. To cram as much peaks as possible, they (he and Fred) decided to attempt the trilogy along with Ed, Tin and myself. By way of the itinerary, we would first be climbing PDL then Talamitam afterwards and finally Batulao. So we had to board to Ternate, Cavite first before descending on PDL’s Nasugbu side.
We left Baclaran at 4 in the morning, with most of us dealing with varying degrees of sleep deprivation. I’ve only had an hour while Tin hasn’t had any at all. As a result, we were asleep the whole hour that it took to get to Ternate from where we got on at Baclaran. Since it was very early in the morning, the trip was actually quite fast. At about 5 am, the bus conductor was jerking us awake to tell us that we had to alight at Ternate already.
We stopped for a quick bite at a carinderia near the bus stop although oddly enough, even though it was only 5 in the morning, they were already out of lugaw. What they had was spaghetti and pansit. Since we didn’t want to look as though we’ve just been to a children’s party, we opted for the pansit instead. During our early breakfast, it dawned on me that I was in the company of 4 Bisaya-speakers. So naturally, even if we were in Cavite – in a province where I would be the one more comfortable with the local language and accent – I ended up being the one lost in translation during the climb. Well, not really, I have already related how I can understand the language sufficiently enough so it wasn’t that difficult to follow their conversation. But of course, speaking the language was a different matter entirely. 😀
In any case, after we have had our fill of pansit, we rented 2 tricycles to take us to the jumpoff, opting to skip the registration since it was probably still closed anyway. We started the trek proper at around 5:45 AM and since much of the trail were along the forest line; we had to use headlamps for the first half of the trek. After 30 minutes, we reached Basecamp 1 where a lot of dogs were roaming around and barking at lunging at us. Much like the barangay hall, the house at the first basecamp was also closed so we decided to continue our trek without registering. Bad example, I know 😀
We decided to check out the waterfall which was just 20 minutes from the basecamp but like the first time I scaled Pico de Loro, the water flow was somewhat disappointing. I’ve been told that during rainy seasons, the water rush would be much more substantial than the faint trickle that it was showing then.
We continued our trek towards the peak and after an hour, we reached the campsite before the summit. We actually spent a lot of time taking pictures from this viewpoint. It was actually my first time there since the last time I climbed PDL, we bypassed this trail and headed straight for the summit (which was another 5 minute assault). It offered a great view of the Parrot’s Beak although sometimes, a low cloud cover obstructed it from view.
We next headed for the summit itself to get a better view of the famous monolith. We were pretty content with our pace since we reached the peak at exactly 8 in the morning. Everybody was eager to climb the monolith (or for us who have before – have a picture on it taken from the summit) so I volunteered to stay behind the summit so I could take pictures of them on it. The path behind the peak was still rope-assisted so it wasn’t much trouble at all. Ed, Bal and Fred where the first ones to do so while Tin was busy exploring the peak’s base.
After having their pictures taken, Ed graciously offered to take my place so he went back to the summit while I descended and eventually climbed the monolith myself along with Tin. Like everyone else, I was excited to finally have a passable picture of me standing (or in some cases, jumping :D) from the monolith taken from the summit. Thanks Ed!
It was about quarter to 9 when we decided to head down on PDL’s Nasugbu slope, traversing a continuous descent on trails characterized by tree roots and overgrown bamboo shrubs. We actually got separated on the way down but we still all ended up back on the firing range along the Nasugbu highway. This was actually another first for me because when I last went there, we took a slightly shorter route that led out to a different part of the highway. We didn’t get to pass through Tyson’s house nor end up in the firing range. In fact, when we took the same route that we did last Friday, we all thought we were lost (because we came upon a closed gate) and we had to backtrack and find the correct turn at a nearby junction. I didn’t know that it would eventually end up at the same highway anyway. In any case, after about an hour and fifteen minutes, we were already waiting to catch a ride back to the main town of Nasugbu from the highway.
It was almost 10:30 before we were able to catch a tricycle that was willing to carry all five of us back to town. The problem was that it turned out to be one of the slowest tricycle rides of my life. Couple that with the fact that five of us were unceremoniously bent over and cramped, it really made for an uncomfortable one hour ride. After we got off at Nasugbu, all of us were complaining of body aches and muscle atrophy. 😀
Our initial plan was to grab a very quick bite at Mang Inasal (an emerging tradition of food after climb huh?) then head to KM 83 so we would be climbing Talamitam by 1 PM. Because of that trike ride though and the eventual body pains that it caused, Sir Bal decided that we scale only one instead of both Talamitam and Batulao. He settled for Batulao, which was actually the better of the two in terms of views. I actually didn’t mind since I’ve climbed Mt. Talamitam before and although both Tin and Fred haven’t yet, there clearly was no disappointment in their faces. Ed joined us for the Pico half then went straight to Manila after we had lunch because he was meeting someone.
So with our trilogy being demoted to a twinhike, we were able to relax and enjoy our feast at Mang Inasal. We were confident that we were going to have plenty of time to accomplish a Batulao hike after all. It was already half past 1 when we decided to board the bus headed for Evercrest (the jumpoff for Batulao).
In retrospect, it was good sense to postpone the Talamitam climb because we certainly did not account for the rain during any point on our climb – which it did once we left Nasugbu. As a result, we were treated to a very rainy and muddy climb as we tried to navigate the slopes of Mt. Batulao. I think it never stopped raining from the moment we got off the bus until we were back on the road some four hours later.
Batulao, on any considerably better day, could be traversed in 2 hours but the discomfort brought about by the constant rain and mud certainly hampered our trekking prowess. We started from the Old Trail then descended via the New Trail -since the views would be better from the Old trail while there is still light left- although because of the weather, all we ever saw was fog, fog and even more fog. There were times when we couldn’t even see 5 meters from where we were! But still we continued on. I even got lost on the old trail once, ending up in some tomato lot before I saw that the 1st camp was situated at a wholly different ridge. 😀
We also had to be careful not to go too fast since the winds were absolutely howling and if you’ve been to Batulao before, then you could attest that getting caught unawares on its ridges is not the smartest thing in the world. It was about half past four when we finally arrived at the summit. It was somewhat a pity that Sir Bal’s first time in Batulao only treated him with views of endless fog instead of the Batangas landscape and the numerous peaks that can be seen atop the summit. It actually reminded me of the last time I summited Batulao. The rain was likewise heavily pouring and all we could see were fog everywhere. I didn’t want to think it but maybe that’s how I’m fated to enjoy Batulao from here on out. 😀
The descent, though less tiring, was probably more frustrating. Annoyingly enough, it rained even harder as we were trekking along the New Trail. It rained so hard that we had no choice but to stop for a while at Camp 7 to wait the rain out. When it finally slowed to a drizzle, we continued on but by that time, we could do no more than to endure the muddy trail that the rains left behind. Night also caught up to us on the trail so by the last half hour, we were left slowly traipsing across mud pits with no regard to the condition of our shoes (you scrape some mud off, you collect some in the next step…) and our headlamps blaring so that we could see where we were stepping. It was about 6:30 in the evening when we finally got back to the residential areas and after hungrily munching on bread from a nearby bakery, we headed back to the highway to wash up then to finally go home.
All in all, I could say that accomplishing the Nasugbu trilogy is doable enough if the weather is ideal. Certainly not on weather like the one that we experienced. Even though it was still a little daredevil-ish for me to attempt to climb Batulao during rain and heavy winds, I’d still say we were smart about the whole business of leaving Talamitam for another day. In any case, it still made up for some good training for the upcoming Mt. Mantalingajan climb so I was pretty happy about that. To Ed, Tin, Fred and Bal (ituloy na ang Talomo-Apo traverse!), till the next climb!
Manila to Ternate: Php 82
Tricycle to jumpoff: Php 75 per pax
Tricycle to Nasugbu: Php 70 per pax
Nasugbu to Evercrest: Php 50
Registration (New Trail): Php 20 (I guess since it was a Friday, there were no locals manning Camp 1 along the Old Trail which would have required another Php 20 registration or so)
Evercrest to Cubao: Php 134