Why some people do climb mountains? Why I climb mountains? What’s in it for me? Why many people are asking those questions?Yes, it’s tiring, dangerous, it can be very lonely and you have to travel very far just to get to your destination!
But for me, this will be my answer to that questions. Being in the mountains is the best form of exploration. When I started to join a mountaineering community, I found out that every mountain and every trek can make me different. Every climb is a new challenge to overcome, another fears to conquer and new memories to make.
Our recent climbed to Mt. Mandalagan and Tinagong Dagat was truly a remarkable journey in my mountaineering explorations. It was not easy and totally a devastating experience for me because we hiked for approximately 5 hours with leeches along the trail and I have a “Helminthophobia”. Which means I am afraid of leech or any type of worms, really! I don’t have problems with long trek/hikes the fact that I was born to be a conqueror. This climb made me overcome my fears of being with leeches and made me a friend to them all of a sudden. Lol!
Anyway, before I will share my stories with this adventure climb let me give you some simple intuitive about this mountain. Mount Mandalagan and Tinagong Dagat is one of Negros Volcanic Belt and a crown jewel of North Negros Forest Reserve. It is one of a potentially active volcano in the mountainous area of Negros Occidental according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. It has an elevation of 1, 885 meters above sea level.
THE CONSIDERATION OF OUR JOURNEY
I am really hesitant to go with this adventure climb, the fact that I’ve heard and read mysterious stories about the mountain. Adding to that, my fears of leeches! Because of my supportive friends who encourage me to overcome for it, so I decided to just go!
One month before the climb, Jeff (who organized this adventure climb), prepared everything to make this event a successful one. He submitted a proposal letter addressing to Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Silay City. Luckily, that request was granted and he made all the arrangements from guides, itineraries, transportation and event shirts.
THE START OF OUR MT. MANDALAGAN EXPLORATIONS
We arrived Bacolod City North Bus Terminal at around 6:00 o’clock in the morning. While waiting for the driver who will pick us up we decided to have a quick morning tide at the Ceres Mart. A few minutes later, the driver arrived to pick up the group.
We started our trek at Brgy. Patag- the jump off point going to Mt.Mandalagan. Since we arrived Patag before lunch, the group hurriedly prepared their food for lunch and we asked our guides to discussed our itinerary. After we prepared ourselves and stuffs on this adventure climb, the cloud bursting suddenly it bombs of rain falling on the mountains.
Mixed emotions completely wrap up my body that time because of what I have heard from one of our guides. According to him, when rain is falling, plenty of leeches will be falling to along the trails.
THE LEECHY TRAIL
The first 10-15 minutes of the trail is a gradual descending trail and quite steep because it was raining.
After crossing a small river, our guide decided to loosen up and wait for the middle group and the last group since I am in the first group and we are divided into three groups. While waiting, I’ve heard a scream coming from the middle group until I knew that there’s a leech sticking to her and I became uneasy and terrified.
When our guide told us that we are about to enter the ascending trail where more leeches are I am more frightened. He’s thoughts cause me to an extreme fear.
Along the sort of “un-established trail”, the leech started to stick my body and I whimpers like a child. They told me that I look pallid, really! As we continued to trek through that thick and pristine forest of Mandalagan, I tried to at least hold or touch one leech. Since then, I became valiant to any parasites I am seeing along the trail. I am having the fun of detaching them to my body since then and enjoyed it while they’re sticking my hands.
There’s a lot of them extending their body on the trail and they act obsequiously toward someone in order for them to bite and suck your blood. Fun yet challenging, right?
After two hours of ascending trail, we saw space shaded by huge trees and according to our guide, the area has lesser parasites. So we decided to take our brunch since we arrived in the area at around 1:00 PM.
Thirty minutes after, we quickly resumed our trek going to Mt.Mandalagan.Another two hours of trekking we need to accomplish. The trail is more challenging and more technical compared to the first two hours. We ducked fallen trees and scrambled up on rocks.
Moments later, we finally reached the mountain close to the base camp of Mt.Mandalagan. I felt so glad to see the welcoming spacious flat terrain and an open basin from the top.
For us to get to the wide base camp, we need to endure 30 minutes steep descending trail (in our pace). The trail was all mud slides and we are struggling, tho!
Finally, after those challenging muddy trail, we reached the base camp. A surprising flat grass like a carpet about 2 kilometers wide welcomes us!It is really big and like a spacious playground for freeze bee, football or even running.
GOOD MORNING MT. MANDALAGAN!
My night at Tinagong Dagat-Mt.Mandalagan was a nightmare for me the fact that I am very weak in cold temperature. I just stayed inside the tent and sleep early. The next morning, the terrain was still cold but dry. The ground was only wet because of the morning dew and when I slept last night they told me that there was a canopy of stars.
As the group rises early, we’re able to take our breakfast early as well! We are able to take our time cleaning up our tents and act like a camwhore. Lol!
SAYING GOODBYE TO MT.MANDALAGAN
After the traditional photo shoot with the group and with the other groups, we then said goodbye to Mt.Mandalagan at around 10:00 AM. We are so ready for the almost 1 hour of an uphill trek as the start and our guide ensuring us that the rest will be descending trails.
We passed by a small river that is connected to the dam where some parts are quite hard. We passed by an exciting trail as well after the dam.It is a canal trail where focus and balance are necessary. You have to concentrate and watch your steps on the canal trail.
After of almost 2 hours of downstream, we were finally out of those thick rainforest.I finally saw houses and just 15 minutes walk is a highway going to Campuestuhan Proper.
Since Tboy, Lovely, Isabelle, Jeff, John and I arrived first at Campuestuhan, we decided to have lunch while waiting for others to arrive.
HOME SWEET HOME
Since we are one hour ahead of the groups to arrive at Campuestuhan, we were able to take our time with our brunch. In addition, we were able to loosen up first without any hassle.
At around 3 PM, we arrived Bacolod City Proper (North Bus Terminal). While some of us waited for a bus ride back to Cebu, Lovely, Tboy, Jeff, Tina, Belle and I proceeded to Silay City where my cousin is. We had our side-trip in the Paris of Negros Occidental instead of Campuestuhan Amusement Park.
Day 0- August 11, 2017, Friday
2200H- Assembly at Cebu South Bus Terminal and look for any trip to Toledo City
2400H- ETD Cebu City to Toledo City
Day 1- August 12, 2017, Saturday
0130H- ETA Toledo City; book for tickets via fast cat for 0300H Departure
0330H- ETD Toledo to San Carlos City
0430H- ETA San Carlos City; Go directly to San Carlos City Bus Terminal
0440H- ETD San Carlos City to Bacolod City
0630H- ETA Bacolod City Old terminal; go to New Terminal via trike
0730H- ETD Bacolod New Terminal to Silay City
0830H- ETA SilayCity; Breakfast; wait for the guide; CR Breaks; Buy Pack Lunch
0900H- ETD Silay City to Brgy. Patag via jeepney
1030H- ETA Brgy. Patag; arrival at Hospital; Proceed to tourism office; orientation and opening prayer
1045H- Start Hike
1200H- Lunch on Trail
1400H- Arrival at Platform
1730H- Arrival at Tinagong Dagat; Set up camp
1800H- Prep for Dinner
Day 2- August 13, 2017, Sunday
0500H- Wake Up Call; prepare for breakfast and Packed Lunch; Early Break camp
0700H- ETD Tinagong Dagat
1200H- ETA Campuestohan; find a place to take a bath and clean up; LUNCH
1300H- ETD Campuestohan; side trips
1600H- ETD to Bacolod City
1700H- take snacks Bacolod City
1800H- Head to terminal to catch a bus trip to San Carlos City
2000H-ETA San Carlos City; Dinner at San Carlos City Mall
2300H- Book for ticket for Fastcat
Day 3- August 14, 2017- Monday
0100H- ETD San Carlos City to Toledo City
0230H- ETA Toledo City; ride Vhire bound to Cebu City
0330H- ETA Cebu City
HIKE COST AND BUDGET:
Budget: (All fares adjusted to avoid budget shortage)
Cebu City to Toledo vice versa via any transport- 200
Toledo to San Carlos vice versa via Fast Cat- 400
San Carlos City to Bacolod via Ceres Bus- 250
Bacolod City to Silay City via Ceres Bus vice versa- 50
Silay City to Brgy Patag via jeepney vice versa- 90
B. If we will visit the Ruins:
Fare from Brgy. Campuestohan- 150
Entrance Fee: 100
C. Climb Permit Fee- 300
Notary plus fare- 75
Fare for the permit- 50
Guide Fee- 300
entrance fee at the hospital- 10 pesos
D. Tshirt Estimate- 350
Bag tag- 30
E. Food for the whole climb- 300
F. Allowance- 500
This Mt.Mandalagan/Tinagong Dagat Adventure Climb was truly a remarkable journey for me. I would like to thank Jeff for organizing the event. To our three guides, (I forgot their names) thank you so much for spending time with us.Despite that devastating experience, it was very fulfilling that we are able to accomplish such task and witnessed the beauty of nature of Mt.Mandalagan-Tinagong Dagat.
Till our next adventure!
LEAVE NO TRACE