Mantalingajan Traverse: Day Four

0400H Wake-up call
Alarm goes off.

Nobody moves.

0430H Wake-up call
Anong oras na? (What time is it?)”

“4:30.”

Jet sits up. I sit up.

I curl back into my sleeping bag. He does the same in his malong. Fred snores contentedly in the other tent.

Nobody moves.

0530H Wake-up call
We finally summoned the strength to get up and do something about breakfast. We trekked for nearly 12 hours yesterday in stormy weather on the most hideously difficult terrain we’ve ever gone through. I think that would be as good of an excuse as any for messing up today’s itinerary.

0831H Start trek
We were one and a half hours behind schedule, our worst delay to date, and we still had a long way to go. We were determined to make this our last day of trekking though. The weather was still bad and the next known water source was already in the Palaw’an community in Brooke’s Point. We didn’t want to spend another night sleeping in damp tents and collecting rainwater so we could cook rice.

In the first two days of the climb, we still had the luxury of a five-minute break for every hour of trekking. “Take five” became an alien concept on the traverse trail. We couldn’t afford to stop because: 1. there was a scarcity of stable ground to rest on particularly during the previous day’s trek, 2. we were drenched from the rain and we’d only feel the cold even more if we stopped walking.

1010H Magringgit
According to Tatay Dinio, Magringgit was used as an emergency campsite in the previous traverse. There’s a reported water source nearby but we were not able to confirm it.

The most striking part of Magringgit though was its very narrow and steep ridge that made Guiting-Guiting’s “knife edge” look like a joke. Grasses were the only vegetation so I could actually see the sheer vertical drop that’s guaranteed to kill me if I ever fall off from there. My knees were shaking as I walked on a trail that was maybe six inches wide while strong winds were relentlessly battering us.

1155H Karim, lunch
Lunch was in a small patch of forested area in one of the numerous peaks we climbed. The area was called Karim, Binoy said. We’ve done so many ascents and descents on this day that I couldn’t keep count anymore how many mountains we’ve actually gone through. Our guides said we climbed more than 20 peaks in the entire traverse. That’s probably not too far off the mark.

1224H Resume trek
After Magringgit, we went through so many “knife edge” and “kiss the wall” trails that falling off a cliff or a ravine became an ever present danger throughout the trek. I had a close call in one of them.

While crossing a narrow ridge, the loose soil I was stepping on suddenly broke off. I was left hanging on a tree root as thick as a pinky finger, my feet hopelessly dangling in the air. In an eerily calm voice, Jet told me to move to the right and reach for a foothold. I tried to stave off panic while doing so and fortunately, I was able to move into a more stable position. Then it was his turn to figure out how to cross the ridge after I’ve bulldozed the entire trail into nonexistence.

There were also parts of the trail with an abundance of limatik (leeches) but our main concern then was to stay alive so fending off blood-sucking leeches was very low on our set of priorities.

1341H Kawang-Kawang Peak
Kawang-Kawang Peak was a potentially breathtaking view deck had it been a sunny day. Since we were in the middle of a storm, all we got were thick fog, rain and strong winds. That pretty much sums up the last two days of this climb.

Our first photo of the day! Tatay Dinio, Binoy, Jet and Fred on Kawang-Kawang Peak. You can really tell from the forced smiles and squinted eyes that we were having a blast on this hike.

Our first photo of the day! Tatay Dinio, Binoy, Jet and Fred on Kawang-Kawang Peak. You can really tell from the forced smiles and squinted eyes that we were having a blast on this hike.

We started seeing signs of human activity after Kawang-Kawang: kaingin (slash-and-burn farming) trails, a hut on a small patch of land. I began to think it wouldn’t be long before we reach the highway in Barangay Malis, Brooke’s Point, which marks the end of our epic (and I do mean epic!) climb. I had no clue Malis was still more than five hours away and I had more crawling, sliding and cursing to do on the trail.

An empty hut along the trail

An empty hut along the trail

Kaingin

Kaingin

1550H Mag-agong
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The rain had stopped and the fog had cleared a little when we reached Mag-agong, a grassy open trail that reminded me a little of Batulao. According to the locals, the strong winds in this area make loud noises similar to the bass sound of an agong (native gong) which was how the place got its name. We didn’t hear the agong too well but we certainly felt the gusts which were strong enough to throw off our balance.

Water source about 30 minutes from Mag-agong. On this climb, this was the only stable and accessible water source after Kabugan, the first campsite.

Water source about 30 minutes from Mag-agong. On this climb, this was the only stable and accessible water source after Kabugan, the first campsite.

1630H Sari-sari store, early dinner
My pace was dwindling to that of an aging snail as the day wore on. Binoy suggested we stop to rest and eat in a sari-sari store owned by Tatay Dinio’s relative. This turned out to be a good move since, with the rate I was going, we’d be trekking well into the night. To make things worse, it rained again as we were about to resume the hike. The trail, which was now a series of steep descents, became even more slippery.

I was getting very frustrated with my pace and with the muddy trail. Extreme exhaustion and the intense pain on my legs and knees were getting the better of me. Tatay Dinio kept on saying “malapit na (we’re almost there)” but we still kept on walking and there was still no highway in sight. I was on the brink of a mental breakdown.

1918H National Highway, Barangay Malis, Brooke’s Point
After what felt like an eternity of trekking, I saw heaven in a long stretch of concrete road. We’ve reached the highway!!! If not for the speeding trucks, I would’ve rushed in the middle of that road and gave it a big hug.

We stayed in the house of Tatay Dinio’s uncle in Barangay Malis where we basked in the joy of taking a bath and brushing our teeth. We also had a belated celebration of Binoy’s birthday. He turned 30 on the first day of our trek and we felt awful that he had to spend his birthday with three crazy people on a punishing four-day climb.

Binoy, Fred, me, Tatay Dinio and Jet. Our only complete group photo taken at the house of Tatay Dinio’s uncle.

Binoy, Fred, me, Tatay Dinio and Jet. Our only complete group photo taken at the house of Tatay Dinio’s uncle.

The epic Mantalingajan traverse was over. The stats: 4 days, 35 cumulative hours of trekking, 12 meals, 2 busted water sources, 1 typhoon, 1 fight, 1 crying session, 4 pairs of ruined trekking shoes, countless muttered prayers and swearwords (often in the same breath), and 3 very exhausted but extremely ecstatic mountaineers who thought this was the greatest thing that ever happened in their mountaineering lives.

Photo credit: Most of the photos were taken by Jet Reyes.

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31 thoughts on “Mantalingajan Traverse: Day Four

  1. jebuzinjamonk

    hahahaha… natawa ako dun sa nobody moves… actually, maaga me nagising din kaso takot ako lumabas dahil parang naririnig ko ang mga tinig ng ahas sa labas…hehehe at sobrang pagod at maginaw din sa labas dahil malakas pa ang hangin at ulan…kaya nung tinanong ko si Tatay Dinio kung anong oras at sabi nya 5:00AM, balik ulit sa sleeping bag…:) :) :)

    Reply
      1. jebuzinjamonk

        hahaha…:) ka-praning lang sa ahas…hahaha.. dun lang talaga ako kinabahan tungkol sa ahas, kasi feeling ko ung mga kasikas ng insecto gumagapang sa labas ay kinakain sila ng ahas…hahaha…kaya kahit sobrang ihing-ihi ako, hinintay ko talaga na magliwanag…(na praning lang ako talaga sa kwento ni tatay dinio nung ginapangan sila ng ahas nung kina Angela…, dun lang ata nag sink-in sa utak ko kaya takot na takot ako nun! hehehe :) :)

        Reply
          1. jebuzinjamonk

            hahahaha…..naku! kasi naman si tatay dinio un ang pinak kukwento sa akin nung pinag uusapan na namin ung gabihin sa daan eh…tsaka ung nakasalubong daw niyang King Cobra sa traverse side…pinapalagpas ko lang sa tenga ko during ung trek sa Lapong kasi nga hirap ng trail eh… pero nung gabi ko lang naiisip ung mga ahas kaya na praning talaga ako dun…mula nang mahiga ako sa tent, umaga na ako lumabas… hahaha… :) Buti na lang din na brief ko si tatay na wag kang paringgan…. hahahaha…

            Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Syiempre, binagyo na nga kami sa bundok eh. At least may summer feel kahit sa shorts man lang. Sayang I wasn’t able to bring my floral umbrella to match. Haha!

      Reply
        1. Tintin Post author

          Haha! Give me a break. I was wearing the same drab trekking pants for three straight days (four days pa nga including the day we travelled to Rizal). Makapag-floral shorts man lang pauwi. Hehehe

          Reply
            1. Tintin Post author

              Sana pala pinadala ko na lahat ng maruming damit. Hehe. Abusado lang o. I still can’t believe you guys actually did my filthy, muddy, stinky laundry. I don’t even like doing it myself. :P Yun ang tunay na test of friendship. Haha!

    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you! Madjaas is one of my dream climbs so I really hope to do that soon. I heard box office daw ang Sicapoo these days kaya mukhang mahirap sumingit. Saka na lang siguro. Actually mas gusto kong pumirmi na lang ng Palawan at akyatin lahat ng bundok dun. Hehe.

      Reply
      1. Rawhide

        comment attempt, not sure if it went through. type ko na lang ulit :) curious lang ako kung anong book ang baon mo sa napaka habang byahe mo dito :)

        Reply
        1. Tintin Post author

          I wasn’t able to bring a book anymore. Wala kasi akong baggage allowance kaya naka-distribute na kina Jet at Fred ang mga ibang gamit ko. Baggage parasite ako on this trip. Hehe. I had to keep my backpack’s weight at 7kg so kelangang magbawas ng dala. Kasama na ang libro sa na-sacrifice. :-/

          Reply
          1. Rawhide

            I’m sure nanghihinayang ka rin! hehe. Sa haba ng byahe ansarap ng may makapal na book :) may nakita nga ko photo ng g2, nag uunpack sa Mayo’s, may naka plastic na Dance with Dragons..naisip ko -ansarap nun sa mahabang boat ride! :) Btw, i hope itinuloy mong basahin ang mga GRRM.. i browsed on your book reviews and most of your choices seem to fall on the geek’s choice nominees. nosebleed para sa kin yung iba.:) anyaways – Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind, masarap na pang byahe :) tho im sure nabasa mo na yun.

            Reply
            1. Tintin Post author

              Yung boatride namin sa G2, sa sahig kami natulog, malapit na sa makina ng barko kasi naubusan kami ng ticket. Sana nga may libro din ako nun, pambawi sa pagka-miserable ng trip. Haha! Pero okay rin naman, kakaibang experience. Masayang kwento afterwards. :P

              Yeah, I finished all five books of the ASOIAF series na. I just haven’t been able to write about them ’cause I like blogging more about my climbs. Hehe.

              Uy di ko pa nabasa yun but since you mentioned it, sige I’ll check it out. I’m currently obsessed with the short stories of Margaret Atwood. I’ve been a longtime fan of her pero mga novels nya lang ang binabasa ko dati. Ngayon ko lang nae-enjoy ang mga short stories nya. I’d give up my kidneys just to be able to write like her. Haha!

  2. jebuzinjamonk

    Yon oh! si madame hardcore! hehehe :) Dayhike na lang yang mga iyan sa iyo po madam….. pero di nga natuwa talaga ako dun sa bonngang floral shorts na yan! :) hahahaha … may pang lalaki ba nyan! hahahaha :)

    Reply
  3. Naldy

    ayun. Congrats again ;) , parang 4 part mini-series lang.

    Gawan naten nang part II. Mantalingajan Traverse Reverse. Brookspoint to Rizal. :D

    Reply
  4. T2Verge

    Maybe after Mt Maagnaw ( one of the two remaining mountains on the 10 highest .. one is Mt Ragang… na di pa naakyat ) late January next year, itry naming isked this Mana next February.. Though I may prefer not to do the traverse ( G2 was tough for me 3 years ago at 54, I can”t imagine I can make the traverse at almost 58 ) .. On second thought, I may try.. Thanks for the blow by blow details of this Mana climb

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Mahirap nga po talaga ang Manta trav. It’s by far my most difficult climb, tipong ayoko nang ulitin. Hehe. Pero makakaya nyo po yun kung mapaghahandaan naman. Sana po matuloy kayo. I’m also hoping to climb Maagnaw when I go back to Bukidnon.

      Reply

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