December 13, 2015
On most climbs, my legs get sore first, usually followed by my arms and shoulders when there are technical parts. But in my Mt. Lubog adventure, it was my butt that took most of the beating. Why? The answer is just one compound word: habal-habal.
It’s been exactly one year since my Pico de Loro climb, and to celebrate this anniversary, I hitched with a friend’s group to climb another mountain in Rizal.
Mt. Lubog, is made famous by it’s rocky summit, just like other mountains in Rizal. However, I believe that it should be known more for the 2-3-hour habal-habal ride going to the jump-off.
So after taking a shuttle to Total Gas Station in Montalban (Rodriguez) and meeting up with the rest of the climbers, we boarded the habal-habal and started our journey to the jump-off.
The route passed through Brgy. Mascap and entered a rough road where the real thrill begins. It was like riding a dusty roller-coaster. I was seated behind our driver which was peculiarly the most bumpy seat anyone could take. The rest of my group were seated on planks of wood and rubber tire interiors improvised into seats.
There were moments that we had to get off because the terrain was too rough and steep, our weight was too much for the vehicle. We had to push the habal-habal as well in some parts. This went on for 3 hours; what I thought would be a boring ride turned out to be a butt-busting and exciting trip.
We reached sitio Macainglan to register. We also had a quick rest from the bumps and I massaged my sore butt while the others had their morning coffee.
Then, it was back to the road for a final ride to the jump-off proper. Although, the habal-habal had to drop us off earlier because the later road was too slippery for them to maneuver. This meant a few minute’s walk before finally arriving at the jump-off.
The trail up Mt. Lubog was a mossy forest, reminiscent of Mt. Daraitan. But higher up, there were limestone jutting up from the ground and along the trail so I had to watch my step and maneuver to avoid scratching myself and my belongings. What came to mind when describing the trail was a mossy and wetter Mt. Pamitinan trail.
After almost an hour, we reached the “campsite”, about 10 minutes away from the summit. I’m saying “campsite” because no way anyone would pitch a tent there because of all the rocks poking up from the ground. Hammocks would be a better solution because there were countless trees in the area. We had a quick snack here before proceeding to the summit.
One final rock scrambling assault and we burst through the forest canopy and into the summit, which was all rocks. So much limestone to see, it was like multiple Daraitan rockies lumped together. There were so many possibilities for picture taking!
We had to wait a while for the clearing since it was drizzling and the fog still covered pretty much everything. What’s good about Mt. Lubog, though, is that even without a clearing, the spectacular rock formations of the summit itself are already good subjects for pictures.
When the fog finally lifted, we were treated to the amazing landscape around the mountain. There were so many hills and mountains, everywhere I looked was filled with green. From a distance, Metro Manila can be seen, the small little skyscrapers trying to rival the heights of the mountains.
After we exhausted all the picture-taking possibilities, we started our descent. Because of the rain, the trail was made even slippery and I was almost skating down the mud and rocks. Because of this, the time descending was waaaaaay faster than the ascent. A lot of us fell down along the way, one of my friends even tore her pants open. I have a few scratches as souvenirs but thankfully, nothing major. Thanks to the trees for the support, without them, I would’ve careened off the mountainside.
We had a quick rest at the jump-off before proceeding to Panintingan falls, a lagoon where we had our recovery dip. The water was semi-clear and the basin was deep enough for someone to dive off the overhanging tree. So, I did.
The water was cool and after a few minutes of swimming, I rested by sitting down along the shallow part and having my feet cleaned by the tiny river fishes. My only foot spa ever and it’s being done by nature.
When everyone was done swimming, we trekked back to where our habal-habals were parked. After a short ride, they took us up a viewdeck where we had a full 360-degree view of the area.
This was where people usually wait for the sunset. I enjoyed lying down on the grass and feeling the breeze in the mountains.
We didn’t wait for the sunset because descending via habal-habal in the dark would be difficult and we didn’t want to get home late. So we proceeded back to the registration area, sitio Macaingalan, where we had some post-climb snacks and the others can change and fix themselves up.
The night was still able to reach us while we were on the ride down to Montalban. It was a bit scary descending on loose rocks in the dark, but our driver expertly maneuvered and we were glad nothing bad happened. Despite the rocky and jarring road, I was so tired I fell asleep a couple of times! Good thing I’m able to hold on to the handles of the motorcycle even while sleeping.
After arriving in Montalban, it was a jeep ride home for me. I could barely finish unpacking before I fell asleep. This climb was amazingly tiring but also just as satisfying.
- 04:40 ETD Cubao, Shuttle bound for Montalban
- 05:15 ETA Total Gas Station, Secure Habal-habal
- P150 per head, one way to Mt. Lubog Jumpoff
- P1000 per habal-habal (seats 4 people), round trip
- 05:35 ETD Total Gas Station
- 07:30 ETA Sitio Macaingalan, Register and secure guides
- 08:20 Habal-habal drop-off, Walk to jump-off
- 08:50 ETA Jumpoff
- 09:00 Start Trek
- 09:50 ETA Campsite
- 10:05 ETA Summit, Photo ops
- 11:10 ETD Summit
- 11:20 ETA Campsite, Lunch or snacks
- 11:40 Start Descent
- 12:10 ETA Jumpoff, Lunch or snacks
- 12:50 ETD Jumpoff, walk to Panintingan falls
- 13:20 ETA Panintingan falls
- P50 per day, cottage rental
- P50 per day, bamboo raft rental
- 15:00 ETD Panintingan falls
- 15:30 ETA Habal-habal drop-off
- 16:00 Sunset Viewdeck
- 16:55 ETA Sitio Macaingalan, fix up and rest
- 17:20 ETD Sitio Macaingalan
- 18:50 ETA Montalban, shuttle to Cubao
Expected Budget: Since this was an organized hike, I paid P900 for an all-in package. I recommend having a safe budget of at least P1,000 for a DIY trip.
- There are lots of possible side trips in this hike. One can do a traverse to Mt. Balagbag, or visit the other falls in the vicinity. There is also a cave that can be explored along the trail. Just ask the locals and the guides for directions and details.
- Some of the rocks are sharp, so wearing gloves is recommended.
- I didn’t notice any water source along the trail.
- Prepare your butts.
This climb made me appreciate my butt all the more. From riding the habal-habal to slipping down the trails, my butt has literally been my cushion, absorbing all the impacts so that I don’t get hurt. So thank you, butt, for all your good work.
Climbing has given me the pleasure of meeting lots of different people. For most of my life, I’ve always wanted a way to communicate and interact with lots of different people, so this hobby has been a blessing in that regard.
Thank you to ate Hannah, ate Grace, Faye, and the rest of the Summit Adventurers for inviting me to climb with them (and for the pictures). More power to your group and until I climb with you guys again!
Mt. Lubog aka the butt-tenderizer has been climbed! What a nice way to celebrate a year of mountains!