December 20, 2015
Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence. -Hermann Buhl
This was the quote that came to mind as I ascended what could be my last mountain for the year. Having climbed a few mountains this 2015, forgive me for underestimating Mt. Mabilog, a dayhike in San Pablo, Laguna.
Standing at 441+ masl, Mt. Mabilog stands a little bit lower than its other Laguna siblings like Mt. Banahaw (2,158+), Mt. Cristobal (1,470+), Mt. Makiling (1,090+), and Mt. Kalisungan (790+). It pretty much serves as a view deck for these other Laguna mountains.
The whole week before the climb, storms were battering the country and non-stop rain had already cancelled my other weekend activities. But thankfully, on the morning of the climb day, there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight. I made my way to San Pablo, Laguna just as the sun’s first rays penetrated the city.
After some navigational assistance from some kind people in Laguna, I was finally able to meet up with my friends and we were on our way to the jumpoff in Lake Pandin.
After securing a guide, we started our 2-hour trek to the summit. However, the moment I saw the trail, I knew we were going to have problems.
Remember that I underestimated this mountain? Well, I thought that this would be an easy hike so I just brought my slippers with me. Well actually, there’s no doubt that this would be an easy hike. IF only it didn’t rain for the past few days.
Mud everywhere. Aside from our guide, we were swallowed up by mud that reaches knee deep in some areas. We couldn’t distinguish solid ground from quicksand-ish mud anymore. We reached our quota of expletives just halfway up the mountain.
After having my feet slipping in my slippers (heh), I decided to go barefoot which was easier than having the mud suck my slippered foot with every step.
I lost track of how many pieces of poop I stepped on which was mixed with the mud. It helps not to think of the things found in the mud, and the whole time I was praying that I don’t get wounded and get infected.
Finally, we reached the summit where the wind was very strong due to the recent storms. The summit was wide, capable of holding lots of tents, and indeed a lot of people do spend the night here. But for today, we got the summit all for ourselves.
We rested a bit and, of course, had a lot of picture-taking.
Feeling satisfied with our pictures, and sensing the rain clouds coming nearer, we started our muddy descent back to the jump-off.
Although it was faster, the descent was tiring and grueling. But eventually, we made it back to Lake Pandin where we tried to remove the dried mud from ourselves before taking a jeep and a trike to our post-climb swim at Bunga Twin Falls!
Because of the recent storms, the water level was higher than normal, and the current was raging strong. Indeed, not a lot of people were at the falls, when usually there would be a lot of visitors. Good for us, because we got the falls to ourselves.
We had fun swimming against the current and washing ourselves from all the mud we got during the climb. Even when it drizzled, we didn’t care because after the ordeal with the mountain, the falls were a blessing indeed!
Because of the abnormal swelling of the falls, I wasn’t able to jump off it, so I vowed to return when the conditions were safer and make the dive. To compensate, I just posed for a lot of pictures.
From the falls, our last stop on the itinerary was the Nagcarlan underground cemetery. Good thing we arrived before dark because it was really creepy stepping down into the “tomb.” It reminded me a bit of Skyrim and I was half-expecting a draugr to suddenly emerge.
After saying goodbye to the caretaker, we took a jeep bound for San Pablo and had some drinks and dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Sampaloc lake. Next was a long bus ride back to Manila, and finally, home.
Itinerary and Cost Breakdown:
- 06:30 ETD Cubao, Bus bound for Lucena
- P135 per head
- 08:25 ETA San Pablo, Jeep to 7eleven Plaza
- P8 per head
- 08:50 ETA 7eleven Plaza, Jeep to Sto. Anghel
- P11 per head
- 09:20 ETA Lake Pandin jump-off, secure guide
- P350 per group, guide fee
- 09:30 Start Trek
- 10:15 Junction between Mt. Mabilog and Lake Yambo
- 11:15 ETA Summit
- 12:10 ETD Summit
- 13:20 ETA Lake Pandin, fix up
- 13:40 ETD Lake Pandin, jeep to Nagcarlan
- P15 per head
- 14:30 ETA Nagcarlan, Trike to Bunga Falls
- P160 per trike, to Bunga falls and to Underground Cemetery
- 14:50 ETA Bunga Falls
- P5 per head, entrance fee
- P100, cottage rental fee
- 16:40 ETD Bunga Falls, Trike to Underground Cemetery
- 17:05 ETA Underground Cemetery
- 17:30 ETD Underground Cemetery, Jeep to San Pablo
- P26 per head
- 18:20 ETA San Pablo, dinner
Total Cost: P575
Safe Budget: P900
- If you want to climb Mt. Mabilog after it rains or, God-forbid, while it rains, you’re gonna have a bad time.
- Mt. Mabilog is a good place to spend the night and do some stargazing. Camp at the summit.
- On the descent, one can take the other trail at the junction towards Lake Yambo and exit from there.
- Bunga Falls is more enjoyable when the current isn’t too strong. Also, the bathroom at Bunga Falls is less than ideal. Beware.
- Make sure to arrange for the trike taking you to Bunga Falls to also come get you at a set time because it’s hard to come across other empty trikes from the falls itself. Just negotiate the price.
While, assault-wise, this has to be the easiest mountain I’ve climbed, it was also the most difficult in terms of maneuvering through the mud and dirt. I barely felt the ascent if it wasn’t for the difficulty of dealing with the muddy trail. So, in the end, it was still a slightly stressful climb for me. Never underestimate a mountain, children.
Thank you for welcoming me to Laguna and for agreeing to climb along, Pritzy and Crissel! Reg, sasama ka na talaga next time! Thanks also to the Big Guy for calming the weather and giving us a climbing window. You da best!
I’ll surely be back in Laguna to climb more of its wonderful mountains. As for now, I believe this climb closes my mountaineering for 2015. It’s a bit unexpected, but I’m glad to have been humbled so close to the end of the year.