Saturday – Sunday
February 13-14, 2016
Fresh from my Mt. Ulap climb, it seems that Benguet wasn’t done with me yet. Through a series of unfortunate and fortunate events, I climbed Luzon’s 2nd and 3rd highest peaks this weekend.
I was scheduled to climb Mt. Balingkilat this weekend, but with few attendees, my friend and I had to postpone the trip. Sadly, most of my organized hikes don’t push through (it’s okay, I’m used to it).
But then in a stroke of luck, my friend and superstar fashion-hiking blogger invited me to a Luzon 3-2 hike. With no plans this weekend and wanting to avoid the Valentine’s hype (lol bitter), I agreed.
So there, I found myself in Cubao, among strangers. My friend warned me that her group is fast-paced and they don’t like slow hikers so I was a bit nervous and intimidated. I told myself to really push myself in this climb and keep up with their pace. Show no weakness, conceal all struggle.
After boarding the bus, I fell asleep and woke up when we arrived in Baguio. Once I got off the bus, I was slapped by the cold air. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the temperature. I can’t wait to start the hike so that my body warms up.
We waited for the chartered jeep for a while, sipping strawberry taho. Then we got on our ride to Benguet. We passed by a short viewdeck to catch the sunrise then proceeded to Loyung restaurant for breakfast.
After breakfast, we headed straight for the Mt. Timbak jump-off. The way was through lots of residential homes and although it was getting higher and colder, there were rice terraces all around.
From the jump-off, it was a short climb to the summit. Our guide said it would take 30-45 minutes, but it was actually more like 10-15! Because there were agricultural settlements and a satellite tower at the top, the summit was easily accessible.
I had a bit of trouble with acclimatizing and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath, good thing it was just a short climb. And with that, I reached Luzon’s 3rd highest peak.
After taking lotsa pictures, we proceeded to the next mountain, Mt. Tabayoc. The jump-off was a bit far, so I decided to topload on the jeep so I can lie down and sleep. It was effective because the next thing I know, I had a tan, and we were all ready for lunch.
We had lunch at a certain local’s house while we registered with the barangay. Nanay Florence was very welcoming and cooked a lot of food for us. She had a really nice house and the food was pinikpikan, or wild chicken stew. We registered afterwards and it was a short ride to the Tabayoc campsite at lake Tabeyo.
Lake Tabeyo is the only campsite for Mt. Tabayoc so we set up our tents after getting oriented by a park ranger(it’s part of Mt. Pulag National Park).
Once our tents were up, we went to lake Ambulalakao, the most beautiful of the four lakes in the area. It was really eye-catching and we couldn’t resist taking pics. Afterwards, it was back to the campsite for dinner and socials.
The group had chicken tinola for dinner while I had a few sips of the broth and crashed for the night. The night was freezing and I was once again reminded why I don’t like spending the night in the Cordilleras.
The morning after, according to the thermometer, it had reached 0 degrees. To further prove the temperature, the morning dew froze on our tents and made these beautiful solid droplets. One handkerchief left outside froze into a solid tile.
After shaking off some of the cold with hot Milo and coffee, we started our trek. After passing a small carrot plantation, we entered the dense jungle that consisted most of the trail towards the summit.
Our guide told us that the trail was called a “monkey trail” because you had to climb with both your hands and feet. Indeed, there were times where I had to crouch down and squeeze through tiny spaces in the trees. So this is what Tarzan deals with on a daily basis.
After a couple of hours we reached Peak 1, were we took a short rest. Then we continued up to Peak 2 where the locals have constructed a view-deck.
Upon climbing up, we were treated to the wonderful views of the Cordilleras. The only peaks I recognized were Mt. Pulag and Mt. Amuyao.
After taking pictures, we started our fast descent. I slid down and hit my head a couple of times but I was rushing down to use the bathroom at the campsite.
When we were all present at the campsite, we packed our things and went back to Nanay Florence’s house for lunch once again. There we fixed up and changed into clothes for our way back home.
- 22:45 ETD Cubao, Bus bound for Baguio
- 04:10 ETA Baguio
- 06:30 Sunrise Viewing
- 06:50 Loyung Restaurant
- 07:55 ETD Loyung
- 08:10 ETA Highest Point
- 08:40 Timbac Jumpoff
- 08:55 Start Trek
- 09:05 Timbac Summit
- 09:50 Start descent
- 10:00 Jumpoff
- 11:45 Tabayoc registration
- 12:35 ETA Nanay Florence’s, lunch
- 13:45 ETD Nanay Florence’s
- 14:05 ETA Campsite, set up camp
- 15:10 ETD Campsite
- 15:20 ETA Ambulalakao lake
- 15:50 ETD Ambulalakao lake
- 16:00 ETA Campsite, dinner and socials
- 06:25 Start trek
- 08:40 Peak 1
- 09:40 Peak 2 viewdeck
- 10:10 Start descent
- 10:50 Peak 1
- 12:25 ETA campsite, pack up
- 13:45 ETD Campsite
- 14:00 ETA Nanay Florence’s, lunch
- 17:00 ETD Nanay Florence’s
- 21:00 ETA Baguio, Dinner and chorva
- 23:00 ETD Baguio, Bus bound for Cubao
- 03:30 ETA Cubao
Expected Budget: Since this was an organized hike, I paid P2,600 for an all-in package. I recommend having a safe budget of at least P3,000 for a DIY trip. This is more than enough.
- As with all my Benguet climbs, be ready for the cold. In this case, the campsite at Tabeyo lake reached 0 degrees early in the morning. Prepare accordingly. Don’t be the guy that had to resort to using socks as gloves because he didn’t bring a pair (that guy is me).
- You can leave your things at the campsite in lake Tabeyo. You just need to bring an assault pack to climb Mt. Tabayoc.
- The trail to the Mt. Tabayoc view-deck is very wild and you need to pay attention to the trodden rocks and vines to know where to go.
- Pack light on the trail as it is very technical. You need both hands to maneuver and squeeze through the branches.
- There is a water source and a basic bathroom at the campsite. You can also rent tents and cooksets from the locals (just coordinate with your guides)
- For the Mt. Timbak climb, no need to being your entire pack as it is just a very quick climb.
- Prepare yourselves for very long jeep rides to, from, and around Benguet.
I’d like to thank my super harkor and famous friend, Camae, for inviting me to climb with her super harkor and legit climbing friends. I was able to thankfully keep up and I did my best to hide my heavy breathing from them. Thank you to the big guy as well for good weather and for making us the only group to climb the mountains for the weekend.
It was a good feeling to be able to finish the 3rd and 2nd tallest peaks in Luzon, a few months after finishing the 1st tallest. The cold always bothers me, but the altitudes and the views in Cordillera are just too tempting. Remembering the cold makes me not want to return, but the peaks just keep calling!
p.s. I spent so much time during this hike sleeping. Every time there was time to rest, I was asleep, so my friend had fun taking pictures of me.