On a scale just a little bit crazier than the Nasugbu Quadrilogy, I celebrated this year’s Independence day by going on a short hike with my trail friends up and down the many slopes of Nasugbu. This is a short summary of our Nasugbu Pentology.
Lady, the same organizer of the Quadri, mentioned the re-opening of Toong Trail, and the possibility of the Penta opened up. After setting a date, I was saddened as I already had a climb scheduled, so I ended up just supporting the participants.
But sweet serendipity, the scheduled climb was postponed due to bad weather. Feeling fearless despite the impending storm, I told my friends to reserve me a slot in case someone backs out of the Penta roster. Fortunately, Lady told me that there was still space for me to squeeze in. Lucky!
So late Saturday night, I found myself at the back of a van with friends old and new, on our way to the first mountain in Cavite: Mt. Palay-Palay, my mother mountain.
We started hiking in the dark and thankfully, this was nothing new to me; the new trail of Mt. Palay-palay was easily accessible even without sunlight. With just our torches and headlamps, we reached the campsite after a bit more than an hour. We got some rest as we planned our next move. Then, we hiked up the summit for some pictures. We also stargazed and small-talked as the cool early morning breeze chilled us.
Next we traversed the mountain down to the Nasugbu firing range. The trail was still familiar to me and this was where the morning sun found us. After a while, our vans picked us up and we were off to the second mountain. 1 down, 4 to go!
We had a quick breakfast at Sitio Bayabasan before proceeding to the Batulao jumpoff because this next part of the hike was going to be the most physically demanding. This Batulao-Toong hike will be nonstop until we reach the exit point of Sitio Bayabasan again. We also picked up our Toong guides here.
Then we proceeded with the Mt. Batulao hike. Again, I was in awe by the beauty of the mountain, especially now that the rainy season has begun. The grass that used to be yellow during the summer season and even caught on fire is now a lush, green color. Truly, the mountain is blooming.
After reaching the summit through the old trail and drinking the usual mountain dew, we descended via the new trail right up to the registration point in Camp 8. There, we had the last chance to refuel and hydrate before entering the Toong trail.
Toong trail was absolutely brutal. Since the trail had been closed for a while, it was extremely wild. Immediately, I got scratched by different kinds of plants whose leaves were sharp and thorny. Bamboo and other branches were jutting out in all directions, sharp points aimed at the hikers. I had to be extremely careful to maneuver through the trail. There was also a noticeable lack of flat ground. We were either ascending or descending all the while.
It was beautiful though, the assault to the Toong peak called “Susong Dalaga” by the locals was like the assault to Mt. Apayang, full of talahib taller than a person. I didn’t feel the ascent because I can barely see the trail in front of me. There was just a sudden opening and I was at the top of the peak, with a grand view of Batulao, Talamitam and Apayang, as well as the surrounding environment.
Then it was a matter of traversing the ridges of Toong with a scary climb up a rock formation that my friend said was a bit identical to G2. I kept thinking that if only the trail wasn’t as covered by talahib, it would have been a good place to run, providing great views of Nasugbu.
After that, it was back to the foresty areas reminiscent of the Mt. Apayang trail from its jump off. In fact, Toong trail bears a close resemblance to the Apayang trail, only 3 times as hard and 5 times as long.
Anyway, to make matters better (or worse), it started to rain. Hard. And this was the time where we got lost. I was quite miserable but I did enjoy the cooling brought about by the downpour. Eventually we did find the right way and the rain started to stop. But there was still a bit of drizzling every now and then. Besides that, the damage was done; the trails were slippery and muddy as hell. I had a hard time on the ascents because my shoe lost all traction as the lugs were smothered by the mud.
Next we had to cross a river which had swollen because of the rain. Fortunately, our guide found a shallow part but because of the strong current, we had to hold each other’s arms while crossing. The trail really feels like it was made to make you suffer. And suffer, I did.
After that, there was even more walking and slipping in the mud. At this point, I was just waiting for the ordeal to be over. I’ll spare you from any more rants and just say that we made it to Sitio Bayabasan. I can’t describe how happy I was to see the highway. With that, the Batulao-Toong traverse was finished. 2nd and 3rd peaks done!
We waited for the rest of the group while the others fixed themselves up, some have already decided not to finish the last two peaks. It was already getting late and a night trek was imminent. So after everyone was accounted for, a smaller group decided to finish the Talamitam-Apayang peaks while the others got their much needed rest.
The sun set as we approached Talamitam’s grassland, my shoes were feeling so heavy as the mud clung to them, but we trudged on. We ascended via the “easy” trail on the right side of the mountain. It was tiring but we were all set on finishing the penta and night wasn’t going to stop us.
We stepped on the summit of Mt. Talamitam (4th peak!) and posed for a few pictures before proceeding to traverse towards Mt. Apayang. Once again, I was slapped in all directions by the talahib and I have scars on my arms and legs to prove it.
Finally, the talahib cleared away and I saw the bamboo bench that marked the summit of Mt. Apayang. We did it! In the light of my headlamp, the weary smiles of my hikemates shone through. Everyone was glad to have finished. 5 peaks in one day, done!
After a short prayer of thanks, we descended the mountain. I was starving so I was really looking forward to the post-climb dinner at the jumpoff. Anyway, in the dark, we got a bit sidetracked and went down the long trail so we scored some more extra mileage by descending down to the river instead of the local road. From the river, we had to climb up an old bamboo staircase leading back to the right way. Whew, what an adventure!
After fixing ourselves up, it was time for dinner! Our organizer who is also a wonderful chef, whipped up lots of food for us the day before and finally we were able to eat it! I loved the custard cakes so much, I had them before the main course. As always, I enjoyed the giniling and ate lots of it. Before long, I was satisfyingly full and was awaiting the signal to return to our vans for the trip home.
Unsurprisingly, I slept all the way back to the metro. I went home with my body parts sore and chafed, but everything was ultimately worth it.
- 23:00 ETD McDo Greensfield
- 01:40 ETA Mt. Palay-palay DENR
- 02:10 Start Trek
- 03:25 ETA Campsite
- 03:45 ETA Summit
- 04:15 ETD Summit, start traverse
- 05:30 ETA Nasugbu Firing Range
- 05:55 ETD Nasugbu Firing Range
- 07:00 ETA Sitio Bayabasan, breakfast
- 07:30 ETD Sitio Bayabasan
- 07:50 ETA Batulao Jumpoff
- 08:00 Start Trek
- 09:35 ETA Summit
- 10:00 ETD Summit
- 10:20 ETA Camp 8
- 10:30 Start Trek via Toong Trail
- 12:05 ETA Susong Dalaga (Toong Peak)
- 16:30 ETA Sitio Bayabasan, late lunch
- 18:00 Start Trek
- 19:20 ETA Talamitam Summit
- 19:55 ETA Apayang Summit
- 21:40 ETA Sitio Bayabasan, dinner
- 23:05 ETD Sitio Bayabasan
- 01:15 ETA McDo Greensfield
- Super prepare yourself mentally and physically. I’m not kidding. This is a very difficult and tiring climb, especially Toong trail.
- Expect anything to happen. Hikemates got lost, we got lost, rain, mud, poop, sudden drops, etc.
Here’s the Strava data for the day.
Thank you Lady, for organizing this and for the delicious food. You did great at organizing and continuing to push everyone. Thanks also to the #Powerhouse group for including me in your ranks; I know I was a last minute addition but thanks for welcoming me. It was a pleasure hiking with finishers of various infamous trail runs. You all inspire me.
Thank you to Team TUSU as well, we were almost complete, but no worries. Thanks for making the trail bearable and for the pictures. See you on the next events.
Finally, to the Big Guy for keeping all of us safe. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate much, everyone made it through safely. I was really careful in this climb because my healthcare insurance recently expired so it was a good thing I didn’t end up injured. Thank You for Your guidance. This is for Your greater glory.
It is in moments of extreme stress that we find out what we are really made of. Well this stressful climb gave me a glimpse of what I can do, and I am pleasantly surprised. When limits are pushed, that’s where growth happens.
Hike safe, hike happy!