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Friday, November 25, 2011

Mt. Batulao » 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn from the Trail

Silhouette of Man rock climbing on mountain ridge
Mt. Batulao is not something imposingly sublime, but its peaks could etch something inspirational on you like a ladder of life. Climbing its multiple peaks, jagged slopes and valleys can make you realize the significance of trekking and the meaning of mountains on your personal life.

Yes, Mt. Batulao is called the “Illuminated Rocks,” also tagged by pilgrims as “Mountain of Salvation.” However, do not deceive yourself that climbing this mountain, or any other mountain can make you enlightened. We do not climb mountains to seek enlightenment; we should not probe for deeper meaning. It will come to us because we value life.

Nevertheless, Mt. Batulao can always confront you with the edge, enough to make you enlightened. Let me share to you my personal experience.

Scaling the illuminated edge

The morning sun surprised me by its gentle rays striking my face – sign of a breathtaking day, I whispered. Up ahead are the sneak-peeks of the unforgettably majestic ridges of Mt. Batulao, intense yet laid-back.
View of Mat. Batulao summit from below
Sneak peek of Mt. Batulao summit at the start of the trail
And we were off, geared up and ready to ascend after we passed by the Evercrest Golf Course, which serves as the jump-off. The basic idea for this day hike is a simple one but rough nonetheless; we will do the Mt. Batulao traverse. It’s a two to four hours trek to summit on a charted and cogon-covered trail.
Wild mountain flowers
Colorful wild grass added to the visual feast while climbing
This is a perfect day hike you can always save for Sundays, challenging enough to climb and close enough to Metro Manila. It is also close enough to Tagaytay that together they're great fun to knock off in the same day.
Narrow trail of Mt. Batulao
Tree-less narrow trail going to the summit
Before the climb, I browsed some blogs and related post climb experiences to understand this mountain. Some said Mt. Batulao mimics the European Alps from afar, which I disagree. It is attractive on its own way; no two mountains are the same.     
Mt. Batulao steep ridges
Steep ridges of Mt. Batulao excites mountaineers
Also, mysticism seems to enshroud Mt. Batulao. According to the locals, a natural phenomenon happens on this mountain every last week of December. That is when the sun nestles exactly between its two highest peaks creating a mystical disc of red light, described by the Batangas natives as “ilaw sa dalawang bato” or “bato sa ilaw” [illuminated rocks]. This is how Mt. Batulao derived its name.
Wild grass mountain trail to the summit
Cogon grass dancing with the wind
The trail started ascending after we passed by the local village houses. Upper mountain breeze kissed me then throw itself off the soft curves of Mt. Batulao making the fields of cogon grass start their rigodon dance. They swayed gracefully making the breeze visible like ripples on a calm lake. This intrigues me. This makes my heart beat faster and excites my feet for the summit.
Narrow trail on the rocky Mt. Batulao
Steep rocky portions of the trail requires steady footing
The narrow trail is a beaten path that we regularly encounter another hiker to exchange pleasantries. But despite that fact, the round-trip hike of a little over eight hours rewards me with a quiet walk in the tall cogon grass and wild sunflowers capped by exceptional views of the surrounding rolling to rough hilly lands and high rolling plains of the Batangas countryside.

Interestingly, enterprising Batangueños have put up trail shacks selling halo-halo, fresh buko, lugaw and Mountain Dew – they even have one at the summit!

The summit: A priceless experience

Bahay kubo at Mountain Batulao peak
A solitary bahay-kubo at the peak
There’s no rush. Mt. Batulao summit is always there like a lighthouse guiding the trail. We know it will be there when we’re ready, so we took slow and careful steps especially upon reaching peak eight and nine. This part has steep trails that required us to go on all fours.
Steep peaks of Mt. Batulao
The extra challenging peaks eight and nine before the summit
Experienced mountaineers described this as “minor climb” but like all other mountains, it poses some degree of difficulty and risk if you get too excited.

There are series of ridges or sub-peaks before reaching peak 10, which is the summit. Each peak has markers courtesy of L.A.K.A.S. mountaineers. Peak 1-6 are just like Teletubbies’ hills. However, peak 7-9 are a different matter. On these peaks, you’ll have moment of thinking, “Can I really do this? Am I crazy, perhaps I should turn back!” But you know, in mountaineering there’s no turning back.

So we reach the summit. Mt. Batulao confirms that I don't need to scale an Everest to be rewarded with some spectacular views. At 811+ MASL Mt. Batulao’s highest peak offers a visual feast of Batangas’ piedmont plains and seascapes.

Statue of Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus at the peak of Mt. Batulao
Weathered statue of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus at the peak.
Also interesting is the small weathered statue of Virgin Mary with child Jesus on the summit rocks.

I immediately took out my smart phone to capture a panoramic view of Taal Lake, the Tagaytay and Batangas provinces, glimpse of West Philippine Sea and the mountains of Pico de Loro and Mt. Maculot.

The intensity of experience on reaching this summit is priceless.  On this beautiful and tree-less peak, I felt closer to heaven.

Emerson Bakas mountaineers
BAKAS mountaineers souvenir photo. Courtesy of Arlene (Ayin Cat)
On being confronted with the edge

I find it awesome being with mountaineers, especially the group who adopted me, the Emerson’s BAKAS Mountaineers. There’s one thing in common to most of them: they enjoy life to the fullest, laugh a lot, travel the most, and able to forget work on weekends.

Climbing Mt. Batulao narrow mountain ridge
Scaling the narrow passages of Mt. Batulao requires steady footing.
Also, as I climbed Mt. Batulao, I couldn’t help but think of the significance that this trek has on my personal life. All the way, I could hear other climbers saying just keep walking. And in those moments, when I quickly reflect on it, I find flashes of brilliance, and that brilliance might just be what will help me reach my personal summit.

Sunset at Mt. Batulao
Amazing sight of the sun setting at Mt. Batulao ridges
 
The Ten Illuminating Peaks of Mt. Batulao


I’d like to share here the quick life reflections I had while climbing the ten peaks of Mt. Batulao. This is true for mountain climbing but also applicable to life in general. 

Let me call this list “The Ten Illuminating Peaks of Mt. Batulao”


Peak 1. Hang around with people who believe you can do it.

Peak 2.Enthusiasm is the key.
Peak 3. You’re on the same trail so don’t compare your journey with other people’s journey.
Peak 4. Take care of yourself along the way. Drink up.
Peak 5. Some parts are much harder than others.
Peak 6. Never underestimate the power of laughter.
Peak 7. Priceless experience is waiting at the summit. Don’t lose sight of the goal.
Peak 8. Even when you want to quit, don’t.
Peak 9. There is no turning back.
Peak 10 – The Summit: Reaching the peak is awesome, but it isn’t over yet.
 
Mountaineering is really for adventurous people who had the courage to try new things. However, it is not pure adventure, one can also learn life lessons from it. Lessons that can help us adapt to the crazy world.

Don’t change the mountain, let the mountain change you! - I got this from a print on Ryjunne’s cool shirt during the climb. I think I should get one.

‘Till next time folks. Happy to climb!!!


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RELATED POSTS: 
    _______________________________________
    Mt. Batulao Related Post-Climb Articles:
    » Boying Santos-Viola. Philippine Daily Inquirer. "The view is beautiful-heart-stoppingly so-atop Mt. Batulao" First Posted: 09/05/2010
    » Mt. Batulao (811+) Posted Thursday, August 9, 2007. Trail description and useful mountain information from Pinoy Mountaineer.com

    » Photos used on the collage with no watermark are courtesy of Ayin Cat  





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    Yodi Insigne
    Yodi de Veas Insigne is one of those delusional sorts who imagines himself a useful contributor to the greater blogosphere (Well, that's what he's trying to accomplish).

    He started blogging for three reasons:

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