Mt. Batulao has always been high up on the list of mountains that I really want to climb. I’ve heard so much about it from Justin that I’ve always viewed it as a challenge. Given the fact that it was rated 4/9 on Pinoy Mountaineer’s difficulty scale, and not to mention the 60-70 degree assault you needed to overcome upon approach of the highest peak, I was initially scared, apprehensive, and excited about this hike. I wasn’t comforted at all when Justin told me it would be easier than Pico de Loro. I mean, come on, get on my level, dude. Physically, I didn’t prepare for the hike (although I’ve been running 2x a week ever since the year started). I did, however, read extensively about the mountain to get an idea of what I would have to overcome upon the day of the hike.
For this hike, we didn’t worry about the commute as one of my friends offered to drive. We left Manila at a little past four in the morning. The earthquake that happened before our departure was definitely unnerving, and we were on high alert for the aftershock (which never came, fortunately). We arrived at Highcrest (FKA Evercrest) at around 6 in the morning, and the cold January morning greeted us. Thank God I brought my trusty DLSU hoodie; I wore it during the first part of the hike because seriously, it was biting cold, not to mention the wind was blowing from every direction. (On a mental note, I really need to get a sweater that I can use for hikes because my arms’ skin tone is uneven as fuck).
We took the old trail on the way to the summit. The first part was open grasslands until we came upon a pleasant, forested area. I should mention that there are tons of horse poop everywhere so be careful. There are also several rest stops along the way. The old trail wasn’t very hard to traverse; it was actually a very nice and shaded trail which led us to a pretty, park-like campsite not far from the summit. We paid a registration of PHP20 in there and stopped for a few minutes to appreciate the view. After resting, we started our assault to the summit.
The latter part of the old trail is steep and rocky. Since it was dry and windy, there was dust everywhere. My buff wasn’t able to help as I used it as a beanie to keep my hair in place but the sunglasses definitely helped. There was a time that I licked my lips because it was so dry but eck okay I could taste the dust (and for a moment I got paranoid because dust in my mouth equals Discovery Channel’s “Monsters Inside Me”).
After a few minutes, we finally got to the roped section. Now, I don’t want to brag hahahaha but when I was a child, I used to wall-climb a lot (if you live in the South and you’ve been to Southmall, they used to have a wall-climbing area). The experience came in handy so yay for me. I opted not to use the rope as I prefer feeling the rock with my gloved hands. The rock face wasn’t that high and it only took less than a minute to climb it. It was my favorite part of the climb heeheehee.
After conquering the roped part, we proceeded to the summit, which was only a few minutes away. We got to the summit a little past 9 in the morning. There, we took a few photos and ate our brunch. After a few more photo ops, we decided to go down. Here’s where I almost broke down.
Because fucking hell what the fuck is this first part of the new trail fuck fuck fuck. The new trail is open and exposed to all elements, so of course the strong wind constantly tried to knock us off our balance. What drove me crazy was the fact that deep ravines were on either side of us. The first part of the descent was rocky and the traffic was so annoying. I admit I took my time in this part because holy fuck I don’t want to die (and so did the people who were assaulting the summit from the new trail). There were also parts where it seems like you’re walking on the edge of the mountain with a deep gorge on your right side. Given the wind was out of control that morning, it constantly felt like it was pushing me against the mountain. The trail was narrow too so yeah I almost cried during this part because guess what, people: I’M ACTUALLY AFRAID OF HEIGHTS. Props to Justin for trying to encourage me and shit but of course I snapped at him and told him to shut up while I regain my queenly composure (LOL).
After that buwis buhay part, the new trail was mostly open. You’re traversing the ridge of the mountain (can’t tell if east or west because it depends on which direction you’re facing so fuck it, man). Again, dust everywhere. It was fun, though. The scenery remained the same all throughout the hike but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful. The wind was also cool that I could barely feel a drop of sweat because as soon as it comes out of my pores it instantly dries hahaha what. We finished the hike around lunch, which left plenty of time to do other things! We decided to have lunch at Tagaytay and even joked about going to Pico de Loro to hike again.
All in all, the Mt. Batulao day hike is, so far, my favorite. I love the old trail, and seeing the locals ascend the mountain on horseback was really impressive. I love the rock-climbing part and the latter part of the new trail. There were several helpful and friendly hikers I met along the way; people who did not hesitate to lend a helping hand which makes me believe that there is still good in this world (wow drama). The challenging parts reminded me of why I’m hiking in the first place; it’s my way of going out of my comfort zone. This day hike is definitely one for the books and a great way to start the year!
Compared to the Pico de Loro day hike, this is, by a wide margin, an easier and nicer hike.