Earlier this Holy Week, we took a day off and headed to Laguna to climb Mt. Makiling. This was not my first encounter with this famous mountain since, obviously, I had lived in its foothills during my entire college stay. I was also required to climb the mountain for an elective course back in 2009. The entire 8.2 km Makiling trail is divided into 30 shorter stations; I only reached the 22nd during my first failed climb so I’m thirsting for some redemption.
Considering that my last decent climb was in 2011 when we scaled Mt. Pulag, I had a pretty tough time. Luckily, Edge was with me, whispering words of encouragement and even carried my bag during the initial stretch, which was what I honestly think of as the difficult part. It’s just a very long road that relentlessly slopes upward.
An hour or so during the climb, after we had reached Station 15, we finally reached the point where we had to enter the danger zone. Here, we were surrounded by nothing but trees and vegetation, and the only thing we heard, aside from our own huffing and puffing, was the sound of nature. It was quite overwhelming.
Mt. Makiling is also known for its excellent biodiversity, and we happened to stumble upon hedges of pretty flowers and strange plants, as well as the infamous Rafflesia or corpse flower.
The trickiest part of the climb for me was the part nearest the summit, starting from Station 25 (yes, I kicked Station 22’s fat ass). The trail gets pretty steep in these parts. Apparently, it had also rained a few days prior, so the trail was really muddy and slippery. Still, despite these difficulties, we were rewarded with spectacular views of the Laguna and nearby provinces, which made things okay.
Five hours after we had started, we finally reached the summit. I was already aware that the Mt. Makiling summit itself is enclosed by thick vegetation, which covers the view. However, since it was the Lenten season and the officials anticipated the influx of visitors, a tarpaulin was placed at the summit. It congratulated the climbers for reaching the highest peak at 1,090 masl, and I must admit we had a very nice pat at the back.
After a quick lunch, Edge and I began our descent. I had the impression that we wouldn’t have any problems with the way down, but, boy, I was wrong. I was just practically slipping and sliding down the muddy trails; my clothes were covered by dirt and grime. We had managed to make it back to Station 15 before I cried out in pain and frustration, so we cheated and rode a habal-habal back to the gate.
All in all, despite being incapacitated for the next couple of days, I had fun. It’s awesome to come back and finally conquer Makiling, six years after my first failure. Oh, and did I mention that this climb is just some sort of training? This is just a warm-up for our more ambitious climb on Thursday (eep!) on Mt. Kinabalu.
So help me God.