Holy Week at Mt. Kalawitan

It is considered as the 10th highest mountain in the Philippines with the height of 2,600 meters. This marvelous mountain is located in Bontoc, Mountain Province, a 10 hour drive from Metro Manila.

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Currently, CODA is the lone bus line that has a direct terminal-to-terminal trip from cubao to bontoc. The schedule of their daily trips are published in their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/codalinescorporation/), and online booking is conveniently available at (https://biyaheroes.com/…). If you plan on making the trip, make sure to book ahead of time because most of the trips get fully booked especially during the holidays.

We departed Cubao at approximately 9:30 PM. Most of the passengers are tourists headed for Sagada or Banaue. We arrived at Golden Farm Resort Hotel at Bontoc at around 7:45 AM the next day. We had breakfast there, ordered beforehand, and prepared our belongings for the two day hike.

The golden farm resort serves as the actual jump off to Mt. Kalawitan. You can book a room a day before your hike and enjoy their swimming pool and mini zoo (with a monkey and deer). The staff are friendly and you can order packed lunch for the climb. They also provide the guide as they have a direct contact from the bontoc tourism office.

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To complete the circuit, you need to spend two days and one night. It is prudent to pack lightly and if the need arises to leave extra baggage, the Golden Farm Resort can take care of it temporarily.

We started our trek at around 10 AM. We were greeted by towering pines trees, a cold breeze and picturesque view.

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The trail from the jump off is gradually uphill which continues to the summit. Cardio training before the planned trek is necessary.

The first part of the trail is forested with pine trees though some parts are still exposed to the sun. The rest of the trail is covered with mossy forest. The smell of moss, wood and fresh leaves lingered while cold air enveloped us until the summit.

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Halfway to the summit, there is potable water supply. With this, one can carry only enough water for the first half of the trail and fill up the empty bottles on the way to the summit. This makes for a lighter pack.

The mossy forest shielded us from the scorching sun. The fresh mountain wind immediately rejuvinates our tired body. I personally loved the sensation of perspiration cooled by the chilling wind. It feels so refreshing eventhough the trail to the summit is relatively ascending. The overall hike consumed extensive stamina and power. Having cardio exercises prior to the planned climb is highly recommended.

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The mossy forest is infested by leeches (Limatik). These creatures suck your blood without you noticing it. It is imperative to wear long socks/compression pants and arm coverings to protect yourself. It is said that these vermins cause more harm once they stick to the eyes, and we are grateful that none of us suffered this fate. They are quick to attach to clothing yet hard to remove. The best method to remove them is to spray alcohol all on their wriggly bodies, and they will simply detach in no time.

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We completed the 19KM trail (based from our tracker) for about 10 long hours. We reached the summit exhausted and hungry. After setting up our tent, we ate dinner cooked by the assigned team members, had a few socials before the freezing summit rain prompted us to sleep.

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We woke at 4 AM since I was assigned in the breakfast team. I was reluctant to leave our tent because it was very cold outside but we eventually started preparing the meal. I was then awed with the magnificent 5 AM sunrise, surrounded by the infinite sea of clouds around us while the sun slowly rises giving out its warm orange shade. I was a witness to a very spectacular morning on top of the mountain.

We opted to go down first because I have to get back to work the following day. We were not able to complete the circuit but the experience of the best sunrise at the top was very much worth it.

We went back the same trail at 8:10 AM and luckily reached the jump off before 1:00 PM. Lastly, one should not forget to claim their certificates at Golden Farm Resort Hotel before leaving.

This was my first overnight climb and I enjoyed it so much. I appreciated the mountain and nature even more.

Expenses:

Bus (Cubao – Bontoc) – 790.00
Environmental Fee – 50.00
Shower (Golden Farm Resort) – 50
Guide – 1500/day
Food (Golden Farm Resort) – 120 /meal

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