Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mt. Kalawitan

PANORAMIC VIEWDECK - Jumpoff Point of Mt. Kalawitan

While most people were busy preparing for the Chinese New Year, I found myself in the company of Drew and Imelda scaling the heights of Mt. Kalawitan in Mountain Province last January 21-23, 2012. Initially, I was not sure if I would be able to join this climb when Imelda invited me as getting a leave to be approved is not easy when there is a recent organizational change at work. I am glad though that I was able to make it as the experience was SUPERB!

At the ASOAN Area - More Pine Trees

Clear Waters of Chico River

The Chico River at the foot of Kalawitan is reminiscent of Amburayan River when I did the Kibungan Cross Country Climb, the ASOAN area after the APA campsite made me compare it to the trails of Mt. Ugo, the Mossy Forest reminded me of those in Mt.Dulang Dulang, the viewing deck overlooking the summit took my memory back to the views in Mt. Tabayoc, the dwarf bamboos near the summit can be compared to those that can be found in Mt. Pulag and the summit is like a mini summit of Mt. Kalatungan. Moreover, the trail going home was like in Mt. Amuyao only that it was better and wider. While I was busy comparing it to the other mountains while I was on it's trails , Mt. Kalawitan is majestic and its overall beauty is very breathtaking.

APA CAMPSITE -Our Home in Mt. Kalawitan
Mossy Forest Area

One uniquie thing about Mt. Kalawitan is that you don't need to bring your tents and come up with meal plans as they have it taken cared of. The APA campsite which is approximately 2 hours away from the jumpoff area in Hanselma Highway provides you with comfort and shelter in the woods and the guides are the ones who will prepare your meals. It was like having a grand vacation but with a more adventurous setting. "Kuya, ang sarap ng luto niyo at sarap talaga ng fresh na mga gulay" These were the lines that I kept on saying when they prepared our meals and they just acknowledged with all smiles. We arrived earlier than expected on APA campsite so we had a chance to rest, exchange conversations with our guides and learn about the legend of Mt. Kalawitan and their culture and I ensured that I wouldn't miss out bathing on the its crystal clear and cold waters. Imelda and Drew didnt join me as they found it very cold so they were just my photographers as I was playing on its waters. We slept early on our first night as we have a long journey the following day.

Viewing Deck Overlooking The Summit

Bathing in the River

On our second day, we left the APA campsite as early as 5 AM as we have a long way to the summit. We were given the protocol that if we were not on the summit by 1 or 2 PM, then we have to retreat and head back to the campsite. Along the trails, you would also find trees marked with a cross which indicates that is a sign for hunters that there is a trap nearby and is forbidden to go near it. The rule is always stay close with the guides and not off the trails. Also, on a clear day, you can see Hanselma Highway from the trails going up and the neighboring mountains. Further, we had a chance to witness and feel the hair of the boars on the hunter's tent which convinced me that there are really wild animals in the area. Showing some fear with the knowledge, our guide convinced me that these wild animals are afraid of humans and when they can hear us, they surely would hide from us. With that, I was confident again. The Hunter's tent also indicates that you are halfway to the summit and marks a more challenging uphill trails ahead. On the way to the summit, me and Drew were making it a walk in the park as we were taking pictures every now and then and some rest stops. When we arrived at the viewing deck overlooking the summit, we felt like we were in heaven as the views were rewarding. Our guide climbed on the trees and sat on it to relax. I envied him and tried doing it but retreated when I saw the long way to fall should you make one wrong move as you go up. After the viewing deck, we proceeded to the dwarf bamboo area and all I can say was "WOW". With some sea of clouds in the distant and the view of nearby mountains, the view was perfect for a postcard. I asked our guide if this was the summit and said that it was not yet the summit and it would still be two more hours and turned his back. I replied to him saying, "Kuya, sure ka? Ang taas na to a at wala na akong nakikitang nakausling bundok. Di nga kuya?" He looked at me and replied, "two. two more minutes." and he laughed. And when we finally set our feet on the summit at noon time, he congratulated us and complimented that we are lucky because not everyone who scaled Mt. Kalawitan are blessed with good weather. After 30 minutes, Imelda arrived and it was a start of photo sessions. After finding some time to rest, eat lunch and be at peace with Mother Nature, we start desecending to APA Campsite at 1 PM.

Summit of Mt. Kalawitan

Dwarf Bamboo Area Near The Summit

It was hard to say goodbye to Mt. Kalawitan the next day but it is a must to go back to reality.  I know I will be back here and will never stop sharing my superb adventure and great things about this mountain. Mt. Kalawitan marks the kickoff of my major climbs this year of the dragon...