MT. MAKILING (via Los Baños)
Los Baños, Laguna
Major Jump-off: Station 1, UP College of Forestry
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to summit / days required: 1-2 days / 4-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
As of September 2010, the trail is in excellent condition. The Mt. Makiling Park Management was able to clarify the confusing parts near Stations 15 and 16; thus the trail leading to Peak 2 is well-delineated. There is no truth to the rumors of landslides affecting the trail system. Dayhikes are still encouraged over overnighters; camping is still prohibited beyond the Wilderness Zone point, with Malaboo and Tayabak campsites the only authorized areas for camping.
Since its adoption as a protected area by the University of the Philippines, Mt. Makiling has become one of the "mainstay" destinations for mountaineers, as well as scientists and tourists. The forest, which was restored during the 1910s, remains in pristine condition; a plethora of birds, reptiles, and other fauna continue to thrive in Makiling. Due to its popularity, the trails leading to Peak 2 are well-established, and no guide is necessary to climb the mountain. Although extensive damage was wrought by typhoon 'Milenyo' in 2006, as of the 2009 climbing season the UPLB trail has recovered and is now open for climbing.
If climbing via UPLB, one should also visit the Mudsprings, the so-called 'crater' of Mt. Makiling where one could see pools of boiling mud. Don't be surprised by the sulfuric smell when you are there. Another sidetrip is Flatrocks, very near the jump-off. It is a river with slabs of flat rocks. Just be vigilant during the rainy season; flash floods do occur. Several years ago picnic-goers in Flatrocks were swept by a flash flood. They were found dead days later, downriver. This is a rare case, however. Mt. Makiling is a protected area, very safe for mountaineers so long as proper coordination (i.e. registration) is done at the Ranger Station.
More challenging, however, is the Sto. Tomas trail. It takes around seven hours from jump-off to Peak 2. It starts off with cogon fields until the forests become denser and denser. Landscapes include Haring Bato, the breathtaking Melkas ridge, and Peak 3, also known as Mt. Cornites. It then connects to Peak 2, allowing a traverse. See separate article for this trail.
VIA LOS BANOS
0430 Assembly at LRT-Buendia, board Sta. Cruz bus (P99 as of Sept. 2010)
0630 ETA Los Baños Crossing, walk to corner beside Robinson's Place for jeep to Forestry (P7), or rent any passing jeep (P150~200 as of Sept. 2010)
0700 ETA jump-off point, College of Forestry, register (P10)
0730 Start trek
0845 ETA Nursery, you can buy drinks here.
0900 Head off to Peak 2. Take note of the stations to mark your progress.
1015 ETA last campsite.
1130 reach the so-called '90 degrees' at Stn. 27. Use the ropes.
1200 ETA Peak 2 (station 30), lunch
1300 Start descent
1600 ETA road to Nursery, proceed to Mudspring as a sidetrip.
1620 Arrive at Mudspring, take pictures.
1645 Back at Nursery, start walk back to jump-off
1800 Back at jump-off; walk down the road and wait for jeepney
1830 Dinner at Grove, Los Baños (many food options here)
1930 Head back to Los Baños Crossing, take Buendia or Cubao. (note: last trip for Buendia is 2030H)
MT. MAKILING/UPLB TRAIL TRAIL MAP
Map courtesy of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems.
For two years, the status of Mt. Makiling has been equivocal, but as of the 2009 climbing season, Mt. Makiling is an open mountian, the only restriction being camping beyond Stn. 15. Hence, dayhikes are recommended.
Transportation. It is easy to reach Los Baños. Just take a bus from Cubao or Buendia going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (P99). Alternatively, take a bus to Calamba and then take a jeep to Los Baños. Either way, alight at Los Baños Crossing, walk to 'El Danda' which is beside Robinson's Mall; take the jeepney to Forestry (P7.50). Alternatively, from Crossing (not to be mistaken for Calamba Crossing), rent a jeepney that will take you all the way to Forestry. From the entry point to the Nursery is a 4-km. rough road that can still be negotiated by jeepneys. However, prepare to pay extra. Or hitch a ride along the way.
Climbing notes. During the rainy season, Mt. Makiling is infested with limatik, especially between 600-1000 MASL. See the Limatik article for details. Be careful also with the plants and trees, some of them, such as the poison ivy varieties, have pruritic (itch-causing) substances, or thorns. There are reported sightings of snakes but these have become rare nowadays. There are no water sources beyond the Nursery, it is advisable to bring at 2 liters up. Trails can get very slippery on the final 200 meters. But there are station signs from 1-30 (yellow metal cards) -- if you do not see one for 30 minutes, review your tracks. Cellphone signal, for its part, is ample in the mountain. Sun cover is so complete there's no need to wear sunblock. Rain protection is more important, since sudden showers are common in Mt. Makiling.
Maria Makiling, the guardian fairy of the mountain, is a central figure in Philippine mythology. The contour of the mountain is said to be that of her in a reclining position. This is best appreciated in the highway from Los Baños Crossing to Bay and Calauan.
Rafflesia (Rafflesia manillana) - the flowers in the world - have been sighted in Mt. Makiling's Sto. Tomas side.
Mt. Makiling must not be underestimated. Several cases of deaths have been reported throughout the years, especially in the Sto. Tomas trail. In the Los Baños trail, a danger comes in the form of flashfloods. During the 1990s, students picnicking in the Flatrocks area got swept by a flashflood. Some were never found; bodies of others were seen floating in the creeks in UP Los Baños.
In the 2004 climbing season, reports of ruffians who hold-up and extort money from climbers caused some alarm. Since then climbers were discouraged to bring valuables up the mountain. In 2005, via the Los Baños trail, a foreigner who climbed alone was found three days later in Calamba. In 2007, after the UPLB entrance was closed, forest rangers had to rescue hikers who violated the rule. Some got lost, mistaking the Sto. Tomas trail as their descent route.
The blogger grew up in Mt. Makiling, and climbs it yearly since he was 9 years old. Among his memorable experiences was encountering a giant cobra on the way to Mudspring. Many climbers report encounters with snakes. One College of Forestry personnel was said to have killed a cobra. Rumor has it that cobras can see each other's memory through the eyes. A day later, he saw another cobra trailing him. Every time, he would see or feel a cobra trailing him. When he couldn't bear it already he resigned from his job. That is why locals say when you kill a snake, you must smite its eyes.
MT. MAKILING WEATHER OUTLOOK
Saturday, September 1, 2007
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