There is a joy in doing overnight climbs; you get to camp and sleep hundreds of meters above sea level; the air is fresh and the company is good. But when time is limited, there is such a thing as a daytrip — and most of the time I end up daytripping mountains that are actually supposed to be overnight climbs.
For instance Mt. Marami. I was joined by Julian and Jeboy, of the UP Med Outdoor Society, and we started out very early. But the way to Magallanes proved confusing, and just before the sun rose, we ended up in the middle of nowhere literally! We had to backtrack a bit before finally reaching the jumpoff at Brgy. Ramirez just before 8 AM. The locals were quite skeptical about our daytrip plan, saying that it’s usually a two-day affair.
I reasoned to myself that a daytrip can get faster not only because you’re motivated to complete it (there’s time pressure); but also because you have much lighter packs. How much time these factors gain, I don’t know.
We got two guides, a father-and-son duo. The trail was muddy, and we crossed several streams. I engaged our guides in conversation, and found out the names of the rivers: Ilog na Kayrayag and Bangkaan River. Beyond the rivers, we went up and passed by grassy parts. And then it rained big time! The ground turned muddy; the mists descended, and although there was still a trail to follow, it took some trial and error to keep going. Even the guides seemed unsure how to continue.
By lunchtime, we ended up on a small plateau and the guides said the hikers only reach thus far. “This is it,” they proclaimed. But I was doubtful. How could it be the summit? There’s supposed to be forest and a rocky ascent. I did my homework after all. So I called a hiker-friend, Sai Sicad; I described our location, and he said we were still 45 minutes to an hour away.
The situation was dire as it was wet: while my two companions tried to protect their dSLR cameras from getting wet, the guides couldn’t find a way to the summit, blaming the clouds. Upon further questioning, they admitted that they’ve never been to the summit! To make things worse, time was running out, it was 1300 H and i set 1400 H as our absolute turn-back time. Never mind that I couldn’t see Silyang Bato or the rocky summit – but having gone thus far I want to reach the peak!
Then, as if by signal, a cow appeared from nowhere. Shrouded by the fog, it gradually emerged. We were caught by surprise as it approached us. He looked at me and headed into my direction. And then, unexpectedly, it kissed me in the cheek! Julian luckily captured that moment, and while elation poured with the rain and we rushed to see the glorious shot, the cow had disappeared!
Deciding it was a good omen, I was doubly motivated to reach the peak. I told the guides that the trail ought to be lying around, somewhere, and sure enough a trail there was, and we followed it until we reached the Bamboo forest. Before our cut-off time of 1400H, we had arrived at the peak!
There weren’t any views but it was still a success! We took a few photos and then we immediately started descent. But just as we thought we could proceed to Tagaytay and celebrate, we were confronted by a raging river: Bangkaan River has swelled to the level of our chests.
Tentatively we crossed the river, going with the flow, counting on the rocks beneath to support us, and slowly but surely we crossed the last hurdle. My two dSLR-bearing friends must’ve been scared stiff at the prospect of their cameras being swept away by the waters!
Carlo’s Pizza in Tagaytay fulfilled our caloric requirements postclimb. Whew!
Mt. Marami update: Registration is now done at the barangay hall of Brgy. Ramirez; sign in your names and pay a fee of P10. (courtesy of donny boy)