I have long harbored the hope that someday I can have two free days (and at least one crazy companion) to try dayhiking the two mountains of the Zambales Coves and Coastal Mountains area, Mts. Cinco Picos and Balingkilat. And when the veritable MikeB told me that it was possible, there was no holding back. I went with hiking friend Martin Cortez (who, strangely enough, goes by the Facebook alias of “Suh Martin”) one fine weekend on March 2011.
We took the Victory Liner bus and upon arrival in Olongapo, hired a tricycle on the spot. We stopped by, as is mandatory, at the Subic Town Police Station for registration, then proceeded to the far end of the Sitio Cawag Settlement – to the house of Chieftain Jimmy Albong where we will stage the two dayhikes. Tommy, the Chieftain’s fifteen year old son, would accompany us as guide for the two trips. He himself was excited at the prospect of doing something new.
We decided to take the shorter but more challenging Mt. Balingkilat first – the logic behind this choice is that with the longer and easier Cinco Picos, we can nighttrek and dimtrek the following day. On the other hand, we had no such luxury for Day 1, because by the time we had started trekking it was already 0805H.
The intense heat of sunlight on Balingkilat’s open slopes made me update my PinoyMountaineer Facebook status to say: “Scorching hot Balingkilat!” And yet, notwithstanding the sun, we had nice views, not the least of which was distant Cinco Picos, three of its peaks showing. Later
The trails were steep, but it is essentially just like the trails of Mt. Batulao — only hotter (Batulao, although shorter than Balingkilat, has some climactic/geographic conditions working in its favor, lending it a Tagaytay-like coolness). Indeeed, while trekking Balingkilat, I grew convinced that there are no intrinsic difficulties in the hike; it is only the extrinsic factor of sunlight that has given it the reputation of being “difficult”.
We faced some G2-looking boulder area past the first campsite, but from there the summit was just ten minutes away. In all, it took us 3 hours 10 minutes to reach the top – definitely within the territory of a dayhike. At the summit, all the beautiful coves were beneath and beyond: from north to south Anawangin, Dalipayen, Nagsasa, and Silanguin. Mt. Dayungan loomed to the south, connecting Balingkilat to Cinco Picos – the bridge to a potential three-mountain Cawag Trio traverse.
Truly, at the summit, where the coastal winds were truly refreshing, the views were a feast for the eyes. I could even see Capones and Camara islands, followed by the coves, then Subic Bay – and to the south and east lay Bataan’s mountains most prominently Mt. Natib, and a more distant Mt. Mariveles. It was a very, very rewarding dayhike!
The blogger thanks his friends and contacts who gave inputs on crafting the Twin Dayhikes IT. Special thanks to MikeB for his advice and recommendations!