Caught in a busy academic schedule, I wasn’t planning on a hike last weekend, but I realized that I could squeeze in a Maculot hike with some of my other activities of the day, and so left Los Banos early in the morning, met with Ivan Lakwatesero in Calamba, and we proceeded to Cuenca, Batangas to visit the Rockies. One of my reasons for choosing Maculot was to check out the so-called ‘New Trail’ which opened just a couple of weeks ago to replace the old one.
Walking from the Mountaineer’s Store to the end of the cement road one kilometer up, it seems that the community is geared up for summer: There are pay parking lots and even a restaurant offering shower facilities; all of these obviously cater to Maculot hikers. Indeed, one can expedite the hike even more by going straight to this area instead of parking near the Mountaineer’s Store.
Past the cement road, it takes just around 500 meters or so before you reach a forested area, where you descend a bit then commence the ascent all the way to the grassland and the Rockies. With the New Trail, however, instead of taking the right trail, you take the left one. Both trails are well-marked: on one hand, the Old Trail is obstructed by a pile of branches. On the other hand, big trail signs and white arrows mark the New Trail.
What do I think about this change in Maculot? I have mixed feelings about the New Trail. Since it runs parallel to the old one, there is little difference in terms of distance. It is a bit more ‘gradual’, but since it doesn’t always follow the natural contour of the mountain, there are also more slippery parts, with less big trees to hold on to. In terms of difficulty, I would say it’s almost the same as the old one.
There are more rest areas in the ‘New Trail’, which also means more stalls for buko juice vendors. Sadly, even though the ‘New Trail’ is only two or three weeks old, the trail is quickly getting littered with plastic glasses and other trash. I really do not advice hikers to patronize any store along the trail, because this will encourage more business activities. If you want to support the community, it’s better to support stores at the trailhead.
Still, I am willing to give the community the benefit of a doubt. The fact that they cite the need to rehabilitate the old trail as a reason for making a new one means that they at least care. I hope, however, that the locals – including these buko juice vendors – realize that they need to proactively care for the mountain if it is to remain an attraction to hikers.
Anyway, the New Trail reunites with the old one at the grassland; the forest line seems to be a bit higher in the New Trail. From this convergence point, the campsite is just five or ten minutes away. I think in terms of views, the best time to be at the Rockies is early in the morning, also because the crowds have not begun to arrive yet. There, we saw faint Mt. Tagapo (NNE), Mt. Batulao (W), among the familiar mountains of South Luzon.
Soon, we were back at the trailhead and I was back in Laguna by mid-afternoon. It was another nice hike and I’m glad I decided to still hike on that day! Thanks Ivan for joining me! Check out his blog, Ivan Lakwatsero, at www.ivanlakwatsero.com.
PINOYMOUNTAINEER IN MT. MACULOT