|At the beginning of the trail with the twin summits at the far right|
The next day we were welcomed by Jehson Cervancia, longtime Mt. Victoria advocate with whom I have corresponded in the past. He endorsed us to Kuya Julius who would be our guide for what is usually a three-day hike that would take us to the summit of Mt. Victoria and back.
|Estrella Falls, an excellent sidetrip before the Mt. Victoria hike!|
From the onset, the trail environs were impressive. A prairie-like grassland comes first - reminiscent of the trails of Mt. Kilimanjaro - with unique plants and shrubs, including pitcher plants - and butterflies and stick insects hovering. Every forest has its music - of birds, rivers, insects, winds - and that of Victoria is animated, suggesting that it is full of life. Indeed Mt. Victoria's biodiversity attracts scientists from all over the world.
|Crossing the Buhawi River|
We finished the crossing by 1100H, and had early lunch by the 'Huling Sapa' - the last stream. From that point, it was a forested ascent, a bit steep but happily straightforward - a welcome break from the ups and downs of Mt. Mantalingajan. The trails, too, were surprisingly well established. While we were hiking, we spotted a Palawan blue flycatcher - with its pretty orange neck - perched in one of the trees.
|More river trails with the lush jungle up ahead|
We still couldn’t believe our good fortune - it didn’t rain the whole day, even as Narra and Puerto Princesa both experienced heavy rains. That night, we prayed that the next day would be as fortuitous. Continued in Hiking matters #413.
|At the High Camp, around 1400 MASL|
Hiking matters #412: To the high camp
Hiking matters #413:To the summit and back