|At the summit of Mt. St. Paul in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Certainly one of the most rewarding hikes in the island!
Continued from Hiking matters #444: We woke up at 0400H the following day, and started the hike at 0515H. Though night-trekking up the limestone was not very ideal, we had to maximise the day especially since our guide seemed skeptical that our proposed itinerary – going up the summit and back to the basecamp – can be managed.
Still, we persevered and by 0630H we were rewarded with our first viewpoint – which allowed us to see Mt. Bloomfield and Sabang Beach. Moreover, it seemed that, for the second straight day, the weather was on our side!
The limestone, however, seemed endless, and increasingly steep. On the other hand, the views also got more scenic. By 0830 we could already see the contours of St. Paul, including the other dome-shaped peak that locals call the ‘nose’ of the mountain. The West Coast of Puerto Princesa – from Sabang to Marufinas and beyond greet us to the left, and I could imagine the outline of a distant Mt. Tapyas.
Given our itinerary, we didn’t have to time to appreciate the fauna and flora, but we were struck by the aerial plants that lived in symbiosis with ants: their roots have morphed into the shape of ant colony, and we saw ants living inside. I also saw a bug living with a lichen on his back – perhaps as a camouflage. Sadly I didn’t bring my binoculars, but I did hear some pretty interesting bird calls.
By 0930H we came face to face with the Pillars of St. Paul – the most prominent rocky structure, between which one must enter. This rock, at 923 MASL, signalled that the summit is just 100 meters and less than an hour away!
Finally, after more scrambling, by 1015H, we reached the summit. What a joy and relief! We spent a whole hour at the peak, basking at the beauty of Palawan. Even though it took just a day and a half to reach the summit, it was an accomplishment comparable to the other great peaks of Palawan, with which the mountain deserves a place. The limestone trek gives it a uniqueness that cannot be matched!
|The roots of an aerial plant has been fashioned into an ant colony, while
a bug hosts a lichen on its back. Strange creatures!
Of course the summit is just the halfway point of every hike, and we had to go back through the same precarious trail. The journey home turned out to be more complicated. We miscalculated the water supply and some of us decided to march all the way back the water source to conserve whatever water was left, just to be on the safe side. So we bivouacked by the brook, while waiting for the rest of the team to get down. Fortunately, everyone made it back in one piece, and by 1020H we set foot on the cement of the highway. Success!
By mid-afternoon we were back in the familiar streets of Puerto Princesa — and later, I would have my celebratory pandan ice cream at La Terasse. Thank you to everyone who took part in this memorable hike! In the past nine months I have climbed a dozen Palawan mountains but I remain very much enthused to go back for more!
Mt. Thumbpeak (2011) 180
Mt. Beaufort (2014) 405
Mt. Bloomfield (2014, 2014) 406 427
Jungle Trail to Underground River (2014) 407
Mt. Victoria (2014) 412 413
Mt. Bahile (2014) 417
Mt. Salakot (2014) 418
Cleopatra’s Needle (2014) 419 420 421 422
Mt. Magarwak (2014) 428 446
Mt. Kalbo (2014) 429
Sultan Peak (2014) 437 438 439
Mt. St. Paul (2015) 444 445