I thought I had enough of cold peaks and chilling climbing episodes. But once again, I was shivering bones and muscles on top of Mt. Dulang-Dulang (D2) last weekend, that it brought new meaning to the term “brain freeze”.
It was supposed to be hellish 3 day Mt. Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad Traverse climb as planned, but there was a last minute cancellation from our guide as advised by KGV (yes, they got one office there) that the traverse trail was destroyed by a recent landslide due to heavy rainfall. Still, Team DaClavBuDigurong (Davao, Claveria, Digos, Bukidnon and Tacurong core mountaineers) pushed through with the D2 climb as we were already prepared and hyped for it.
There were four of us from Tacurong namely Chris, Ian, Jaypee and me. When we arrived at Malaybalay City and waited for the others, the number swelled to nine. There was Onin from Digos Active Mountaineer, Yoks a veteran climber guide from Marco Polo of Davao City, Ploie2 from Davao and Mayette from Claveria. Our hosts Joanne and Merlin treated us to a very warm native coffee and Lechon Kawali at Mindys of Malaybalay City. It was raining hard that time so we stayed for a while in that place. When the rain slowed we then headed to the jump site at Brgy. Sungco, Sitio Buluongan and camp there for the night.
It took us nearly two hours, sleepy, rainy but rough jeep ride to Brgy. Sungco. It was night time when we arrived at the jump off, and we immediately went to the Talaandig tribal leader, Datu Migketay for the courtesy call and ritual. Datu Migketay was kind enough to invite us for dinner and insisted we stayed in his house during the night. We headed both invitations, and enjoyed the night of mingling and story telling with the family.
We woke up early in the morning to prepare for breakfast and head out for the climb. We made our prayers and bade goodbye to our hosts who fondly blessed us with his well wishes and safe climb.In addition to the nine of us, we got two veteran porter guides, Terry and Jerry. It turned out that these two guides were the most accommodating and insightful guides we had so far.
By seven thirty we were already trekking the one hour open trail to the foot of D2. That trail was nothing but rough, as the stones and loose muddy soil will shame off road trucks. But the 360 view on the trail is astounding. Mt. Kilakiron and so many unknown peaks can be seen on our left side. Vegetable plantation both flanks the open field on our sides, a common finding to open trails in Bukidnon. I was already heavily panting when we reached the foot of D2, so we took some rest.
Withe the characteristic tall canopies and cold climate at D2, we weren’t surprised of the tropical rain forest beauty that awed as all as we trek the trail. And you can find moss everywhere, on tree barks, roots, hanging plants. At times I had the chance to see some birds crossing our paths and above us, but the encounter was not enough to identify them. I was also amazed at the trail, well preserved and clean despite being open to outsiders like us. The KGV agent Terry (nope just Terry) told us they make sure not one piece of garbage is left on the trail. So it wasn’t surprising I haven’t seen one in Mt. Dulang. (KGV’s are known for their strict spartan way of cleaning things up)
As if the sun less trek wasn’t enough, rain showers came as we hit the first stop of the trek, Alanib River where we camped for lunch. This small river has crystal clear running water coming from a unexplored falls just above us. The clearing just beside us is an ideal picnic place, but we were so concerned about eating fast and furious as the rain is trying to coy us from stopping. When we started walking again it stopped. The rest of the trek was almost a “walk in the park” save for the heavy pack we got, the sometimes 80 degrees ascent and the rain.
I was with the lead pack so we reached the “plaza“, clearing just below the peak where we will camp for the night. Then heavy rains stared pouring that wet us all, and those that are still behind us. And the cold atmosphere is beginning to bite. I was shivering. We pitched our tents immediately and thermo regulated ourselves inside. I must admit I hate going out of the tent because of the cold breeze. But our the floor of our tents is beginning to sweat also, of cold water so I have to bail out.
We hurried cooked our food and ate s soon as we had the chance too. The cold breeze is killing us. Two of our buddies chose to stay inside their tents because of the cold breeze outside.After we changed dry clothes we slept. Under the dark cold trees.It was an eerie feeling I don’t know. Jaypee and I shared a tent that was intended for a single person. We had to divide the tent into north and south and slept like a shrimp. The yin and yang.
In the morning, we brave the cold weather to go to Manny’s Garden, a ritual place and an ” altar” for the tribal offering to the mountain god. This is a solemn ceremony to thank the god there for giving us the weather and the safe travel. Then we proceeded trekking to the peak where I was held breathless by the view.
I was like walking on top of the clouds. From where we stand you can see the nearby Kitanglad, Mt. White Peak, Mt. Apo and so many other peaks I never knew existed. Which reminds me again of my future explorations. As the traditional jump and picture taking continues, we offered prayers and wishes to our love ones. And then we had our “peak coffee break”, probably the best instant coffee mix you’ll ever have in your life.
Then we slowly back trailed to our campsite. Then we saw the supposed to be link to our traverse climb path, and just sighed sorry it was not this time. At the camp we ate our breakfast started clearing our things up. After we had got some more pictures we offered our final thanks to the mountain dwellers for the safe trek and the good whether, we head down.
It just took us one hour to Alanib River, where had our lunch again, then another one hour and half towards Datu’s House. When we arrived at Datu’s place the rained poured heavily. We gave thanks to datu and to our guides and gave them our tokens-rain gears and gloves. They were so thankful but we were more thankful of their help. When the rain stopped we headed for the jeepney stop and rode of towards Malaybalay city. Of course this was not the end of our Bukidnon rampage, but I’ll reserve the other stories next post.
(Thanks to Chris and others for letting me borrow their pictures for this post)