Good morning Dokie! All set for the climb? These were Chris’ (Climb Leader, TAMAC) words that greeted me at 4:30 AM at our rendezvous point (bus waiting area) going Makilala, North Cotabato. I replied “point of no return, I have no choice“. I shiver (but got excited) at the thought of a long climbing expedition ahead of me. I was really hopeful this climb will be something worth remembering, or at least worth bragging.
So who’s in my team? I was wondering this because as of last night, we were still not sure who was going with us and who’s not. I was praying there will be more people coming.
So there’s Joanne, a lady teacher cum mountaineer who came all the way from Bukidnon the day before and lost her phone and sunglasses on the bus . Ian (TAMAC) also came with his trekking shorts and jolly attitude. The “back street boys” Lemme, Kit and Jun (BAGTAC) also came with their grin and reams of Marlboro reds.
Carrying my Spire 38 Li NF pack and my Powershot A20 2.0 MP camera, we boarded a van and arrived at Makilala public market at around 7 AM. We ate breakfast at a nearby carenderia before boarding a multi cab bound for New Israel- our jump off point. We were welcomed by Onin, our buddy-guide for this climb. I met Onin (DAM) before when we had spelunking in Marilog last month. He is a cheerful, cocky looking guy whose jokes are as excellent as his mountaineering skills. A tourism official christened him the “Mobile Ambassador” for his eco-climbs to Mt. Apo. We then signed logbooks, filled up waivers, paid our climbing fee and got our ID’s with the tourism officials at the jump off point.
I felt a bit of relief seeing other happy climbers lining up. We met the other 3/4ths of our climbing team, the Digos Active Mountaineers (DAM) headed by Yoyong. Thirty seven strong mountaineers plus seven hard headed trekkers from TAMAC (me, Chris, Ian), BAGTAC (Lemme, Kit, Jun) and Jo Anne. This made up the Team Budigurong (Bukidnon-Digos-Tacurong)!
After dividing our food provisions and checked our gears, we headed for the first camp, Makalangit. We were part of the “sweeper group” headed by Yoyong.The lead pack left ahead with the Onin around 30 minutes ago. We were to catch up at the first water source near the start of the trail.
Our group got lost. We were following another trail. We lost 45 minutes of head start and a lot of energy. Whew, what a way to start a climb! After asking directions from the locals, we decided to follow an old trail leading us to Station 3 were we will catch up with the lead pack. The sudden 45 degrees ascent made me pant and breathe for air faster.But it was an awesome view, seeing New Israel at nearly 3,000 ft, plus the tended farm of cold climate flowers such as Denrobiums.
After station 5 we stopped trekking and cooked our ” De Lata” lunch. Our packed provision was left inside a bag that was inadvertently brought by a passing porter to Makalangit camp site. Still, It was one of the more “delicious” meals I had, plus the marang tasted so good Yoyong never regretted carrying it for Jo Anne.
When we started trekking again we entered a forest trail with majestic trees, wild vines and hanging orchids. Some trails are almost vertical ascents and this made our trek more difficult and tiring. We slowly ran out of water and two of my friends had cramps already. At station 6 we rested and yoyong gave us his Gatorade, which replenished our energy a bit. We were told that the next water source will be at station 7 or 8 but this is not sure. Station 7 was the farthest station to station trek we had, consuming twice more than the usual 30 minutes trekking time per station. We found a pot hole of “water source’ at station 8. We boiled the water for our coffee break. We saw mosquito larvae in the water die in jest.
Half way between station 8 and 9, we were met by Onin and Felix, part of the lead pack. They were worried why it took so long for us to arrive at Camp Makalangit. When we got out of the forest, I saw a sprawling farm across a plain on top of a hill- Makalangit at last! The sight is astounding, and so is the cold breeze. I noticed there were around 20 more tents pitched at the site. There were more climbers than I thought.
We pitched our own tent, cooked Sinigang and Adobo for dinner and had socials with other climbers. My hands and legs began to shiver in the cold breeze. The cold wind would touch your skin and leave moist on your face like an ice touching your palm skin. It’s almost freezing cold, at 10 degrees Celsius! By 12MN, I went to sleep wearing 3 layers of clothing and still chill. Luckily I brought my Sponge Bob fleece, that save the cold night for me.
Next: The Makalangit – Makadak Trek: From one freezer to another.