It was not on our IT for this Bukidnon Galore. Not this time. But this soon change when we had a glimpse of Mt. Kitanglad Park and Range silhouette halfway to our spelunking destination, Sumalsag Caves. I almost forgot we were on a caving trip that day.
Home to some 48 unique bird species and 18 endemic animals not found elsewhere in the world, Mt. Kitanglad National park and Range boasts two of the ten highest peak in the Philippines, namely Dulang-Dulang,and Kitanglad. Lawan Dalangawan is home to the endangered Philippine eagle. Mt. Kitanglad National Park and Range has a virgin forest that is littered with diverse flora. Of course I never knew this facts until several days after the climb, when I had the chance to surf the net and recount my memories of Kitanglad.
Chris and I were excited of the climb albeit the time constraints and preparation. Onin almost regretted he suggested the idea of a Mt. Kitanglad sidetrip. Our Bukidnon friends came in full force and food. Joanne, Maribel, Jungkie and Carlo went with our group. Famboy and and Famdy will follow us in the trail. Another four climber went ahead already and will join us in the peak. We hired a multicab that brought us to Brgy. Intavas where we will pay our registration and hire our guide. We were met by the Brgy. chairman and a kagawad who surprisingly, delivered a complaint speech against PAMB for their lack of support in maintaining Mt. Kitanglad. Strangely, he told us to go ahead and he’ll find a guide that will follow us to the trail. We saw the guides three fourths up the trail!
It was an hour dirt road trek towards the foot of Mt. Kitanglad. Vegetable plantations were flanking this dirt road and was a sight to behold. Luckily for us, the scorching heat was absent that day so it was more of a walk in the park, minus the holding hands and the ice cream. We were joined by mountain bikers from Cagayan de Oro City while on trek. They would bike downhill from near the foot of the mountain.
A large signage that said it is illegal to bring home any specimen from Mt. Kitanglad welcomed us. I shivered at the thought of me catching a Philippine eagle. Don’t they bite? I thought they were eating our cousin monkeys for lunch? I’ll just take pictures anyway.
There is a well established trail up to the peak of Mt. Kitanglad. Just follow the electrical post and you’ll definitely end up there. At some various point along the trail, 12 steel ladders were installed to help climbers and tower staff scale the peak.
Something unique about the Kitanglad forest is the cold atmosphere and the mossy trail. The trek is pretty tiring because of the continuous ascending trek that might go as high as 90 degrees in some parts. Root parts replaces some trail in the cliff side and slopes.
But characteristics of the slow sweepers we are, our group rested often, ate often, drank coffee and gossiped some more. That is why we reached the peak dusk already. Shivering in the cold winds.
I was a bit surprised on what my eyes saw on the top of Mt. Kitanglad. Concrete bunk houses and lots of steel towers!
Not just staff houses but bungalows with tiled restrooms and glass window panes.
We rested inside the bunkhouse and drank coffee. Junboy and company was already there lingering. The double deck beds reminded me of the cemetery like boxes accommodations we see in La Loma, Quezon City.
There is a piped in rain water system but there was no running water at that time. Well, the house have an electric stove. We ate our pork sinigang and tocino dinner thanks to the chefs Fandy and Famboy. We then used our free time roaming around the peak’s other mighty tenants, the TV station towers ABS-CBN, GMA, NAPOCOR, PTT and more.
We watched the telenovelas in the highest TV, at 9,000 ft, I’ve seen. When we went back to the bunk house we gossiped some more, listened at Onin fastest Filipino jokes and laughed at Maribel’s punditry. It was a party on top of the mountain! Felt like it never ended. Only when the cold was freezing (and Maribel sobered) when we finally slept. Thanks my sponge bob fleece was there to counter the cold breeze. It is really cold!!
It was seven o’clock when I woke up so I rushed outside to get a glimpse of what was left of the sunrise. Fogs was still covering the peak so visibility was limited to near 10-20 meters. I got back inside filled my coffee and when outside again to linger around the peak. Suddenly, a bird flew past in front of me and landed just 10 meters into a tree bark. I dismissed the sight as ordinary since I’ve seen a lot of mayas in our place doing the same. Later I realized this was a big mistake on my part and felt sorry I didn’t take any pictures. We were at 9,000+ feet and there’s no ordinary bird that could live that high! The bird look like any of these Kitanglad birds, but then again I might be mistaken for I am no aviantologist.
We then ate breakfast, cleaned the house and strolled once more in the peak before descending down the back trail. The descent was almost uneventful except for the constant bird calls and weird sounds I hear all the time. It was more tiring though, since It takes more muscle power to hold an accelerated downhill trek. By noon time we were at the foot of the mountain. We ate our packed lunch and rested for a while, taking pictures all the time.
We then proceeded walking towards Brgy. Intavas, and was welcome back by the kagawad with his usual PAMBI-kol.
Looking back, I would never exchange the experience for anything, even with my stupidity of not researching more about Kitanglad before climbing it. I’d definitely go back!
We were actually discussing the planned Dulang-Kitanglad traverse this august. And these were happy thoughts as we rode a hitched hiked forward on our way to Gantungan Falls. But that is another story. (Some photos courtesy of Chris Bautista and Birdtour Asia website)