Once you have tried something that enliven your spirit, you’d always find ways to do it over again.
I couldn’t agree more as far as mountain climbing is concerned. If you have checked out my previous blog on Mt. Gulugod Baboy (thank you my dear readers for staying with me), you probably know that the first mountain I ever conquered helped me ignite not only some calories but also insightful realizations on our way towards its summit. Indeed, the said activity was a sort of therapeutic to my mind, body and soul. So, when I got the chance to pack my bags and hit the road again, I invited some of my good friends to join me in another exciting journey and story waiting to be told.
Mt. Batolusong has been popular in the local hiking scene because it allows you to experience the Batanes-like grassland and slopes without venturing too far from Manila. Perfect for weekend get-away, right? Located between Brgy. Cuyambay and Brgy San Andres in Tanay, Rizal, an almost 3-hour drive from the city seems worth it when you think of the adventures that this mountain has in store. Mt. Batolusong winds up the south tail end of longest mountain range “Sierra Madre”, known for its majestic sea of clouds when the weather is generous enough and allows you to witness it. It was graded a difficulty of 3/9 and a trail class of 1-3, slightly more difficult than Mt. Gulugod, which appealed to me because I was really after an incremental challenge following my previous hike. Higher and higher, better and bolder! There’s no other way but up!
The first part of the trail was bearable. Before we reached the base of the mountain, we passed by some rice fields, ponds, and river crossings. It was still pitch-black when we arrived to the scene, so we took our steps really carefully and got used to the deafening silence surrounding us all. As we make it to the foot of Mt. Batolusong, our guide informed us that we were about to tackle series of assault to the Duhatan Ridge. It seemed infinite, took us more than an hour to reach the ridge where the duhat trees abound (thus, the name).
The sun was slowly picking up its confidence to show itself beyond the horizon and slightly revealed the woods and boulders that lined our path. We dealt with another steep but quick ascent to the mountain face until we arrived to Mapatag Plateau, which is 645 MASL, just in time when the sun’s high enough to illuminate the breath-taking beauty of the windswept grassland and slopes.
I was totally speechless when I saw them, I just can’t contain how beautiful the place was! The overlooking view of the neighboring mountains, the sea of clouds, grass swaying gracefully as orchestrated by the wind in the tune of the singing birds, and those unique rock formations which have probably endured the test of time were enough reason to drop our bags and savor every inch of that place’s magnificence. We rested for a while, had our picture-taking and brunch while we exchanged stories as well as hearty laugh with one another, and submitted to the invitation of dancing grass, feeling their energy in our fingertips.
How I live for those moments!
As we felt that our bodies already invigorated from the supposedly quick repose, we decided to descend already to reach our side trip, Sangab cave. It was already afternoon when we went back to the trail so we didn’t pursue the ultimate peak standing 780 MASL called Susong Dalaga, so named because it appears pointed from afar. Next time, we won’t miss it! Nevertheless, Sangab Cave as our next stop capped off the day satisfyingly. With the cave’s cold spring water and picture-worthy interior, I won’t ask for any other way of concluding the day. The streambank also gave us a comfortable space to have our meriendas. Restrooms were available within the area where anyone can take a bath and tidy up before heading back to the city.
I couldn’t agree more when John Muirk said that “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
Our hike to Mt. Batolusong reminded me of God’s greatness that he delicately architected a world so sufficient and beautiful, a place where all things, living or non-living, can actually thrive and serve their purpose.
Standing on top of Mt. Batolusong, looking at a distance as far as my eyes can see, I realized that I’m only a speck of dust in this vast universe. It made me realize that there’s so much wonders to see, lessons to learn, and people out there to meet. It was both a humbling and an empowering experience to me: knowing that I’m only a part of a whole, small yet significant, that whatever I do will make a crippling effect on the sum. Such thoughts inspired me and reinforced my conviction to contribute positively, no matter how small, for the greater good.
Because sometimes, it’s the little things that make a huge difference.