My second hike in 2009 was supposedly at Mt. Cristobal together with the URC Mountaineering Club. It did not push through due to bad weather. All I knew before were Mt. Cristobal is a mystical mountain, also known as the ‘Devil’s mountain,’ and the legends regarding lost mountaineers and other spooky stories.
Early in May 2013, I was invited to a hiking event by Elvin Pastorfide in Facebook. I researched on the hiking specifications in www.pinoymountaineer.com and discovered the following:
> Major climb
> 1,450 masl
> Difficulty: 6/9
> Trail class: 3-4
> mossy forest
> has crater lake
> view of San Pablo’s 7 lakes at the summit
I was a bit hesitant due to the 6/9 difficulty classification. That would be my first major climb if I go.
In a previous article linked at pinoymountaineer.com however, Mt. Cristobal was considered a minor climb before and the difficulty was 4/9. I kind of chose to believe on these specs to convince myself to join.
I think my love for the outdoors and fun, and my sometimes fierce, adventurous spirit won over my doubts and fears. I confirmed my attendance.
I was excited a few hours before the meet up at Jollibee Farmers in Cubao, Quezon City at 2 a.m. I did not want to be late so I overestimated my travel time from Valenzuela City, and was already there at 12 midnight.
We took the JAC Liner bus going to Lucena City at 0300H and arrived at San Pablo City (fare: P135) 2 hours after. We had breakfast at Jollibee, San Pablo, where our guide, Mang Lito,
and the jeepney service to the jump off were waiting for us. We bought our packed lunch there as well.
Our entry point was at Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon. The jump off was supposedly at the Tower, and as per the itinerary, we would reach the Montelibano house at 0730H. But the jeep dropped us only just a few meters to the Montelibano house.
There was a camp outside the Montelibano house when we arrived. That was the last water source for the rest of the trek. We registered our names in the logbook and paid P10 each. We did last minute preparation, and prayed before starting the hike.
Like in the beginning of other hikes I had, I was catching my breath and my lungs seemed to burst at every step going up. The trail was steep and a bit slippery. Mt. Cristobal was indeed a mossy forest. I was amazed by the flora and fauna.
I brought my trekking pole with me and it was so helpful in providing support in slippery parts of the trail, in breaking thick leaves and stems out of the way, and in helping my knees by having some of my weight especially in going down.
Ferns and thorny plants that I guess belong to palm family are present everywhere.
Like always when I go hiking, I wore gloves, and it somehow protected me from being punctured by thorns when I would accidentally hold on to thorny stems and leaves.
A glimpse of the neighboring mountain, Mt. Banahaw:
Mang Lito said early on that we will reach the summit faster than expected because our pace was consistent, and there was no long resting time. Indeed, we reached the swampy area 1 hour earlier than indicated in the itinerary.
Mt. Cristobal is a dormant volcano, and it is believed that this swamp had been its crater.
A little more assault from the crater is the Bulwagang Saddle, where campers the night before were breaking their camp by the time we arrived there.
The view was so cool. We stayed there for a while for photo ops, water and food break, and feeling the cool and fresh breeze.
Mang Lito lighted a candle as ‘alay’ or offering (to the spirits) before we left for Jones Peak, which is the highest part of Cristobal.
I know the fact the the peak is near when there are cogon grass. But my! The grass were thick and bending low that it can get to ones eyes. The trail can hardly be seen.
It’s rainy season! In most part of our trail, we’ve been blessed with a nice weather: not so sunny, not so cloudy. But it was foggy up there.
There was hardly a clearing.
We reached Jones Peak at 1000H. We took some rest, had lunch, photo ops, and gave up on hope to have a clearing, so we started to descend at 1130H.
The trail was steeper and slippery. One of the parts of this hike that I surprisingly enjoyed was rappelling on rattan vines. They were so trusty and helpful. True to writings I have read, the kind of challenging trail going down can be negotiated for 3 hours. We kept on asking Mang Lito if we’re near the end. At once he said we are about to go out of the forest. After that? Banana plants. It rained seriously when we got there. We were thankful we finished the difficult trail when it rained.
After that? Cogon grassland. I have no pictures because all non-water resistant gadgets were inside the waterproofed bag. After that, are we there yet? The last part was the coconut trees, where a water source (bokal/spring) could be found. But before we reached the coconut trees, we walked through a what seemed to be a never-ending trail of forks, turns, assault, descent. The trail we trod was the longest among the 3 known trails. It was 1500H and we’ve been walking for 3.5 hours already without a single stop. My legs were aching and seemed to have a mind of their own, just walking even if my mind says I have to go to the side and rest. At last, at around 1530H, we reached the water source where we cleaned up ourselves. There was a tiny hut where we laid our bags, rest, and change clothes.
We were at Sitio Awas, and glad that in a while we can reward ourselves with a hearty dinner, which we think we surely deserve.
I loved the whole hike! It has got a lot of firsts for me. I was able to conquer several fears, and really enjoyed instead of getting sweaty palms at every difficult obstacle in front of me. I would love to go to Mt. Cristobal again.
You may also want to visit my other site for more stories: http://www.journeyprincess.com