Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Field Report on Mt. Cristobal

One of the overused quotes we often hear is the dreaded and famous, "Don't judge the book by its cover." It is so common that I will use it to express my thoughts on my recent mountain experience. Legend has it that Mt. Cristobal is a haven of evil spirits lurking in its surroundings. Moreover, it is said so the opposite of its neighbor, Mt. Banahaw which is popularly known as the Holy Mountain. Hence, the former is dubbed as the Devil's Mountain. Because of its moniker, going to the said mountain made me not think twice but thrice. Alas, I opted to hike it due to a six month drought of hiking.

One can reach the said place through boarding a Lucena-bound bus from Buendia. Tell the conductor, you are headed to San Pablo City, Laguna. Fare is 124.00 PhP. Then go to the wet market which is near to Liana's supermarket. Find a jeepney en route to Dolores. (Sir Jhun, convinced the driver to bring us to the jump-off point for a fare of 50.00 PhP per head.) Try to be hospitable to the people there, you'll never know that the one you are teasing is a policeman. (Based from a true story) After more than an hour ride, You'll be drop off near the foot of the mountain. Then it becomes little tricky because there is a road filled with cement on your way to the Montelibano House. The aforementioned place is where you will settle things before your ascent to the mountain. You can use their water and rest room as well. You'll end up contributing for their funds at the range of 5.00 to 20.00 PhP.

To tell you frankly the ascent is not a walk in the park. The terrain is mostly steep but is covered of various trees. However, on the way up, the trail is on the edge of a cliff or a ravine that you'll only step the roots of the trees in order to reach the other side of the trail. If you're into adventure this might be good for you. Along the way, you will see Mother Nature in its finest. You'll marvel at the huge trees surrounding the mountain. It is a pleasant sight compared to the skyscrapers we are accustomed to in the metropolis.

The camp site in the crater of the mountain is around 3 to 5 hours from the house. It depends on your pacing. (Our group reached it for five hours due to photo-shoots and long breaks that were badly needed during the ascend. The crater has a lagoon, which has soft land that you cannot set up camp there. The mountain is so high that you should bring a jacket. It is freaking cold out there. (Charge to experience, I did not have any jacket with me. Fortunately, one fellow mountaineer kindly lent her poncho to me.)
Moreover, there is no water source here so better bring lots of water. The summit is around an hour or so from the crater. However due to the rain, we did not go to the summit. Besides, there is nothing to see due to the fog covering the mountain. Going down is quite easy than going up. It took me just couple of hours and a couple of downhill slides to reach the house. (It was raining during our descend.)

Overall, the mountain is not really the same mountain it is being advertised. There might some unexplainable things but it is just one of the things that make the said mountain sound mysterious. You know a thing or two about it but then again there are new things that you discover about it. Also, the locals residing there are very hospitable so do not be shy asking for assistance. Mt. Cristobal is pleasant to people just be respectful to her and nothing bad will happen. (In my case, I went up there with one friend but when I went home, I have 14 new friends.)

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