(Disclaimer: If you are a local authority of Cuenca, Batangas; you are not allowed to read this. :)
Upon knowing there was a new trail in Mt. Maculot, I was easily anxious to try it. It was supposed to happen a week before but I have to wait another seven days to do so. I invited a few fellow hikers but only one dared to accompany me, i.e. Jonathan, who had only one mountain on his belt (Mt. Balagbag). I told him that this was just an easy trek. With his brand new trekking shoes, we embarked to a milestone event in the said mountain.
|Fourth hike on this mountain|
My day was started with a rain so I was a little bit lazy of doing the hike but Jonathan was already on his way and so I had no choice but go as planned. When we arrived at he town proper of Cuenca, the weather was gloomy. Upon registration, I asked one of the barangay official about the new trail; out of nowhere he told me that we can also use the old trail. When we were about to commence our trek, rain fell down. Armed with my umbrella while Jonathan wore his raincoat, we pushed through on the cemented road. We rested for awhile in a hut selling halo-halo. When the rain halted, we resumed our trek.
|Old Trail is now closed|
As mentioned earlier, the traditional trail of Mt. Maculot was closed down four weeks ago due to erosion causing landslides that might endanger the hikers. Thus, a new trail was introduced to the mountaineering community. The said trail is steeper as it had no rocks nor pebbles to cover the trail like in the traditional trail. Due to the rain, the trail was now muddier and made it more harder. Moreover, the trail is less covered by trees unlike in the other trail.
|The muddy new trail|
Even though the trail was a little bit longer than the old one, in less than a couple of hours, we able to arrive at the Rockies. There were a lot of hikers on that day. A bunch of students were on the Rockies already when we came there. We had our lunch there and on cue after we finish eating, what was once a sunny day, the clouds returned to give a gloomy weather. Then rain drizzled and winds were making their strong presence felt. Ironically, one female hiker sang, "Heto ako ngayon, Basang-Basa sa ulan, Walang masisilungan, ...", which was fitting for that exact moment.
|Jonathan flexing his muscles on the mountain's tongue|
We rested at the campsite area observing the campers who were still drinking as well as other hikers minding their own businesses. Then right before 1 pm. we decided to make our descend. It was much more muddier than before and it was more difficult to descend such trail. I was having second thoughts of using the old trail but I was a little bit concerned of witnesses (a buko juice owner and her two sons were there) and so we went on the difficult route.
|This is what I get on doing the right thing|
After a difficult descend and a couple of slides, I reached the next bukohan station.Right before I came there, a few people were there resting before they returned their ascend. Then the silver lining came. As I was waiting for Jonathan, who was letting the hikers pass him by, a familiar scenery caught my eyes. When Jonathan arrived, I asked him to go there just across the tree near to us. He obliged and made it to the old trail in a sec. To cut the long story short, we crossed that border and used the old but reliable trail.
|Tired of the muddy trail, I found a way on going to the old trail|
And so even I know that the trail is closed due to various concerns, I, together with Jonathan, decided to use it because it is much easier. Hence, a traverse was made. Though it was such a feat of doing a new to old trail, just perhaps we were the first one to do this, as a sports fan, this would be ruled as an unofficial record because it was illegal per se. I knew what I did was a show of irresponsible mountaineering but at the end of the day I chose what was the best interest for me. And the enticing achievement of doing both trails was too much to passed on. Besides, no harm no foul as basketball players always remark. As we crossed the trail, I noticed it was much cleaner than before and so we left no trace behind. As we crossed the closed entrance, we were almost caught by two boys who were just about to make their ascend along with their father. I able to misled them that we did not use the old trail and just taking pictures on that area.
|Ssssh, Don't tell anyone!|
As predicted we were able to get down faster than those who were ahead of us due to the comfort of using the traditional trail. Though it was unfair to them because we cheated but I still convince myself that it was much safer to use as I used it thrice already. Still, I apologize for doing it and I am not promoting anyone to do that crazy thing. But if you arrived at the same conclusion my mind did, I have one simple advise to you; "Don't be caught".