MT. HALCON

So far, hiking Mt. Halcon (2582 MASL) in Oriental Mindoro is the toughest. Though this mountain garnered a nine over nine rating in terms of difficulty, it is part of my "list of the must hiked mountains" because of its hidden and majestic beauty. It has a combination of long and difficult terrains, a wealthy rain forest, vast diversity of plants and animals, spooky stories, and unpredictable weather condition which can bring a remarkable hiking experience (the reason why it's my hardest). CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY VLOG


THE TRAILS: We chose Mayabig Trail for our ascent. Mayabig is a long trail surrounded by banana, coconuts, vegetables, and other plants cultivated by the residents (mostly the Mangyans). Our hike was a wet season, as expected, the sticky mud and the limatiks spread on the spread were the two of my biggest challenge. We rested and had our lunch break at the Iglesiang Ebanghelika ng Aruta at the Mangyan village. BJ (Buko Juice) can also be ordered from the locals. 

It is one of the mountains in the Philippines with a virgin rain forest. Having said that, hikers will encounter rivers and waterfalls. With enough moisture and less human intervention, most of the terrains are covered with healthy vegetation and hardwood trees. The tranquillity and relaxing ambience is everywhere. I can't hide the fact that this mountain is rich in bio-diversity, both flora and fauna. Of course, passing on this jungle trail is one of the best feelings in my hiking experience so far.

 
Photos above were taken at Camp 1. This area is a wide-open space that can handle several tents. On this spot, there's a wide picture and an amazing view of Halcon’s range with several waterfalls. It is also the spot where the sea of cloud appears. In addition, the trail from Camp 1 to Dulangan River was very steep. My hands and feet depended on the roots passing the 90 degrees assault. The trails are somehow established but trail marks are available.

DAY 2 - CROSSING THE RIVER: From afar, I easily heard the relaxing sound from a splashing and strong current of water. I thought the sound was coming from waterfalls nearby but I was wrong – it was the famous Dulangan River. The splashing sound was harmonized by the sopranos of the birds and insects - such a relaxing nature's orchestra. This river has a breathtaking beauty and the waters flowing are clean, cool and crystal clear. While the gigantic boulders and trees serve as a perfect backdrop.


OUR JOURNEY TO THE SUMMIT: (DAY 2 - ATTEMPT 1) We ascended to the summit but unsuccessful because the time was limited, so we headed back to CAMP 1. Heading back to CAMP 1 was unsuccessful too because we were unable to cross the river. The water current was destructive, so we had an emergency camp near CAMP 2. No pitching of tent, just flysheets hanging on the branches of the trees. Limited food supplies but had unlimited stories sharing.

Groupie at the Azothea, few meters to before the knife edge.

DAY 3 - 2ND ATTEMPT TO THE SUMMIT: Rain forest, and as expected, the terrains are wet because of the rain showers. While on the trails, everything was okay, though, we don't have access to see the skies because the trails are covered with hardwood trees. Until we reached the open area called "Azothea," the spot where we confirmed that fog is everywhere and the wind was strong - it was a thunderstorm! A few minutes of silence. Everyone was thinking "to push or not to push." It was a tough decision, we waited for the weather to calm down but the wind became stronger while the fog became thicker, making zero visibility on the knife edge. As ordered by our guide, we headed back to CAMP 1.

Again, heading back to CAMP 1 was unsuccessful because Dulangan river was not passable due to its strong current and overflowing water, so we had an emergency camp inside the small cave near the river. We were five, including one of our guides. Supplies were enough for overnight. Everything was okay and the weather was calm overnight but we barely slept because of the insects. The next day, just drank a cup of coffee and crossed river heading to CAMP 1, a successful attempt. Upon arrival, our food was ready.

Crossing the Dulangan.

DAY 4, A FULL DAY DESCENT AND THE REST WAS HISTORY


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