I love easy and short hikes. I do not like those long tiring climbs. Give me a 1 out of 5 difficulty level and I am in.
I have my reasons. First, I do not like carrying big bags when climbing. I am not like my dad who is a regular hiker who hordes a lot of hiking gears, bags and shoes. I am his opposite when it comes to climbing. One small bag is enough to fit an extra shirt, a liter of water, my asthma inhaler, an energy bar and a small pack of sour gummy worms. Second, I am a lazy hiker. Long hikes bore me. I love summits but sometimes I find the trail very usual. Third, I consider myself a city guy and not a nature guy. Don’t get me wrong. I love nature and I love appreciating every bit of it, but I still prefer the urban jungle. Ironically, I can meditate and reflect in the hustle and bustle of the city and finds it difficult to stay still and quiet in front of a calm river or a mountain. This was the same reason why I loved noise while studying back in college and while getting ready for a good night sleep.
Last week, my friends and I had the opportunity to climb a level 1 mountain in Binangonan, Rizal. The mountain was called Mount Tagapo or commonly known as the “Susong Dalaga” (Maiden’s Breast) because of its shape.
We left Makati City via Uber around 5:30 am and arrived at Star Mall, Mandaluyong City around 6 am. Then we rode a UV Express Van to Binangonan, Rizal. Travel time was 45 minutes if there’s no traffic. It was very early anyway so the travel was smooth, safe and sound. The driver dropped us at Pitril, Binangonan then we rode a tricycle to Pitril Port. I loved the dome-shaped Port because it has this authentic barrio feel where locals travel to and fro via wooden boats and where local fish trade happens. In fact, the majority of the island barangays in Binangonan were authentic and very different from the small towns I have traveled before in the country. One of the reasons was that there were few tourists during that weekend. Anyway, to get to the mountain, we needed to pass Talim Island via the wooden boats. Talim Island was the largest island lake in Laguna de Bay.
The boat ride to Brgy. Janosa was a long ride because of the stopovers. Locals here had to travel around the Lake to get to the municipal proper so aside from passengers, the small boats were filled with supplies and grocery items. It was a crowded boat.
After the 1-hour boat ride, we finally arrived at Brgy Janosa. We went to the registration area where we met Kuya Jojo, our guide. He was a big man and his disclaimer was that he was the slowest among the guides in Mt. Tagapo. He was perfect for us because we hardly had a training prior our hike. There were 3 hiking groups during that time while we were the 2nd batch of hikers during that day.
We started the hike around 9:30 am. The first 30 minutes of the hike was a very easy hike. The next 1 and a half hours was a difficult one but not as difficult as the other mountains we hiked before. The trail was a mixture of bamboo trail and of tall cogon grass. There were a few mango trees along the trail as well.
Before reaching the summit, we took our lunch at the waiting shed. I ate my energy bar while my friends ate their rice meals which they bought in Brgy. Janosa before the climb. I don’t usually like eating rice when hiking. We spent around 30 minutes to eat, to rest, to make fun of each other and to take plenty of selfies. After the short break, we finally started the hike to Mount Tagapo.
The hike from the shed to the summit was around 15 minutes. The trail was a trail of tall cogon grass. If you want to be extra cautious, you can wear glasses to protect your eyes from the blades especially if it is windy. This was my favorite part of the trek.
Upon reaching the peak, we took our selfies and videos and enjoyed the sceneries. From the top, you can see the Laguna Lake, the Metro Manila Skylines and Mount Banahaw.
The descent took us around 1 hour, thanks to the improvised bamboo trekking poles.
Approx Budget: P500-700