Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hiking Adventures #46: Mt. 387 Traverse Aloha Falls - 3rd MMS Open Climb 2017

Mt. 387 is located in Brgy. Puncan, Carrangalan, Nueva Ecija. This is one of the newly opened mountains in North Luzon along with Mt. Sawi in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. This was the first visit of MMS in the mountain and I was assigned to be the team leader.

Mt. 387 also known as Mt. Batong Amat which covers 387 hectares of land that's why locals of Brgy. Puncan also called it Mt. 387. It was opened to mountaineers last January of 2017. When I heard of this, I strongly suggested this to be part of 2017 Open Climbs, and the result, we had plenty of guests. Good thing, the campsite is wide according to the blogs I've read prior to the climb.

Day 1

This time as the TL of the climb again, I came early at the meet-up place in Robinsons Pioneer. We have a total of 42 participants for this climb. Some of the members together with their guests brought their own cars, while the others joined the van.

We had our lunch along the way, I think it was in the town of Guimba. At around 2:30PM, we arrived in Brgy. Puncan. It took more or less 5 hours before we reached the jump-off point. The travel time was a bit longer than I expected. I looked for my contact, Sir Roy Manuzon, Mt. 387 coordinator. He was really nice when I was inquiring for the climb. I have a lot of questions to him and he was patiently answering all of those questions.

Before we start the ascend, one of the guides gave a quick briefing. We started trekking at around 3:30PM. Since I was the team leader, I volunteered as sweep again. According to our guide, it will take just 2 hours before reaching the campsite. My target was to camp near the infamous Lovers' tree of Mt. 387.

The trail going up was beginner friendly. The assault was not that steep and it has gradual parts where you can appreciate the mountain more. Part of the adventure was to plant trees on some areas of the mountain near the trails. Halfway through, we started the tree planting. We planted one to two trees by each one of us. I always do tree planting before on my previous employer, and when I left, I haven't a chance to do tree planting again. Glad that I was able to do this again on a climb and for the mountains.

My batchamates: Karis, Suzette and Tin 

After the tree planting, we continued the ascend and after an hour, we reached the campsite just in time for an awesome sunset.

Good thing some of the members led by one of the fastest mountain climber of MMS, Jess Mar Pontillas was able to cover the campsite surrounding the Lovers' tree. The other group camped few meters away from us. I was really happy when I reached the campsite because everything happened according to my plan.

Lovers' Tree Campsite
Lovers' Tree Campsite

The view from campsite was astonishing. You can see the nearby hills that looks like Chocolate Hills that is why the mountain dubbed as the "Bohol of the North". During our visit, since it was rainy season, the color of the hills were green, so I called it "Matcha Hills". Hahaha!

After the dinner, we had our socials led by Andres Bulay, the Senior Team Leader for the climb. We conducted games after quick introductions from the guests. The social was fun with the help of our senior members which led by my favorite trio, Ricardo "Papa Ding" Prudencio, Emoi Dedicatoria and Al Jumarang. They also hit their timeless jokes again and it was still funny even though I heard it several times already.

After the socials which kind a came short, I went to the group of some senior members to extend it. Then after couple of drinks, I went back to my tent and sleep.

Day 2

I woke up right before my alarm because I felt the temperature got a little bit colder. I didn't go outside my tent even though I was already awake until Sir Emoi started waking up people. When  everyone was up, we started to cook for breakfast.

After everyone already had their breakfast, we started to break camp. It was already around 7:30AM when we descended heading to Aloha Falls. At first, the trail was nice and established until the first steep descent. It caused traffic on the trail because all of us were struggling because the trail was loose and slippery.

Then, we dealt with another steep descent but with an awesome view. From that part, the river was already emerging which made us realized there's more to go.

Going down is a lot harder than going up. As some of my batchmates always say every time they will ask about Mt. 387, "Minor climb pataas, major climb pababa". It's because the trail going down is steep, long and slippery.

Few meters before reaching the Aloha falls, I started to feel itchy in my thighs and it was very irritating. Then rashes or pantal appeared afterwards and so I thought that I've got insect bites, particularly Higad or Tussock Moth Caterpillar. I can't help myself scratching my thighs even though I was advised to stop scratching because it'll spread on other parts of my body. And it happened, it spread to my arms and legs.

When we reached the falls, I hurriedly plunged to the water hoping the itching would stop. After dipping into the water, it was still itchy so I have no choice but to endure it while trekking to the exit point.

From the falls, it would take approximately 30-45 minutes of gradual trek before reaching an area where a truck is waiting to pick us up. It was one hell of a ride.

Aloha Falls
Aloha Falls

As I got off the truck, I immediately looked for Sir Roy to ask for vinegar. Vinegar is the home remedy for skin rashes and skin itching like no tomorrow. Its acetic acid content helps to counter skin infection or skin allergy. When I found Sir Roy, I told him my situation and he accompanied me to their house. Her wife gave me a bottle of vinegar of which I hurriedly applied to my thighs, arms and legs. I almost emptied the bottle.

After applying vinegar to the affected areas, I rested for couple of minutes and started to wash up. Somehow, the itchiness had changed a bit and it was reducing as the time goes. I felt a bit relief as went outside the Sir Roy's house. I started calling everybody for the post climb.

The climb got a lot of positive feedback. I haven't heard negative feedback from our guests so I guess the climb really went well. As the team leader, all the challenges and the time I spent in order to make this climb as good as possible was all worth it. As you know, I wasn't supposed to be part of the climb officers, but I'm glad I volunteered to handle this. But this climb wouldn't be good without the help of other officers namely Andres Bulay, the Senior Team Leader, Miki Ayalin, the Asst. Team Leader and Karis Corpus as the Scribe. I can't remember the Medic of that climb but it has to be one from my batchmates.

To avoid my itchy experience, I suggest to wear hiking pants or leggings and arm sleeves so you could not expose too much skin in the wilderness. Also, bring a sachet of vinegar with you just in case you get itchy.

Mt. 387 a.k.a. Mt. Batong Amat
August 12-13, 2017


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