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Conquering Mt. Lagyo (Montalban Rizal)

This writer's first to attack a full pledge mountain was this one.  Enticed by the beautiful pictures of mountains, I decided to practice with a beginner mountain trek in Mt. Lagyo. Located in Montalban Rizal, they say this is the first of the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges. Impressive I say.

Going to the jumpoff point was not as easy as it said and done.  Wawa Dam is not accessible by jeep or bus.  You have to take a tricycle (Php60-100 depending on your haggling skills).  Once you reach the ranger station in Wawa, you will be met by your trek guide.  Yes, you need one with these mountains.  DENR fee is Php30 per person and you will have to register your name in their log.  You have to clock in and out for your safety they say.

Our guide was Lester and judging from his looks, he is an able bodied mountain climber. On his bag hanging were mountain tags.  These tags show which mountains he already climbed, so with a lot to show, I am confident with him as my guide.  His fee is Php800 per mountain and this fee is standard we later learned.

Before we embarked, Lester told us that this Mt. Lagyo is a new trail just opened and we were the lucky first batches of people to be brought there.  He mentioned also the need of proper gears and one of them were sturdy rubber gloves.  This was needed as the trail had sharp jagged rocks at the summit.  Lucky for us travellers, there were stores selling these.  Aside from gloves, they sell shorts and shirts accustomed to the need of climbers.

After buying the necessary gear, we proceeded to go up the mountain so to speak.  To make our climb easier, we hired a tricycle (Php60) to take us to the end of the cemented road near the jumpoff point.  I thought this was cheating at first, but later I found it necessary.

From the end of the road, it took us 30 minutes to arrive at the jumpoff.  Since it rained days before, the ground was super muddy.  Every time you make a step, the mud was accumulating on your soles.  Due to the chitchats we made along the way, we didn't notice the time going up.  After the mud, we passed though a forest trail.  Thank god I said we were finished with the mud.  We had a short trek on cut grass for a while when suddenly I was greeted with the sharp jagged rocks.  So thats what the rubber gloves were for.

Being a beginner at this, I was doing it at a snails pace.  I was so afraid of the rocks that one tiny slip up would mean fractured bones and flesh wounds.  Thats how paranoid I was.  The guides with us were great and they assured me that I can get to the top and on we went.  They told me where to step, where to grab hold of rocks and when to take a deep breath.  So far so good I said.

In one of our short breaks I realized a lot of things, not that only of the physical but of mentality.  Physically I thought I was fit with the biking and jogging and all, but during this trek, I perspired a lot.  I learned to pace even more so that I wont overheat and feel weak.  As far as mentality is concerned,  I learned that I had a lot in my mind.  My work with the magazine, the backlogged articles, the photos, my family, my wife abroad, the government, President Digong, these were cluttering my mind.  With the trek, I learned to set these at the back of my mind and focused more on myself and on the rocks we were traversing.  It was an exhilarating feeling to momentarily let of of this clutter and focus on one goal - that to reach the top of the mountain.

With the talks, with the focus I gave to this climb, we reached the summit in exactly two hours.  We were so fast Lester told me.  He didn't expect it to be so since I was a beginner.  I don't know if he was just making me happy by saying this, but hey, I was on top of the mountain, sweating profusely, I'm willing to take all the compliments I get at the summit.  Going up was easy I always say, its the going down part that I'm worried.  It took us the same amount of time to go down, but with more slides this time as it was still muddy most of the way, and we met a slight drizzle, adding to the difficulty we are already face.

Thanks to our guide Lester and his friend, we reached the bottom safely.  We clocked out at the DENR ranger station and had our formal lunch.  Aside from fun, the realization I had going up made this trek a memorable one (aside from the cursing I made).  I also realized that I'm not in this for fun alone, and I intend to hike more mountain in the future.  Hope to join Lester in future climbs and you will read it here at Katooga.PH.