Emman and I were waiting under the shade of a tree when a car stopped in front of us without us doing anything. There were three people inside and they asked where we were going. Emman told them we were planning on hiking the Makiling Trail and they gladly dropped us off in front of the never ending bridge where a road leads up to the upper campus. During our drive, we talked a bit and incidentally, they know some of Emman’s batchmates in UP. Thank God for these good Samaritans! When I asked why they stopped for us, the driver said they knew we were waiting for a ride, the same way the usually hitchhiked when they were still students 🙂
I wanted to climb up to Peak 2 but Emman said I was delusional because it was already 1:40 PM and we need to condition our bodies first before hiking. Also, I was only wearing sneakers and hiking shoes are preferable since the trail is sometimes stony. I told him we should at least go up to Mudspring, widely accepted as the crater of Mt. Makiling because of its sulfuric vents, he only replied “we’ll see”.
Actually, Marie was worried about us hiking to Flatrocks because two students were found dead in the area last December 2012. In fact, the reserve was closed for investigation and was only opened to public again in March 2013 because the circumstances surrounding the death of the said students were mysterious. I was a bit scared after hearing the news but my itchy feet was stronger than my sense of self-preservation. Good thing Emman was skeptical about the concept of a killer and he was an optimist believing that nothing bad would happen to us. But I took a picture of the Emergency Hotlines just in case.
When Emman told me about Peak 2, I thought it was just a stopover on the way to Makiling’s peak that’s why I was insisting that we go up to there. I only realized that it was already the highest point of the mountain when I saw the map. If it takes regular and active people half day to reach the top, how much longer would it take a sedentary person like me? haha. I need to start practicing if I dream of conquering Mt. Pulag and Mt. Apo. Mt. Makiling seems like a good start for beginners.
Because of the incident involving two dead bodies, security was a bit tighter in the area. We arrived 5 minutes before 2 o’clock and we needed to use our charms just to convince the caretaker to let us in. Also, cut-off times were established to make sure that all the hikers come back before dark. Annnndd, don’t forget to bring a valid ID because you need to leave one before entering the premises. We were almost rejected entry because Emman and I left all our IDs at home. We begged for the caretaker’s consideration of Emman’s SM Advantage card and college graduation picture. Thanks kuya!
While walking down the trail, I was on my guard for any sounds and movement because I couldn’t remove the story of the dead students on my mind. Good thing we encountered other hikers on our way. It somehow reassured me that we were not alone in the forest.
Flatrocks was surprisingly near. Or maybe I just didn’t feel the toll of the hike because I was enjoying the time taking pictures and talking and laughing. After this sign, we deviated from the main road and went right.
The trail here was less visible. Thank God for Emman who knows the way by heart because he’s been to the place many times. He showed me the intersections where first-time hikers usually get lost. There was a shortcut but the way was more challenging. No thanks, I’m not in a hurry anyway.
The trail was pretty easy though I still cringe at the sight of steep slopes and my heart beats faster whenever I have to step on a stone because of fear that it would smash/loosen/give under my heavy weight. Another reason to slim down. hehe. I can’t remember the last time I heard chirping sounds from birds. Forest sounds are creepy and relaxing at the same time.
When we arrived, a family was preparing to leave. We talked to them (one of the things I like in elbi, you just strike a conversation with random strangers. I doubt if city peeps would be as accommodating) and learned that they just descended from Peak 2 which they reached in 2 and a half hours! After they left, Emman and I had Flatrocks all to ourselves. Mehehe.
Good thing there was water when we went there because the riverbed is sometimes dry depending on the weather. Also, the color (sometimes green, other times clear) and height of the water change during different times of the year.
Anyway, Emman pointed a climb to me where another body of water could be found. It’s where he and his friends usually have their picnics. Unfortunately, it is temporarily closed for safety purposes of the hikers.
But the warning didn’t stop this group to hike the steps. Mga Pinoy talaga, pasaway! Emman’s rationale in taking this picture: “Para kapag nawala sila, may proof tayo na umakyat sila kahit bawal. Ito ang last picture nila” Bad boy! Again, the two of us had Flatrocks to ourselves.
Like the Fertility tree, Flatrocks is conducive for sleeping, listening to music and thinking about life’s greatest questions. My favorite song that day was The Beatles’ Dear Prudence. The sun is up, the sky is blue. It’s beautiful, and so are you. Pardon my excessive chin.
While I napped, Emman took pictures of flowers and butterflies and ants. He was complaining because the autofocus feature of my Nex-3 sucks and my zoom was incomparable to his Nikon Coolpix which he didn’t bring to the trip. Who’s fault is it?
Vain people like me are compatible to travel with people who love taking pictures like Emman. The amount of my nice solo pictures from this trip is considerable I can’t choose the best one for my next Facebook display picture.
We left the area before sunset because I am still afraid of the dark, especially in a forest and Emman’s body built doesn’t seem like one that can protect me from goons (peace!). Mudspring would have to be visited at another time. The way down was a ton easier and we were back at the station in no time. We encountered a lot of people from Peak 2 and I was envious of their hiking shoes and sweaty faces and huge backpacks. Someday, Rani. Someday.