Mt. Talamitam: The comprehensive guide for first time hikers

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” – Greg Child

Never had I imagine to climb a mountain but I’m thankful that I did.

Between the two of us, Dee is more fond to mountain climbing. For 3 years, he has been trying to convince me to try it, even just for once. I’m not comfortable with the idea of hiking.

“It’s a waste of time and energy.” I always thought. Imagine, you’ll wear out yourself just to see the city’s top view. To make it worse, you’ll hike under the scorching heat of sun with limited water and food.

Despite these fears, I am at the same time curios what it’s like up there. There are few instances when I can’t help but ask Dee few hiking related questions so that I can somehow understand the pleasure of this tiresome activity. Surprisingly, few of my friends also share the same kind of curiosity. There are days spent talking about this activity. When I felt that it was already the right time for us to experience it firsthand, we asked Dee to accompany us and he is more than willing to help.

There are less than 10 mountains near the metro which is beginner friendly. I initially liked Mt. Batulao because of its cool breeze and magnificent terrain but due to its ongoing issue, I opted for its younger sister – Mt. Talamitam. This offers the same terrain like Mt. Batulao.

About Mt. Talamitam

Location: Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off point: Sitio Bayabasan, Brgy. Aga, Nasugbu (KM. 83)
Hours to summit: 1 day / 1.5-2.2 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3 with steep assault (100m)
The same terrain of Mt. Batulao gives rise to its ‘younger sister’, Mt. Talamitam, on another side of Nasugbu, Batangas. Although it lacks the cool breezes and grand landscapes of Batulao, it is a surprisingly wondrous mountain on its own right, with verdant cogon grass during the rainy season, and a challenging, 60-degree trail before the peak.
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MY EXPERIENCE
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Disclaimer:  I’m not a professional mountain climber but I’m sharing my experience from a newbie perspective. I wanted to tell you how I did it and how you can learn from my experience.

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KM 83 Sitio Bayabasan

We arrived around 8 in the morning at Sitio Bayabasan in Nasugbu, Batangas. We registered and paid Php 40.00 per head. The registration station can be easily seen since it’s right beside the main road.

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Registration Area

If you want to eat first, a sari sari store with home cooked meals and breakfast is available here. There’s a decent public rest room as well. Peeing costs Php 3.00 and taking a bath costs Php 20.00.

Tour guide is not mandatory but we preferred to get one. Even if Dee has climbed this mountain before, 4 years have already passed and he does not remember the trail anymore . By the way, we are five in the group and four of us have never climb any mountains before. While we are waiting for the tour guide, Dee explained the mountaineer’s creed: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but foot prints, kill nothing but time.”

 

When we started our trek, I felt a different kind of excitement and fear. Excited for the adventure ahead of us and fear if I can reach the summit safely.

The trail has two distinguishable parts – rain forest and grassland. It begins with muddy uphill slopes which are covered by tall forest trees. The rain last night made the trek more slippery and challenging. I was lucky to wear hike boots instead of sandals. This has given me a better grip to the ground.

 

As we go deeper into the forest, I cautiously walked and keenly observed the surroundings because I’m scared that a snake may appear in front of us. But, our tour guide reassured that snakes usually stay away from human trail.

At the forest’s end, we saw stretches of grassland all the way to its peak. I felt a little sense of fulfillment as I saw the breathtaking landscape of Mt. Batulao. Its scenic green and brown terrain with hints of clouds is truly captivating. This is far better than any postcards or even its photos in the web. If it’s that beautiful right here, how much more if we reached the summit?  So we were all excited to continue the trek.

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Based on my research, this is the most strenuous part of the trail. Why?

  1. Because this is mostly flat grasslands, there are limited or no shade at all. Which means, we will be walking under the scorching heat of sun
  1. On top of that, 100m trail near its summit is 60 degrees assault

Fortunately, the weather was calm and partly cloudy which made the breeze a lot similar to Tagaytay’s. You may think that our climb fell into the right time. But no, it’s equally exhausting with less sun and humidity. We stopped every now and then especially when were mesmerized by the beautiful sceneries. We wanted to cherish every single detail of our climb – everything is a photo opportunity.

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As we get nearer, the 60 degrees assault literally got tougher one step at a time. At one point, I thought I could not make it. I was falling behind our group. I wanted to stop and go back to the grassland. And when I look back, it seems more difficult to go down than to climb up. The elevation is so high and I felt a hint of dizziness if I continue looking back. “No. I must not give up”. I told myself.

 

The thought of reaching the summit and having friends with me kept me going. Every time we laughed, joked around, did silly things, almost fell into mud, paused for picture taking and laughed again, we, for a while, forgot the exhaustion and didn’t realize that we are almost on top.

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Then, that was it. One step away from the peak, I paused and thanked God for letting me experience this and for “almost” reaching the summit safely. I prepared myself on what’s in store for me.

As I reached the top, it was then that I realized the pleasures of mountain climbing. No words can completely explain how it was like up there. Beautiful is indeed an understatement to describe the 360 degrees landscape.

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Mt. Talamitam, is my first love. And I know, it would not be the last.

Summit Photo Gallery:

 

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HOW TO GET THERE
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From Cubao
You can ride San Agustin Transit that’s bound to Nasugbu. And they’ll drop you off in KM 83.
Fare: Php 150.00
*I’ll add other routes soon.

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SAMPLE ITINERARY
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05:00 AM – Estimated time of departure from Cubao Terminal
07:00 AM – Estimated time of arrival in Sitio Bayabasan, KM 83
07:20 AM – Registration
07:30 AM – Estimated time of ascend
10:30 AM – Estimated time to reach the summit. Lunch time
12:00 NN – Estimated time to descend
02:30 PM – Estimated time to reach the registration area
* You can go back to Manila or,
* Side trip to Tagaytay

Budget Breakdown

Bus ride (Cubao – KM 83) – Php 150.00
Registration fee – Php 40.00
Tour guide* – Php 125.00 (600 total)
Bus ride (KM 83 – Cubao) – Php 150.00

Total: Php 465

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WHAT TO PACK
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Required Items

  1. Water! 2 to 3 liters is good for minor climbs like this
  2. Trail FoodsEnergy bars and chocolate bars will help you get recharged if you are feeling tired. Avoid junk foods like chips with high salt contents as this will only make you more thirsty.
  3. Packed lunch – It depends on your lunch preference. Usually, Filipino prepares rice and tasty dishes. Dee says, Adobo is their favorite pick. Adobo is a Filipino food cooked with soy sauce and vinegar. The vinegar component of this dish made it less lightly to get spoiled. Other dishes we recommend are anything fried and canned goods. Avoid the dishes cooked with tomato sauce and gata/coco milk.
  4. Extra clothes – Of course, after the tiresome activity it’s refreshing to wear new clothes when you go home

 Not required items but good to have for ‘just in case’ scenarios

  1. Flashlight or head lamps – ‘Just in case’ your trek gets delayed. Mountains don’t have a stable light source aside from the moon above. A handy flash light and head lamp will help you get through. These will serve as good light sources as you finish your trek. Dee prefers a non-rechargeable headlamp. Because 1) headlamps will keep your hands free and 2) if the battery is already running out, you can simply replace it with new one. Not unlike with a  rechargeable headlamp, its battery is bulit in and once it run out, you’ll be trekking in dark.
  2. Sun protection – Dee does not mind getting darker but I do! Haha! So I applied sunblock before the climb. Other protection you can use are: shades, cap and scarf. Umbrella will also give you a better protection to sun. But, this is discouraged since its windy up there and umbrella can easily be blown away.
  3. Rain protection – Dee does not mind getting wet too, and of course, I do. Rain coat is the best tool for rain protection. Dee says, it’s okay to be soaked for as long as your things are in water proof condition. Bags has rain cover. You can also put your things in plastic or zip lock.
  4. Toiletries – There are modest comfort rooms at the jump off area. Other than that, if you have to relieve yourself during your trek, you have to do it on few meters away from the trail. Tissue roll, wet wipes and alcohol will help you clean yourself.
  5. Personal Medications – ‘Just in case’ you need to drink certain medicines.

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WHAT TO WEAR
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I highly suggest you should wear something comfy and will let you move around easily and flexibly.

  • TopDri-Fit wear is the top recommendation for this activity. This will absorb all your sweat and will give you a cooler feeling because the material evaporates the moisture. Avoid wearing cotton shirts because too much water will make it too damp and heavy.
  • Bottom – Most of the Filipino girl hikers wear leggings to give them better flexibility and top it with shorts to conceal their private parts. For boys, hiking shorts is the most recommended because this gives better flexibility vs cargo pants, maong pants, or basketball shorts.
  • Foot wear – For minor climbs, you can use trekking slippers or sandals. But for major ones, a trekking shoes or boots is a good investment. If you don’t want to splurge that much, local brands like Sandugo and Tribu are your best choices.

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HOW TO PREPARE AND MORE
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  • Do an extensive research about the mountain. Know its terrain and difficulty level. There are many Pinoy blogs out there dedicated to mountain climbing that can help you.
  • Anticipate the level of difficulty and train accordingly. For minor climb like this, a week before your climb you can do brisk walking or jogging for 30 – 60 mins a day.
  • Two days before, you must check the weather forecast. Weather.com is one of the most accurate websites in providing weather related updates.
  • Night before, sleep early and at least 8 hrs! You’ll need this rest and energy for the upcoming activity.
  • Start early. Follow your itinerary.
  • Stretching is important as you start your trek. This will prevent muscle aches.
  • When you pass by someone, specially local villagers, greet them.

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SUGGESTED ONLINE RESOURCE
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The Pinoy Mountaineer website is a comprehensive blog about hiking in the Philippines created by Gideon Lasco. This site contains detailed itineraries, tips, and other special concerns in climbing. Majority of mountaineers check this website for information and updates on the mountains that they plan to climb.

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