What’s the best mountain you’d recommend for beginning hikers?
If you’re curious about hiking, I recommend doing short hikes first. These are mountain trails you can complete within 2-5 hours and are beginner-friendly. Mt. Tagapo in Rizal, Mt. Mabilog in Laguna (where you can also take a side trip to Lake Pandin), Osmeña Peak in Cebu, and Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin are good options which offer scenic view points. Ample preparation is still a must – don’t forget to pack a trash bag and bring everything back down with you. Also, keep in mind to not underestimate any mountain no matter how small it is.
Fortunately for us living in the Philippines, there’s no shortage of hiking trails. Check a friend’s site for more tips on where to go – www.pinoymountaineer.com. It’s an excellent source of mountain itineraries.
What’s the best mountain you’d recommend for intermediate hikers?
For seasoned hikers who want to try longer and challenging trails, I suggest doing extended day hikes where you can see remarkable views and unusual flora and fauna. These kind of hikes take more than 5 hours to complete – some take as long as 12-18 hours. It tests your endurance and since you only do it within a day, it gives more time to recover, take a side trip, discover the place you’re in, or give time for other important things like bonding with friends and family. It’s also ideal for those who have work or school during the week. A day hike to Mt. Apo (Philippine’s highest mountain in Davao), Mt. Pulag (Benguet), or Dulang-Dulang-Kitanglad Traverse (Bukidnon) is possible, but you must prepare well – both physically and mentally – to ensure you enjoy the experience and avoid accidents or injuries.
For multi-day hikes, there’s Mt. Halcon (Oriental Mindoro), Mt. Guiting-Guiting (Romblon), Matalingajan (Palawan), Sicapoo (Ilocos Norte). Outside the Philippines, there’s Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, one of world’s popular hiking trails.
What’s your favorite hiking trip you’ve ever had?
In 2012, my friends and I hiked 6 peaks around Batangas and Cavite in one weekend. These peaks are beginner-friendly, but hiking them simultaneously was challenging. On the first day, we climbed Malipunyo, went around Susong Dalaga, Biak na Bundok and finally to Manbu, which took us around 10 hours (if my memory serves me right :P). We then traveled to Cavite and spent the night on hard benches. The following morning, we hiked up Pico de Loro, traversed to Batangas, where our crew of two was waiting along with our bulalo lunch which we ate along the road. It was one of the best meals I’ve had! After that, we traveled to Nasugbu to hike Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Batulao. It was the most number of hikes I’ve done in a week, so it was so memorable to me. After finishing the 6th peak, my legs felt so stiff and I felt pain everywhere, but it was so fulfilling because I got to do what I love to do, see a lot of trees (I love trees!) without being away from home that long (I easily get homesick which is strange actually because I love traveling). The following day, I had to report back to work and despite the fatigue, I actually felt more inspired to work.
How has hiking impacted your life?
It made me appreciate nature more and if you develop an appreciation for something, you eventually fall in love with it and become protective of it. I am now more conscious of the things I do that may adversely impact the environment and I try to do what I can to protect it. I want more people to see the place the way I saw it – clean and beautiful. Another great thing about hiking is that I developed strong friendships with people who share the same passion. A lot of the friends I trust are into hiking.
Christine Fernandez, 33, has been hiking since year 2000.