Monday, June 2, 2014

Tales from Mt. Natib and Pasukulan Falls

I was a newbie climber back then. Having only climbed one mountain didn't prepare me from the hardship Mt. Natib would bring. It was probably the pinnacle of all hardships a mountain could give me. Like, if I'm gonna climb another mountain, my first question would be: " Mas mahirap ba sya akyatin kesa sa Natib?" What I only had in my mind was my goal of climbing 5 mountains in one year, and since I managed to reach Mt. Pundaquit's peak, I thought of giving it a shot.

Mt. Natib is located in Orani, Bataan and at a towering 1,297 MASL, this is one heck of a major climb and we tackled it on a dayhike, so that's already a major feat for me. Also, I was drawn to the other attraction this mountain brings: Pasukulan Falls! I guess that was my deciding factor to go up there. That'll be my first waterfalls ever.
I knew I did my research well, but very little is known about Mt. Natib. Yeah, the blogs say it was a moderate climb with some 80 degree rock assaults that needs a rope to climb on. I also found one blog where it says it was an easy dayhike climb, but I was specifically looking for pictures of that assault and the trail itself. I found a few but it didn't bring justice to what I experienced as a whole in this mountain. They also mentioned about limatiks infesting the mountain but I wasn't too concerned about it either. I don't mind getting bitten anyway.

So to make things short, here's how to go to Mt. Natib.
1. Take a bus going to Bataan, it's advisable to leave at night as the ride takes about 2-3 hours.
2. The bus will drop you off at the market where you can buy water, trailfood etc. This is also where you will need to ride another bus going to Orani. The ride is about 1 hour.
3. Brgy. Orani is marked with, well, a landmark that says Orani, Bataan and this is where our hired tricycles will take us to the jumpoff.

We arrived at the jumpoff at around 5am. After settling our guide and registration fees, the group started trekking towards the entrance of Mt.Natib. We were blessed to catch a lovely pink sunrise on our way up. 

My first pink sunrise for September. :)
As I stared at that pretty pink sunrise, I thought that's a sign of a good, hassle-free climb. I was wrong. I underestimated Mt. Natib. 
After sunrise watching, we went on trekking for a good 30 minutes until we reached the steel gate.  Let that steel gate be your landmark, once you pass, you'll wish you'd stay on that trail forever. 

Oh look, I can see the Mt. Natib already! 
The first part of the trail after the gate was flat, grassy, almost 4-5 tall, then it gradually changes into a forest-y trail that composes of steep slopes and huge tree roots covered with moss, so you need to be very careful so you won't slip. 
And there's this...

A huge, 20ft something 80 degree rock wall that you need to climb up. But wait, there's more! There's three of them here at this mountain. Oh what a joy!

"Trust the rope" will be a very useful advice here.
I was really about to cry at that time. T_T

My friend took a video of how I struggle climbing up that rock wall. I was really about to cry at that time, thinking I wasn't prepared enough, why put me into something like this! But as my group would always say: "Ginusto mo yan eh.." and then so it goes. *grunts* Now after two hours of pure struggle in those grueling assaults, I finally reached Mt. Natib! It was truly one hell of a climb, but the view on top was beyond beautiful.
A full 360 degree view of Mt. Natib's nearby mountains welcomes you to the summit.

The blogger at the summit of Mt. Natib
They say you can camp here, but the space is really small and I don't think pitching tents of 6 or more could fit on the campsite.

Pasukulan Falls
After posing for the obligatory group photo at the summit, we decided to climb down to our side trip at Pasukulan Falls. I was like, I haven't even spent 15 minutes on the summit and now we're going down already? Then those flashbacks of rock assaults came in and yes, I must endure them once more, but this time, I'm going down. It was equally as hard as going up, and due to my feet's poor grip, I slipped and fell too many times.
Now, going to Pasukulan Falls was another part of the road and it took us about two hours to reach it, well, three for me. The first part was pretty easy compared to the other but it was too narrow, so narrow you can't walk side by side with someone and one wrong step you'd find yourself rolling down to the deepest part of the forest.

Trail going to Pasukulan Falls.

It was my first time walking at the edge of a forest cliff, I walked with both feet in front, not by side and that's how narrow it is. The trail was also much like Mt. Natib's, sans the huge tree roots and rock walls. It was also my first time crossing a river! We crossed about 4 small rivers (I think..) and that smooth flow of cold water felt like a soothing relief for my already tired legs.

All smiles while crossing a river for the first time. This one is knee-deep, but I still managed to cross it.

An hour or so of walking along the forest, we finally reached the very narrow and steep descent to Pasukulan Falls. I was cautious in falling over the edge so I just chose to look silly and slid my way down the trail, well at least I'm safe though. Then, I heard that faint sound of gushing waterfall, the louder it gets, the more I get excited in seeing it so I hastened my pace to get to my buddies who were already there. And there it is!!

The majestic, spectacular, beautiful Pasukulan Falls! It was the first and biggest waterfall I've ever seen! I couldn't contain my happiness, I hope you could see it. LOL.

I removed my shoes to get down and have a dip at the large catch basin underneath the falls. It was very refreshing. The cold water seemed to wash my weariness away, all those painful slips and slides just proved its worth after spending time at this wondrous beauty. After a good 30 minute dip at the falls, we now went back up so we could resume trekking before dark.

Be careful in climbing up, that rock is really slippery.

Mt. Natib was the toughest, hardest and the bloodiest trail I've ever hiked on. This mountain just put me to so many firsts that I'll be encountering pretty soon in my little adventurer life. When we were trekking back to the jumpoff, I was already the slowest one and I kept on walking on a really slow pace and even asked for a 5 minute break every now and then. I already had a walking stick on and dragging myself up the seemingly endless assaults but I still kept on going. 

It pays to have such a supportive group who helps a newbie climber like me to push myself to my limit and quit thinking about giving up. I truly appreciated their efforts in keeping up with my slow pace and walking with me though its already dark and 5 of us reached the jumpoff at the latest time.

Another thing I'd never forget about Mt. Natib was this spot infront of this house (it was so dark I don't even remember LOL), there's a tree that's full of fireflies. I love fireflies and I remember spending a good 10 minutes resting and just staring at them. That's one thing I like about climbing mountains: seeing fireflies. :D

Here's the itinerary we had for Mt. Natib, you can squeeze in the Pasukulan Falls side trip after you climb down the mountain. :)

Orani, Bataan
Major jumpoff: Brgy. Tala, Orani
Minor jumpoff: Kanawan (Hanging Bridge), Morong
LLA: 14.7119 N; 120.3997 E; 1287 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 3.5-5 hours
Specs (Backtrail): Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Scenic views of Central Luzon; Woodlands; Tropical forests

0030 Meetup Five Star Terminal Cubao
0100 ETD for Orani, Bataan by bus
0300 ETA Orani Crossing. Take trike to Brgy. Tala
0400 ETA jumpoff at Brgy. Tala, Orani Bataan. Register.
0430 Start Trek
0600 ETA Pinagbutasan
0730 Arrival at foot of Mt. Natib; start assault
0900 ETA Mt. Natib summit.
1000 Start descent
1200 Back at Brgy. Tala. Tidy up
1400 Head back to Orani crossing
1430 Take bus back to Manila
1730 Back in Manila


Cubao - Orani - Cubao - Php 360
Orani - Brgy Tala (jumpoff) - Orani - Php 140
Registration fee - Php 30

**Mt. Natib is famous for its limatik but I did not encounter anything at all. But some of my friends got bitten but they didn't seem to mind at all. I was more afraid of fat leeches that a tiny worm,like creature like this. Just in case you got bitten and too fussy about it, rub a detergent solution on the affected area until it falls off. 

**Thank you Jepepips, Je and Lem for the photos :D

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