A bright and misty morning. ♥
The perfect welcome for the last day in our Mount Apo itinerary. We were still in Lake Venado, a vast clearing of grass and damp ground, and a small land-locked body of water with smoke rising out of its surface. As if each one of the creatures below it are making a fire and cooking breakfast all at once.
We had to put on our bonnets and jackets because of the early morning chill. But it was nowhere as cold as the temperature at the peak.
Nothing much happened that morning. It was dedicated mostly for preparation of our long descent via the Kidapawan trail. A trail that was not used by most mountaineers. I don’t know if it is because of the steep slopes or because you have to cross a raging river several times. But based on my personal experience, I would have to say it really is a difficult trail. Not because of the terrain but because we heard news of police and rebel encounters just days before. We had to stay together as a group, and our guides were always on the lookout. “Exciting” is not the correct word to describe this experience, nor is “thrilling”, it was straight up “scary”.
Actually, our guide had to return to the city after the first day so he can coordinate with the local office regarding the situation in Kidapawan. We were left into the able hands of Kuya Achel to serve as our assistant guide. We were just notified via a phone call that the coast was clear. So we went on. Thankfully, we didn’t meet any armed men, only farmers and locals as we came nearer and nearer to where civilization was.
The Kidapawan trail, as risky as it was at the time, was kind of enjoyable for me. I had a hard time, yes, but it was fun because it wasn’t boring. You get to go across a river with strong currents, 90-degree bamboo stairs, and creaking wooden bridges. And you could also pass by the Mainit Spring and have a taste of the sulfuric water. I don’t know if it’s toxic or something, I tried it myself but I lived to tell the tale, so I guess it’s okay.
A few hours later, we reached asphalt road, where our ride was already waiting. We found ourselves in North Cotabato, this is were the Kidapawan trail leads to. So the chartered jeep had to take us back to Davao City where we would book a hotel room and receive our climbing certificates. Yay! ♥
Afterwards, we wandered around Davao to try out the fruit the city was most famous for. I’ve been told many many times that the Durian was really delicious. So I thought, the ones from the Durian Capital of the Philippines should be the best. So I tried it. And well….. hmm…. I didn’t spit it out, at least. But it sent a shiver throughout my entire body as if every part of it was trying to regurgitate.
It was like pungent creme caramel. But with a weird aftertaste. Other people had a different reaction, though. I’ve read somewhere that we taste with our nose. So if you don’t like the smell, most likely, you won’t like the taste. But I recommend that you try it, just for the sake of experience.
That concludes my majestic Mount Apo journey. Special thanks to our guide, Sir Charlito, for making the trip fun, memorable…. and safe.
And my most heartfelt gratitude to our porters, Achel, Junjun, Kuya Eldie, Ronnie, and Loloy! Without them, this trip wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it was.
For those of you who are interested to climb Mount Apo, here are a few vocabulary lessons that you might need. I just learned these words myself, so excuse me if I make a few mistakes. 😀
“Alingatong” – a wide-leafed plant with hairy stings that causes skin irritation. According to Kuya Loloy, this could make a person crazy if the poison goes untreated overnight. It could be just a joke, but I don’t think anybody would want to find out.
“Subida” – to climb, to rise. Sample usage: “Subida ta sa Mount Apo!” which translates to “Let’s climb Mount Apo!”
And if you’re reeeeeaaally interested to climb Mount Apo, read my personal tips:
1. Get a porter.
The climb would be soooo much better without a heavy backpack on. And the porters can also cook for you, help you set up your tents, know where the water sources are, and are excellent story tellers. The price is reasonable, so if you hire one, you’re not only helping yourself but also the local business. And if you’re kind-hearted (like me, aheeem), give gifts to your porters. Such as a flashlight, or a jacket you’re not planning to use anymore, or extra food. They will be really happy and will definitely remember you on your next visit. 🙂
2. Bring enough food.
Not only for yourself but for the guides and porters as well. I’ve heard stories of porters leaving the campers because they didn’t feed them. What would you do with your heavy bags then? Take note also that there are sari-sari stores during peak season, you might want to ask ahead so don’t have to bring too much food.
3. Leave no trace.
I was told that during peak season, the mountain becomes filthy because of undisciplined campers just throwing their trash everywhere. This doesn’t apply to Mount Apo alone, this needs to be practiced EVERYWHERE. Take care of Mother Nature, and she will take care of you.
4. Trek during the summer.
If you want assurance of clear skies and a great view at the peak, hike during the summer season. I think it might be really difficult to climb Mount Apo when it’s raining, especially through the Boulders. But if you want the challenge, then by all means, follow your heart.
Here’s the itinerary as suggested by our guide. Feel free to use it and share it with friends. 🙂
Disclaimer: I’m not sure if the itinerary was really followed. I didn’t keep track. 😀
09:00 At Davao Ecoland Terminal; Travel to Digos
10:30 ETA Digos; travel to Digos market
11:00 Lunch / Buy supplies
11:30 Travel to Kapatagan
13:30 ETA Kapatagan; Registration; Arrange guides
14:00 Travel to Sitio Baroring
14:30 Arrival at jumpoff,; Arrange porters; Start trek
19:30 ETA Tinikaran Camp 1
20:00 Dinner / Socials
06:00 Breakfast / Break camp
08:00 Trek to Tinikaran Camp 2 via Boulder trail to Dead Crater Lake
12:00 Arrival at Crater; Lunch
13:00 Arrival at Mt. Apo summit; Set up camp
14:00 Explore vast summit area
16:30 Trek to peak; Sunset
19:00 Dinner / Socials
04:00 Wake up call; Trek to peak; Sunrise
07:00 Breakfast, Break Camp
08:30 Start descent to Lake Venado
13:00 ETA Lake Venado, Lunch
18:00 Dinner / Socials
06:00 Breakfast / Break camp
0700 Start descent to Koong camp site
0900 ETA Koong campsite and continue descent to Marbel River
1200 ETA Marbel river and continue river crossing to Mandarangan
1500 End of trek; Lake Agko
1600 Travel to Kidapawan City
1700 ETA Kidapawan City; Travel to Davao City
2000 ETA Davao City
Mount Apo was so much fun. I would definitely come back if circumstances, such as time and budget, would permit. And I hope my personal experience would convince others out there to come and try it for themselves. Good luck, and see you on the trail! ♥