Mt. Daguldol is a mountain that mountaineers will easily underestimate. Located at the coastline of Batangas’ popular beach destination – Laiya, it humbly stands only at about 700 MASL (Metres Above Sea Level). You can actually see the summit from the beach front, as if it is only a few feet away and probably just a few hours walk. So I thought.
Mt. Daguldol’s trek begins at the coastline of Laiya. The actual jump off is located at one of the resort entrances near the Barangay Hall of Barangay Hugom. Our group started off early to avoid the Manila traffick jam. Everything is right on schedule and as planned. We left Manila at around 5:00 a.m. and made our first stop after a one and a half hour drive at a local Lomi House in the small town of Rosario. After a good full breakfast, we head off to the town of San Juan and finally made it to the jump off at about 7:00 a.m.
After registration, we immediately began the trek. Unlike most mountains, the Mt. Daguldol trek is unique and is quite an experience. First you will walk in the hot sandy beaches of Laiya wherein you are fully exposed to the sun if you, like us, choose to hike in the heat of the sun. I still do not understand why our itinerary always manages to fry us under the sun. Anyway, going back, while fully exposed in the sun, the scorching heat of the sand just makes you want to throw your backpack and jump into the water. But that is just too embarrassing to do since people will be looking at you in a way that you can almost see a thought bubble coming out of their heads saying “What are these people doing in the beach wearing full trekking clothes carrying big packs?”. Well most of them are not aware that San Juan, Batangas is also a hiking destination. They are just there for the beach resorts.
As you push forward for almost 2 kilometers of hot sand you will finally arrive at the foot of the mountain where the action, or I should say, the comfort of the trees begin. This is where you will find the usual mountain trek uphill. The walk into the mountain is pretty entertaining. You will pass by the local community and may buy additional stuff that you need at the summit. Not long after walking into the woods, you will see houses, animals, stores, and a parking lot! Yes, after the long walk at the beach with a 60-litre backpack I could almost swear like crooks in the movies do, to find out that you can actually park your car there somewhere nearer the actual trek. Well, it is just a matter of mindset. I realize that the beach trek is a part of the Mt. Daguldol experience. So, I let our guide go away with that and proceeded walking.
There will be a couple of stops along the way. These stops are not the usual hut or a makeshift bench made by previous mountaineers who visited. The stops at Mt. Daguldol is a halo-halo stop. Halo-halo is a timely summer dessert which is discussed in detail in another blog entry. So, after devouring a mug of Halo-halo and a nice chat with the locals who strategically located these halo-halo station right along the trail, you will move on to the challenging phase of the trek. You will appreciate the sugar rush from the halo-halo once you hit the heart pounding, badly zigzagging, steep trail.
Mt. Daguldol offers a good variety of environments. It is actually very dynamic and you will appreciate the diversity as you move forward. After the hot beach trek, you are greeted by the comforting shade of the trees. Some early parts of it actually feels like a full blown rainforrest because of the thick moisture in the leaves and heavily green surroundings. Then after a couple of minutes, you will get to a clearing with a very serene landscape with gigantic highlights of building-sized rocks and a water way inbetween the rocky terrain. This is the cue that you can take out your camera and start taking pictures.
After hours of walking, I asked our guide of we were any nearer to the summit now. And I finally get the answer I wanted – No. I wanted to hear that because it means it is lunch time. We arrived at Mang Lizardo’s place and conducted our culinary ceremonies there. In short we ate like hell.
The great hearty lunch fueled our tired bodies just enought to reach the summit. The summit of Mt. Daguldol is not like the summit you would expect if it is your first time climbing it. After trekking the dense trail, you will finally come to a clearing that looks like a park. You will not immediately see the overlooking because of the grassy green slopes. With a foggy day, it almost looks like one of those dreams in the movies. We reached the summit after an embarrassing 7-hour trek.
Mt. Daguldol is really a great experience of diverse environments and a summit that offers a beautiful view of the Barangay Hugom shorelines on one side and the view of the majestic Mt. Banhaw and Mt. Cristobal towards the South of the mountain ranges of Lobo and Tulos. We descended early the next day and finally hit the long awaited beach bath after a 2-hour downhill trek. The anticipation of the awaiting beach while trekking downhill is just wonderful. After the beach fun, we were back at the jump off to wash up and headed back to manila at around 3:00 p.m.
It was a totally great experience and something that I will highly recommend to hiking enthusiasts.
More pictures? Click here.