📷 Sony Xperia Burstshot 📸
📍Mount Sumagaya, Mount Balatucan and Mount Lumot Trilogy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao, Region 10, Philippines 🇵🇭
Hi Hiveans Family and Friends.
This is @uwanderer your friendly guide to exploring the beautiful mountains in Mindanao.
We will be setting foot of the three mysterious mountains of Northern Mindanao namely Mount Balatucan, Mount Sumagaya and Mount Lumot. We will be traversing the highest peak of Misamis Oriental which Mount Balatucan followed by Mount Sumagaya and Mount Lumot it will be a six days adventure. One day staying in the small village in Brgy Mat-I, second day is sleeping at the summit of Mount Sumagaya, third day is sleeping at the mossy summit of Mount Lumot, fourth day sleeping at rosas pandan camp site of Mount Balatucan, fifth day is staying at the mossy peak of Mount Balatucan and sixth day descending the three mountains.
Additional Info of Mount Balatucan
Mount Balatucan is home of the Philippine hawk and also some sightings of the Philippine Eagle in the said Mountain which make it a protected range. Given this situation it is important to secure all necessary permits before entering the mountains also. Mount Lumot and Sumagaya is also known as the red fortress of the rebel groups of the country named New Peoples Army (NPA) for this reason hiking to this mountain is really strict and needs in depth coordination with the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP).
Insights about Mount Lumot and Mount Sumagaya
Mount Lumot derived is named as mossy forest and Lumot is mossy in Filipino language. Lumot is the crash landing site of the Cebu Pacific Flight No. 387 in 1998. Mount Lumot is the most mossy forest in mindanao followed by Mount Dulang2x (2nd Highest Peak of the Philippines), Mount Kalatungan (5th Highest Peak of the Philippines) Mount Talinis and Mount Napuluan. Folklore and stories from the locals and other climbers shared that around 2PM in the afternoon an eerie sound can be heard in the forest which is the time the Cebu Pacific flight 387 crash in the mountains.
Mount Sumagaya is a similar mountain range with Mount Lumot but they are separate peaks. Both mountains are filled of different obstacles which is why it's difficult level is 9/9 particularly during rainy season. Climbers will be mastering their acrobatics skills in navigating the fallen trees, uprooted roots, slippery trails, loose soils and rocks lastly, the muddy trails which will sink you until torso area.
Mount Lumot is also known by the first dwellers or Indigenous People the Higaonon Tribe as the Mountain of Soul. As the spirit of the ancestors of the tribe reside with their deity and become the spirit stewards of the mountain.
In order to reach the our first summit, we must head to Agora Terminal (East Terminal) from Cagayan de Oro City and ride a double tire jeepney (Public vehicle used for remote areas transportation).
From Cagayan de Oro City to Brgy Mat-I will take us around 2-3 hours. As soon as we reach the barangay. We will be greeted by hospitable people and kind villagers. We will be staying at The Barangay Mat-I cover court as we need to undergo orientation from the local guides, traditional rituals of the Higaonon Tribe, and security checking and orientation from the AFP. The locals will be offering their local goods and livestocks for dinner as a form of welcome feast for the visitors.
The second day around 5AM we pitch out our tent, started cooking our breakfast and packing our lunch. At 6AM we started our group prayers and blessings from the elders.
We started trekking from the barangay Hall up to the pastoral farm for 30 minutes. Then we will reach the paddy rice fields in an hour. Even if we are still in the lowland the lush forest are really eye catching and inspiring. As soon as we reach the end point of the rice field we will be arriving at the check point of AFP. A quick check will be done before we start our steep ascend of Mount Sumagaya.
To master this mountain one must be physically fit and equipped with the fundamental tools and gears to survive the climb. It took us roughly seven hours to reach the summit as we need to re-route from the usual path due to the fallen trees. And the heavy rain also played the contributing the slow pace of the climb as we need to secure every foothold we had.
The group was divided into two one group from the summit and the other group initiated a bivouac camping as they are caught in the rain and some are freezing and experiencing hypothermia already. Both summit and forested area the temperature drop around 7-8 degrees celsius particularly during that time a tropical depression was sighted near in the country.
Most of us had an in the whole evening we had an uncomfortable sleeping experience due to heavy rainy and strong gust of wind particularly the group staying at the summit.
3rd day, we walk up around 4am cook our breakfast, pack our lunch, pitch out our tents and waiting for the sun to rise. We had a very short clearing as the clouds coming from the forest rise up and everything went cloudy. After that we immediately took our breakfast and head out to Mount Lumot.
From Sumagaya summit we descended to the horrific downhill. It was really steep. One wrong move will be the end of the story. Doing haste in this trail is not advisable as it also harm the people below you if ever someone will slipped off from above.
The trail become mor tougher as the rained started drizzled upon us. It took us almost three hours descending from the steep mountain of Mount Lumot. As we reach the flat land we decide to grab our lunch and galvanise ourselves as we will be entering a different trail from Mount Sumagaya.
As we finish our last bite for lunch and sip enough water, we resume our climb. And yes, it was totally different trail. Being cautious and careful in the trail is advisable as we don't know the surface of each trail. Some trails are firm and some trails are soft that will swallow your half body down.
It is also not safe to speed up as the Mount Lumot is a tricky mountain as many climbers and mountaineers perse, they mentioned the wooden spirits or forest spirit might play at you. So it's really better to have buddy system in your team. It took us almost four hours to reach the forest summit and rain is really abundant in this place which made the forest more mossy than ever. We quickly unpack our backs as the temperatures is already dropping at the alarming rate and we are all soaking wet both sweat and rain water which make us prone to hypothermia.
Some of the climbers are experiencing altitude sickness. And some are really dead exhausted after experiencing ninja warrior kind of acrobats to cross the summit.
We pitch our tents. Went inside and gradually started cooking for dinner. Everyone was really drain from th different paths each has to overcome. The group rested in the nearby stream as the rest of the areas have limited space to accommodate tents.
The local guide, forest rangers and eco warriors doesn't promote or advocate doing hammocking in the forest as it disrupt the balance of the habitat and ecosystem in the forest.
We went to sleep early as we all are really tired and the rain keep on pouring outside. Around 8PM the temperature drop around 7-6 degree celsius and it was really difficult to most of us particularly those who have limited insulation in their tents and sleeping bags.
We immediately inform everyone to make use of their trashbags as improvise insulator to maintain their core body heat. And it really help us survive the night in Mount Lumot.
The cold morning woke us up. We tried to cook breakfast within the reach of our tent as the severing cold freeze every fiber of our muscles. Lucky hot coffee and sumptuous breakfast boosted our energy and bring out the heat in us to move and prepare to pack lunch. It was really difficult to pack out our tents because its really wet and because our tent is soak in water it's weight increase in several times making our bags pretty much heavy.
It was really an arduous descend from the perilous cliff and sharp edge of the mountain as we traverse to mount Balatucan. Plus the slippery and muddy trail going down the mount Lumot.
Going down from Mount Lumot is really back and knee breaking particularly you are carry a heavy bag soak with rain water. It really stain your shoulder and hips if you have belt straps.
Luckily we stop at the river side for our lunch had a quick rest to energize ourselves as we continue to river trek for two to three hours before ascending to the steep assault and mossy slope of Mount Balatucan which is our last mountain to conquer in the trilogy climb.
River trekking is fun but one careless move can sweep you off the way to the strong currents and drag you the deep part of the river. Rivers are also mysterious as they easily increase its water levels without warning. Fortunately, most of us reach the ascending part of Mount Balatucan before the heavy rain pour down to us which is really scary as the water level drastically overflow in the river banks.
We ascended to the Mount Balatucan in the Rosas Pandan campsite with heavy foot. Every step was really a tremendous effort as most of our body are already aching from the heavy load we are carrying, plus the difficult and technical trails that are life threatening if not being cautious and we are undertaking complex trails which make it excruciating for heavy backpack as most of the trails are small and hollow as roots and veins dominated the forest.
Bruises, cuts, swollen foot, knees and ankles are visible to many of the group. But we do continue to push on. We were not able to unleash our DSLR camera as the heavy rain hinder us from doing so.
Only our eyes feast the majestic beauty of the mossy forest and its unique flora and fauna. We reach the camp site drain and exhausted but filled with laughter from jokes and humours from sliding and butt pumping in the ground.
We immediately deploy our tents, taking advantage of the remaining light in the sky and the slow pace of the rain. Everyone went inside as the rain gradually roaring once again and the temperature is slowly dropping.
We tried to spend outside the tent to celebrate in the summit our success despite numerous life threatening encounters. We are still blessed as a whole team. We cook our remaining food and set aside for breakfast and pack lunch. We was a small feast for us.
It was a night of sharing, exchanging life turning experience. We informally discuss our difficulties and challenges in the trail and exchange tips and information of how to improve for the future climbs. It was one of the best night for the group. From strangers we all became good friends.
We decided to give ourselflves a good rest as we prepare for the descend of Mount Balatucan. The summit peak comfort our weary body, the music of the insects became our melody and music, and slowly cast its spell to us and put us all into sleep.
The dawn slowly peak in the thick summit forest of Mount Balatucan. We all decided to prepare our breakfast as well as our pack lunch.
The beautiful music from the birds serenade us and put us all in hype. Pack with good energy. We decide to descend slowly and securely as descending to Mount Balatucan is known for injuring several locals and climbers like us.
As they summiting is an option but safety is a must. We must safeguard our security and safety as we still have a long way to go. And true to its name a couple of the climbers ahead of us got lost.
The few locals and guides search for them. It the search and rescue almost two hours to find the lost group of climbers. All of them were safe but have some injuries on their ankles.
I volunteer to carry the packs of those injuried and proceed descending the moment in a very slow pace for safety purposes and also the heaviness of the packs plus we are bathing the severe rain.
It was a battle of physical limits and sheer will. It was a battle of inner strength and body boundaries struggling to take another step. We reach the first village late night lucky the farmers are still busy feeding their cattle saw us and immediately came to rescue the injuried. Some local kids help me out with the triple packs I'm carrying.
We were saved by the locals. They immediately taken care of the injured and weary climbers. They immediately seek assistance to the local government unit. The barangay nurse and disaster team aided the other climbers.
For me, It was almost like I'm in the brink of hypothermia for being expose to cold wind gust and soaking wet in heavy rain. Even my rain gear was outmatch by nature. Truly an intense and extreme kind of experience.
It was truly a life lesson for everyone particularly to me. All this injuries, cuts, bruises and dead nail toes are living reminders how tough this three peaks are. They will remain one of the toughest climb I ever encountered.
Below are the photos of my expedition to the three peaks.
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time reading this post of mine hope it gives you an insights of my personal experience venturing this three summit King's of Misamis Oriental.
If you like this post, please visit the upvote button and give some love. This is @uwanderer saying, see you all to our next adventure. Take care and stay safe.
I also wish to thank the following individuals who continues to inspire me in writing, journaling and documenting my journey, insights and experiences.
Thanks for this beautiful bunch of people.