Last weekend was a rainy weekend even in Kayapa Benguet where the second and third highest mountains in Luzon, Mt. Timbak and Mt. Tabayok, respectively are located. This climb is part of the training of Metropolitan Batch 2019 in organizing climbs. This was originally scheduled on August 24-25, 2019. But since, Mts Timbak and Tabayok belong to the Mt. Pulag reserve, they were as well included in the closure because of bad weather on August 24-25. This is the second consecutive year that our open climb for Timbak-Tabayok was cancelled. One of our founders suggested to push it through the following week so that the jinx will go away.
So, on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 10:30 PM, we rode a bus to Baguio. Enrico Sanchez, Jerry Escosio, Long Henson, RC Abeleda, Mar Alrey Jumarang, myself, Paolo Valera, Carol Nalog, Mar Lalaguna and our two guests Joemar Patubo. Joshua Laron met us up in Baguio. We arrived in Baguio around 5 am then we transferred to a van that brought us to our first stopover at a restaurant for breakfast and to buy our packed lunch. Then directly to the jumpoff for Mt. Timbak.
Mt. Timbak was a very short trek. 30 minute or so trek we were on the summit. Before the summit, we passed by a store that sold basi, or rice wine. We took a rest and then proceeded to the summit. But since it was raining, there was no clearing. But there were a very brief period when the clouds disappeared and showed us the surrounding mountains.
After the group and individual photos, we went down. We bought four bottles of basi from the store and discussed among ourselves where we can buy more alcoholic drinks since the basi would not surely get us drunk. My nonwaterproof jacket was already wet. Underneath it was also my non waterproof jacket to fight the cold in Benguet. So, they were all wet.
We proceeded to the four lakes namely: Tabayo, Ambulalakao, Letep Ngapoh, and Ingkulos. The DENR office where we had our briefing was beside lake Tabayo.
On the way to the DENR Office, we went panic buying. In my bag was a 750 ml whiskey, two litters of Pepsi. Now, I had two bottles of basi also. Plus two carried by someone in our group. That amount of alcohol would leave us wanting even more and there was no place to buy there in our campsite, according to some stories. So, we bought enough alcohol to get half of the barangay population drunk.
Our contact Santiago “Santi” Ballagan found us a house to stay. After the briefing, we went to the house. We were assigned to the second floor of the house. Laid out our sleeping pads. As for me, I pitched my tent, and the alcoholic drinks we bought along the way, we gathered them on the table. They were so many I had a picture with them. We had our lunch prepared by Santi. At 1 pm, we rode the van again and we were dropped off beside the road and started trekking towards the second lake, Ambulalakao. Then to the third, Letep Ngapoh, and finally in lake Inkulos. You can’t really find any body of water in lake Inkulos. But the ground there moves as if it were floating on water. From Inkulos, we passed by the summit of Jr Pulag which is over 2,500 masl. Then we trekked down until we reached the paved road. Then we walked again back to our house.
There were so many alcoholic drinks we were sure we could not consume them all. So, we started giving some to Santi who distributed them to the house owner, Saldo Walkin.
I pitched my tent as extra cover for the cold. My two jackets were wet. I only had two dry tshirts and a rain coat. The night was getting cold. I entered my tent, wore my rain coat and slithered to my sleeping bag. I did not have a good night sleep. It was really so cold.
I was not the only one who felt cold that night because when Carol and Mar started cooking for our breakfast at around 4 am, almost everyone woke up. I put my hands around the burner because I was shivering. They cooked us choriso, scrumbled egg with mayonaise and dilis plus rice for breakfast.
At 6 am, we left for the DENR office near Tabayo lake for a warm up before the hike to the second highest mountain in Luzon, Mt. Tabayok. We were surprised to find two tents pitched by the lake. Nevertheless, we still had our stretching led by Carol, then off we went to climb Mt. Tabayok.
It rained once again. And my nonwater proof jacket went functioning as it should. I was wet and cold. I felt so miserable. But I had to reach the summit.
When finally, we reached the summit, Al noticed my uncontrollable shivering. We had our individual picture taken on the view deck: RC, Al, Jerry, and I. Then we looked for a place that was hidden from the wind. I ate what remained of my trek food. Al gave me few pieces of jelly ace and a bar of chocolate. When, my shivering continued, he suggested I went ahead back to our house. Which I did.
The colder I felt, the faster I walked. I fell twice, slid about 3 times, and nearly broke my wrist when my trekking pole was trapped between roots when I slid.
But at 10:30 am I was already in our house. I took a batch. Change into dry clothes and clothes for travel back to Manila. I asked Santi who was on the first floor if he had an extra slipper I could buy. He pointed me to an orange painted store across the field near the DENR office where I bought 150 worth of slippers. When I returned, Santi invited me downstairs for coffee. I showed him my picture at the summit. He was surprised because he thought I did not reach the summit. I asked him if there are climbers every week in Tabayok. He said, not weekly yet. No wonder, the forest is pristine still.
Before 12 pm, everyone was back, took a bath and packed our things in preparation to leave for Baguio 4 hours by van away.
By 12 pm, Santi brought pinikpikan and rice which we all devoured. After lunch and everyone had packed our things, we huddled into a circle for a post climb.
We had our farewell picture by the stairs of the house before climbing the van that brought us to a bus terminal in Baguio for Manila.