Travel on a Budget - Mt. Maculot – Rockies-Summit-Grotto Traverse

Travel on a Budget - Mt. Maculot – Rockies-Summit-Grotto Traverse

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Location: Cuenca, Batangas City 
Major jump-off: Mountaineer’s Store, Brgy. 7 “Siete”, Cuenca
Exit point (traverse): Brgy. 5 (to Grotto), Cuenca
LLA: 13°55 N; 121°2 E; 706 MASL (Rockies) / 930 MASL (Summit) / 510 MASL (Grotto)
Days required: 1 day
Hours going to Rockies / Summit: 1-2 hrs. / 2-4 hrs. (Depending on your pacing)
Specs: Minor Climb
Difficulty: 3/9 (Rockies); 4/9 (Traverse)
Trail class: 1-3
Features: Scenic views of Taal Lake, rock formations, forests
Advisable day to hike: Weekdays - to avoid too much crowd

Mt. Maculot is one of the most famous hiking destinations nowadays because (1) it’s located at the heart of Batangas City where everyone could easily go anytime if they want to unwind, (2) it’s a place where adventure-seekers could challenge themselves due to its exciting trail, and (3) it will give you a rewarding view once you’re at the peaks where Taal Lake is most beautiful to be seen from. 

My friend, Mike Eyatid, invited me to join him and his friends, Dianne and Kuya Pipoy Quiño in their hike in Mt. Maculot. I also invited my bestfriend, Jenny Valderas and his nephew, Francois Sebastien Labita since we’ve been craving to see that famous mountain long before. Mike coordinated with the organizer in Mt. Maculot where we can join with other hikers who will also climb on our preferred date, February 3, 2018.

Tour Package: P650.00/ person

· Round trip private vehicle - (Cubao-Cuenca-Cubao)
· Barangay fee
· Local guide fee
· Driver’s fee and meal
· Bag tag
· Batangas’ special lomi

Things to Bring: 

· Backpack/ belt bag 
· Water (1-3L), Gatorade 
· Trail Foods 
· Packed lunch
· First Aid Kit 
· Medicines 
· Extra clothes 
· Gadgets
· Cap, Armsleeves, Umbrella, Sunblock  
· Raincoat, Rain cover 
· Flashlight/ headlight 
· Plastic bag 
· Personal things 

How to Get There:
Via private transportation, take the SLEX, then Star Tollway. Take the Lipa exit and head towards Cuenca via highway to the left. Turn right on a fork, and go straight to Cuenca Poblacion. Turn right upon reaching the market area. It is easy to ask around for where the Mountaineer’s Store is. Take note that there are two jump-offs, one for the Rockies and one for the Grotto. We took the jump-off going to the Rockies. 

Let the adventure begin! :)
First thing’s first: eat breakfast.

We ate our breakfast at the Mountaineer’s store so that we’ll have enough energy throughout the hike. We were also oriented about the do’s and don’ts in climbing. When everyone is ready and couldn’t store their excitement anymore, we started our climb at 5 in the morning where we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise at the trail. At first, there is a concrete road which was gradually ascending until its end. The trail became steeper as the assault gets nearer the campsite with stone rocks and roots protruding from the ground which was helpful and at the same time made the trail more challenging. You’ll see some resting camps along the trail where you could catch your breath for few minutes. And finally after hours of painstaking assault, we reached the campsite where we rested and ate our snacks.
The Rockies
From the campsite, we headed for the Rockies and in order to get to the top, we have to climb through boulders and to take extra care not to hit our heads as we struggle to get to a safe spot. Thanks to our caring local guides for protecting us. Since we went on a weekend where there are usually lots of hikers, we need to patiently wait for our chance to get our picturesque photo at the Rockies. While we wait for our time, we took some rest, eat, had some “me-time” and quality time with our friends and enjoy the stunning view of Taal Lake. Climbers must take extreme care and courage when having pictures at the Rockies because there was an incident before when a fellow mountaineer lost his balance and fell to his death 700 feet below. We traced the trail we had come from to get to the Rockies to get back to the campsite. From there, we ate our packed lunch - chicken adobo and rice, which Nanay Lucy prepared for us. 
Assault to the Summit
The trail to the summit is almost established with slippery, muddy and steep ascents and mostly covered by trees with overgrown grasses in both sides that stretch for at least 100 meters. It took about an hour or so to reach the Summit from the Rockies.

There were only few hikers present at the peak. We went through the obligatory summit photo ops and spent half an hour to meet, chat and laugh with other mountaineers before the rain pours.

Going down to Grotto 

The trail going down although a lot easier looked more forested with rattan and overgrown bushes obscuring the trail made it hard to identify which way to go. There were 2 parts where we had to use a rappel (a thick rope tied at the top) to go down with the 2nd rappel being longer. We didn’t stay too long at the Grotto. We spent just a few minutes to say a little prayer, get some photos taken, eat our snacks and gaze at the Cuenca’s area and summit for the last time. From the Grotto, we went down through a concrete ladder where there are Stations of the Cross that you’ll follow until you reach the end of the trail.  Finally, after almost 8 hours of trekking, climbing, and indulging with the beauty of Mt. Maculot, we were back to where we started. Several houses and stores offer cool showers for hikers after a hike up Mt. Maculot for a minimal fee.
One of the specialties of Batangas City is their special lomi which I believe every hikers of Mt. Maculot truly deserve!

There you go mountain lovers. Another mountain. Another amazing story. Another wonderful view. Keep on climbing. Stay happy and healthy.

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