It was for the pleasure of seeing a glorious sunrise that I climbed Mt. Kitanglad (2899 MASL) the fourth highest mountain in the Philippines, last January 2, 2011.
This mountain is part of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park which covers 47,270 hectares of dense forests and 4 other peaks (Mt. Dulang-Dulang, Mt. Maagnaw, Mt. Lumuluyaw and Mt. Tuminungan), one city and seven municipalities in the province of Bukidnon in Southern Philippines.
I would have climbed alone but Herbert, my mountaineering mentor, strongly advised against it. Mt. Kitanglad according to him, is a technical climb and that means I must have a buddy with me at the very least. I then asked Alquine, my former college professor who is also an experienced mountaineer and a hardcore backpacker, if he would like to join me in my madness. Thankfully, he agreed even on such short notice.
The weather before our climb was not encouraging at all. I remember that it often rained hard during the last few days of December 2010. Based on the PAGASA forecast that time, the heavy downpours would continue up to the first few days of January.
And true enough, it was raining most of the time during that Sunday. What made matters more interesting are the strong howling winds. I thought we were in the middle of a storm but our guide assured me somehow that he’s been through worse than what we witnessed that afternoon.
Despite our wet and slippery ascent, the Intavas trail was quite manageable and straightforward. All one has to do is to follow the electric lines from the highway all the way up to the peak. These provide the power needed to operate the different broadcast and telecommunications base stations that crowded at the peak’s small clearing.
It was also helpful that there are 13 steel ladders installed especially in very steep inclines. There are also a handful of water stations along the trail and flat areas where one may take a rest or camp out for the night.
I must confess that I struggled hard in climbing Mt. Kitanglad. I can only blame myself as I never had any form of exercise before the climb. When we were already near the summit, my leg muscles ached so bad that I had to stop every now and then just to gather enough energy to move a few steps further.
We arrived at the PAMB (Protected Area Management Board) bunkhouse at around 5:20 PM. The wind and the rain were still relentless even at this hour but the concrete structure, complete with a functional kitchen and toilet, provided us protection and convenience at this elevation. It also had bunk beds with retractable covers and individual light bulbs which gave us the warmth from the biting cold outside.
There was no sunrise the following day as thick clouds engulfed us at the peak. Although I did not get what I came for, I am still very grateful for God’s grace and strength, for the few people who knew about this trek and prayed for my safe return, and for the assistance of my companions. These, along with a cheesy Miley Cyrus ballad, kept me going despite the unfavorable circumstances.
It is not then so much about how fast in getting to the top or what is waiting on the other side. Trite as it may sound – the journey is indeed more important and even more enjoyable than the actual destination.
In the case of the rainy Kitanglad afternoon, the trek itself is far more rewarding than making it to the summit. This perspective rubbed off somehow in all my adventures and misadventures back in 2011 and even to this day.
And for that alone, I would treasure our unforgettable rainy trek to Mt. Kitanglad.
For updated information on fees (guide, porter, lodging and climbing permit), please contact Kagawad Walter Galasanay through his mobile phone: +639196755019. The Sitio Intavas intersection (top photo) is around 1.5 hours away by bus from Cagayan de Oro City. A habal-habal (motorcyle) would take you to Kagawad Walter’s house or to the jump-off.