Why does climbing a “new” mountain bring a different kind of rush to a hiker? Just when we thought we’ve discovered all peaks, trailblazers still keep discovering new peaks and paving new trails — just like in Mt. Lubog of Montalban, Rizal.
Mt. Lubog A Newly Opened Mountain
Mt. Lubog opened its peak to hikers around May 2015. The trail is surprisingly well-established, and there are available habal-habal trips and tour guides organized by the local government. Expect not much traffic in the mountain because it is yet be rediscovered by more hikers.
The 955 meters above sea level altitude of Mt. Lubog is hardly felt because of the high jump off point that are taken with a habal-habal — a local motor taxi that looks different in every region in the Philippines. With this climb, coordination with Brgy. Puray is key. It is best to schedule your climb early on because of the weak cellular signal at the top.
Encountering Rough Roads
The road remains unpaved, and the riders are accustomed to this, as they have provided transportation to communities at the top even before the opening of Mt. Lubog. A number of times, we had to get down to help push the habal-habal across the muddy patches or rocky grounds. We also had to tie our bags and watch out for a capsize
Which was impossible according to our very confident driver. It helped that he was a cheerful man, and that we saw the bone-jarring ride, as Socs put it, more as an adventure than a setback. Because, can I just say? Our Mt. Lubog 3×3 ride was more action-packed than that of Mt. Pinatubo‘s!
Illegal Logging Activities
Unfortunately, Mt. Lubog is being threatened by illegal logging. During our climb we would hear the echoes of chainsaws roaring and brief encounters with young men hauling logs on their back. We also came across habal-habals struggling to transport these logs below.
It rained shortly during our ascent, causing a cold and moist fog to descend in the forest of Mt. Lubog. It gave off a wonderful feel. But it also made the earth squishy and slip-prone. Good thing the densely forested areas provided some sort of traction, especially on the way down. Along the way we saw beautiful rock formations that served as landmarks.
Fog Amidst Limsetone
The climb to Mt. Lubog itself is easy and intuitive. There are no intensely inclined slopes or streams to cross, and only several boulders to scramble over. Along the way, there is Lubog Cave and a waterfall to explore, although the downpour prevented us from exploring them. After more than an hour of hiking, we stopped by the second set of benches and ate our lunch briefly, before the final assault.
The assault to the peak is mostly scrambling over rocks. No life-threatening cliffs or elaborate rock climbing per se, but wearing a pair of gloves definitely helps. The 10-minute scrambling opens to a garden of limestone rocks, which characterizes Mt. Lubog’s peak.
The view from the peak of Mt. Lubog was hindered by heavy fogging because of the rain. Good thing, the limestone exposures and the crevices were a sight to see. On a sunny weather, the vantage point looked much like Mt. Daraitan and Mt. Pamitinan — overlooking the emerald greens of the Sierra Madre mountain range stretching from every direction.
On our descent, our habal-habal drivers took us to a cliff with a better view of the Sierra Madre mountain range, after the fog has lifted. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this view. Mt. Lubog really reminded me of my “why” in climbing. It energizes me to see new things and to go back to the earth.
Thank you TravelCompassPH for this climb! Looking forward to climb the nearby yet-to-be-named mountain near Mt. Lubog.
With photos from Socs Melic and Maki Sanchez
How to commute to Mt. Lubog:
Meet at Farmer’s Market in Cubao to take the FX (PHP50.00). Get down at Total Gas Station in Montalban (Rodriguez), Rizal. Give a headsup to Brgy. Puray that you have arrived and stay at the nearby Brgy. San Rafael to wait. Note that this might include waiting time because signal atop the mountain is very weak. Take the habal-habal ride to Mt. Lubog once they arrive (PHP1,000 per ride that can fit four people). Entrance fee at the registration booth is PHP50.00 while a required tour guide fee is PHP400.00 per five people.
Contact numbers: Brgy Puray – 0928-464-7447
Estimated expenses: Minimum PHP500.00 per person
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