MT. PAMITINAN: Ain’t An Easy Peasy Hike Along Limestone Karst



BASIC INFO

Name: Mt. Pamitinan
Elevation: 426+ MASL
Location: Rodriguez, Rizal (previously Montalban)
Major Jump Off: Sitio Wawa, Brgy. San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal
Difficulty: 3/9 (Pinoy Mountaineer)
Features: Steep trails. Limestone cliffs. Panoramic View of the other karst mountains in Montalban/Rodriguez

Rizal Province is easily the playground of both seasoned and newbie hikers who are looking for a quick fix of the outdoor as it is just an hour of drive from the busy capital and a great portion of the marvelous Sierra Madre is within its vicinity. Just recently 10 or so mountains in Rizal opened its doors to hiking enthusiasts adding to the impeccable selection of hiking destinations in the province. But despite the emergence of new, off-beaten and beautiful trails, still nothing comes close to one of the all-time favorites in this side of the bush, the karst mountains in Rodriguez (Montalban) which promise not just a panoramic view at their summits but also a physical challenge that would make the hike all worth it. One of these Montalban favorites is Mt. Pamitinan which is one of the trio in Sitio Wawa with Mts. Binacayan and Hapunang Banoi as the other two. These three also share Wawa Dam as the must see chill side trip come the end of a back-breaking hike.


THE CLIMB


I was slightly suffocating as I tried to summon what remained of my strength while struggling to last the descent to the junction where water, food, comfort and my hiking buddies await. I can still clearly recall in my head that just a good 30 minutes ago I was still grinning from ear to ear while I relished the warmth of the morning sunshine, basking at the magnificent view of this mountain’s summit and smiling without fail to every click our guide made on our camera. This moment however felt like I’m in the burning fires of hell with my neck strangled and my feet clad in iron limiting my movement. I was starving, thirsty, too tired and almost in the brink of giving up all at the same time. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of a hearty conversation the minute I reunite with my buddies where I can let this torturing pain I had endured for quite a while now vanish in the mist of our laughter.

Mt. Pamitinan was surprisingly challenging. Its trails of straightforward assault along soft earth emblazoned with rocks hit me hard in the gut as I have expected it to be an easy hike. I had not done any research nor had I made time to read me some blogs on what to expect during the climb. I was holding on to the idea I was told that this is only going to be an hour hike to the summit which got me thinking this was going to be a peice of cake. Never have I imagined it will challenge me to lengths I could no longer fathom. Perhaps it was not just this mountain’s seemingly insurmountable challenge that was wearing me down but the fact that it far exceeded my expectations which totally caught me unguarded and unprepared. Underestimating Mt. Pamitinan was my greatest failure and I had come to realize that in the most difficult way possible. I don’t normally fall for that mistake but when I did, Mother Nature just had her way to punish me good.

The past 30 minutes I had spent during the descent felt like the longest I’ve ever been in a mountain. Kuya Ronnie our guide kept telling me we were only 15 minutes away to the junction but he’s probably have said 15 minutes 20 times and still our destination was nowhere in sight. He offered me his water bottle as he urged me to take a breather for a minute. The thought of cold water as it flows down my throat relieving me of that punishing thirst was so tempting but I refused to deny this kind man that comfort he has brought for himself just to satisfy mine. I politely declined the offer and he was quick to put the water back to his bag. Guess, he knew how painful it must be for me to see him drink from that bottle. Geez… So how did I get myself into this whole messed up thing again?

Past midnight today, I recalled myself standing in front of Jollibee in Farmers Cubao QC while we wait for Marie and Ryan. At 2:30 AM, we arrived in Eastwood Subdivision where Poleng and Julius await in front of a Ministop Branch. At 3:00 AM we rode a tricycle to Sitio Wawa where we arrived just after 10 minutes of journeying along a pitch black highway. The DENR registration area was still closed and won’t open until 4:30 AM. Our plan was to start off early to be at the summit before sunrise where we can witness the ever coveted sea of clouds. Well, this turns out to be the first consequence of not doing any research prior to the hike. We stayed in the receiving area for almost an hour where I took a nap. At exactly 4:30 AM, the registration area opened and off we went to register and start with our adventure.

We were the first group to jump-start for the day. After sending our prayers to the heavens above, we started tracing the roads leading to the foot of Mt. Pamitinan. First 2 minutes was along a concrete road, then we turned left, into a space between residential houses that led to the hanging bridge. The hanging bridge stretches to about 50 meters. After passing the hanging bridge we then took another left and few steps away took a left to climb a concrete ladder. I guess we took 15 minutes to finish the climb along the concrete ladder then went to continue the hike along an ascending concrete footpath and at the end of it we crossed a stream to the first muddy encounter of our day. This was where the straightforward muddy trail with a touch of rocks and boulders began.

We took another 10 minutes to reach the first resting camp. After 5 minutes of catching our breaths, we head on to take the assault. Another 15 minutes and we reached the 2nd resting camp. We took a breather a little longer than the usual 5 minutes. We resumed the hike and another 15 minutes passed, we reached the 3rd resting camp. We spent another 15 minutes to catch our breaths and to let Ian do me his bullying antics. If you wonder why our in between breathers had taken longer than five (5), I don’t know. It must be the trail getting steeper with every ascent taking wider steps up as we inch closer to the top.

It was 5:30 AM when we left the 3rd resting camp. The muddy trail continued but this time rocks and boulders have dominated most of the scene until that spot when they finally took over. Ten (10) minutes before reaching the junction, all I can see was rocks with the greens trying to vie their way through them. At last we were at the junction 20 minutes from the time we left the 3rd resting camp. The sun was slowly making its presence felt shedding us its warmth and lighting everything in sight.

Note: Junction is the resting camp where the trail is broken into 2. The left leads to Hapunang Banoi and the right is to Mt. Pamitinan Summit. 

Without further ado, we went on to start the assault to the summit. We left our bags along with our snacks and trail water in the care of one local vendor. We were told it was just going to take us another 30 minutes to reach the summit. Little did I know, the real challenge was yet to reveal itself to us. The assault was along limestone rocks. Some of them have pointed edges. We were literally walking along pointed rocks and when I was at that point where my knees fail me and they were about to turn jelly on me, I was scrambling through those rocks instead. It was grueling and challenging but I was enjoying it. It completely caught me off-guard but at that time I was still too ecstatic to be worrying about anything. Halfway through the summit, the gorgeous sea of clouds finally revealed itself. It was such a marvelous sight to behold which made me fall in love in an instance.

We took photos everywhere. Everything we saw was snap worthy. What should have been a 30 minute assault to the summit took us almost an hour. We reached Peak 1 at 7:00 AM where we waited for the other groups to finish with their death defying shenanigans. We went through our own photo ops and continued the assault to the other peak. At Peak 2 we waited for the other groups to finish with their photo shoots before starting the final assault to the summit.

Exactly 25 minutes from the time we arrived at the foot of Peak 2, we started the final assault which in my opinion was the most difficult that day as you need to rappel your way up using a thick rope. The rappel stretches to about 10 feet and was placed in the gape between two limestone boulders. My very struggle was pulling myself up mainly relying on the rope as I could barely carry my weight. Instead of merely pulling myself up using the rope, I used my other hand to grab me some steady rock to aid my ascent. It was painful to my hands but that was the only option I had unless I would skip this part of the climb just like missing Pico De Loro’s monolith before. After 2 minutes of painstaking assault to the final leg of this day’s hike, I finally set foot on the highest spot of Mt. Pamitinan.

The 360 view of Montalban was nothing short of beautiful with Wawa River snaking through the luscious greens around. I can see the other peaks of the trio also filled with happy souls doing themselves their photo shoots. It was just a little passed the hour of 8:00 and judging by the looks of it, it seemed like we can still continue the fun to the nearby Hapunang Banoi. I was struggling with my every step as I haven’t fully overcome my fear of heights and my knees were trembling like hell. Looking down made me sick almost making me faint but it didn’t really matter as I was once again atop a magnificent peak enjoying the joyous moment after quite an unimaginable struggle.

Sitting uncomfortably in one of the rocks, I let out a chuckle as I recall everything that happened so far. Not one instance will I regret everything I had been through from the moment we left our house in Biñan down to this very minute when I question what am I even doing to myself?! This experience definitely taught me a lot of things most importantly how worst of an idea is to leave my trail water!

Kuya Ronnie once again urged me to get up and continue the hike. His word of encouragement, “15 minutes na lang. Pramis!” With all the things that’s wearing me down, my aching toes were the most unbearable! The pain it sent throughout my body with every careful step I took was excruciating! Man, I can go on for few more hours not drinking water but my freaking toes! There is no helping it. Oh well. God must have heard my cry as a few minutes after we resumed the descent, I can already hear faint voices and from the distance were the roofs of the resting camps in the Junction. I looked all smiles at Kuya Ronnie. He wasn’t such a liar after all.

As soon as I reached the junction, my buddies cheered me up and offered me a bottle of cold water. Believe me! I’m usually not a regular water drinker but at that moment, water was my favorite drink in the world!

The final descent from the junction to the jump off took place a little passed the hour of 10:00 AM. We were supposed to descend directly to Wawa Dam but we figured we wanted to fill our tummies first with a decent meal for lunch. Going down was still tiring and my toes were still bothering me but I tried real hard to endure the pain as I was looking forward to ridding my feet off my shoes once this was over. Kuya Ronnie was also there assisting me in all ways possible so it wasn’t as if I was on my own. I actually hate being tagged as the weakest link during any climb but guess part of the reason why I haven’t gotten better after hiking several mountains was my continuous denial of my limitations. I know I will be better someday cause I need to but for now, I have to learn to embrace my abilities and learn to be better as I go on surviving many more formidable mountains.





TRAVEL TIPS AND OTHER INFORMATION


  • Transportation service to Rodriguez/Montalban, Rizal is available 24/7 in Cubao in front of Jolibee Farmers Plaza branch or in front of Gateway Mall. Fare is P50 per person.
  • Tricycle service to Sitio Wawa is available 24/7 and cost P60 for 3 people.
  • DENR Office in Sitio Wawa doesn’t open until 4:30 AM and hikers are not allowed entry to the trails unless they have made prior arrangements with the officials. Reservations are required to those going to hike 5-6 mountains in a day which needs to be started prior to 4:30 AM.
  • The mountains of Rizal has one of the most scenic views of the early morning sun with the dreamy clouds filling up the horizon. Prior notification to the DENR office in Brgy. Wawa is needed to start of the hike early to witness the sea of clouds.
  • Bring gloves and/or any hand protection gear. You’ll need it to navigate through sharp limestone rocks when you assault to the summit.
  • Please wear shoes since trekking sandals might not give enough support for your feet during the hike along limestone rocks.
  • There are gloves sold in front of DENR registration for P50/pair.
  • Guide Fee is P500 for 5 people in a group for each mountain. If you are to hike all 3 within the day, some guides would ask you to pay P1500 but there are some who would kindly consider a lower payment.
  • As the common rule, please observe the LNT Principles. Bring trash bags with you and dispose them upon getting back in the city. The locals of Sitio Wawa has no proper waste disposal facility at the moment so it will be helpful if we won’t add to the trash they would need to carefully dispose of.
  • Wawa Dam is a quick 10 minute walk from the registration area.

HOW TO GO THERE


Ride a UV Express in front of Gateway Mall Cubao in QC and alight in Eastwood Subdivision in front of the Ministop branch. Fare is P50. From there, ride a tricycle to Sitio Wawa and alight at the DENR Registration area. Fare is P60/trike/way.


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, ITINERARY AND OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSESRT Fare Van Cubao-Eastwood > P100
RT Fare Tricycle Eastwood-Sitio Wawa @ P60/3 > P40
Registration Fee > P30
Guide Fee @ P600/6 > P100
Snacks > P50
Lunch > P150

TOTAL <<>> P470
SAMPLE ITINERARY0230 Meet Up Jollibee Cubao Farmers Plaza
0300 ETD Eastwood
0400 Ministop Eastwood. Ride Trike to Brgy. Wawa
0415 ETA Brgy. Wawa
0430 Register
0445 Start Hike
0530 Junction. Rest.
0545 Assault to Summit
0615 Peak 1. Photo Ops
0645 Peak 2. Photo Ops
0700 Start Descent
0830 Back to Jump Off. Wash Up
0900 Breakfast
1000 Wawa Dam. Chill. Photos Ops.
1200 Lunch
1300 Start Trek Karugo Falls
1400 Karugo Falls. Chill Photo Ops
1600 Pack Up. Trek to Jump Off
1700 Jump Off. Log Out. Head Home
1900 Home




THINGS TO BRING-2L Water
-Trail Snacks
-Packed Lunch
-First Aid Kit with personal medication
-Extra Clothes
-Gloves
-Sunblock
-Toiletries
-Garbage Bag
CONTACT NUMBERSBrgy. Wawa DENR Office:

Guide:
Kuya Ronnie - 09072395042

FUN MEMORIES



There you have it folks. I hope you enjoy my narrative of our Mt. Pamitinan hike as much as I had fun recalling what I had been through and writing about it. If you have questions, please leave them on the comments box below. And Please… Make reading a habit. I didn’t spend a day or two editing and revising this post to make it as informative as it possibly can just so you could drop by and simply ask me questions without reading a single thing. Not trying to be difficult at all. It’s for your own sake actually. You’ll see.

Moving on. This hike in Mt, Pamitinan is just the beginning of many more hikes in this side of Rizal Province. If I haven’t told you yet but I actually swore not to hike any mountains in Rizal anymore after our disastrous Mt. Sapari hike but there’s just no resisting the beauty of Sierra Madre.

Share me your thoughts or be awesome and share this post.. Until next time. Ciao 🙂

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