A Land of Blood Leeches

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Two days before the hike, I went to the fire exit of my work, and sobbed. I was joining an organization and the mountain I was assigned to was a mountain famous for its blood leeches. We call them Limatik.

I went through extensive reading for those days before the hike. I wanted to back out. But I was already assigned group equipment and I can’t leave them hanging. I wish I did.

Limatiks are fairly harmless, they say. These small things just suck your blood, go to your soft tissues (read: eyes), and in one story, inside the penis. So no, I don’t think they are harmless.

I can go on and on about limatik. Because they are my biggest fear in the world. But let’s move on. No pictures btw, because I was so focused on checking my face for limatiks.

Technicalities in PinoyMountaineer’s site.

Transportation

Unfortunately, I was part of an organized hike, so I can’t help you. All I remember is that we met at a terminal in Cubao at 4am.

The Hike

The start of the hike is a very lush vegetation, so lush our guide had to use a bolo knife to cut through. Trail was fairly steep but tolerable.

Around 11am we reached the lunch at Melkas Ridge Campsite, took a quick nap and started hiking again. The fairly steep became a lot steeper  that bulk of the trail had ropes serving as handrails.

Reaching the Melkas Ridge, I think, is one of the biggest challenges. The rope segments are for rocks a couple of meters high at around 80 degrees. Minimal footholds too, and with my 20kg-ish load, is extremely difficult.

When we reached the second leg of the rope segments, the guides took my pack because they said there was no way I can climb those rocks with my load. They were right. So they took my pack, and up I went.

The final leg of the rope segment had three ropes where you have to transfer to another rope in the middle of the climb. This is the part that you are almost at the side of the cliff, and one slip means a sure injury. At one point I almost slipped, hit the rocks, jarred my brain and almost cried.

The rope segment of Mt. Makiling became the standard against which I measure all rope segments. If it’s more difficult, chances are I’d just decline the hike. Haha.

The Melkas Ridge has the most beautiful view of the entirety of Makiling. But I did not enjoy it because I was stopping myself from crying, my legs were shaking, and there were people behind me. So forward I went.

We then reach Peak 2, where I think one mountaineer (who had climbed Mt. Everest) shot himself in the head. But I digress. A couple of minutes’ rest, then we left Peak 2 to go to Peak 1 (the summit).

And this is where my hell began.

This part of the mountain is so rich. While walking, the clouds at times come in and fills the forest with white. And while walking, every step you take, a limatik latches on. You can see them digging, trying to find skin. For the first and only time in my hiking life, I wanted to go back.

I practically ran through the mountain, not minding all the scrapes and bruises I get after slipping and falling. I just had to leave that area. Based on my research, it is the trail between Peak 2 and Peak 1 that is teeming with limatik, and so I powered through.

We reached the summit, and there’s no view, just a big tree being monitored for experiments of students in UPLB.

We went down, some touched lipa (poison ivy) on the way, and we camped. The most uncomfortable camp, because there is still limatik everywhere. Not as prevalent in the Peak 2-Peak 1 trail, but enough to make their presence felt.

The next day, we packed and went home.

Budget

Sorry, this was an organized hike so I don’t know the breakdown. I paid less than Php1,000 for this.

Tips

  1. Be fully covered. Extensive vegetation of the mountain and the fauna makes it ideal to be fully covered. And I mean no skin showing even above your socks.
  2. Bring spray on alcohol. One spray and the limatik freezes and releases.
  3. They said detergents are good. Not sure though, plus it’s probably not good for the environment.

 

 

 

 

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