Weekend Escapades: Climbing Mt. Kalisungan and Soaking in Bunga Falls
July 1, 2015
Hi! It has been a while since my last hike and last week, I felt the need to climb one again to replenish my “happy fuel”. Thankfully, my friend, Robin, was willing to organize the itinerary for a day hike.
I suggested several mountains to Robin and he picked Mt. Kalisungan out of all of them. Upon further research, I found out that this mountain is historical because apparently, this was where the Japanese had their last stand towards the end of World War II. The photos I saw online also helped manage my expectations but of course, the actual experience of climbing it was still unexpected. To be honest, this mountain is, by far, the most challenging and the same time, most humbling.
Location: Calauan, Laguna
Height: 760 MASL
Trek to Summit: 2.5 – 3 hours
Before anything else, let me first share the itinerary we followed going to Mt. Kalisungan and Bunga Falls and back to Manila:
Total Expenses: Php475.50 (Excluding Food)
* Note that we were a group of 10 hikers
As soon as the itinerary was made, it was time for me and Robin to invite friends go with us. I decided to invite my friend, Issa (you might remember her from my trip to Burot Beach last month) because we had hike plans that were long overdue.
We all decided to meet up in McDonald’s Gil Puyat (near the LRT station) at around 5:30am. After a quick breakfast, we headed straight to the bus going to Sta. Rosa which left at around 7:00am. We got off at duck junction at around 8:30am and rode a tricycle to Brgy. Lamot. (Trivia: The duck junction is literally a junction with big statues of ducks)
As soon as we were finished with the registration, we got a guide (Mang Bino) and proceeded to the jump off point.
The trail starts relatively easy with little to no uphill portions. Deeper into the trail; however, one should be prepared to encounter dense foliage. This makes some parts of the trail difficult to follow so caution should be observed all throughout the hike.
And because of the deep foliage, I strongly suggest wearing clothes that will cover the legs and arms. I was in long sleeves but was not in full tights so the lower parts of my legs look like they went to war. I’m not kidding. Early into the climb, my legs already had several bleeding cuts and I cannot remember how many band aids I had to ask from my friend, Jennie. But of course, the covered parts of my legs and arms were left unscathed.
It gets all uphill after passing through the first part of the trail. And by all uphill, I mean, there won’t be any more plains after the first part. The all uphill climb somewhat reminded me of my experience in Mt. Maculot but the trek in Mt. Kalisungan is longer and I liked the challenge! I was so excited to climb that even though I was sweating profusely, I did not feel tired at all. It also helped that I was listening to upbeat music while hiking (speakers courtesy of Issa).
What’s different about this mountain is that it has no regular campsites where hikers can rest, so whenever we felt the need to re-hydrate, we would just stop in the middle of the (inclined) trail.
It was sunny that day but for some reason, the ground was moist thereby making the way muddy and slippery. Winds were rarely present as well so the heat of the sun was more piercing. At one point, mang Bino had to stop because he got dizzy from the heat and he permitted us to go ahead and just follow the trail. There was even a time when I was the one in front so I really had to pay attention on where I was going because I could not afford to lead the group somewhere else now, could I? Lol.
And because we were a big group, there were times when we would shout each others’ names just to make sure we were not lost. I remember being alone in the trail for some time with no one in sight both in front and behind me. When I realized this, I began calling for my friends but to no avail so I just kept moving forward. Being alone in the trail made me reflect on a lot of things in life which I won’t enumerate in this post. Lol.
After two hours of hiking, we finally reached the only “campsite”. According to mang Bino, there are people who sell food and drinks there but on the day we hiked, the vendors were on a day off. Bummer.
From the campsite, it will take about 25min to reach the summit. But do not be fooled because the last 25min is the most difficult part of the climb. Aside from it being the steepest part of the trail, it is also the hottest because of the absence of trees that block the sunlight. And because mang Bino was still dizzy from the heat, he decided to just wait for us at the campsite.
We were rewarded with a vast grassland as soon as we reached the summit marked by a wooden cross. Finally, a plain! The only downside to this is the tremendous amount of heat. Good thing some of my friends brought umbrellas for shade!
The most striking view from the summit would probably be the famous seven lakes of Laguna. Some nearby mountains can also be seen from here such as Mt. Makiling, Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Cristobal, Mt. Atimla and Mt. Tagapo.
There were a total of four groups who hiked that day. We encountered one group in the campsite and the other one in the summit. And because of the scorching heat of the sun, the other group was quick to descend. We took our time taking photos before finally deciding to start our descend (12:30PM).
We met mang Bino back in the campsite and he asked us which route we would like to take for our descent – the steep but short (route we took going up) or the gradual but long. We all decided to take the gradual but long route mainly because we wanted to explore another part of the mountain. And because the trail was also muddy and slippery, I think we made a good choice in taking the gradual route.
We kept hearing members of another group shouting because they were slipping so we took extra caution in descending. During the descent, I, unfortunately, held onto a plant with hairlike thorns which pretty much gave me a painful case of splinters. 🙁 Because of this incident, I tried to descend without holding on to anything and just depended on my leg strength and balance. Soon enough, the pain in my right knee reemerged (because it still hasn’t healed completely) so I had to be extra careful not to put too much pressure on it even though I was wearing my knee support. Some parts of the trail are covered with tall grasses making it difficult to see the random rocks that made some of us trip so many times.
After roughly two and a half hours, we were back on the road where mang Bino’s house is located. He welcomed us to his home and gave us ice cold water to drink. Heaven! We also decided to eat our (very late) lunch there before riding the tricycle to Bunga Falls.
Side Trip to Bunga Falls:
What better thing to do after a long hike than to submerge in fresh water! I was not able to research this place so I did not know what to expect. I’m actually glad that I did not research because it made the feeling of seeing the place more wonderful.
It was my first time to see twin falls! According to the caretakers, the height of the falls is about 20-meters and it made me really tempted to jump. But because my right knee was hurting, I just chose to stay and take a video of the jumps of my other companions.
(Photos from Francis)
The cold, fresh water felt nice on my skin and I used this to wash off the dirt I got from the hike. And because it was fresh water, the cuts which I also got from the hike did not sting. The water immediately gets deep just a few meters away from the shore but fear not for there is an option to rent out floaters. We soaked for a while and got out of the water as soon as the skies grew dark.
On the tricycle back to the duck junction, heavy rain started to pour making all of us drenched…again. Lol. After alighting at duck junction, we ate something hot at a nearby convenience store before finally taking the bus going back to Manila.
Here’s a short video of our hike to Mt. Kalisungan and side trip to Bunga Falls:
The reason why the hike to Mt. Kalisungan has been the most challenging is not because of the assault but because of the “injuries” I got out from it. The assault itself is manageable but the conditions on that day made the hike, well, very memorable.
And so for those who plan to hike this mountain in the future, I leave you with these pointers:
1. Wear clothes that will cover your arms and legs
As I mentioned earlier in this post, the dense foliage will do the skin some damage if left uncovered.
2. Bring a cap and an umbrella, trekking pole (optional)
Must be ready for the weather conditions and it can get really hot at the summit with no trees to provide shade
3. Bring the essentials!
I brought 2.2L of water. Bring more depending on your consumption but I think the minimum should be 2L.
Trail food, packed lunch, medicine, band aid (very important in case of wounds), alcohol, camera, extra clothes, money
4. Be careful with the random rocks along the trail
I tripped so many times because I couldn’t see the trail which was covered with the tall grass. Tripping because of rocks will eventually hurt your toes. Lol
5. Be physically prepared
The climb is a bit long (much like Mt. Batulao) and the trail is mostly uphill (go legs go!)
7. Bring good companions
It makes the hiking experience better. 🙂
Mt. Kalisungan is a beautiful mountain that I’m glad to check off my bucket list. This trip would not have happened if not for our event organizer, Robin. Thanks!