This hike is pretty close to home –literally. Mt. Manalmon is in the same town where I grew up. It is located at Sitio Madlum, under Brgy. Sibul’s jurisdiction where I graduated high school. Although I haven’t been to Manalmon before, it still feels like I’m within my home turf.
The event this time is a pretty big deal for the club I am in. It was organized not only for the members but was also opened to all employees who are ready to try out some basic hiking and caving activities. I believe there were more than 60 participants; quite a lot compared to our usual group of 20+.
First order of the day is registration with a quick orientation led by the trail guides. We were then divided into five groups to ensure safety and organization. Mt. Manalmon stands just below 200 meters above sea level, with established trails leading to the summit. This is perfect for large groups of beginners, just be mindful of the impact you’re bringing to the mountain: the lesser impact, the better for the environment.
It took maybe two hours or so for our big group to reach the summit, but I have no complaints as this gave me enough time to look around and chit-chat with friends. You’ll probably notice familiar faces from previous hikes. We have organically formed a clique, and I’m not sure who said it first but I’m sure it started on this trip, that we call ourselves Team Lakas. It’s basically because we are almost always present on every hiking expedition, kinda like a core group.
I obviously didn’t take a lot of photos, so all of the photos here were grabbed from friends (mainly Jesson and Patrick).
We pretty much goofed our way up and down the mountain. I love how it has a lot of areas where you can stop and just appreciate the view.
When we got back to the jump-off, we had a quick lunch and then decided to explore the Bayukbok Cave. I have heard of it when I was little but I was only allowed up to Madlum Cave, which is safer for young ones. This time, I’m excited to try a bit of spelunking. In February 2015, I did the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection in Sagada which took four hours, so I acquired a liking for the adrenalin rush and gained confidence from that experience. I’ll try to write about it at another time.
Going back to what I was saying, Bayukbok cave exploration takes less than two hours to complete but promises some challenging obstacles. What I always keep in mind whenever I’m out exploring is to never underestimate a mountain, a river, or a cave. Always keep your wits about you, because it doesn’t matter how many mountains you’ve climbed, rivers you’ve crossed or caves you’ve conquered, it only takes one uncalculated step to put an end to your adventure. I always remind myself of those things because I’ve heard stories of how experienced travelers learned [to respect nature] the hard way with overconfidence when they were just starting out. On a lighter note, before entering the cave make sure to follow the chant when your trail guide asks you, and listen carefully. 😉
That was lots of fun! I love how muddy it got. We reached the end of the cave after more than an hour. It’s not as claustrophobia-inducing as the caves of Sagada, but it has some interesting parts that will make you think twice. I’d go back and do it again if there’s a chance.
The day is almost over, but I can’t leave without trying to cross the monkey bridge. It is quite a popular activity when you visit Madlum. The young residents of the Sitio used to cross the wire bridge every day going to school. Fortunately, a sturdier and way safer bridge was constructed for them. Now, the wire bridge serves as a free activity for visitors looking for some quick thrill.
There was no harness at the time we did it, so I asked one of my swimmer friends to save me in case I fall in the river. I didn’t fall, though. Instead, I got to enjoy the magnificent view of the river from the middle of the bridge and made it across triumphantly!
If only I know how to swim, I’d probably consider jumping into the water to wash all the mud from the cave. But most likely I’d still be scared. Nevertheless, I had an amazing day! A hike to Mt. Manalmon (and all the side trips around it) is something I’d definitely do again.