Friday, September 28, 2012

Bukidnon: Capistrano's Rocky Mountain High

"Naa ma'y dalan. Dili mo mawala (There's an existing trail. You will not get lost)".  A young, local boy told us when asked for directions on how we could reach the peak. Moments ago, our group disembarked from three habal-habal motorcycles which took us from the highway barangay of Aglayan to Sitio Binalbagan, Simaya. It was the jump off point where we started our hike to the peak of Mount Capistrano in a gloomy Saturday morning.
The boy then led us to a walkway, an open earth canal actually, and into a vacant grassland where the full view of Mount Capistrano stood before us. Mount Capistrano is one of the most notable peaks of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. It can be prominently seen from the Sayre Highway when traveling south from Malaybalay to its neighbor City of Valencia. Standing 609.6 meters ASL, it was once an evacuation area during the World War II.

There were six of us--Tupe, Dax, Francis Dave, Gwen, Krisha and me-- all first timers in climbing Mount Capistrano. Except for Tupe "The Trekero", none of us are really experienced climbers. I, myself, have only one major climbing experience prior to this one. And it was already more than a year ago when I conquered Mount Kitanglad, considered as the country's fourth highest peak.

After passing by a makeshift hut, the ascent started shortly on a concrete stairway. The easiest part lasted only for less than 200 meters then we were already on a narrow, open trail flanked by tall cogon grasses. On this part, we could already view the vast area of paddy fields below. It was also on this part where Krisha did not feel well and had to go down for her own safety.

Then came the forested area. While the tall trees shaded us on our hike, it was also the trickiest part of the route. Continuous rain from the previous days made the trail so slippery, several times we have to hang on to the tree trunks and vines to keep our balance. There was one steep part where the trees are spaced apart making it difficult to find something to grasp. It was on this portion where Gwen almost gave up and decided to just wait for us when we will go back down from the peak. But thanks to the mountaineering skills of Tupe, he was able to pull out Gwen from where she was stuck.

The trail then became rocky as we approached the peak. It made the climb easier as the rocks provided something solid to hold on to on the steepest parts. We have to be careful with our steps, though ,as some rocks are really sharp and portions of the trail are along deep ravines. We then arrived in the bamboo area where we paused for a breather, ate our trail snacks and rehydrated our exhausted bodies.

Continuing on with our climb, we came into a flat ground surrounded by interesting rock formations. We thought it might be the area where mountaineers usually camp out.

From the camp site, we further climbed up the rocky trail until finally, after four hours of hiking, we reached Mount Capistrano's awesome peak. The sight of large rocks, the sweeping view of distant mountains and the vast stretch evergreen farmlands down below were really breathtaking. Beautiful. Amazing.  

Taking photos from all angles then followed next. It was high noon and the sun would peek out every now and then. But, generally, it was still gloomy. We ate our lunch at the peak and stayed a little longer, lingering on the wonderful sights which stretched out as far as our eyes could see.  

 (Photo taken by Dax Abitona)

When we saw dark clouds forming from the distance, we decided to make our descent. Anticipating the rain might caught up on us, I placed my camera and cellphone in a plastic bag and slid it safely inside my backpack. There is actually a trail where we could traverse down to the opposite barangay of Managok but since we could not find it, we decided to do a backtrail for safety.

Going down was just as hard as climbing up. We still have to hold on to bushes and tree parts to keep us off from slipping. Then it rained hard just as we came out of the woods. The open trail became more slippery and going down was doubly hard as only frail cogon blades are there to grasp on the sides. It was there when I decided to follow Gwen's technique: mountain sliding! On a full squat position with both hands on the ground for balance and control, I just let my two feet slide and take me down the trail. It wasn't simple but definitely easier than having to stand up while trying to maintain balance in going down.

We reached the starting point a little over one hour. The rain was still pouring hard but we didn't seemed to mind anymore. In fact, I was grateful for the downpour.  It kept us cool and somehow washed away the mud and dirt which stuck to our skin and clothing during our wet and wild descent. 

This day hike was done with  my friends from Bukidnon Photographers and Bloggers Society and Malaybalay Runners club. To read more about our Mount Capistrano experience, visit the Trekero and Explore Malaybalay City blogs.


  1. ang ganda pero mukhang ang hirap! d pwede saken yan! haha thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Medyo mahirap nga Gael though hindi kailangan na skilled mountaineer ka para maabot ang peak. Kailangan lang talaga may endurance para sa mahabang lakad. : )

  2. great story... and i'm a part of it. more treks, earl!

  3. akyat din ako dyan pagpunta ko ng Bukidnon! thanks for sharing Earl! :)

  4. Sometimes the person that tries to keep everyone happy is the mosty lonely person.

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  5. Wow! What a wonderful place is this thus, I am hoping to travel in this place also. Thanks for this post!

    Please do visit this site also ---->

  6. Hi,
    Were you required to present a Barangay Clearance when you climbed Mt. Capistrano? We need to confirm this before we start our trek.
    Thanks a lot.

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