” Trekking Mountains is always a struggle. We get humbled by the ascent but it makes us stronger. Run, Walk, Crawl, Rest until the summit is conquered. We came to realize that the best things in life are those we work hard for. The summit gives you an appreciation of the mountain ranges surrounding the area. We got more than that as we took the forest trails and had 16 kilometers worth of scenic views, epic climbs, suicide drops as part of the recon for the 1st Mt. Talamitam Test Run which is happening on December 21, 2014. ”
I’ve been trying to insert some trail time before I go full blast in my Marathon preparation. There’s just a lot to explore when it comes to trails. You get to marvel at the views. You get challenged by the different surfaces. You get stronger with the terrain and elevation. I’ve been trying to join Rene Villarta ( Jazzrunner) in one of his trails. He has compiled a lot of scenic trails in his trail chronicles already. We’ve scheduled several in the Tanay, Rizal area but unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. So when he mentioned to me of a test run in Mt. Talamitam, I rearranged my schedule just to be able to join this one. I climbed Mt. Batulao last year and Mt. Talamitan was just in front of it. I also get to test the Newton Boco A/T in more technical conditions.
Aside from Jazzrunner, I also came with Jham Mariano of Sigue Correr and we’ll be taking off from Manila at 4 am to meet up with the team behind the first Mt. Talamitam Assault Trail Challenge. For Details, please visit Team Cavite E.S.E. Facebook Page. I’ll also do a post about the run in the next few days.
We met up at Jollibee in Mendez for breakfast before proceeding to Km 83, which was the starting point of the trail. For those wanting to visit Mt. Talamitam, kilometer 83 is at the right side of Tagaytay, Nasugbu Road coming from Tagaytay and just a few kilometers away from Sandari, Batulao. We arrived at around 7 am and immediately proceeded with the climb. There is the more tourist friendly route for Mt. Talamitam which is just about 6 kilometers back and forth from the summit of Mt. Talamitan. Call us masochist but we took the longer and more scenic way to the top which was about 16 Freaking kilometers in total. This would also be the official race route of the Mt. Talamitam Assault Trail Challenge.
Map and Elevation
The first 4.5 kilometers of route goes on a rolling terrain with river crossings and deep forest trails. The next 3.5 kilometer is an assault to the peak worth 500+ meters of climbing. The route descends sharply with a 450 meter drop in elevation over the next 1.5 kilometers. The next 4 kilometers goes on a very technical forest trails with a rolling terrain. Finally, the last remaining 2.5 kilometers shifts to the road with one final steep climb before rounding up the 16 kilometers course.
Trekking Mt. Talamitam
This will be a recon of the whole course for the December 21 Assault Challenge. Mt. Talamitam is a bit more technical than other trails especially with its steep climbs and descents. We also were taking the local trails, which is rarely used for climbers. It would really be important to have a guide in doing this trek as there are a lot of road alternatives here. After a few stretching exercises and photo-ops, we immediately started our trek at around 7:15 am. We’ll be taking the longer route so we better start early. A few meters from the highway was the starting area of the race which is also the registration area of the trek.
We then started the trek with the road headed downward. We started with a concreted portion, which was mossy and slippery coming from the rain the day before. We had to take it slow here. We then went further downward on a soil surface that had a view of the river below. There was a wooden bridge, which can take you to the other end. Alternatively, you can go down a few meters further and pass by the river.
The river had clear waters and was really beautiful. We then shifted to a forested trail and started a slow climb. The forested trail a variety of looks with trees, bushes, vines, rivers, bamboo shafts alternating along the trail.
The trails were really visually enticing. The climbs were endless. We were also going at a fast pace as the pace was being dictated by the lead pack. We do get our occasional breather for some photos in the area. The mileage was just slowly trickling in as we get to spend more than 20 minutes just for a single kilometer, which says so much on the difficulty of the course. I’m just glad I had excellent traction on the climbs and the different surfaces and didn’t slide off along the way.
The trails were rolling so you had the climbs to exhaust your energy and flats and descents to recover. It wasn’t easy with the climb. There are also different surfaces from grass, to rocks and yes, a lot of mud. I did fall in a deep mud as I underestimated my jump and ended up in a muddy area that looked like solid ground.
I did get a lot of mud. It’s a good thing that the closed mesh of the shoes blocks debris and dirt from coming inside the shoes. The trails were a bit technical so I had to watch my step on the descents. I went on smoothly with the descents with the Boco AT having excellent traction against any surface. This were also the local trails so we’d occasionally be passing by the houses of locals and also locals making coal. We did get the customary good morning greetings as well as barking dogs protecting their turf.
The climbs were endless but with the forested area, it didn’t feel hot and draining yet. It just got more challenging and more scenic as the trail went deeper.
About 3 kilometers into the route, the view now shifts slowly from forest trails to the view of the mountains. It’s more open here and you get to see Mt. Batulao and the neighboring mountains too.
With a peek of the top, we then shifted back to the forest trails again and was treated to another set of the views. The views make the long journey worth it. After another set of forest trails, we were out of the woods.
Being out of the wood also meant being in direct contact with the sun’s hot morning rays. It’s a good thing I had my Salice Eyewear to block off the stinging sun’s ray in my eyes. The view from the top can be seen from this vantage point. You can see people lining up the more common tourist trails. As usual, we were taking the harder way up.
My heart rate was already peaking at this time from the effort and the heat so I tried to moderate my effort. Jazzrunner also thought me a breathing technique in which you take a deep breath every three steps and it worked. We were in a discussion on whether to take the easy way up or the hard way. Eventually, the hard way always wins.
This was a long and dragging climb. We shifted again to forest trails and grassy areas as we made our way to the top. At this point, you just get awed by the beauty of the mountain range while fighting all the exhaustion in reaching the top.
We also made some wrong turns but eventually we found our way back to the trail. The good part of being in the tail-end, I didn’t have to go back that far.
We had several rests along the way. We also stopped at an area where there is a storage of cold fresh stream water. This was a great way to replenish energy, which was hitting a low point already.
The path we took had tall grasses towards the summit. After all the hard work, we were on top and the view was breathtaking. All the effort was worth its reward. That’s 8 kilometers worth of climbing and it wasn’t easy reaching this point.
Aside from the view, there was some one selling ice cream at the top. I had two ice cream (buko and cheese) as a reward for my effort. We took about 30 minutes enjoying the summit. The fun part of the summit is that you can see the foggy effect nearby as it approaches our area.
The view is just priceless and it shows you that there are a lot more mountains to climb. It was humbling to be in this spot. The mountains has its way of humbling us – first with its challenging ascent and then of its raw beauty. We get weakened by the climb but we end up stronger after climbing it.
After endless picture taking at the summit, we were ready for the descent. The choice would be to take the tourist route which is just 3 kilometers or take the long hard road worth 8 kilometers. You guessed it right, we took the long hard road from the top.
It was a huge drop in altitude and we ended up using gravity to blitz this part. It was a fast descent and good thing I had my knees and calves all protected with my Zensah Calf Sleeves. It was really an adrenalin rush going that fast on the descent.
We waited on the grassy fields for the rest to descend. It was also a good time to rest as we still had over 7 kilometers to go. The area felt like New Zealand or the grassy fields of Austria in the Sound of Music.
After about a kilometer in the scenic fields, it was time to descend again. This was a much deeper plunge having more technical trail with vines stones, twigs in your way that can either make you slide or trip you. I just went on this part at a more cautious pace but I was always on solid ground even on vertical terrains with a lot of thanks to action/reaction technology of the Boco AT. We ended up resting in the river while waiting for the rest to descend the trails.
This was one ultimate test for the Newton Boco AT with river crossing being part of most trails. It felt so refreshing drenching my feet and my shoes over the cold river. It’s water repellant feature limits the water flowing in but allows water to flow out through the fabric. When it was time to resume the trail, it was good to go and didn’t feel heavy.
The river was probably the deeper part of the trails. The remaining 6 kilometers would be mostly climbs. We then resumed from this area. The climb was moderate but our energy reserves were dipping. There were single track forested area that was difficult to traverse so we played it slow there. We rested at the middle of the trail. After the short breather, I felt dizzy from exhaustion. It was a good thing my trail food gave me a boost in energy with a mixture of nuts, chocolates and raisins. I was really scared to faint because there were no other way out of the trail. Either way, I still have to finish the trail.
The trail felt endless and the climbs were punishing so we took it one step at a time. It also helped that the forested area was much cooler and the weather also started to cool down. Approaching the end of the trail, the rain started to fall and it was really heaven sent. The rain refreshed and renewed us for the rest of the trail. We finally ended up on the road part of the trail and was able to buy some cold RC cola. It was really a thirst quencher as well as a replenishment of the sugar we lost in our system. We then started walking our way to the rest of the route and I really didn’t mind that the rain was pouring at that time. Our companions eventually got a jeep so we went on with the jeep to end the route and yes, the remaining part of it was uphill.
This was not a walk in the park but it’s worth all the effort doing it. You have a chance of doing this trails too at the 1st Mt. Talamitam Assault Challenge on December 21, 2014. My word of advice is prepare for this one. You’ll enjoy the trails better when you are not huffing and puffing your way out of it. I hope you enjoyed another edition of #TaleOfTheTrail until the next trail.
More Photos of the Trail: Mt. Talamitam