Climbing Mt. Maculot last 29-30 November, you can say Christmas has come upon this place. At night, you'll drive through several kilometers of Christmas lights in San Jose lined up against darkness in the main road. The lights are punctuated with Christmas decor, sometimes giant wreath, at times bells. It's like entering a tunnel of lined lights continuously for about 10 minutes.
Upon registering at Barangay Siete, the new registration desk that is just meters away from the Mountaineers Store, you'll immediately sense the cold strong breeze coming from the mountain.
When you reach the shoulder, prepare your wind breaker. Support your tadpole or geo-dome type tents with guy line and complete sets of pegs. It's as if there's a storm coming. Temperature without the wind factor was surprising just below 20 degrees.
I have never seen that many campers in the peak, counted at about 380 plus by the Barangay volunteers. Bulk was composed of the Mapuan climbers celebrating their anniversary. The group I was with at the trail (Cebu Pacific and the Greenmeadows group) had to contend with the flat ground between the shoulder and the water source.
With all the dining, the drinking and the socials that night complemented by the cold weather and the strong winds, you can say Christmas has really come upon this mountain. The smell of latrine though brings you back to your reality that there is still the descend and work that waits for you this Monday.
Mt. Maculot is at Cuenca Batangas, a small town 2 hours from South Expressway. It is considered as a minor, weekend climb and a favorite among novice trekkers. Summit is about 700 meters ASL. Trek time from the foot to the shoulder is about 1 1/2 hours. Add another hour to the summit.
Written by Chito Razon