It has been a while since I’ve been in the mountains. To breathe the fresh air, feel the earth beneath my feet and conquer the summits. I was busy with some other tasks, that I didn’t have the time to plan and do climbs. And I was also stressed and felt weak, that my body wouldn’t allow me to exert lots of effort. Fortunately, one of my friends pushed me to organize a hike. One of the mountains suggested was Mt. 387 and then a side trip to Aloha Falls.
Mt. 387, also known as Mt. Batong-Amat, is located in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija, part of the Caraballo mountain range. The name came from the 387.9 hectares of land that it covers, which belongs to the Talavera Watershed Forest Reserve. It was a new experience from what we were used to climb. From the eastern mountains of Rizal, now we are conquering summits of the Central Mountains of Nueva Ecija.
MT. 387/MT. BATONG AMAT
We left Manila at 2:00 A.M. and arrived at the jump-off at around 6:30 AM. Registration was required which included the seedlings to be planted at the summit. We were briefed before starting the climb. They told us facts about the area and their initiatives for the environment. The mountain had been destroyed by deforestation and the locals are trying to restore and protect these lands. Instead of logging, they are now benefiting from the tourism brought to their community. The trail started with the green lush of trees. Our climb was after the typhoon Ompong; fortunately, these parts were not much affected. Our guide told us to have a picture on top of the trees, which was a challenge, but it offered us a better view of our surroundings.
THE SUMMIT AND THE LOVERS’ TREE
As we went higher, fewer and fewer trees and greens could be seen. The top surprised us with a view of brown, rolling slopes, that reminded me of the Ambangeg trail in Mt. Pulag. It took us two and a half hours before reaching the summit. The summit was a ridge that offered a 360-view of the Caraballo Range.
Just beyond the ridge was where the Lovers’ Tree can be found. The Lovers’ Tree is a lone tree near the summit which offers shade for climbers. We planted our seedlings near the tree. As far as I can remember, these seedlings were cashews. An area was reserved for them to allow growth without disturbances from visitors.
After planting our seedlings, we proceeded to Aloha Falls. The trail going to the falls was very steep that we really needed to watch our knees and every step. Despite the challenge, the trail provided a magnificent view of the mountain range surrounding the area. Once we reached the bottom and the river, we rested for a while before continuing our trek to the falls.
We followed the river and just a few more meters, we arrived at the base of the falls. As soon as I saw it, I was very excited to dip myself into its cold waters. But first things first–pictures!
Every time I visit a waterfall, it’s a must to capture it in long exposure. It was really hard to get a good shot because of the crowd, but as soon as I became satisfied with some of my shots, I hurriedly left my camera in my bag and started swimming.
At the end of my swim, I closed my eyes and felt the mist as it touched my skin. I listened to the flow of water and thanked God for everything. I was very stressed and felt weak in the past months that I didn’t have the urge to climb again. And then I realized that this was what I really needed. To be in the mountains again, to feel nature and to ignite my adventurous spirit. It is really true that mountains have a way of healing.
But our adventure didn’t stop at the falls. As we were returning back to the jump-off, we did multiple river crossings and had a beautiful view of the mountain range now at a worm’s eye view. We finished our climb with a sumptuous lunch prepared by the locals. Felt grateful to be in an adventure again! Cheers to my mates–Matt, Edison, Rox, and Yvette!
|Departure from Florida Bus Station|
|Arrival at Mt. 387 Jump-off, Registration and preparation|
|Start trek to Aloha Falls|
|Arrival at Aloha Falls|
|Start trek back to jump-off|
|Back at jump-off. Lunch.|
|Rest and Wash-up|
|Travel to Baliwag terminal at San Jose City, Nueva Ecija|
|Departure from Nueva Ecija|
|Back in Manila|
- Barangay Puncan, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines (Jump-off)
HOW TO GET THERE:
- Public Transportation:
- Ride bus bound to Isabela (Florida Bus) or Tuguegarao (Victory Liner). (Travel Time: 4-5 hours; Bus Fare = P300)
- Drop off at Mt. 387 jump-off at Barangay Puncan, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.
- Take NLEX and exit to Mabalacat
- Take SCTEX and exit at Pura/Gerona
- Turn right to Gerona-Guimba Road
- Then turn right to Pangasinan-Nueva Ecija Road
- Sharp left turn to Pan-Philippine Highway
- Take left to Mt. 387 Jump-off
- Registration and seedling – P50
- Guide Fee – P350 for 7 persons
- Meal after the climb – P75 (For reservation)
- 2-3L of water
- Arm Sleeves
- Trail Food
- Sun Block
- Aqua Shoes
- Jake Baguio (Mt. 387 Trail Guide) [Mobile Number]: 09772684927
- The registration fee includes the seedlings to be planted.
- If you didn’t bring any food or pack lunch, you can order at the registration area. They will prepare a meal for you and you can eat them after your climb.
- There are not many trees in the summit of Mt. 387 which can really be a challenge especially when the sun is at its highest. Cover yourself with any heat protection.
- When going back to Manila, go to San Jose City via trike and take a bus at the terminal going to Cubao.
- Shower facilities are available at the jump-off.
- Leave No Trace. Always keep your trash with you, let’s help our mountains clean and well preserved.