Tayak

Tayak Hill The World

It was a super long weekend spent in a not-so-long- hike (if you can even call it one) at Tayak.  My mountaineering group, Guys4Mountains Inc. haven’t climbed much the past two years but we haven’t skipped celebrating our August anniversary as a group.  Our camaraderie is as steadfast as the mountains we climb, landslides withstanding.

We’ve been to Tayak before and the weather was much worse.  We arrived at the jump-off point amidst really heavy rain.  We decided to just do a day hike and check-in at the Tayak Resort.  Dorm beds were available for around Php 200+ person.  Cheap and comfortable. We hiked to the top, took our pics, and spent the rest of the day and the next relaxing at the resort.

Last weekend, the Tayak that greeted us was totally different.  We checked-in at the resort, got our dorm beds, relaxed a bit, then made our way to the hill at around 3 in the afternoon.

The road had been fully sealed except for a few short sections.  It seemed to go on forever.  I remember walking the same road a couple of years ago but it seemed much longer and more tedious.  Pounding on cement is infinitely more tiring to the limbs than treading on earth.  At one point, I joked that perhaps they had leveled the hill and had built at subdivision.  That at the next turn, there would be people handing-out fliers to us.

As we approached a small store where three mountaineers were taking a break traversing Mt. Cristobal, looking to the right,  a small grassy hill with the white cross and the letterings a la Hollywood came into view.  We had seen it from the 3rd floor window of the resort much earlier and wondered which part of Mt. Cristobal it was.  Much nearer, the words came into view — “Tayak Hill The World.”  So that was Tayak!  We all had a good laugh a the ambiguous phrase “Tayak Hill The World.”

Hill The World… make it a better place… for me and for you and the entire human race…

Soon familiar surroundings such as the chapel greeted us.  A large tarpaulin sign read “Tayak Nature and Adventure Camp.”  We knew something different was going to greet us.  A few hundred meters back, we came onto a “Welcome to Landing Point” sign that showed different activities such as para-gliding, wall climbing, and even a cable car ride.  We took the small path on the right and came to the bottom of the hill.

It had had a total make-over.  Where once there was a small trail, there were carved footsteps on the earth and red and yellow banderitas stamped with “San Miguel” and its logo lined the paths.  As we made our way up, stone paths inscribed with sponsors name led all the way to the top.

Want your own stepping stone?

Half-way up, a sign pointed to a small path to the campsite.  We headed all the way to the top where a huge white cross greeted us.  On the left side was a mountain bike that had been mounted on a small cemented platform marking the hill as a “Biker Haven.”  Tayak had become a tourist destination.

It’s a stationary mountain bike!

The view was still magnificent though with Mt.  Cristobal looming large on one side and the plains of San Pablo and the rest of Laguna sprawled below.  Low-lying clouds wrapping the surrounding hills and mountains made it all very picture-pretty.

The campsite as seen from the hill top.

We took our “we were here” pictures then made our way down the hill to the long road back to the resort.  Dusk had fallen and no sooner had we reached the start of the cemented road that the rain fell in torrents.  It was actually quite cool walking under the pelting rain.  Fortunately, there wasn’t any lightning or I would have freaked-out.

Again, the road seemed to go on forever and ever.  Night was falling and I had no clue had near or how far we were. We had become separated with me ahead of everyone else and Edwin and his partner a few meters behind me.  The rain had petered-out into a light shower by then.  A jeep came rumbling up the hill inquiring to the kids and adults that we had met at the hill earlier.  It had come to pick them up.  That meant hope that we could hitch a ride when they returned.  And they did!  It was just in time when the jeep came down the road and plucked us off the long winding road before night completely fell.  As we rode on the back and watched the road go by we realized that it would have taken at least another half hour of walking to reach the resort.

Tayak Hill has been re-imagined as a tourist destination.  It really is a pretty-enough place that doesn’t take much effort to get to.  You can even take a jeep or a trike all the way to the chapel at the base of the hill.  I just hope that they don’t overdo it lest it turns into a carnival of cheap kiosks and stalls.

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Rainy Day in Tayak

Summit pose

Summit pose

Mountaineers in black sagala regalia, videoke, endless bottles of booze, and friends-for-the night, that summed-up the rained-out Tayak climb over the weekend.  It was the 31st Official Climb of Guys4Mountains and no rain could dampen our spirits.

The thought of making camp under the rain, of bringing home wet tents and clothes, was enough to make us want to  do a day hike and stay at the Tala Resort.  After all, it was the Sagala Climb and those who brought gowns thought it wouldn’t be too much fun to sashay down a muddy campsite.  So after settling down in one of the 16-people door rooms , we started the hike to that knob of a hill behind which Mt. Cristobal and its cloud covered peak loomed over.

The 5km cemented road was more taxing than the muddy trail that lead to the peak.  We started the hike at past 2pm group3and about a thousand meters later, I was bored with the pavement and my shins were acting-up.   Noey, Hilda, and Edwin had gone one ahead on a tricycle and they waited for us a hundred meters up on the dirt track.  The rain had let-up a bit but there was no chance of any sunshine peering through the clouds.  Up on the trail, we met a lot of locals on their way down bringing with them firewood and pako.  We passed by a lot of quiet houses with nary a soul in sight, maybe they were still up in the hills farming.  It was muddy and the trail was a little overgrown on some parts.  My jacket was wrapped around my waist as it was quite hot hiking with it.  We stopped by a small community of houses where some kids were playing bingo inside a small chapel. They had neatly-made bingo cards cut from pad paper with the markings made in pencil.  Smaller pieces were cut and folded containing the letters that were to be called out.  Kelly “donated” some chocolates as part of the prize.

group_school

We missed the small trail on the right that led to the peak.  Instead, we just went straight through until we got to the clearing where the peak stood out like a thumb on the right side of the plain.  With Bench and Rowell leading the way, we made our own trail.  It was quite steep but the cogon that covered the hill gave us enough handholds albeight slightly painful ones.  “I should have brought my gloves, ” I said to myself.  Thankfully, my right knee was cooperating despite not using my trekking pole which was broken (the lower part wouldn’t lock) and which I had lent to Bench to flatten the cogon.  Finally, we broke through the top.  A dilapidated wooden shed stood alone on the small clearing.  I left my camera back at the resort as it wasn’t water proof.  The view was nice enough especially with Cristobal looming behind.

The cute suman guy

We made our way down this time using the established trail which was so much easier as it gradually descended the hill.  The cemented road was slippier than ever and I slipped twice fortunately managing to keep my balance especially with the second one that almost landed me in a side split.  We passed by a hut selling buko and freshly-made suman made from gabi and poured with a sweet sauce.  It tasted really great and the guy selling it had a cute face.  Just don’t make him smile as he had really bad teeth.  Lack of minerals  I guess which was too bad because he had a really nice face.

Videoke and black gowns

Videoke time

Videoke time

As the rain started-up and wore on through the night, we were really glad we decided to stay at the resort.  There was nothing better than taking-off your mud-soiled and wet-soaked boots and socks and just letting your feet dry out.  We were the only ones on the floor so we used the corridor to dry out our stuff.  Dinner was at the cabanas that surrounded the pool where we brought-out our cooksets and baon.  If only for the very very convenient way to camp, I would have pronounced it the “best climb ever.”

One of the best climbs

Loads of drinks later plus renditions of “I Will Survive,” “Halik,” “On the Wings of Love,” and “Closer You and I,” it was time to pronounce it as “one of the best climbs……  EVER!”  Close to midnight, I took a dip in the pool where Hilda was teaching Markiko how to swim.  Shut-eye was about past 1am after hanging-out with someone I met from another group occupying one of the cabanas.

The sun finally came-out Sunday morning.  I had a slight head ache due to lack of sleep.  Breakfast was a pack of chocolate-covered marhsmallows as I was saving my can of pork and beans for lunch.  I had to rouse the rest who were still asleep by 10:30 as check-out was at 11.  We ordered lunch from the resort.  It took some time for our food to arrive (mine was a plate of mostly-wrappers lumpiang shanghai) as some of the orders were cooked at the resort while most were coming from somewhere else (probably from one of the houses lining the road to the resort, heheheheh).  While the others were planning a trip te nearby Nagcarlan to visit the underground cemetery, I opted to just go home together with Beachboy and Dan as I didn’t want to get into rush-hour traffic at the expressway.  I do have a hazy memory of visting the cemetery in one of our field strip back when I was still teaching Humanities at UE.

group2

Tayak, being a hill and not a mountain, wasn’t much of a climb.  The weekend was more of an excursion rather than a climb.  But get a bunch of queer mountaineers, throw in a videoke, loads of drinks, spice it up with some gowns, and you’d get the grandest sagala.

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