My husband and I spent some time in the Philippines back in January. Away from the erratic East Coast weather, away from the busy hum of our daily work lives, and away from our beloved dogs (wahhhh!!!!). Now if you’re thinking “Ooooh, Philippines! How exotic!” stop your train of thought by putting a brick wall smack in the middle of them tracks. You’re not going to find reviews of amazing beaches here. You’re not going to read about how we swam with whale sharks (due to storms in the area, it wasn’t recommended, just our luck during the dry season). Also, forget about discovering Tarsier monkeys and their mesmerizing eyes.
This vacation was part family reunion, part memorial, and part business. Our five separate families descended upon the family property located in Los Banos, Laguna and our lazy days were comprised of laughter, catching up, lots of karaoke, and reforming relations.
Mount Makiling, or Mount Maquiling, is a dormant volcano in Laguna province on the island of Luzon, Philippines. The mountain rises to an elevation of 1,090 m above mean sea level and is the highest feature of the Laguna Volcanic Field (thanks, Wikipedia). It’s protected as a forest reserve under the official stewardship of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). You can explore Mt Makiling through the UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources. Make sure you have 10 pesos on you for the entrance fee and be prepared to trade your ID/passport for a numbered block. This is to ensure you trade your block back for your personal identification. I was told that they’ve had people in the past go up the mountain, never to return. Maybe they pissed off Maria Makiling – the fabled protector of this volcano. She’s described as a fantastic creature, half nymph, half sylph, born under the moonbeams of Filipinas, in the mystery of its ancient woods, to the murmur of the waves on the neighboring shore.
The mountain is ideal for hiking, camping, trekking, mountain biking, and bird watching. Approximately 2,048 species of plants can also be found here! (Side note: At UPLB, make sure you check out Makiling Botanic Garden – 20 pesos entrance fee.) We came across quite a few MTBer’s huffing and panting as they refused to let the brutal incline take them prisoner. They probably committed to pedaling faster when they saw the ferocious look of anger on my husband’s face. Refusing to antagonize this beast of fury, they rode faster.
(Pics above are from Makiling Botanical Garden). And, back to the story…
My husband doesn’t dig hiking that much. So, the fact that I suggested we trek to Mud Springs located at this dormant volcano, the fact that I left out it was 4 miles ONE WAY with a 1300 foot elevation gain, and the FACT that, wellll…the fact that I was being particularly annoying to him that day…Yeah, I almost got divorced on Mt. Makiling.
Our destination was Mud Springs. One of my uncles had told me that this was a sight to see as it was a hot spring, but it was covered with mud that would bubble and pop, glub glub. Hiking up wasn’t difficult as we hiked along a road where the only motorized vehicles allowed are motorbikes. The off-shoot trails are well marked and it was easy to find the entrance to the Mud Springs trail. Once we left the main road, the trail itself can be a little difficult with jutting roots and because of the uncommon rains during this time, it was a little slippery in parts.
Mud Springs was so cool! It was like being on another planet! I didn’t notice a stinky sulfur smell and I was okay with that. As the mist and fog seductively surrounded us and a soft tropical rain began to fall, my beast turned as docile as a kitten. Having a destination to reach, and having reached it, gave him a sense of accomplishment to this otherwise seemingly infinite trek of up and up and up. On the way down, we also took a detour to Flat Rocks (see the pics below) and we both had a great time traversing the rocks.
He even said that after I return from Peru in June 2017, he would be interested to talk to me about backpacking weekends. YES!!!
Much love and Aloha,
your see, not so annoying clueless wanderer