Scorch Trials – Mt. Balingkilat (1100+)

Mt. Balingkilat Traverse to Nagsasa Cove
Subic, Zambales
Jumpoff: Sitio Cawag Settlement, Subic Town
LLA: 14.89 N, 120.11 E (est.), 1100 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 4-6 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

It was supposedly a Timbak-Tabayoc climb over the weekend, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the event was cancelled and we ought to proceed with Plan B.

Since another group from the Timbak-Tabayoc climb wouldn’t let the coming days become climbless, they invited our group to do a Cawag Quadrilogy. But we are sure that we can’t finish a quad on a summer month so we opted to take the Balingkilat-Nagsasa traverse.

The Resettlement

We took the 10pm trip to Zambales and alighted at the Subic Police Station after 2 hours and a half. We then proceeded for a courtesy call at the station and had our pictures taken as well as sign the letter of intent that we submitted. By 2am we were assisted by the police officers aboard our tricycles and off we go. The tricycle ride took around an hour before we got into the far flung resettlement area of Sitio Cawag. It was surely pitch black and the sky was covered with billions of stars.

We met-up with our guides and registered. Some final preparations and we started the trek by 3:30am. The first leg of the trail was on an extensive grass plains without any trees and the dim trek lasted for an hour before we reached the Kawayanan: the last water source before the Balingkilat assault.

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About an hour on the never ending assault, light started to break out from the horizon and the grass trail is now illuminated that made the trek easier. Mt. Cinco Picos is now visible at the far end of the mountain range.

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Oh, Sunrise

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We continued for another hour until we reached the campsite, had our breakfast as the sun rays lighted up the rest of Subic Bay coastline and surrounding Zambales plains and also, Mt. Pinatubo. Balingkilat came from the local Aeta language meaning “Bundok ng Kidlat” (Mountain of Thunder).

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By 7:30am we have finally reached the summit of Mt. Balingkilat at 1100 MASL and the view will make you utterly speechless. The South China Sea Is now embraced by the San Antonio coves, namely: Anawangin, Talisayen, Nagsasa, and Silanguin.

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The top of the mountain is visibly interconnected via a seemingly knife-edged slopes with all the mountains around such as Dayungan, Bira-Bira, Nagsasa, and Cinco Picos.

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AsdfghjINETlkl!@%$!

Since the sun started to heat things up, we then continued on our traverse down to Nagsasa Cove, which according to our guide, Kuya Joseph, will take 7hours more. While our friends at the other group descended down first to Mt. Dayungan for their quadrilogy.

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This is where things started heating up. It was around 10am when we are now at the very steep slopes of the mountain, loose soil and just rocks. There’s no tree cover to protect us from the sun and the our water supply won’t last long if this kind of descend will continue.

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We opted to hike down real fast but very careful on our steps. It was around 11am when we started to run out of water, with the sun going in berserk mode. The only comfort we got is to lie down on the dirt so that tall grasses provide shade for a while. It was a scorch trial indeed (read: I am seeing things) that a water source will be the best thing we are looking forward to. As we got down from the final steep areas of the mountain, the cove looks still far enough, and a massive plain of nothing but cogon grass greeted us with a warm (really warm) welcome.

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By 12 noon we were just too exhausted, but luckily a water source is now within our reach and as soon as we got our hands into the water, we were like kids delightfully seeing a pool for the first time. We arrived at the Nagsasa Cove by 12:30pm.

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ITINERARY AND BUDGET
Day0
2200  Departure from Caloocan via Victory Liner (221php/pax)Day 1
0030  Arrival at Subic Police Station, register
0200  Take tricycle to Sitio Cawag (300php/trip)
0300  Arrival at Sitio Cawag, meet guide, register (900php/5pax for traverse)
0330  Start trek
4300  Kawayanan, last water source
0630  Campsite, rest
0730  Mt. Balingkilat summit, breakfast
0845  Descend to Nagsasa Cove
1230  Arrival at Nagsasa cove
1400  Set camp, rest, free time (400php/cottage, free use of bathroom)
2300  Lights out

Day 2
0700  Wake up, breakfast, break camp
0740  Climb nearest hill (20php/pax, entrance fee)
0800  Highest point
0930  Back at campsite, tidy up, wait for passenger boat (1200php/5pax)
1030  Departure to Capones Island
1130  Arrival at Capones Island, lunch
1200  Start trek to lighthouse
1300  Lighthouse
1330  Ascend back
1430  Back at Pundaquit, rest, tidy up, take tricycle to San Antonio highway (60php/pax)
1700  Take bus going back to Manila (250php/pax)

Expenses:
(budget for 3pax)
Transportation: 1031php
Fees: 453php
Food: 300php

Total Damage: 1784php/pax

Notes:
• Kapitan Juanito Balosbalos (0999-549-4187)
• Guide: Kuya Joseph (0921-273-4187)
– A letter of intent is needed upon arrival at the Subic Police Station, and it is advisable to give them a call as well as the guides at Cawag to make sure that they will be meeting you upon arrival at the area.
– There are only two water source at Mt. Balingkilat during dry months, one is at Kawayanan and the second at the foot of the mountain going to Nagsasa.
– Signal is sporadic at the ascent and none at the traverse side going to the cove.
– Make sure to contact a boat service if you are not planning to go back hiking, as I have said, no signal at the cove.
– Start really early, the best time to climb the San Antonio Coastal Mountains is during night time.

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.
– Paulo Coelho

Go, carve that niche,
Rex

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