CONQUERING THE ROCKIES
The municipality of Cuenca in the province of Batangas is most popular for hikers, both beginners and experts alike because of the Rockies of Mt. Maculot.
Expert hikers climb the Rockies as a practice climb in preparation for their major hikes, while beginners see the Rockies as a rite of passage to the world of mountaineering.
Last April 17-20, bloggers from Batangas and Manila were invited to take part in the Batangas Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office’s Lakbay Lawa Familiarization Tour, a 4-day tour to four (4) coastal towns around Taal Lake to visit the volcano island, the lakeshore communities, and experience firsthand their cultural traditions, the livelihood, and most importantly, the locality.
Bloggers were able to see and appreciate how locals conserve the environment; and they were also able to understand the role of the local government units (LGUs) in developing the Taal Lake, the Taal Volcano, and the Heritage trail.
On the third day of Lakbay Lawa, April 19, we went to Cuenca, Batangas to partake in the trek to the Rockies.
Most of the bloggers, if not all, were fairly new to mountaineering, hence, the Rockies posed as a threat at 5:30 in the morning, yet everyone took on the challenge and started the trek ten minutes to 6 o’clock.
We were greeted with uneven footpaths, thrilling climbs, and friendly tour guides very much willing to lend a hand. The climb began slow and proved to be tortuous particularly for those with little to none cardio workouts yet with each slow ascent, there peeked a sight behind the trees seemingly worthy of the struggle.
The guides were extremely patient and helpful and offered to fit the extra weight slowing the bloggers down into their own backpacks, which helped immensely as the climb progressed. The Rockies had thirteen (13) stations and it felt as though each station were kilometers away from each other but apparently they weren’t.
Each station had resting areas with bamboo benches and kiosks which sold food, water, buko juice, and even halo-halo on weekends, which became a motivation for those about to give up due to exhaustion and hunger.
The ninth station, however, was an amazing vantage point that had a wonderful view of Taal Lake, the municipality of Cuenca, and its neighboring communities. It then became the primary motivation to continue and see what was waiting at the top of the Rockies.
The 45-minute trek turned into an almost two-hour hike with ample rest periods. Once the group reached the last station, we found out that the kiosk sells food and water even on weekdays which had the bloggers resting for a much longer period than required. Once the group was ready, we then started our ascent to the famous Rockies.
The ascent required focus and minimal rock climbing skills; and once you’ve had the hang of it, you’ll find it easier to climb up and down.
When the group reached the top of the Rockies (not the Summit!) the struggle proved to be worth it as we took in the view that surrounded us. There, in front of us, was the unobstructed view of Taal Lake just waiting for us to take a picture of.
The trek to the Rockies proved to be difficult, but we would rather have experienced the difficulty and then see the beauty that was waiting for us at the top than to not have experienced anything at all.(Krista de los Reyes for Barako PH)
Watch the video.
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