Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mt. Marami (405+) ~Paradise Philippines

Maragondon, Cavite

Jump-off point: Brgy. Ramirez, Magallanes, Cavite
Elevation: 405 MASL
Altitude gain: 320 meters
Level and days required: Level 1, 2 days
Budget: P400

If Pico de Loro were a blockbuster movie, its sequel would be Mt. Marami, set in the same location and sharing the same characteristics. Matching Pico de Loro's rocky tower are two grand structures, surging up from the slopes: the summit of Mt. Marami, a massive, monumental composite of rocky pillars; and its guardian, the smaller Silyang Bato. The name 'Marami' is of local origin, and is attributed to the 'many rocks' that formed it. Subconsciously, this choice of name is profound, considering the sedimentary nature of the rocks found in Marami. Indeed, in recent geologic past, Mt. Marami below sea level. Silyang Bato, for its part, has a more modern etymology; according to the locals its original name is 'Nagbuo', and was christened with its present name by the earlier mountaineers.

The jump-off point to Mt. Marami is Brgy. Ramirez in Magallanes, Cavite. However, the summit and its environs are under the jurisdiction of Maragondon. It is a 3-hour drive from Manila; passing by the coastal road, onwards to Tanza, then Naic; from Naic a jeepney can take you to Magallanes. Brgy. Ramirez is just 10 minutes away from the town proper. The barangay fits the bill of a classic rural village. At the end of the road, marked with a water tank, is Brgy. Councilor Punongbayan's house. It doubles as the jump-off point. You can arrange for guides here.

The trail begins smoothly; although it poses concerns for both wet and dry seasons. It is severely muddy when wet; whereas sun exposure is notoriously acute when dry. Even so, the views are rewarding. The first landmark is 'Ilog na Kayrayag', a nearby river; next is Bangkaan River, which you have to pass thrice. In both rivers, you have the wade your way -- water is usually knee-deep though with heavy rains, they may swell to forbidding levels. The last river crossing is around 1.5 hr from starting point. A bamboo bridge was in place here, before it was wrecked in April 2007.

The ascent commences after Ilog Bangkaan; and here, there are two variants of the trail. One is the Nuestra Senora dela Paz variant, and the other is the Talahib variant. The former offers frontal views of both monuments (including a close-up of Silyang Bato), and is recommended over the Talahib, even as the latter has a more gradual ascent, and it is the one used by the locals. In both trails, the environment is comprised by woodlands and sections of grasslands.

This trail approaches Marami from the west. Thirty minutes into the Nuestra Senora, you'll encounter a nipa hut, called 'Kapihan' by some. Nearby is the last water source. An hour into the trail is Campsite 1, which offers majestic views of Silyang Bato and Mt. Marami. After one more hour of trekking, the bamboo forest will be reached. After an hour, Campsite 2 appears, in the southern portion of Mataas na Gulod. From here, you will enter another forested part to reach the base of Marami, where a campsite, the one most often used, is located. A ten-minute assault of the summit ensues.

This trail approaches Marami from the south. It uses a "saddle peak" - the slopes of Mataas na Gulod peak on the south side - instead of approaching Mt. Marami directly. Hence the ascent is more gradual. Instead of following the river to Nuestra Senora, you go straight, and after 1.5 hours, you'll encounter a nipa hut. Beyond this, you will see the two structures for the first time. The trails from here on are mostly 'talahib' grassland - the talahib can grow very tall and may obscure the trails. You may encounter grazing cows at this point. Then a campsite will be reached after over an hour, just below the 'Mataas na Gulod'. Afterwards, you will approach Mt. Marami via the bamboo forest. The trails here can get very confusing. After the forest, a clear-cut path to Mt. Marami emerges; and just five minutes of bouldering will take you to the summit of Mt. Marami.

At the summit, rocks, patched with unusual mosses, lichens, and ferns, comprise the scene. Winds are strong and weather is cool. Dramatic views ensue, affording a panorama of the Maragondon mountains, including Pico de Loro, Mt. Mariveles, and even Mt. Banahaw. Dramatic rock formations, set in this beautiful background, create an infinite number of photo opportunities.

Day 1
0500 ETD Manila. Take Saulog bus to Naic (P65)
0700 ETA Naic; take jeep to Magallanes (P30)
0800 ETA Magallanes. Register at police station. Take tricycle to Brgy. Ramirez
0900 ETA Brgy. Ramirez, at Kon. Punongbayan's house. Register. (P20)
0930 Start trek
1000 ETA Ilog na Kayrayag
1100 Cross three segments of Bangkaan River; proceed to Nuestra SeƱora de la Paz
1200 Have lunch at Kapihan Nipa hut. There's a nearby water source.
1300 Resume trek to Campsite 1
1400 ETA Campsite 1
1500 Reach Bamboo Forest
1600 ETA campsite at base of Mt. Marami summit.
1630 Assault the summit; explore
1800 Return to camp.
1830 Dinner / socials

Day 2
0530 Wake up / sunrise viewing
0630 Breakfast
0730 Break camp
0800 Start descent
1030 Back at Kapihan nipa hut
1230 Back at jump-off point at Brgy. Ramirez
1300 Leave for Municipal Hall, then Naic via jeep
1400 ETA Naic. Take bus back to Manila
1700 Back in Manila.

Mt. Marami is notorious for its labyrinth of trails, waylaying many hikers. Even guides can get lost, as there are no "professional guides" in Brgy. Ramirez; you just ask locals to act as 'guides' for P200-300/day. It would be best to have some experienced hiker to guide your group as the trails are really confusing.

Wear protective clothing because some of the plants and grasses are irritating to the skin. Also, sun exposure is very strong so be guided accordingly. During the rainy season, the trails are muddy. However, even then the trails are benign. Only standard precautions are needed for most parts. However, Ilog na Kayrayag can swell to a point when it cannot be crossed. This could make you 'stranded' at one side of the river; you would have to wait for level to descend. This happens often during the rainy season; hence PinoyMountaineer recommends Mt. Marami as a summer destination. The views would be much greater then.

Kon. Felicio Punongbayan has an agreement with the municipality of Magallanes; you have to register at the police station first before going to the barangay. You may contact Kon. Punongbayan at +639213627008. Cellphone signal is sporadic, but strong in the summit and campsite areas.

Wild boar meat is a favorite delicacy of the locals in the vicinity of Mt. Marami; wild boar roam the forests whereas deer have retreated to denser jungles.

Average trek time is 5 hours. Interestingly, the water in the rivers and streams are milky white. However, when the rivers swell, it becomes murky brown. This is also the time when locals would go to the banks and try to catch some fish.

Mataas na Gulod was a more prominent landmark before the "discovery" of Mt. Marami. Its elevation is probably around 300 MASL. Speaking of elevations, the circulating elevation of Mt. Marami at 840 MASL is a gross overestimate. It might probably be referring to feet instead of meters, as 280 MASL would be a valid estimate using satelite data. The 405 MASL used in this IT is from the author's own measurement.


gideon said...
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ivanhenares said...
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ivanhenares said...

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