Intentionally ignoring the time, I did not monitor the exact hours and minutes it took to climb Mt. Pamitinan. Based on how the sun shone that morning, I guessed it was still hours before noon when we went back to the jump-off point, plenty of time for two more mountains. For those who would like to climb mountains of Rodriguez, Rizal, Montalban Trilogy v.1 pertains to the Mountains of Mt. Pamitinan, Mt. Hapunang Banoi, and Mt. Binacayan. If you want to do just two mountains, best to climb the first two mentioned. There is what they call Trilogy v.2 and even a hexalogy, a combination of these two trilogies.
The jump-off point for both Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Hapunang Banoi is the same so in a way, the jump-off point is in between these two mountains.There are stores in this jump-off point and in one of those was where I refilled my water bottles, where my guide and I grabbed some snacks, and where I changed my top. I thought changing outfits would make identifying the mountains on pictures easier and I was right. It shed some doubt on whether I really did all the three hikes on a single day but then again, I take comments like that as compliments so thanks.
The trail of Hapunang Banoi looked the same as Mt. Pamitinan but with more boulders than soil to climb. Since it was nearing noon, the climb was hotter than the first mountain, and thus more tiring. I stopped every ten minutes or less to rest and to hydrate.
For some reason, my upper body supported me more during this Montalban Trilogy than my legs. I thought all the running I was doing since December made my lower body a lot stronger than what I thought was my weak arms (I can’t do a single push up) but somehow, my legs were the first to get tired. Good thing, climbing rocks needed more of upper body strength so I made it through.
I felt more alone in this mountain. On Mt. Pamitinan, there were at least other hikers who pass by but there in Hapunang Banoi, it was just me and my guide. There was a tinge of fear for a moment but I couldn’t back out, not at that point. Anyway, it was reassuring that every now and then, the person in charge of the DENR office checks in on us through a radio.
There are a lot of scenic spots along the trail. “Enjoying the journey” had never been more applicable. I would request to stop for a rest at any time, though my guide will suggest we go just a little farther so we could rest on a “photo op spot”. Here are some of them:
Truth be told, I doubt if we even tried to get to the summit of Mt. Hapunang Banoi. I heard the guide murmured that the summit was still an hour hike and for trilogy, the monolith is the farthest point the hikers usually take.
I climbed what they call the “monolith” and that’s got to be the most difficult and more dangerous part of Mt. Hapunang Banoi. It was the moment when I asked, “Naaakyat ba talaga ‘yan?” because up front, it seemed like there was no way to climb those steep parts. The monolith was “buwis-buhay”, too, and I can’t imagine hikers during weekends lining up in that small and dangerous spaces allowed before one falls off a cliff. I later on found out that Mt. Hapunang Banoi is rated 4/9 while the other two mountains was at 3/9 difficulty.
This is also the point when I discovered what “hapunang banoi” literally means. “Banoi” means eagle while “hapunan” pertains to the point where birds (much like how chicken,a domesticated bird) settles during sundown or “hapon”. Before, when the mountain is less spoilt, there was a pair of eagle that settles for the night or eats their prey on top of the monolith, the same spot from which I was standing on the pictures. Up to this day, there are still eagles roaming the area, unabashed by the number of hikers who climb Hapunang Banoi everyday. We started our descent after the monolith and took our lunch near the DENR office and barangay hall. You’ll pass by this bridge over Wawa River (shown below) located near the houses and an elementary school. Another attraction of Rodriguez, Rizal is swimming in Wawa River. In fact, my guide was suggesting I climb the two mountains of Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi and replace the third mountain, Binacayan, with swimming instead. Too bad, I really had my hard head set out into conquering three mountains that day.
Check out two other mountains included in this Montalban Trilogy conquered on March, 2019 through these links: Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan.