Monday, January 15, 2018

Three-Peak Hike of Laiban Quatro (Rizal) - Mt. Lubo (488+ MASL), Mt. Ngusong Kabayo (602+ MASL) and Tangwa Peak (625+ MASL)

At the Ngusong Kabayo Rock Formation 

Among the numerous peaks and towering mountains of Rizal lies one of the newly opened mountain trails in Brgy. Laiban. Known as the Laiban Quatro, this trail passes through 4 mountains within the locale of Laiban, namely Mt. Lubo, Mt. Ngusong Kabayo (rock formation and Tangwa Peak), Mt. Matang Ulang and Mt. Toyang. Although the trail has been blazed and mapped already, at this time only two of the quartet of mountains have been opened to the public, Mt. Lubo and Mt. Ngusong Kabayo. The other two are still closed and are still in the works to allow hikers on its trails.  Accessible either via Antipolo or Tanay proper, Brgy. Laiban is about 3 hours away from Manila. The jump-off of other hiking trails such as the trails of Mts. Sapari and Binutasan, Mt. Masungki and Nagpatong Rock and Mt. Paliparan is just a stone's throw away, located at the adjacent Brgy. Cuyambay. At the end of the trail is a great side trip to the four-tiered waterfalls of Laiban.

According to several online sources and my own obervations, the specs to the this 3-peak circuit hike is as follows: Minor climb, difficulty 3/9, trail class 1-2; Days Required/Hours to complete circuit hike (including the waterfalls): 5-6 hours; Features: grasslands, scenic views of the peaks and valleys of the Sierra Madre, waterfalls; Altitude 488+ MASL (Mt. Lubo), 602+ MASL (Ngusong Kabayo Rock), 625+ MASL (Tangwa Peak).

View at the summit of Mt. Lubo

Mt. Ngusong Kabayo, note the rock formation and the summit (Tangwa Peak)

Tangwa Peak (summit of Mt. Ngusong Kabayo)

Commuting via Cogeo in Antipolo, I arrived at Sitio Mayagay Uno at around 6:25 AM. The drop of point is located just a few meters away from the entrance of Martessem Mountain Resort. There I took a habal-habal ride to the barangay hall of Brgy. Laiban. Along the way are stunning views of the peaks and valleys of the Sierra Madre. After several stream and rivulet crossings, we reached the barangay hall after around 25 minutes. Since the barangay hall was still closed at that time, I went ahead and got myself a hot steaming cup of coffee. After a few minutes, a local officer arrived and started the cursory orientation and registration. The registration area is decked with several tarps of the trail maps and other hiking destinations in the area. After registering, together with my guide, we started the hike around 7:15 AM.

Martessem Resort, get off at this point

A few steps away, under the pine tree is the queue of habal-habal

Registration Area is located in the barangay hall of Laiban

Complete trail map of Laiban Quatro with a proposed itinerary

Trail head towards Mt. Lubo and Mt. Ngusong Kabayo

The trail head is located just a few meters away from the barangay hall. The trail towards Mt. Lubo, the first on our itinerary is through an exposed grassy trail on mild to moderately steep slope. The chilly early morning breeze and the refreshing views of the mountains make this part of the trail quite enjoyable. Mt. Toyang dominates the view on this part of the trail, looming in the background. Mt. Lubo has 4 stations, station 4 being the summit. We reached the first station after around 30 minutes after starting the hike. The trail towards the rest of the station and the summit remains fairly consistent - exposed grassy trail on moderately steep slopes. Passing through the rest of the stations, we reached the summit at around 8:12 AM, about an hour from the jump off. The summit offers great views of the nearby peaks of Mt. Ngusong Kabayo  - the Ngusong Kabayo rock and Tangwa Peak, as well as the other peaks and valleys of the Sierra Madre.

Along the grassy trail towards Mt. Lubo, Mt. Toyang in the background

The distant peak of Mt. Daraitan 

At the first station

At the second station

At the third station

At summit of Mt. Lubo (4th station), Mt. Ngusong Kabayo in the background

A few meters away from the summit is a flattened area serving as the campsite. We rested for a few minutes at this area, enjoying the views and our snacks. After a few minutes of rest we pushed on towards the next mountain on our itinerary - Mt. Ngusong Kabayo. Just like the trails towards Mt. Lubo, the trail towards Ngusong Kabayo is also mostly on open and exposed grassy trail, with some portions passing through a bamboo forest. We reached the foot of the enormous Ngusong Kabayo rock formation at around 8:42 AM, about half an hour from the campsite of Mt. Lubo.  The crags of this formidable rock formation has several precarious points perfect for those daredevil poses. However, the rockface is almost vertical with very few places to safely scramble and perch. I decided to only scramble about halfway for my own safety.

Bamboo forest towards Mt. Ngusong Kabayo

Huge Banyan Tree towards the Ngusong Kabayo Rock Formation

At the Ngusong Kabayo Rock Formation

The trail towards Tangwa Peak (which is the actual summit of Mt. Ngusong Kabayo) is through the rock formation itself. Several narrow passages and tunnel-like paths behind the towering rock formation lead to the grassy trail of Tangwa Peak. Along the trail are other picture-perfect spots showcasing the mountains of Tanay. The nearby Mts. Sapari and Binutasan as well as the towering Mt. Batolusong can clearly be seen at this point. We reached Tangwa Peak around 9:07 AM, less than two hours after starting the hike. As the sun is already high in the sky and it was already scorching hot, we did not spend much time at the summit. After snapping a few photos, we started the descent at around 9:10 AM. The descent trail leads to the multi tiered waterfalls of Laiban, a great destination in itself. So great in fact that it merits its own blogpost! Click HERE to read about the 4-tiered waterfalls of Laiban.

Narrow Passages at the base of Ngusong Kabayo Rock

Grassy trail towards Tangwa Peak

Mt. Binutasan and Mt. Sapari in Maysawa Circuit

Mt. Batolusong in the distance

At Tangwa Peak with the peaks and valleys of Sierra Madre in the background

After the refreshing side trip to Laiban Falls, we went for a quick trip to the Puting Bato river. Pasing through ricefields and other plantations, we reached the pebbly shores of the river after just a few minutes. The water is stunningly emerald blue-green framed with huge white rocks, hence the name. Since I have already had my fill of swimming for the day, we just snapped a few photos before heading back to the barangay hall. We logged out at the barangay halls exactly 12:28 PM, a little over 5 hours in all, completing the circuit hike.

Panat-in Falls, the 3rd Tier of Laiban Falls

Puting Bato River, with Mt. Toyang in the background

Doing a DIY multi-peak and multi falls dayhike in Tanay may seem to be a bit daunting at first, which is why I have not attempted it before. However, after completing this dayhike, I realized that it is indeed very possible and simpler than I expected. Now that they have recently opened the so-called "Rosary Trail" to Mt. Kalbo, passing through 7 peaks in all, I'm sure I will definitely be back soon!

Click HERE to continue reading about the 4-tiered Laiban Falls .

Useful information:

Trail Map: (created by Nomad Terra Crawlers, lifted from Skookum Mountaineers)
The trail map of Laiban Quatro. Note that only Mt. Lubo and Mt. Ngusong Kabayo are open at this time

Actual Itinerary:
3:50 AM - Departure from Cubao to Cogeo Gate 2
4:38 AM - Arrival at Cogeo Gate 2, walk to jeep terminal
5:21 AM - Departure to Sitio Mayagay Uno
6:25 AM - Arrival at SItio Mayagay Uno (Martessem Resort), ride habal-habal to Brgy. Laiban
6:52 AM - Arrival at the Brgy. Laiban hall, register, orientation
7:15 AM - Start hike
7:49 AM - First station of Mt. Lubo
7:58 AM - Second station of Mt. Lubo
8:06 AM - Third station of Mt. Lubo
8:12 AM - Summit of Mt. Lubo (4th Station)
8:44 AM - Ngusong Kabayo rock formation
9:07 AM - Tangwa Peak (summit of Mt. Ngusong Kabayo)
9:10 AM - Start descent
9:45 AM - Tagpuan Falls (Tier 1)
10:02 AM - Mahangin Falls (Tier 2)
10:16 AM - Panat-in Falls (Tier 3), rest, lunch, swim
11:30 AM - start descent to last waterfall
11:45 AM - Kalaparan Falls (Tier 4)
12:14 PM - Puting Bato River
12:28 PM - Back at barangay hall, log out, rest, wash up/tidy up
01:11 PM - Ride habal-habal back to drop off (Martessem)
01:37 PM - Back at the drop, wait for jeep back to Cogeo
02:12 PM - Ride jeep back to Cogeo Gate 2
03:12 PM - Cogeo Gate 2, ride jeep back to Cubao
04:06 PM - Back at Cubao

Mandatory Fees: (as of January 2018, prices subject to change without notice)
Registration fee - Php. 100.00 per hiker
Guide fee - Php 500.00 (up to 5 persons, dayhike); Php. 1,250.00 (up to 5 persons, overnight). For guide services, you may contact Kuya Ampay at 09291036193

How to get there: (Fares as of January 2018, fares subject to change without notice)
From Cubao, ride a jeep bound for Cogeo or Padilla and get off at Cogeo Gate 2 (Php. 24.00). From Cogeo Gate 2, walk towards the jeep terminal located at the City Mall of Antipolo and ride a jeep bound for Sampaloc (Php 55.00). Jeepneys usually leave for Sampaloc once fully loaded with passengers and cargo.  Get off at Mayagay Uno near Martessem Resort. Ride a habal-habal to Brgy Laiban (Php. 100.00) and get off at the barangay hall to register and get guides.

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