Sunday, March 31, 2013

Run-Laon XL (Mapot - Guintubdan Run)

@ the crater
“Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.” This passage from the Dhammapada has always been my travel dictum. And that is why you will often catch me on trails all by myself. But last Tuesday (March 26th), I did not travel alone. I traveled with my better in the person of a seasoned ultrarunner and triathlete, Xerxis Tan (a.k.a. X). Thus, we dubbed our journey Run-Laon XL.
Run-Laon XL (Xerxis + Lagataw)


A few weeks ago, Xerxis messaged me of his intention to run the trails of Mt Kanlaon. He said he was gonna be alone but wouldn’t mind one more companion in the run. With the help of another good friend Jigz Santiago, the head of the association of Mt Kanlaon guides in Canlaon City, we got our permits. We were scheduled to traverse Mt Kanlaon from Mapot to Guintubdan on the 26th of March. We kept everything secret because for some reason, most of my plans fall apart when I tell people of it beforehand.

After our 24K Salomon Xtrail run in Pico de Loro on the 23rd, we were too tired to have our planned pre-climb. I was with my running buddies and he was with his. All we could exchange was ‘Sige text kita mamaya’. We had not trekked or run together before but I knew things would go without a hitch because I was travelling with an experienced outdoorsman. We made all the preparations through text and Facebook the day before Run-Laon XL.
The Crater Summit and Margaja Valley as seen from Makawiwili Peak

CHANGE: The Best Type of Plan

Early morning of the 25th I flew to Bacolod from Manila and X flew to Dumaguete. I constantly exchanged text messages with my very accommodating friend Jigz Santiago and around noontime I arrived at the Canlaon City tourism office. After lunch I tried to sleep behind Jigz’s table as he busied himself with some unreasonable Korean tourists. At 7pm, X arrived. I was supposed to leave some stuff (which included a pair of jeans, slacks and suede shoes) and just pick ‘em up the following day at the tourism office. I had changed the plan to just go for a Mapot-Mananawin traverse because coming from Guintubdan back to Canlaon City would waste a lot of time that I might miss the last trip from Bacolod to Cebu. I had to be back in Cebu by 10am Wednesday because I had already bought a 10:30am Cebu-Ormoc ticket.  but X came up with a better plan. We kept the old plan to traverse to Guintubdan and just let the guide carry my Mobex. That way, we wouldn’t have to go all the way back to Canlaon City to pick up my stuff.
My Mobex has survived an Akiki-Ambangeg day hike. This time, it's Kanlaon. You know what's next!


Around 7:30pm, we headed for the house of our guide in Mapot. Jigz cooked pochero the Negrense way. In the middle of a baby’s wail I managed to steal two hours of yogic sleep which felt like eight. X said he couldn’t sleep a wink. But our guide might have only slept less than an hour because his baby wouldn’t let him.

At 4:30am the alarm went off and we had coffee and banana for our pre-breakfast. Jigz soon left because he had some guests to tour around that day. Around 5am, we had to face the most difficult part of the journey—the transition from inactivity to activity. I was still entertaining the thought of waiting for the sun to come out before starting the journey. It was as cold as Benguet! But we wanted to get back down before sunset so we had to leave.

At first, it was a bit difficult to breathe because the guide’s house was already at about 1300masl but soon our lungs adapted to the thin air. Our light packs allowed us to move fast. Around 7:30am we reached Makawiwili Peak. Because of X’s ingenious plan, I was able to make use of my city clothes for some instant photo ops. 
I never really liked doing this but the opportunity presented itself! 
We had breakfast at the shoulder campsite around 8:30 and at 9:30 we reached the crater rim. It was during that time when I knew why my friends who had climbed Mts Apo and Pulag consider Kanlaon the best of the Philippines’ big three. The terrain features were just out of this world! But as much as I wanted to savor every moment up there, I shook more and more with fear. Eight years of climbing but my acrophobia gets more intense each year. I couldn't get myself to peep into the crater. I failed to see the crack at the bottom that they were talking about. Soon my legs started to get stiff and I got fidgety every time I saw the guide and X near the edge. Then the winds blew stronger so I had to request for a descent. The slope and the rolling stones scared me more. I was walking down the bare crater peak with knees bent. But in the midst of this fear, I enjoyed the views nonetheless. 
X coming up from the east shoulder

Guintubdan Trail
Finally the ground got relatively flat at the west shoulder and we soon entered the bonsai forest of the Guintubdan trail! Guintubdan trail is ideal for downhill runs in that the slope is not so steep, the trail is clear and the canopy of rainforest trees energizes the runner. It was a long 9km downhill run and it was fun. It was such a shame that X’s GoPro ran out of battery inside his pack. I wanted to record our run on video.

And just what runners would love at the end of the run, the cold spring at the end of Guintubdan trail was a warm congratulation to our tired muscles.  Around 12:30 we stretched and cooled down in the natural pool as our lunch was being prepared at a small eatery. 
It was a good 16k recovery run from our 24k Salomon Xtrail!
Guintubdan natural pool
We got back to Bacolod around 4pm and another good friend Anton gave us a ride around the city. It was a nice way to celebrate the successful Run-Laon XL!
with Anton and the cool mixes @ Gypsy
Bacolod City Hall
In retrospect, that skyrun was a very nice experience. I miss the mountains but I don’t miss waking up with a hangover and cleaning soiled pegs and folding moist tents. I don’t miss carrying heavy backpacks and wading in muddy trails. I loved those things but I’m okay with keeping them as sweet memories of my climbing days. Running trails is my new way of enjoying the mountains.
the ~1.5-km trek from the jumpoff to the guide's place was not recorded.
elevation profile

our track


  1. congrats! kaingit.. you have a beautiful weather and clearing :)

  2. “Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.” -- I like this passage. Wag lang matatapat dun sa "thy betters" na nang-iiwan. ^^, Maraming beses na din akong nag travel or umakyat mag-isa pero daming nagsasabi na wag ko daw gagawin yun. Hehehe!

  3. Congrats once again sir..

    "My Mobex has survived an Akiki-Ambangeg day hike. This time, it's Kanlaon. You know what's next!" - Mt. Apo? Sama naman ako jan sir.

  4. Congrats once again sir..

    "My Mobex has survived an Akiki-Ambangeg day hike. This time, it's Kanlaon. You know what's next!" - Mt. Apo.. sama ako jan sir..

  5. Grabe gidagan lang ang kanlaon. Astig sir!

  6. Nindota ui. Gidagan lang ang Kanlaon. Nice sir!

  7. I am one of your followers Sir.

    Thanks to your Blog, I was able to accomplished Mt Apo Dayhike Traverse (Kapatagan-Kidapawan) and Mt. Pulag Dayhike Traverse (Akiki-Ambangeg).

    Plano ko na naman ngayon is ang Kanlaon Dayhike Traverse. Yung blogs mo ang naging inspiration ko para matupad ang mga hikes na to... Kudos!

    1. Go for it iamnoempty! It is a priceless experience.

  8. Sir! May I ask if you encountered limatiks along the trails? We're scheduled to do a hike this October, and sobrang takot po ako sa limatik. Pero gusto ko i-push tong Kanlaon, and I want to prepare kung talagang meron pang limatik. Huhu we're taking the same trails by the way. Thanks po in advance :)

    1. Once nung first time ko sa was a rainy June and we were climbing up Guintubdan in the summer RunLaon 2013 (Mapot-Guintubdan trav) limatiks...summer RunLaon 2015 (Mapot-Mananawin) no limatiks either. At any rate, you can always bring Off lotion. It's a really effective limatik-repellant.

    2. huhuhu :( Infested po ba ang Guintubdan tail? Or may sighting lang, pero di naman madami? Btw, Guintubdan-Mapot trav po kami. Thanks po sa advice. Makabili na ng madaming Off lotion :)

    3. hindi naman buong Guintubdan mga tatlo lang ang napansin ko...pero sa October parang hibernate muna ata sila.:)

    4. Yehey! May pag-hibernate :)) Thank you sir. Di ko alam kung ready na ko, or what, pero feeling ko naman ready na. Hehehe :)

  9. Astig! Na try mu na ang Wasay-Guintubdan?


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