Ginger Paws Outdoors

My First Solo Hike in Mt. Balagbag, Philippines

Mt. Balagbag

“You are getting married; you shouldn’t be going out all the time!”
“Aren’t you afraid to hike alone? You’re a lady!”
“Rapists and criminals are everywhere. And you’re a woman!”
These are some of the words that people have told me when they found out I was alone while exploring Mt. Balagbag.

It’s the new year, and I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. First, I can’t keep up with those “promises”; I don’t need New Year just to change myself or do something in my life. However, I always set goals that I would like to do within that year. Usually, I write it down during my birthday and then check it the next year. To those things that I was not able to accomplish will still be added to my new list until I am able to fulfill it.

The year 2016 was different, though. It was special, and everything went so fast. Things happened unexpectedly, and I was not able to make a list on my birthday. I just arrived in the UK, and everything was new and overwhelming. My focus was not about what I wanted to do, but it was about how to make my new life with my partner to work. Gladly, it worked out so well! I’ve been traveling a lot when I was in the UK, and I started my blogging right then. After six months, I went back to the Philippines and spent my holidays with my family.I became busy with my blogs, hunting and shooting in festivals, part-time work as an event’s photographer and of course, preparing for our wedding. At the end of the year, I could breathe in for a while and decided to continue my birthday list.

One of my goals this year is to hike at least five mountains. So I checked out some easy mountains to hike and bumped into a nearby mountain. I know some areas in Bulacan that’s good for hiking, and I’ve been to some of them a few times, but this one is just new to me.

Mt. BalagbagMt. Balagbag

With my new action camera (a Christmas gift for myself), I went to Mt. Balagbag a day after the New Year. I was too excited to use it that I didn’t even bother to practice how to take videos properly. Believe me, I had headaches after watching my own videos! Anyway, it took more than two hours for me to get to this place. Mt. Balagbag is at the boundary of two provinces, Bulacan and Rizal. It is good for minor hikers because the trail is unchallenging.

When I reached the village of Licao-Licao, I saw a group of people in a small store. There Mt. Balagbagwas a lady who asked me to register before I took the path to the village of Balagbag. There was also a donation box, but it’s not compulsory. There were tricycle drivers in the area as well and asked me if I would like to ride. However, I chose to walk because I would like to enjoy the area. It was raining a couple of days ago, and the
path was muddy.

 

I’ve been walking for about twenty minutes, and I had no idea where I was going. All I know was that I have to follow the path, and it will lead me to Mt. Balagbag. Thankfully, two motorists came and offered to give me a lift. They said that it was still a long way to go for me to reach the next registration. I had a second thought, but I noticed that there were many people along the way and if these guys have bad plans for me, I could easily get help. Oh well, it will save me from walking a couple of kilometers, so I gladly accepted the offer. I hate riding a motorbike, but this time; I faced my fear. I just want to reach the place as soon as I can. I had a chat with the bloke that I was riding a bike with, and his name is Darwin. He said that they live in the nearby town, and they will go to the waterfalls. It took us about around 15 minutes to reach their location and sadly, it’s still far from the place I was going. So I thanked them and continued my journey.


Mt. BalagbagIt took a while before the next registration area and on my way there, I’ve seen a lot of hikers on their way back from the peak. Once I reached the BarangayΒ (Village) hall of San Isidro, I registered again and paid PHP10 as a registration fee. They showed me the path going to the summit and told me that I would need to make another registration at the entrance of the hill. By this time, I already felt the steep slope of the area as I was struggling to walk faster. From the second registration, it took me more or less thirty minutes to reach the third registration booth. Again, I registered and this time it costs PHP30. I also met some kids here on their way to the peak as well.

Aside from the hikers, I also saw some mountain bikers on my way. There were tracks that quarrying was or is a source of income in this area. There are few trees along the way once you enter the third point. The fusion of the golden soil and the tall green grasses left me astonished. After another thirty minutes, I reached the summit. The weather was a bit overcasted that day, and the wind was strong. My jaws dropped once I saw the magnificent layers of the mountains. You can also see the tall buildings of the busy city of Manila from afar.

There is also a place called a helipad, aside from the summit. It took me fifteen minutes to climb that place from the summit. This place is at the opposite way towards the summit, so I needed to go back down a bit. there were hikers with their tents on top of the hill the moment I arrived. I also saw a dog wagging her tail and seemed like welcoming me as I reached the top. The kids who went up at the helipad played with the dog. From the hilltop, I could see the Mt. Balagbag summit and the cityscape while on the other side was the mountain range and the Ippo Dam came into view. The wind was stronger that it became difficult for me to walk straight. Once I felt that the air was getting colder and the clouds had formed to a darker shade, I’ve decided to start my trek down and head home.

Mt. BalagbagMt. Balagbag

Mt. BalagbagMt. Balagbag

The feeling of accomplishment once I reached the top was enigmatic. the sense of freedom and fear was there. This was not my initial time to hike and reach a summit. However, it was my first to go outdoors alone. And as a woman, I’ve heard a lot of comments about it. Some were good and some were about being worried. I was getting married that time, and everyone was telling me about superstitions and I shouldn’t be doing many activities that are prone to accidents. I do understand and appreciate the care that these people wanted to show me; however, these deterrent words can’t stop me from living my life to the fullest. YOLO as they say, but in every adventure I take, awareness and care must be affiliated.

Mt. BalagbagMt. Balagbag

 

How to get there?
From Marilao, Bulacan: ride a jeepney bound to Muzon. From there, ride a jeepney going to Tungko. When you reach that area, look for BDO bank or Shell station and behind those buildings is where the jeepney terminal to Licao-Licao is. The final stop will be the entrance to the Mt. Balagbag trek.

From Farmers Cubao: ride a bus bound to Tungko. Then follow the directions above once you reach Tungko.

Note: You have an option to ride a tricycle going to San Isidro Barangay Hall. And a tour guide is not necessary unless you want to do a traverse hike or go somewhere further beyond the vicinity of Mt. Balagbag.

Mt. Balagbag

 

Hiking alone made me appreciate myself more than I used to. It also helped me to learn things about myself. traveling alone as a woman is nerve racking due to our baleful surrounding. Nevertheless, it could give you the sense of independence and courage to face the rough times throughout your journey.

 

Here’s a video of my adventure in Mt. Balagbag. WARNING: The video is shaky and might give you headache! Sorry, I am new to videos and this was my first time to use my action camera. Thank you for your consideration! Peace y’all!

About Gracie Gill

A hobbyist photographer enjoying her life through arts, music, traveling and getting fit. A proud crazy cat lady.

65 thoughts on “My First Solo Hike in Mt. Balagbag, Philippines

  1. Mandi

    Oh man I loved this! How do you prepare for a hike, like what do you bring?

    I love nature and would love to do stuff like this, but I have anxiety of long destinations. I “accidentally” walked 5 miles on a trail one time with a newborn not knowing where I was going and it was horrible.

    http://www.motherhoodgetsbetter.com

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      Funny but the first I prepare is my cameras! Then drink and a couple of sweets for energy. Then research about the place and how to get there.

      Oh I feel you, except with the newborn. Me and my bf had an “unexpected” hike as well when we got lost up in the hill one time. I almost gave up but I couldnt do anything but continue because we were in the middle of nowhere.

  2. Frenching Frogs

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a courageous woman. I admire your adventurous spirit and am slightly inspired to try something new and adventure myself. I’m not sure I’ll be hiking though.

  3. Sia

    You go girl! I would be kind of scared to do it myself, mostly because my orientation is not the best and I might end up God know where haha. The place looks stunning and challenging yourself is the best way to develop skills and character.

  4. Kristof

    You’re really brave doing such things by yourself! I’ve been to numerous trips by myself and it has always been a unique experience. My first solo trip was a pretty frightening experience to me, but I started to appreciate it more every trip I took.

  5. Reshma

    I’m a solo female traveler and I backpacked in the Philippines last year. I totally understand your fears and thoughts for going solo, which reminded me of what I felt when I first went alone 3 years ago! More power to you. I loved Philippines but never went to Balabag. Adding it for next time!

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      You are so brave to do it alone here! I grew up in the Philippines but in our world today, I can’t say it is still safe. I had a solo travel in South Korea and I wasn’t worried much, but since I’m from the Philippines, I know what’s going on around my country.

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      You should visit the Philippines! Summer is almost here and the beaches will be packed with people. And if you want to go hiking, we’ve got loads of mountains to climb!

  6. Katherine

    That sounds like quite a hike! Why are there three registration booths though? I’d have thought that one would be enough (but I’m not a mountain hiker so there’s probably something I’m missing). The views are spectacular!
    Don’t you just love it when people use “being a woman” as some kind of reason why you shouldn’t do things? It’s like feminism never happened πŸ˜‰

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      Most of the mountains here requires tour guides, it helps them track all the visitors of the area and protect the mountains as well. Though Mt. Balagbag does not require guides, so I think that’s some form of getting money to preserve the area as well? Not sure though…

  7. Julianne

    Hi Gracie, thanks for sharing your post! I understand how you feel — people always ask me “Where is your husband?” or “Why are you alone?” when I travel, as if I’m incapable of going places because I’m a woman. Good on you for setting a goal of hiking five mountains. You can do it! Congrats on summiting Mt. Balagbag!

  8. knycx.journeying

    Nice view and I think you did great for a solo hike. You go girl! Now you have great memory and nice picture out of this travel experience. Any other mountain in the country that would be great to hike?
    @ knycx.journeying

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      There are loads of mountains to hike here. I will be hiking to 2 summits this weekend. They are minor climbs but it’s ok for a starter like me! Thank you!

  9. Gina

    I would love to see the beaches. They must be amazing. I am sure you can learn a lot about yourself through this kind of travel. I am not sure that my nerves would take it though.

  10. danik

    I love hiking around the world and I have bookmarked this post as a possibly hike I would like to do in the Philippines. Great post and loving the photos.

  11. Josselyn Radillo

    My mom told me all those things above when I told her I was going to explore the world this year lol
    But I really want to go out and the world with my own eyes

  12. Author Brandi Kennedy

    I’m glad you had such a great time! I’ve been thinking some solo travel would be good for my soul – but then, maybe that’s just the overwhelm of single motherhood! I can’t afford to do much traveling abroad just yet, but maybe I’ll follow your example and head out on a local adventure in the next few days. Maybe I can squeeze something solitary into the hours while my kids are at school

  13. kristen morris

    I love the idea of solo hiking, it must feel so serene and also I would imagine the sense of pride would be incredible! Good for you. This reminds me of the movie Wild, which also made me want to go running off in the wilderness….

  14. Amanda

    Yes, you go girl! Thanks for the tip. If and when I make it to the Philippines, I will have to add this trek to my list. You keep doing you chica!!

  15. digital travel guru

    I cannot wait to visit Philippines, thanks for sharing a great post and loved looking at your photos.

  16. Micki

    I definitely don’t think having a man along is necessary, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable hiking alone in any country – even my own. If something were to happen (like getting injured or lost), I think I would feel better if there were someone else with me. I’m all about the group hikes lol. Although, it does sound like you ran into other people at various points along the way so that’s a plus!

  17. Rachel Pearson

    I love your sense of spirit, and no one can hold you back! The views from the summit are incredible and that welcoming dog is so cute! Looking forward to seeing you cross off the other mountains too!

  18. Ruth I.

    I salute you for bravely hiking alone and achieving one of your goals. The photos are great and I believe your experience was amazing.

  19. Wanderlust Vegans

    Urg! I hate all the negativity women get when we do something on our own. Good for you for ignoring those comments and succeeding in your goal. It looks like a beautiful hike. Once you get to the top and see that beautiful view, you forget all your fears.

  20. Stella the Travelerette

    Those quotes at the beginning are so funny. People always think something terrible is going to happen to a woman who travels alone. I know because I am a solo female traveler myself. Great resolution to do more hiking and good for you for sticking to it!

  21. Riely

    Mount Balagbag looks beautiful from your photos. I love to hike, but have yet to embark on one alone, not for any particular reason. You have inspired me to go for it and try hiking solo!

  22. Angela Milnes

    Great post! According to friends, Mt. Balagbag is an easy climb since it’s relatively flat as compared to other mountains near the area where everything is almost assault. However a day before our climb, it rained heavily and as expected, it was one wet and muddy adventure.

  23. Cliodhna Ryan

    I’m also kind of scared of hiking alone but think I would love it if I did it. You’ve inspired me to suck it up and give it a go! Great post.

  24. Peachy

    I haven’t done any hiking and I don’t think I could do it with kids in tow. Maybe when my kids grow up a little, I can take them hiking.

  25. Erin Leigh

    I’ve recently realized I love to explore solo, but I still think I’d be a little to nervous to hike alone like you! Awesome that you did it. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  26. Carola

    Good on you for ignoring the naysayers and just doing it on your own. And I’m sure you learned a thousand things for your 2nd peak πŸ™‚

    Happy continued traveling & solo-hiking!
    C

  27. Archana Singh

    HA HA HA HA. You opening sentences reminded me of the welcome I get almost everywhere. I don’t understand why people think solo travel is not a girl’s cup of tea. Fun post.

  28. Wanderlust Vegans

    I think that it is admirable that even though people were discouraging you from going you knew you could do it so you did it anyway. It is brave that even though you had some fears you faced them and accomplished your goal. I’ve never done a solo hike but I imagine that it give you a new sense of independence like you say.

  29. Shaheen Khan

    I am glad you went ahead on your solo hike. Just the kind of thing I used to dream of. Can’t really do that once you have kids. The view from the summit is awesome and I loved your detailed walkthrough of the entire hike. Almost felt like I got tagged along😊

  30. Leticia

    I say you go out there and hike and do it no matter what anyone says! As it looks like you’ve seen some amazing things as your pictures look so good!

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