Exploring the Wilderness of Aklan: A Very Challenging Hike to Mt. Nausang, Aklan’s Untamed and Highest Mountain in Panipiason, Madalag | rich'nritch.com

Exploring the Wilderness of Aklan: A Very Challenging Hike to Mt. Nausang, Aklan’s Untamed and Highest Mountain in Panipiason, Madalag

The summit of Mt. Nausang (locally known as Mt. Maylomay) is covered with dense vegetation and blanketed by fog. We climbed a tree to get a view. The sceneries around were obscured by clouds but every once in a while they would disperse and we'd get glimpses of how beautiful it is.
The summit of Mt. Nausang (locally known as Mt. Maylomay) is covered with dense vegetation and blanketed by fog. We climbed a tree to get a view. The sceneries around were obscured by clouds but every once in a while they would disperse and we'd get glimpses of how beautiful it is.

Tay Freddy, ma-éa-yo pa (is it still far)?, Ritch asked Pastor Freddy, our local guide, while we were walking in the middle of the night in the mountains of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan. “Ma-éa-pit éon lang, Ma’am, una éon sa unahan (we’re getting close, Ma’am, just few meters ahead),” Pastor Freddy replied. The rain was pouring and we started to feel cold so we stopped for a moment to get our jackets and rain coats. I pulled out my tarp and shared it with Ritchel and Tay Freddy and together, we used it as a walking shelter as we continue our hike to May Irimnan campsite. It was a struggle.

The view of Panipiason mountain ranges in Sitio Mananggad side as seen from a rice terraces in Sitio Clucisia. The ranges start from Mt. May-ayó and extend to Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. The perfect shape of the mountain can be seen from the opposite side.
The view of Panipiason mountain ranges in Sitio Mananggad side as seen from a rice terraces in Sitio Clucisia. The ranges start from Mt. May-ayó and extend to Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. The perfect shape of the mountain can be seen from the opposite side.

I didn’t expect to experience it on my second hike in this mountain. April 2017, a week after the successful exploration of AMSI (Antique Mountaineering Society, Incorporated), when I first hiked Mt. Nausang (Mt. Maylomay). Sarah (a fellow hiker) and I were the second group and the first two Aklanons to summit the highest mountain in Aklan with an altitude of 1,464 MASL. Its summit is located in Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan and its ranges extend to Libacao, Aklan.

Some of the Photos of our hike in Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang in April, 2017:

The view of Dumalaylay (Dumarayray) River dividing Libacao and Madalag.
The view of Dumalaylay (Dumarayray) River dividing Libacao and Madalag.
The Mananggad River, also part of Dumalaylay River, running alongside the rice terraces and Panipiason mountain ranges in Agtughangin side (from the left to right is Mt. Abobó, Mt. Ibunay, and Mt. Maga-so-éong).
The Mananggad River, also part of Dumalaylay River, running alongside the rice terraces and Panipiason mountain ranges in Agtughangin side (from the left to right is Mt. Abobó, Mt. Ibunay, and Mt. Maga-so-éong).
The view of Mananggad River in between the two separate mountain ranges of Panipiason.
The view of Mananggad River in between the two separate mountain ranges of Panipiason.
The view of Barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan and Aklan River that winds its way through the mountain ranges of Madalag and Libacao, stretching on as far as the eyes can see.
The view of Barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan and Aklan River that winds its way through the mountain ranges of Madalag and Libacao, stretching on as far as the eyes can see.
Locals carrying their abaca harvested from the mountains down to the village.
Locals carrying their abaca down to the village

 

Abaca is one of the main sources of livelihood in Panipiason.
Abaca is one of the main sources of livelihood in Panipiason

 

A sneak peek of Agtughangin Falls from Mt. May-ayó.
A sneak peek of Agtughangin Falls from Mt. May-ayó.
Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang was named after this Lomay tree. A lot of these trees can be found on the summit.
Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang was named after this Lomay tree. A lot of these trees can be found on the summit.
The vegetation and the fog are thick when we were approaching the summit.
The vegetation and the fog are thick when we were approaching the summit.
My fellow Aklanon hiker, Sarah, and our guides on the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. We were the second group and the first two Aklanon mountaineers who summited this mountain.
My fellow Aklanon hiker, Sarah, and our guides on the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. We were the second group and the first two Aklanon mountaineers who summited this mountain.
The views are covered with dense vegetation and thick clouds. We climbed to a tree to get a scenery.
The views are covered with dense vegetation and thick clouds. We climbed to a tree to get a scenery.
One of the view decks of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang that we found few meters away from the summit. The clouds were all over, but we waited quite a time to let them move away for the perfect view to come out.
One of the view decks of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang that we found few meters away from the summit. The clouds were all over, but we waited quite a time to let them move away for the perfect view to come out.

Looking back, I planned to explore it in 2015 but the barangay captain didn’t permit me because the trail was inaccessible after typhoon Haiyan hit the area so I ended up hiking Mt. Maga-so-eong (the ranges above the Panipiason proper) traversing to the famous Agtughangin Falls.

The view of Mt. Maga-so-éong from Barangay Panipiason's plaza in Sitio Clucisia.
The view of Mt. Maga-so-éong from Barangay Panipiason's plaza in Sitio Clucisia.

Some of the photos of my hike in Mt. Maga-so-éong in 2015:

The mountain is heavily covered with fog during our ascent due to the typhoon.
The mountain is heavily covered with fog during our ascent due to the typhoon.
The fogs were all over, covering also the peak of Mt. May-ayó and it’s ranges.
The fogs were all over, covering also the peak of Mt. May-ayó and it’s ranges.
The view of the Panipiason monkey bridge over Mananggad River as seen from Mt. Maga-so-éong.
The view of the Panipiason monkey bridge over Mananggad River as seen from Mt. Maga-so-éong.
The rain, the dark and foggy trees create a mysterious and weird effect as we walk deep inside the forest.
The rain, the dark and foggy trees create a mysterious and weird effect as we walk deep inside the forest.

 

The big tree in a mist with branches casting a bizarre shadow giving a strange atmosphere.
The big tree in a mist with branches casting a bizarre shadow giving a strange atmosphere.

 

The abaca farmer's hut where we stayed for a night, not far away from the source of Agtughangin waterfalls.
The abaca farmer's hut where we stayed for a night, not far away from the source of Agtughangin waterfalls.
The summit of Mt. Maga-so-éong covered with dense forest as seen from Mt. Ibunay.
The summit of Mt. Maga-so-éong covered with dense forest as seen from Mt. Ibunay.
The heavily forested slopes of Mt. Maga-so-éong. The forest is greener on the other side of the mountain.
The heavily forested slopes of Mt. Maga-so-éong. The forest is greener on the other side of the mountain.
During our descent, we passed by this cassava plantation in the slopes of the mountain using slash and burn (kaingin) system.
During our descent, we passed by this cassava plantation in the slopes of the mountain using slash and burn (kaingin) system.
The view of Mt. Abobó, one of the highest and heavily forested mountains in Panipiason.
The view of Mt. Abobó, one of the highest and heavily forested mountains in Panipiason.
The vast and untouched forest of Mt. Ibunay that connects to Mt. Abobó. Below this forest is the famous Agtughangin Falls.
The vast and untouched forest of Mt. Ibunay that connects to Mt. Abobó. Below this forest is the famous Agtughangin Falls.
The famous Agtughangin waterfall. One of the tallest waterfalls in Panipiason.
The famous Agtughangin waterfall. One of the tallest waterfalls in Panipiason.
The famous monkey bridge with Mt. Maga-so-eong in the background.
The famous monkey bridge with Mt. Maga-so-eong in the background.

 A day ago, jumping off from Oyang, Libacao, Ritchel and I tried to establish a trail going to Mt. Nausang. Gerry, our local guide, said that it’s not possible to hike the mountain from there because of the heavy obstacles. The trail has not been used for a long time and became more difficult after the typhoon. Thick vegetation, heavily-thorned plants, and logs were all over the path making it impossible to be cleared in a day or two. Unable to proceed, we descended from the mountains of Oyang and crossed to Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan. We decided to hike the pinnacle of Aklan in Panipiason. We arrived at the jump-off point in the afternoon hungry and exhausted after our failed Libacao exploration. We arranged our guides, had our lunch, and warmed up in preparation for our ascend. It’s my third time in the place and it still didn’t fail to amaze me. The views are scenic and the people are very warm.

Weighing our backpacks using Roman Balance.
Weighing our backpacks using Roman Balance (Romana).

 

The Roman Balance is commonly found in remote mountainous areas.
The Roman Balance is commonly found in remote mountainous areas.

 

Used by locals of Barangay Panipiason to weigh their products.
Used by locals of Barangay Panipiason to weigh their products.

 

Ritchel pose as she holds the Roman Balance (Romana).
Ritchel pose as she holds the Roman Balance.

 

The funny part was when one of the folks asked us where we’re heading and we said, “to Mt. Nausang”, he claimed there’s no such mountain in the village. We rephrased our answer and said, “to the highest mountain in Aklan”. Then he said, it’s name is Mt. Maylomay not Mt. Nausang. He explained further that ‘Nausang’ is the name of the stream flowing from the foot of Mt. Maylomay in Panipiason going to Libacao and down to Aklan River with its head meeting the peak of the Aklan’s highest mountain. It was mistakenly named ‘Mt. Nausang’ by a certain geological surveyor. His statements bewildered us so we started asking until tens of people and children were around us listening. Ritchel cracked some personal jokes and everyone laughs around. It was a fascinating scene!

With the friendly and accommodating people of Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan before we hiked Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
With the friendly and accommodating people of Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan before we hiked Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.

It was past 5PM when we started to ascend. We decided to go for a night trek expecting to reach May-Irimnan campsite at 9PM. From there, it would be easy to reach the summit early in the morning. With limited batteries and no power banks, we turned off our smart phones. We’d been walking deep inside the jungle under the heavy downpour for long hours without monitoring the time. We were soaked and shivering by the time we arrived to the site. We swiftly set up our tarp shelter and tent. While I was preparing dinner, Ritch remembered to open her phone and checked the time. We were both shocked to know it was past midnight. Exhausted and cold, we managed to sleep after eating.

Stunning view of Panipiason mountain ranges during our ascent to Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
Stunning view of Panipiason mountain ranges during our ascent to Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
Looking at the vast mountain ranges of Madalag and Libacao, Aklan. It was almost sunset, the view is awe-inspiring.
Looking at the vast mountain ranges of Madalag and Libacao, Aklan. It was almost sunset, the view is awe-inspiring.

The next day, we continued our hike to the summit. Though it was my second time, the path still amazes me. Going up was steep and covered by mossy forest. In the absence of view decks, the trail served as perfect scenery. We reached the summit at 9AM.

Preparing our breakfast in preparation for our assault to the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
Preparing our breakfast in preparation for our assault to the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
The lush green surrounding of the trail leading to the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang is enjoyable.
The lush green surrounding of the trail leading to the summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang is enjoyable.
Standing along the moss-covered trees.
Standing along the moss-covered trees.
Greenery all around. The whole trail is covered with moss.
Greenery all around. The whole trail is covered with moss.
Tree branches here are almost knitted together and covered with moss.
Tree branches here are almost knitted together and covered with moss.
Some trees have fresh green ferns sprouting on their branches.
Some trees have fresh green ferns sprouting on their branches.
Playing with the tree branches with wet moss and ferns, such a refreshing feeling!
Playing with the tree branches with wet moss and ferns, such a refreshing feeling!
The trail has plenty of plants called Lagiwriw. In some parts of the hike, you’ll be climbing onto these plants.
The trail has plenty of plants called Lagiwriw. In some parts of the hike, you’ll be climbing onto these plants.
The elusive yet astonishing summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. The view are covered with dense vegetation and the summit is usually blanketed by clouds from late morning till afternoon.
The elusive yet astonishing summit of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang. The view are covered with dense vegetation and the summit is usually blanketed by clouds from late morning till afternoon.
Ritchel poses for a picture at the view deck of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
Ritchel poses for a picture at the view deck of Mt. Maylomay/Mt. Nausang.
Taking a selfie after our tiring yet fulfilling hike.
Taking a selfie after our tiring yet fulfilling hike.

The fog was all over the area when we started our descent. We left the campsite at 11AM and touched down Panipiason proper at 8PM. It was an overwhelming joy and fulfillment to have hiked the highest mountain of our home province and seen it’s own treasures.

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