Hiking the Formidable Mt. Nangtud: Our Epic Hike to the Second Highest Mountain in Panay and One of the Toughest in the Country | rich'nritch.com

Hiking the Formidable Mt. Nangtud: Our Epic Hike to the Second Highest Mountain in Panay and One of the Toughest in the Country

The knife-edge is one of the most iconic and scenic trails in Mt. Nangtud. The trail runs alongside the steep slopes avoiding the severely eroded side of the ridge.
The knife-edge is one of the most iconic and scenic trails in Mt. Nangtud. The trail runs alongside the steep slopes avoiding the severely eroded side of the ridge.

“Ritch, your location please? I’m now in the bus, I’ll be in our meeting place at around 2:00 PM,” I told Ritch in Facebook messenger. We’re going for a major hike. It was an overcast Friday afternoon of May and a bit late for a normal hiking trip. For the record, it was our second duo-hike together. We’ve just agreed a night before. With quick planning and minimal time to prepare, time adjustments were expected to happen.

“I’m on my way, too,” she replied. Ritchel doesn’t just spend her days behind the desk. She works as a teacher in Malay National High School on weekdays and a certified traveler on weekends. We’ve hiked numerous mountains together including the seven-day exploration in the Aklan mountain ranges from Libacao to Madalag and traversing to Culasi, Antique via Mt. Madja-as. Being spontaneous is what made us instantly complement each other.

May of this year when we conquered Mt. Nangtud, the second highest and one of the toughest mountains in Panay, within two days and one night, a record that nobody has ever done before according to our guide. We supposed to explore a protected area in the Northwest Panay Peninsula (NWPP) for three days but since our permit wasn't settled on time, we had a change of plan and ended up hitting the trails of Mt. Nangtud in Barbaza, Antique. 

It was my second hike to this mountain. My first time was in April which took me two and a half days and two nights (2.5D2N) but I failed to reach its true summit. Upon reaching the false summit, my guide advised me not to proceed given the time and food supply. Besides, it was completely an unplanned trip. Nangtud has two summits, one preparatory summit called EBJ (named after the former Governor Evelio B. Javier who first hiked on this mountain) and the true summit which I later learned is only less than an hour from EBJ. I could have insisted to my guide if I have known it beforehand.

Some photos of my hike in Mt. Nangtud last March 2017:

The view of Mt. Nangtud mountain ranges from this remote community in the mountains of Barbaza.
The view of Mt. Nangtud mountain ranges from this remote community in the mountains of Barbaza.
The view of one of the channels of Dalanas River lying at the foot of the mountains in Barbaza and flows across the mountain ranges.
The view of one of the channels of Dalanas River lying at the foot of the mountains in Barbaza and flows across the mountain ranges.
The start of the hike to Mt. Nangtud requires long hours of river trekking and multiple river crossings.
The start of the hike to Mt. Nangtud requires long hours of river trekking and multiple river crossings.
The trail requires multiple river crossings that vary from ‘below the knee’ to waist-deep.
The trail requires multiple river crossings that vary from ‘below the knee’ to waist-deep.
The famous knife-edge trail of Mt. Nangtud. This long narrow ridge is extremely exposed at daytime. The trail winds up along the steep slopes of the ridge through the ‘pinggan-pinggan’ campsite up to the tree line.
The famous knife-edge trail of Mt. Nangtud. This long narrow ridge is extremely exposed at daytime. The trail winds up along the steep slopes of the ridge through the ‘pinggan-pinggan’ campsite up to the tree line.
The lower slopes of the knife-edge is covered with deep green forest.
The lower slopes of the knife-edge is covered with deep green forest.
Looking back at the exposed knife-edge trail during our ascend. This ridge is the most excruciating trail of Mt. Nangtud; very long, open, and the sun here could be brutal if you don't make it on time to the tree line.
Looking back at the exposed knife-edge trail during our ascend. This ridge is the most excruciating trail of Mt. Nangtud; very long, open, and the sun here could be brutal if you don't make it on time to the tree line.
As the trail leaves the knife-edge, the hike become steeper and the forest become denser.
As the trail leaves the knife-edge, the hike become steeper and the forest become denser.
The trail passes through a thick forest with big trees.
The trail passes through a thick forest with big trees.
It also offers breathtaking views of vast forest and mountain ranges.
It also offers breathtaking views of vast forest and mountain ranges.
Apart from the knife-edge, this ridge also offers spectacular view.
Apart from the knife-edge, this ridge also offers spectacular view.
Apart from the Knife Edge, this ridge also offers spectacular view.
Apart from the knife-edge, this ridge also offers spectacular view.
Another great view from along the trail.
Another great view from along the trail.
No shortage of views along the trail to the summit of Mt. Nangtud.
No shortage of views along the trail to the summit of Mt. Nangtud.
No shortage of views along the trail to the summit of Mt. Nangtud.
No shortage of views along the trail to the summit of Mt. Nangtud.
Scenic view of Barbaza mountain ranges stretching out to the Sulu Sea.
Scenic view of Barbaza mountain ranges stretching out to the Sulu Sea.
The summit of Mt. Nangtud as seen from the ridge not far away from EBJ peak.
The summit of Mt. Nangtud as seen from the ridge not far away from EBJ peak.
As we are nearing to the EBJ peak, we spotted fallen trees on trail like the one in the photo.
As we are nearing to the EBJ peak, we spotted fallen trees on trail like the one in the photo.

 

The mossy forest trail going to EBJ peak.
The mossy forest trail going to EBJ peak.

 

 The mossy ambiance of EBJ peak
 The mossy ambiance of EBJ peak
Mt. Nangtud’s EBJ Peak
Mt. Nangtud’s EBJ Peak
A spectacular view of sunset over Sulu Sea during our descent.
A spectacular view of sunset over Sulu Sea during our descent.
It is midday when we hike down the river to the jump off point. I could feel the sun burning my face as we walk along the riverbank
It is midday when we hike down the river to the jump off point. I could feel the sun burning my face as we walk along the riverbank.

 

As we are walking under the searing heat of the midday sun, we take shelter under towering cliffs and big rocks by the river from time to time.
As we are walking under the searing heat of the midday sun, we take shelter under towering cliffs and big rocks by the river from time to time.

 

While sheltering on the shade of the cliff by the river, we take the opportunity to have our lunch.
While sheltering on the shade of the cliff by the river, we take the opportunity to have our lunch.

 

A group of water buffalos dipping in Dalanas river during the scorching time of the day.
A group of water buffalos dipping in Dalanas river during the scorching time of the day.
Getting up close to water buffalos as they enjoy dipping in the river.
Getting up close to water buffalos as they enjoy dipping in the river.
Farmers plowing fields with the help of water buffalos at this remote hilltop village in Barbaza, Antique.
Farmers plowing fields with the help of water buffalos at this remote hilltop village in Barbaza, Antique.
They farm on the slopes of the hills surrounding their small village.
They farm on the slopes of the hills surrounding their small village.

Ritch and I arrived almost exactly at the same time in our agreed place. My bus was from the eastern side of Aklan and hers was from the western side. My previous experience made us decide to complete our hike for 3-4 days. However, while on our way at past 3:00 PM, she was informed by her principal thru sms that she needs to report to school on Monday, giving her only two free days. Late and only have two days left, we still pushed on. We reached Lombuyan, Nangtud's jumpoff, at past 7 PM, hoping that we can still make it for the day. We negotiated with our guide if he can lead us to the first camp site by doing a night trek but he didn’t agree. 

Short of options, we persuaded him to allow us to hike Mt. Nangtud for two days and one night. “Let’s just give it a try. I climbed it before, I think it’s doable. If we feel that we couldn’t make it, we’ll go back. We’ll pay you for the usual three-day climb,” I said to Tay Nito (one of the legendary guides and the father of Nito Jr.). He reluctantly agreed and we made a deal. A very long and fast-paced hike was ahead of us.

It was Saturday the next day, we woke up at 2:00 AM. We did our usual preparations, ate breakfast, and left Lombuyan at 3:45 AM. Hiking Mt. Nangtud requires an arduous journey across multiple rivers with strong currents and along narrow high ridges. It mainly involves ascends to mostly 80- 85 degrees steep mountain slopes. Carrying a full-pack load made it more dragging due to elevation and gravity pull. Despite the difficulty, the breathtaking scenery and the richness of its flora and fauna along the trails definitely kept us going.

Crossing the wild river at dawn. It’s dark, unpredictable, and it’s strong current makes the river crossing more difficult.
Crossing the wild river at dawn. It’s dark, unpredictable, and it’s strong current makes the river crossing more difficult.
Colourful sky at the breaking of the dawn.
Colourful sky at the breaking of the dawn.
At the river trail during our ascend to Mt. Nangtud.
At the river trail during our ascend to Mt. Nangtud.
The river trail offers awe-inspiring landscapes, unspoilt panoramic views, and thrilling river crossings.
The river trail offers awe-inspiring landscapes, unspoilt panoramic views, and thrilling river crossings.

The river trail offers awe-inspiring landscapes, unspoilt panoramic views, and thrilling river crossings.

The river trail offers awe-inspiring landscapes, unspoilt panoramic views, and thrilling river crossings.

Bamboo bridge used by the locals when the river gets high
Bamboo bridge used by the locals when the river gets high.
Eroded rocks from the mountains in the Dalanas River.
Eroded rocks from the mountains in the Dalanas River.
The long and tiring hike to Mt. Nangtud’s knife-edge trail.
The long and tiring hike to Mt. Nangtud’s knife-edge trail.
The knife-edge trail is not easy even in an overcast day. it’s hot and humid but we still enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
The knife-edge trail is not easy even in an overcast day. it’s hot and humid but we still enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

The knife-edge trail is not easy even in an overcast day. it’s hot and humid but we still enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

The knife-edge trail is not easy even in an overcast day. it’s hot and humid but we still enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

At the iconic summit of Mt. Nangtud
At the iconic summit of Mt. Nangtud

We minimized our stops and photo-taking. It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived at the EBJ at 5:00 PM and reached the summit at 6:00 PM.

Our descent was filled with darkness, heavy rain, and sound of thunders. Walking in the narrow ridges in a dark night while raining hard was pretty much of a struggle. “We’re like undergoing scout rangers’ training,” our guide commented. We pitched our tents at past 9PM. There were lots of leeches in the campsite which made our sleep uneasy. We left the place at 10AM on Sunday and arrived at Lombuyan at 8PM.

Limatiks (leeches) are present in the trail when raining.
Limatiks (leeches) are present in the trail when raining.
Traversing the knife-edge trail after reaching the summit.
Traversing the knife-edge trail after reaching the summit.

Traversing the knife-edge trail after reaching the summit.

We spent the night at our guide’s house. The dinner was filled with stories of our recently concluded hike. It was a remarkable one. Ritch left Lombuyan at 2AM on Monday and reached Palma, Barbaza at 3 AM, took the van at 4 AM, arrived in Caticlan at 5:40 AM, and reported to school at 7 AM while I left Barbaza at a later time to get our certificates of climb.

With tay Nito in his house in Lomboyan, Barbaza, Antique. He’s one of the legendary guides of Mt. Nangtud.
With tay Nito in his house in Lomboyan, Barbaza, Antique. He’s one of the legendary guides of Mt. Nangtud.

Until then, we can't believe we successfully did it. Another full-pack and crazy adventure for us. One for the books! 

Note: 2D1N is not an ideal itinerary for Mt. Nangtud. If not for Ritchel’s call of duty, we would go for a safe three-day IT. Our apologies.

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