Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mount Talinis

I have always been attracted to mountains, big or small, I find them beckoning me to explore, climb and photograph them. When I was staying in Panagsama Beach a few years ago, the mountains of Negros brought me here to Dumaguete. From afar, majestic and shrouded in mist and clouds, they were at once verdant mysterious worlds to go experience.

Once in Dumaguete, it wasn’t long before Mount Talinis captured my interest. Rising 6100’ over the city to the West, it dominates the landscape, influences the weather, and gives a primordial feeling to the up hill explorations I have become found of. Also referred to as Cuernos de Negros (horns of Negros) Mt. Talinis is an ancient dormant volcano responsible for much of the land we walk on today in Dumaguete. It is second in height only to Mount Canlaon. Even today volcanic vents are active throughout the area and on some days when you look to the mountain you can see a great white plume of steam rising from the PNOC geothermal facility up high in the Valencia region. If you ride up into the surrounding hills, the smell of sulfur is frequent as you become suddenly aware of the live volcanic vents along the road. Hot springs offering an invigorating mineral bath are located in remote ravines waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler.

Talinis is almost always capped by either clouds or moist steamy mist, which ads to its mystique. Small subsistence farms dot the slopes as Talinis rises from the surrounding plain. The roads that lead up the mountain gradually disappear into trails, then paths only suitable for hiking. The remoteness is what attracts me to it. In many western countries the mountains are accessible by roads or perhaps cable cars. In the Philippines, no such infrastructure exists. The natives who live in the remote mountain areas live much like their ancestors, except now they travel to the cities, and have become adapted to modern society.

The plants and animals found on the slopes of Talinis are varied and exotic. Wild Orchids beyond description, pythons, wild pigs, and many indigenous birds and reptiles dwell there. There are several outfitters in Dumaguete who can organize trips to the mountain. You determine the difficulty of the climb. That said you do need to be in relatively good shape to attempt a trek up Talinis. I would suggest a minimum overnight expedition. I have been told that a three day trip is ideal, but keep in mind this is undeveloped tropical terrain and very steep. Slightly to the north of Talinis slopes lay the Twin Lakes, known officially as Balinsasayao Lakes. These lakes can be reached via a trek from Talinis, but this is definitely for the more adventurous hiker. In case you are wondering, the Twin Lakes do have a car accessible access available as well in Sibulan.

Talinis is a constant reminder of our connection with nature as it hovers over Dumaguete, even influencing the weather with its rain producing clouds. Life below in the city goes on seemingly unaware of the Mountain to the West, but all you need do is glance up and you a drawn to its majesty.

No comments: