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Cawag Hexa

With all honesty, Cawag Hexa is one of my favorite day hikes because of its picturesque view under hellish conditions. I can describe it as both physically and mentally challenging most especially when done during the scorching heat. I was able to do a Cawag Hexa day hikes both during summertime (April and May respectively) with only 2 weeks interval. It is composed of 6 mountains located in the Zambales mountain ranges, namely: Balingkilat, BiraBira, Naulaw, Dayungan, Cinco Picos and Redondo for a total of 33.7km with a combined elevation gain of 5800ft for all the hexa mountains and an elevation loss of 6100ft. I have consistently finished both Cawag Hexa 16hours as part of the lead group.

The first part of the hike passes Mt Balingkilat which requires technical climbing skills through rock walls and boulders with almost 90 degrees vertical climb for a total distance of 7.4km. from the jump-off point to the Summit and a total altitude gain of 3100ft. It is best to reach Balingkilat before sunrise when the sun is still not scorching hot. Since we started late in our hike at 4:30am, we arrived at around 7:30am when the Sun was starting to show it's toasting prowess. We just took some pictures and refilled from the water source then proceeded with the descent to BiraBira also known as Mt Nagsasa.

From Balingkilat to BiraBira one must descend a total of 1950ft that passes steep ridges and rocky knife-edge trails that somehow resembles a mini G2. It then becomes a rolling terrain until reaching the final 300ft ascend to reach the summit composed mainly of open grassland. In fact, from Balingkilat's summit to BiraBira it took us 2 hours to see the only tree in the midst of nowhere, and we took some time to rest and regroup. And it came to pass that 5 of our teammates opted to back out from the hike, and I do admire their gestures knowing that continuing the hike without preparation could hamper the whole team.

We proceeded with the trek, passing endless grassland with no trees in sight, taking a rest will only exhaust you, so the best way is to keep moving until we reached Naulaw where we saw a giant antenna/tower. We kept moving until we reached Mt Dayungan's base that also serves as a rest area where we had our lunch and power nap.

Ascending Mt Dayungan during mid-day is a great ordeal, aside from the fact that it is an open grassland, it also has an assault of its own, and what made it worst is that it has a false summit. I thought we were near the summit but as it turns out the real summit of Mt Dayungan was still a haft hour ascend. When we reached the summit all we could think of is finding a tree cover or any shade would do, my umbrella was devastated at that time due to the strong gush of wind. So we proceeded with the descent towards Cinco Pinco where some portions resemble that of the descent to BiraBira except that it is shorter but way much steeper and the scorching heat of the sun gives an extra challenge. We reached a portion of Cinco Picos but we did not really explore the whole mountain because not all peaks are open, took some pictures and decided to proceed with the exit to Redondo.

As easy as may seem, Redondo's trail may be the easiest but it is the longest of them all. I was growing a little bit impatient and wanted to run the trail but we have to regroup occasionally since we only have one guide left and 2 of my teammates were badly injured. Redondo's trail can be described as "so near, yet so far" yes you can see the road and the highway but it can be deceiving, in fact the trail seems to be going nowhere through a densely overgrown grassland, it was a good thing that it was already late afternoon so we started to feel the chilling breeze of the night. We were able to finish the trail in 16hours, 15hours if we did not wait for the injured teammates.

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
As seen from Balingkilat

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Balingkilat's ridge line

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
With Jaime Dequinon and Vincent Cayda

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Cinco Picos as seen from Dayungan

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Cinco Picos

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Silanguin Cove as seen from Cinco Picos

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Mt Dayungan with its false summit

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Cinco Picos as seen from the traverse to Redondo

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Fast approaching Mt Redondo, so near yet so far.

Pinoy Solo Hiker - Cawag Hexa
Nagsasa Cove

How to Get There:
1. Ride a bus bound to Iba, Zambales (Victory Liner) and tell the conductor to drop you off in PNP Station of Subic. You also need to prepare a letter of intent before you can start your hike which will be submitted to PNP Subic.
2. Then ride a tricycle going to Sitio Cawag, Mt. Nagsasa's jump-off point.

*I joined an event organized by Jaime Dequinon of Akyat Tanaw Mountaineers
**I recommend Kuya Joel Soria as a local guide for Cawag mountains (Balingkilat, Nagsasa, Cinco Picos).

This post first appeared on Pinoy Solo Hiker, please read the originial post: here

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