What comes to mind when I am asked about Mt. Irid is not the numerous river crossings nor its monolith summit; rather the infestation of leeches or the local limatiks. These bloodsuckers literally abound and made their presence felt during our trek to the Sitio Sadlac base camp.
An Irid adventure begins with a two-hour jeepney ride from Cogeo, Rizal to Sta. Inez in Tanay. Remote and with really bad roads, the trip to Sta. Inez was mostly bumpy with the jeep rumbling through lots of river crossings. Once there, the jeep will drop you off at the barangay hall where you will register and pay the barangay captain a courtesy visit.
The first day takes mountaineers to Sitio Kinabuan and Sitio Sadlac. The locals in Sitio Kinabuan are more familiar with the trail to Mt. Irid. On top of the guides secured from Sta. Inez, a guide from Sitio Kinabuan will also be hired. The base camp is at Sitio Sadlac. There is a modest bunker in the sitio where mountaineers spend the night before the morning trek to Mt. Irid.
The trek to the sitios begins with an easy walk on wide trails. It has a gradual incline and has more than ten river crossings (I personally stopped counting after 10). Depending on the season, mountaineers may need to go through waist-deep levels. The tributaries are wide and extra caution must be taken in all crossings. During the wet months, limatiks infest the trails. By the riverbed, after going through the river and by the rocky paths, the leeches are likely to be found clinging on your shoes and pant legs.
The next day, the real climb to Mt. Irid begins. The trail was for the most part an ascent. The paths are lined with dense vegetation. The trees were towering with moss, roots and vines hanging off them. Limatiks are not as present in this portion of the climb as it was in the ascent to the base camp. As the summit is approached, there are rock walls and portions where going through and over the big rocks are encountered. At the final section of the assault, the jagged sharp rocks of the summit is reached. A plastic sign marks the peak of that part of the Sierra Madre range.
An offshoot to the Irid climb is a hike to the neighboring Mt. Tukduan Banoi and a dip in the Kinabuan Falls. The falls are a short 10-minute walk from the main trail of Sitio Kinabuan. This is a sample itinerary:
03:30 ETD Cubao
04:00 ETA Petron Cogeo (Gate 2); load chartered jeep
06:00 ETA Sta. Inez; register, secure guide and visit the barangay captain
08:00 Start trek
10:00 ETA Sitio Kinabuan; secure Mt. Irid guide
10:30 Resume trek
13:00 ETA base camp at Sitio Sadlac
06:30 Breakfast; prepare daypack
07:30 Start assault
11:00 ETA summit; lunch
15:00 ETA base camp; pack up
15:30 Descend to Sitio Kinabuan
16:45 ETA Sitio Kinabuan; side trip to Kinabuan Falls
17:30 Resume trek
19:30 ETA Sta. Inez; wash up and dinner
21:00 Depart for Cogeo
23:00 ETA Cogeo Gate 2
23:30 ETA Cubao