Trying it Out in the Cordilleras (Hiking Part II)

Published April 19, 2021, 12:00 AM

by Victor P. Guevara, Jr.

Wala Lang

Hi from your usual writer Jaime C. Laya – This time Bambi Guevara goes into what we might classify as intermediate and advanced hiking.

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After a few one-day hikes to warm up, multi-day hikes raise the bar and will be immensely rewarding even if it means longer road trips. The general rule about temperature is that it drops by six degrees Celsius for every 1,000 m rise in altitude. There are comfortable places to stay overnight in some destinations while you’ll have to bring your own tent and sleeping gear on some hikes.

The website is a great introduction and guide for aspiring hikers and indeed for anyone interested in nature. It describes places all over the country, classifying them by degree of difficulty from 1/9 (a 5-minute hike to Salong Falls in Catanduanes) to the 9/9 of Mt. Guiting-Guiting in Romblon. Descriptions are excellent and well-written with itineraries, sights, and experiences along the way, where to get permits, places to eat, everything you need to know.

Here are Cordillera destinations that have organized visitor support like guides and porters. Each has a Facebook page that one can visit for more details.

  • Mount Pulag National Park, Bokod, Benguet. This is a most popular destination as one gets to reach the highest point of Luzon in one long hard day. Home stays have grown in number in Babadak where the trail begins (2,400 meters). This village is about 2.5 hours from Baguio. It takes about five hours to reach the summit of 2,926 m and four hours to return. For many, the thin air is more challenging than the terrain itself. One will be rewarded in passing through a unique mossy forest before reaching grasslands at 2,700 meters. Thick strands of moss grow hanging from trees with the high humidity at that cloud-level altitude. The return to Manila will take a whole day so one will have to allot three days for the trip.
  • Ifugao Rice Terraces. My favorite time to visit these terraces is around June or July. This is the time when the rice is about to be harvested so the terraces have that golden brown hue. This is also the time when the rains start, making watercourses more visible. A three-day hike is possible starting from near Mayaoyao then to the villages of Patyay and Cambulo, where home stays are available. The trek exits in Batad on Day 3 where one can stay for the night or proceed to Banaue. If a three-day hike seems daunting, a day hike along the terraces of Batad to the waterfalls is a good alternative. Another less known destination is Kiangan. This hike is easier than the Batad Terraces hike. Kiangan is where Gen Yamashita surrendered on Sept. 2,1945. The history and culture minded can visit the Kiangan shrine that commemorates the end of World War II and the Ifugao Museum.
  • Bontoc Rice Terraces. The Maligcong rice terraces is a good place for day hikes. It is also the place to start on a two-day hike to the highly regarded town of Sagada. Home stays are available in Maligcong.

    UP THE TRAIL AND THEN DOWN – Maligcong Rice Terraces, Bontoc, Mountain Province.
  • Ugo, Tinongdán, Itogon, Benguet. Local officials of Barangay Tinongdán were the first to recognize (in 2003) the potential of recreational hiking and began to promote Mt. Ugo as a hiking destination. Its main attraction is Mt. Ugo’s unspoiled pine forest where there are established trails used by both locals and visiting hikers. It is necessary to plan on a two-night stay in the village of Lusod. You arrive on Day 1 and early on Day 2 you start on the 900-meter climb to the summit at 2,150 meters. A summit break revives you to do the reverse and get back to Lusod.

    UP THE TRAIL AND THEN DOWN – Mt. Ugo trail, Itogon, Benguet.
  • Purgatory Trail, Bokod, Benguet. The town organized a guide association circa 2012 and designed a rewarding three-day hike. Day 1 is a short one-hour hike to a campsite. Day 2 is an eight-hour traverse to the other side of the range. Day 3 is a short three-hour hike. One can travel from and to Manila on the first and last day. A tree-shaded trail passes a ridge with an altitude of about 2,000 meters for a pleasantly cool hike. I like going here from September to December.

    UP THE TRAIL AND THEN DOWN – Mt. Purgatory trail, Bokod, Benguet.
  • Kibuñgan, Benguet. Town fathers organized guides around 2012 and created two popular three-day hikes: the Kibuñgan Circuit and the Kibuñgan to Santol (La Union) traverse. On the latter, you start in Benguet on Day 1, camp overnight in Ilocos Sur on Day 2, and exit to La Union on Day 3.

Notes:  Mr. Guevara would be glad to provide further information. He may be reached at [email protected].

(To be continued)

Comments are cordially invited, addressed to [email protected].