A day-by-day recap of our Mt. Amuyao adventure together with one of the top explorers in the world Mike Libecki.
September 24 (Monday) - Manila to Banawe
It doesn't help as well having a security guard stare at us the whole time.
Best part of the day was us being informed that our assigned driver to Banawe had to back out due to being sick. Same goes for the alternate driver. Finally having a replacement, he was dumbfounded to know that we are going to Banawe, Ifugao...all the while he thought it's just Banawe, Quezon City!
September 25 (Tuesday) - To the Summit of Mt. Amuyao
|If this looks good to eat, I did my job as a photographer|
Food was so-so...and choices bad. After enduring almost 12 hrs. of travel, imagine just having an option of either a Hotsilog or an American breakfast composed of just toasted bread and spam!? When in Banawe, do yourself a favor and go to Greenview instead.
|Mike, Jan, Bunny and Manny doing a "topload"|
After a not so pleasing breakfast, we went off our way to Barlig. It was close to a 3 hour ride with majority of it being in rough terrain. But it's not that bad considering the views, not to mention having the spoils of lying down the jeepney seat as my co-climbers decided to get a good sunburn by riding "top load".
I've done my share of this stunt and given I forgot to bring my wide brimmed hat/ arm sleeves, I opted to pass. My wife will kill me as well if I go home with a burned nape.
|View of Barlig a few minutes from our hike.|
We arrived in Barlig close to 12pm wherein two of our co-climbers together with our guide and porters were waiting for us. We took a quick lunch, did our last minute packing and around 130pm, started off our hike to Mt. Amuyao.
Weather was just perfect when we started our hike. Sky was blue and the clouds added drama to the photos I took. Unfortunately, with us on a tight schedule, I didn't have much time to do some long exposure photos.
|Nice to look at the first few hours of the trail|
Last time I was in Barlig, it was also from a climb of Mt. Amuyao but we did the more challenging route that is coming from Batad. I expected a gradual ascent with some wooden steps going to the peak but damn...I got more than what I bargained for! Just when I thought I'm near and at the highest point of the trail...another set of steps was right there to greet my aching legs.
It was close to a 6 hour of full ascent and one of my co-climbers even considered backing out. But work needs to be done and we all sucked it in. We finally arrived at the summit past 6pm.
While we had some slight rain drizzles at the peak, generally weather was fine which made cooking easier. It was a big help as well that there were water tanks beside the bunker where the caretaker/s of the erected tower is residing. After dinner, with my body getting it's first taste of a major climb after 5 years and paying for it, I opted to snooze early around 8pm.
September 26 (Wednesday) - Descent to Pat-Yay Village
Like the peak of Mt. Pulag, Mt. Amuyao offers stunning views of the Cordillera mountain ranges. I already have my eyes set how my photos will look like...clouds flowing like water as it pushes it's way in the mountains of the Cordilleras. A warm glow from the sun painting the scenery in yellowish hue.
So when my alarm clock woke me up, I immediately opened the canopy of our tent and voila! It was raining like crazy and everything was all white. Talk about big time disappointment!
While the rain managed to stop, haze and fog didn't leave much views for us to admire and take photos. This is actually the best shot I managed to get and even had to extract details using Photoshop. A couple of minutes after this opening, view was all white again.
|The mountain ranges of Cordillera...just imagine if we had the perfect sunrise|
We started our descent around 830am. It was supposed to be an "easy" day with trails being all downhill going to Pat-Yay village. With established trails, we pretty much blazed our way to the first rest stop which is also almost half of the trail already. As it turned out though, this just served as a warm-up.
|Surprise surprise...a crablet at 1,300m ASL|
Reaching the terraces part, I thought I found my saving grace. Then out of nowhere, we see ourselves walking blind as trails were covered in waist deep grass. We were slipping and came close to breaking our ankles on slippery rocks hidden underneath. It was fun and hellacious to put it mildly.
We managed to reach the village of Pat-Yay around 4pm. As with the peak, I expected lush and vibrant terraces but unfortunately, they just finished their harvest and the gloomy skies didn't help adding color to the landscape. My only solace was sunrise provides a much better view of the terraces so I was banking on taking better photos the next day.
In the meantime, I decided to do a panorama shot instead...using my iPhone...
|Pristine terraces of Pat-Yay village|
|Manny and Mike teaching how to operate the solar powered|
lamp we donated
We spent the night in one of the native huts which was welcome news as it allowed us to stay dry given it rained the morning the next day. It also gave us the chance to have a much needed rest after 2 nights of almost no sleep.
September 27 (Thursday) - Hike to Cambulo/ Batad
Upon waking up, I saw what I dreaded the most...grey skies, wet floor and rain drops. And if that wasn't disappointing enough, I felt leg pains I never felt before. But to hell with it, I came to this trip with the main purpose of enjoying the outdoors...and I will embrace the pain doing it.
|One of the local kids enjoying the baby sweet corn|
Our itinerary for the day was to reach the village of Cambulo, have lunch then hike to Batad. Just when I thought it will be more mellow specially the downhill part, I saw myself taking baby steps due to the terrain's loose rocks and eroding soil. To make matters worse, my knees and legs were so tired, I lost confidence to let gravity assist my descent. This was the time I started to accept the fact that I'm getting old...but I see it more of me being out of the game for so long.
Reaching the village of Cambulo, I was struck with what I saw. The school ground where we used to pitch our tents is now covered with a steel roof! I actually had mixed emotions about it but I guess this serves more good than harm to the people of Cambulo so I will leave it at that.
|Mike, Manny, Bunny, Joyce and Bobby enjoying the|
view of Batad
Upon reaching Batad, I had a huge sigh of relief. Finally we finished our 3-day ordeal and can now look forward to just chilling out.
We stayed in one of Ramon's Native Huts. I again felt a slight disappointment as I was really looking forward to spending the night in my favorite inn Hillside Inn. But beggars can't be choosers...and it was Mang Ramon's place that offers native hut home stays which honestly is not that bad, except for the steep price.
|Mike and Manny getting their groove on with the locals|
With our bodies aching, we decided to have some local massage. This was the first time in my life I had one, though it was more of hilot as I need to freshen my legs for some more hiking the next day. It was a good way to end the day with everyone having a good time, relaxing and laughing our ass off for every grunt we shout out. One of our co-climbers even fell asleep in the middle of his massage!
September 28 (Friday) - Bachang and Back
|Jan, Mike and Manny doing their share of Bachang|
This proved to be the highlight of our trip. Not only was it a great feeling to take part in restoring the rice terraces, we also exemplified teamwork at its best. And we did this like kids on a playground.
|View of Batad|
|Manny with one of the Batad locals hitching a ride with us|
I used to dread going back to my so-called reality, but at this point in my life, reality is something I look forward to getting back to. What this trip taught me though was there's no reason for me to limit the things I can do. I used to say I don't have time to go outdoors again and even exercise for crying out loud. This trip changed all of that.
As to the words of our new friend Mike Libecki, "The time is now...what are you waiting for? No excuses". And now my most favorite..."Loving life!"
With that said, I am now back to doing what I love to do. And this time, I don't have anything to dread going back. How can you not love life?
|The Team: Mike Libecki, Manny Batungbacal, Joyce (Princess of Itogon), Bunny Soriano, Jan Cabanos, Bobby Acosta and myself|
GEAR INFO: Photos taken with a Canon 5D with either a 17-40 4L or 24-105 4L IS except for the Pat-Yay Village panorama which was taken using my iPhone 4 and DMD app.