Nature-ral High

Nature-ral High
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

June 1, 2019

Mt Pulag via Akiki-Ambaguio : the Killer meet the Longest

   Mt. Pulag is one of the most beautiful and mystifying mountain in the Philippines. It also have three trails that can be considered some of the best in this country. Having able to try two of those trails already (akiki and tawangan), I had been planning to try the last one - the Ambaguio trail. 
  So I went with a friend and an officemate who created a team of 12. Yes the climb was to Pulag which exits in Ambaguio, but the entry was in Akiki trail. The plan completion of the trek was in 3 days. 
  Akiki is always difficult to hike that is reason it was named the "killer" trail of Mt. Pulag, the total elevation gain is around 1850 meters. On the day of the climb it was harder for us, as we are in the middle of the mossy forest, it started to rain. The rain did not stop until we reached camp (approximately 6KM distance). Cold, rain, darkness and tired body made the trek more difficult. Plus add the situation that I got seperated from the group and got lost. We were so tired that we did not ate dinner and went straight to sleep. 

Jump-off / Trail head of Akiki Trail

Akiki is know for steep start at the trail head

We saw this bull skull at the trail

The pines looks like planted with measurement distances

The Edet river bridge has been newly renovated

"Killer" trail. So difficult carrying a pack loaded with supplies for 3 days

We saw this blue colored worm, that I had to put out my camera eventhough is already drizzling.  

Mt Pulag is at the leftmost. If you look closely, you  can see tourist lining up to go to the summit. All of them came from Ambangeg trail, known as the tourist trail

Sea of cloud-lets. No sign it rained almost the whole night

  The next 2 days, it was still raining but now more manageable. We were able to see the beauty of what Ambaguio trail has to offer. Ambaguio is considered the longest trail of Mt Pulag (30KM distance with a gain/decent of 2100 meters), that 2 days is normally allocated to complete the hike. The trail connsist of beautiful and pristine mossy forrest. We surmise the only regular users of the trail are the locals. There are also cliff side roads that reminisce the similarity to Mt. Ugo. Hikers will pass by several villages which are not often reached by civilization. We camped on our 2nd night in Brgy Napo, which consist of Upper and Lower distinction. As the name suggest the Barangay is segregated on by  a hill which Upper is located on the top. The current nationwide drought has also affected this place. What is known to have abundant water sources along the trail, almost all of them had dried up.  We also saw several landslide area due to the the heavy rains that poured in the past days. 

  The trail ended when we reached Brgy Amueg near the Ambaguio City Hall in Nueva Viscaya. 

One of the most Kikay-est hikemate I been with. Manage to bring those rollers!

Team  resting at a shelter along the trail

Mossy and pristine!

Saw this landslide along the trail. The thick forest was not enough to prevent this. 

Descending to Brgy Napo

Lower Napo have the High School, while Elementary is in the Upper Napo

Where we camped for the night. It also became our kitchen. Good this as it also rained heavy that time.

Brgy Napo, Ambaguio, Nueva Viscaya

Napo Elementary School

The house in the middle of the mountain is where we had our lunch the previous day, under heavy rains.

Napo Vegetable farms

Because of the heavy  rains the night before, we saw this fresh landslide along the trail

Upper Napo as seen from the trail

After almost half a day without water, we are so glad to see this water source. It is so refreshing

Saw this orchid like flower on the ground, anyone familiar with its name? 

A waterfall from a distance as seen on the trail

Rice terraces as we are nearing our exit point.

Golden rice fields almost ready for harvest 
It was raining on the mountains, that the water turned brown.

So having tried all the 3 famous trails of Mt Pulag which one do I like best and least? 
 I like Ambaguio trail best as the trail is pristine and there is also a cultural experience. You blend with the local which are not yet into commercialism. Our camp in Brgy Napo was for free, even though we stayed on the Brgy Hall. 

 The least I like is Akiki trail as it is the most popular and easy to access. The trail is badly beaten though not as bad as those close to Manila. 

January 31, 2019

Philippine 16 Summits (by Region)

The first Filipina who scaled the world 7 summits recently made headlines locally. Around the same time, my friend Bambi Guevarra got an idea to list down the highest summits in the Philippines by region. We called it - Philippine 16 Summits. Below is the list of  the summits with height in Meters Above Sea Level. 

1. Ilocos (Region I) - Mt. Sicapoo 2354 masl 
2. CAR (Region XV) - Mt. Pulag 2926 masl 
3. Cagayan Valley (Region II) - (no confirmed mountain)
    According to Mt Pual is the highest
     Here also are the list of other Mountains in Cagayan region - according to this site
4. Central Luzon (Region III) - Mt. Tapulao 2037 masl 
5. Calbarazon (Region IV-A) - Mt. Banahaw 2158 masl 
6. Mimaropa (Region XVI) - Mt. Halcon 2582 masl 
7. Bicol (Region V) - Mt. Mayon 2462 masl 
8. Western Visayas (Region VI) - Mt. Kanlaon 2465 masl 
9. Central Visayas (Region VII) - Mt. Talinis 1903 masl 
10. Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) - Mt. Alto Peak 1332 masl 
11. North Mindanao (Region X) - Mt. Dulang Dulang 2938 masl 
12. Davao (Region XI) - Mt. Apo 2954 masl 
13. Socsargen (Region XI) - Mt. Matutum 2286 masl 
14. Zamboanga (Region IX) - Mt. Dabiak 2600 masl 
15. CARAGA (Region XIII) - Mt. Hilong hilong 1920 masl 
16. ARMM (Region XVI) - Mt Ragang / Piapayungan 2815 masl

So far I have scaled 5 of the listed mountains. With not being able to summit one due to a guide issue. 

Some consideration.

Three of this mountains are currently closed to hiking. 

  • Mayon
  • Banahaw
  • Ragang - also has safety issue due to insurgency

Would also like to note that three regions highest point share borders to nearby highest summit.

  • Region 2 (Nueva Viscaya) share borders with Mt. Pulag of CAR
  • Socsargen (North Cotabato) share borders with Mt. Apo of Region XI
  • Region VII (Negros Oriental) share borders with Mt Kanlaon of Region VI

Mt Apo

Mt Banahaw

Mt. Kanlaon

Pulag (via Tawangan Trail)

Mt Sicapoo ( I was not able to summit)

January 13, 2019

Sta. Ana Beaches - Rivals of the South

   Last year, we spent our Christmas 400KM away from Manila... in Isabela, Cagayan Valley. A few weeks before our trip, Adrian was advised by his pedia to visit a beach. To get some vitamin-SEA. Isabela is a town far from the coast, given this, we decided to visit Sta. Ana, Cagayan. I heard a lot of good review of the beaches around this town, plus we had never been there. One caveat though is that its 263km distance from Isabela!.
   It was a long drive but I love road trips. As long as the view and the road is good (and no traffic). For the first day we stayed in a resort in the city proper of Sta. Ana. Sta Ana is a sleepy town in the north of Luzon. There are a few vehicles but the city is self-sustaining. The resort have good rooms but for the food you have to cook it yourself (or ask he resort to do it for you for a fee). They have kitchen equipments and utinsils that you can use at no extra charge. The beach has black sand and the water is not that calm, this is because its December and northern monsoon is affecting the place. Part of the reason we stayed here on our first day is that so we can rest after a long drive as the more beautiful beaches is farther and more secluded. 

We saw this sight on our way to Tugegarao. It was so beautiful we had to stop to capture the scenery
Black sand beach of Sta Ana

Adrian enjoying the beach

Our dinner bought from the market near by

  For our second day we move to another beach 30 mins away from Sta. Ana - Pozo Robo. It is more secluded than the previous day beach and has finer white sand. The resort has nipa hut rooms that has CR and air-condition, but you have to cook and bring your food. They have common areas for cooking and dine. The beach thrives with lots of sea creatures. Similar to the beach in Sta. Ana, the water is not calm, but if you swim on low tide, the water is calmer as it broken by the shallow corals. 

   I believe long time ago. Only locals visit the place, and only backpackers spent overnight since they are the ones who has equipments. 
   The place is excellent that made the long drive worth it. But it will  be a long time before I visit the place again. 

The view of the beach from our cottage vantage point

Oor accomodation. It was made in the middle of the forest.


Beach at low tide. So many creatures

Hill beside the beach According to our neighbor there are stairs to reach the top. But we had no time to take the hike

Hermit crabs are very abundant in the beach,  among others

On the second day, we were the only visitors on the beach. 

The yard beside our cottage

Pozo Robo  resort. 

Gian made a Christmas tree out of seaweeds

The trail from the main road to the cottages. 

So serere and unspoiled

Side trip: 
   On our way, we stop over Tugegarao and drop by St. Peter Cathedral. It is an old churd made on the 1600s. We also drop by Magapit Suspension Bridge. The biggest bridge that connects the east and west of Cagayan river. 
The cathedral is colored red/maroon, which makes it exceptional

Even the door is well crafted.

The church ceilings is beautifully painted. Reminds me of Sistine Chapel

Longest and biggest suspension bridge in Cagayan which run over Cagayan river.