Monthly Archives: December 2011

Talamitam’s animal farm

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Talamitam has a cuteness level of 5 with all the pairs of neighing horses, curious cows, photogenic carabaos and charming baby goats. Oh wait, this isn’t a farm.

Mt. Talamitam is an easy dayhike like her sister Mt. Batulao. Legend has it that a giant once lorded the plains. He had one foot in Batulao, and the other at Talamitam. Or so the story goes from an enthusiastic and chatty (slash intoxicated) local official. The trail starts from the barangay hall with a ten-minute walk through houses and concrete paths until a footbridge is crossed. From there, the trail transforms to a relaxing walk through partially covered paths. A clearing is reached after about twenty minutes; it offers an unobstructed view of the peaks of Batulao. Moving forward, the bare slopes transform to neatly lined rows of seedlings. It becomes open afterwards as one passes through fields and a “golf course”. There is absence of shade and trees throughout the rest of the hike.

continue wandering here…

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Traversing 21 mountains

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I now understand why some mountaineers keep coming back. As with most Benguet mountains, the scenery going to and from Ugo is picturesque. Rolling pine tree-covered ridges, chilly temperatures, long yet slightly ascending and descending paths complete the breathtaking landscape. The tiring traverse is capped by a crossing of the 90.7-metre hanging bridge of Sitio Cayoco over the Agno River.

A major climb because of the distance to cover, one will walk approximately 15KM on day 1 from Kayapa to Domolpos and on day 2, 21KM from Domolpos (~3KM to the summit) to Itogon (~18KM from the summit). The trek commences with a 1.5-hour steep ascent to Indopit Village then progresses to a 2-hour easy trek through both wide and narrow trails. Finally, to get to the Domolpos community, a half hour tricky descent ensues. The Domolpos’ public school can be used for the night as campsite. It has a water source and a nice toilet at the back. Spending the night there beats setting camp at the cold and windy summit.

The trek resumes the next day with a relaxed 2.5- to 3-hour hike to the peak. The summit has a wide area for camping and has a marker partially hidden by bushes and trees where it is said to once have marked the boundaries of Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan and Benguet. Navigating the steep descent takes less than two hours and then another hour to get to the nice lunch area at the old saw mill. With two more hours to go, the trek takes you to more covered trails, farmlands and easy trails to Lusod Village and finally to Itogon Village.

With credits to Ultraman Ace, here are the twenty one names of the mountains our guide, Sir Alex, recited from memory: 1. Kabilisan, 2. Indopit, 3. Yabnong, 4. Bundao, 5. Samiento, 6. Sadngat, 7. Sadle, 8. Domolpos, 9. Ugo (2,150 MASL), 10. Bakuyan, 11. Tigingan, 12. Dyabes, 13. Timal, 14. Sumil, 15. Lusod, 16. Badjao, 17. Sadyatan, 18. Anawang, 19. Latbak, 20. Cawayan and, 21. Cayoko.

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October pic(k) of the month

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They both turned s-i-x-t-y!

The big 6 and 0 finally caught up with my Mom and Dad. My Dad threw a surprise party for my Mom and for a change, my Dad chose to celebrate his privately.

The best parents in my universe deserve all the love and gratitude. Cheers to their compatibility and insanity. And to the set of happy and normal children they brought to this era. :D

Damas traverse

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I will give it to you straight. Steep. Yes she had fabulous views at the peak, refreshing river crossings and the thundering drop of Ubod Falls, but, what stuck to me about Damas is her killer ascents and knee-busting descents.

The guides may insist the slopes are gradual, but they are not. With the jumpoff being at an elevation almost as high as the mountain’s peak (685+ MASL), the trail starts with an almost one hour sharp descent through slightly covered grass paths leading to a river crossing. It then progresses to a two-hour ascent all the way to the summit.

There are two saddle campsites and one at the summit itself. Each area can comfortably hold about five to eight tents. The views at either of the campsites offer clear sights of neighboring mountains (like Tapulao and Arayat) and the Tarlac terrain.

The traverse to Ubod Falls takes an average of three to four hours through more cogon-lined paths and steep trails. There are a number of roped segments to make the way down and up easier. Fifteen minutes away from the 100-foot Ubod Falls, you will pass by a smaller one through which you will have to negotiate the final roped segment.

continue wandering here…