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.
The usual trek suggests three days. We did it in two. Well, more like 1.5. Our two-day traverse looked like this:
06:30 Depart Kamias for Bambang, Nueva Ecija via Victory Liner (Php684.00 for a deluxe seat)
12:30 Arrive at Bambang, Nueva Ecija; board public van going to Kayapa, Benguet
13:30 ETD Bambang via van (Php70.00)
14:45 ETA Kayapa
15:00 Start trek
16:30 ETA Indopit
18:00 ETA Ansipsip
19:00 ETA Domolpos; overnight at the public school
06:00 Start trek (approximately Php200.00 per person for the guide and registration fee)
08:00 ETA summit
09:00 Resume trek
12:00 Lunch at old saw mill
13:00 Resume trek
17:00 End of trek
19:30 Depart Itogon, Benguet for Baguio City (via chartered jeepney; Php200.00 each)
20:30 ETA Baguio City
22:30 Depart Baguio for Metro Manila (Php450.00)