Monthly Archives: December 2012

Irid and the limatik attacks

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What comes to mind when I am asked about Mt. Irid is not the numerous river crossings nor its monolith summit; rather the infestation of leeches or the local limatiks. These bloodsuckers literally abound and made their presence felt during our trek to the Sitio Sadlac base camp.

An Irid adventure begins with a two-hour jeepney ride from Cogeo, Rizal to Sta. Inez in Tanay. Remote and with really bad roads, the trip to Sta. Inez was mostly bumpy with the jeep rumbling through lots of river crossings. Once there, the jeep will drop you off at the barangay hall where you will register and pay the barangay captain a courtesy visit.

The first day takes mountaineers to Sitio Kinabuan and Sitio Sadlac. The locals in Sitio Kinabuan are more familiar with the trail to Mt. Irid. On top of the guides secured from Sta. Inez, a guide from Sitio Kinabuan will also be hired. The base camp is at Sitio Sadlac. There is a modest bunker in the sitio where mountaineers spend the night before the morning trek to Mt. Irid.

IridThe trek to the sitios begins with an easy walk on wide trails. It has a gradual incline and has more than ten river crossings (I personally stopped counting after 10). Depending on the season, mountaineers may need to go through waist-deep levels. The tributaries are wide and extra caution must be taken in all crossings. During the wet months, limatiks infest the trails. By the riverbed, after going through the river and by the rocky paths, the leeches are likely to be found clinging on your shoes and pant legs.

The next day, the real climb to Mt. Irid begins. The trail was for the most part an ascent. The paths are lined with dense vegetation. The trees were towering with moss, roots and vines hanging off them. Limatiks are not as present in this portion of the climb as it was in the ascent to the base camp. As the summit is approached, there are rock walls and portions where going through and over the big rocks are encountered. At the final section of the assault,  the jagged sharp rocks of the summit is reached. A plastic sign marks the peak of that part of the Sierra Madre range.
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Malindig dayhike

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Mt. MalindigRising at 1,157 MASL, Mt. Malindig is the highest peak in the province of Marinduque. A quick and easy hike, it starts with a level trek through the locals’ backyards and a field of coconut trees. Next is a mild ascent through the pasture lands. Without any tree cover, it becomes cumbersome in the midday to midafternoon heat. Aside from the cows grazing idly by the trail, hikers would also need to watch out for the itchy “lipa” plants (and trees). A little stream is crossed before going up to cogon-lined trails leading to the military outpost.

Hikers enter the forest line after the brief stop and courtesy visit at the outpost. Felled trees and mossy roots adorn most part of the trail. After about a half of an hour ascent, the summit of Malindig is reached. Heavily covered by trees, there is no view of the neighboring towns and islands from the peak. Rather, there is a campsite at the summit where at most ten (10) tents can be set up.

A Malindig dayhike itinerary looks like this:

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Kalanggaman and its sandbars

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Kalanggaman Island | August 2012

A last minute suggestion and insertion in our itinerary, the Kalanggaman Island sidetrip turned out to be the star of our Leyte trip. Located in the municipality of Palompon, it is an hour-long drive from the city of Ormoc (by private car).

Unspoiled and every bit a beach denizen’s paradise, Kalanggaman is pristine and well-kept by the local tourism office. Its powdery white sand compete with those of Boracay’s.  It has two long stretches of sandbars jutting from its eastern and western portions. The sandbars are visible and do not inconveniently (as a whole) disappear with the tide.

Cottages dot one side of the island with bigger huts located in the middle. There are two sets of clean restrooms and grilling areas on either side of the island’s main structure (that I assume houses the office and store of the keepers). They provide the usual beach activities like snorkeling and kayaking. They also have affordable scuba packages for beginners.

As if a good omen, we were treated to the sight of playing dolphins while we were on our hour-long boat ride to the island. The best experience Kalanggaman offers would be its superb sunset and sunrise views. Arriving just in time when the sun set, we dashed to the western side to witness the play of purple, pink and red above our heads. Since we were camping overnight, we pitched our tents near the island’s lone watchtower that was fronting the east. By the break of dawn, we lumbered towards the top of the wooden tower and waited for the sun to rise.

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A double traverse

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Mt. AmpacaoIn slippers and wearing minimal sun protection, we had a quick trek to Lake Danum traversing to a hike to Mt. Ampacao (1,889 MASL) during our Sagada trip. Easily accessible by foot from the town center, we started by registering at the Sagada Municipal Hall and getting a local guide (Php600.00).

The trek to Lake Danum was a breeze. You pass through concrete pavements leading to Besao which eventually becomes a dirt path. Lake Danum is a gem in the middle of the mountain town where picnics and camping overnight are allowed.

The traverse to Mt. Ampacao starts from a partially obscure offshoot from the main trail. The weather is cool and pine trees dot the single path. It winds through the hills and offers a view of the town center along certain portions of the trail. After about half an hour, you reach a grassland called the “ranch”. At the “ranch”, cows graze and you get a panoramic view of Sagada and its neighboring towns. Twenty minutes from the grassland, a cellphone tower marks the summit of Mt. Ampacao. This is the highest point of Sagada, Mt. Province.

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