Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
HOW does a life moment qualify to be precious? For this author, the moment has to have moved you in unspeakable ways, to have made you escape reality, and to have left a lasting mark in you.
Take for example, that moment when a bunch of young ones rode on top of a jeepney for the first time, after a long and tiring traverse of Mt. Ugo in the Cordillera. Only, it was going to be a “topload” ride with a good chance of shower.
Dark clouds descended with us from the mountain and just as the jeepney hit the road, the rain did fall. Then something precious happened.
I saw their eyes lit up with wonder, their lips smiled from glee as raindrops tickled their skin, winds kissed their faces, and adventure filled their hearts. All the while, the formidable views of Cordillera stretched and crawled before us.
Soaking wet and screaming wildly, their happiness resonated, crept inside me, and even just for a short period of time, I felt like pain couldn’t exist.
See, this is just one of the many ways nature can change us, can better us, and can keep us coming back.
Here’s to hoping you’ll have your own precious moment/s at Mt. Ugo. In the meantime, here’s what you can expect if traversing from Kapaya, Nueva Vizcaya to Itogon, Benguet.
Fauna along the trails
Sampinit, the local name for this red, tangy wild berries that are found along Mt. Ugo’s trail. You can pick and snack on them. Just remember the LNT rule not to take everything and leave some for others especially the locals.
We also spotted few little pitcher plants.
Camote ice cream break
After the first long stretch of dirt road trail all the way from Kayapa town proper in Nueva Vizcaya, the team arrived at a junction with a lone house. Meet our welcome muse.
The family who resides also sold homemade camote ice cream, which our nanay tour guide enjoyed under the blaze of the noontime sun.
Here’s the team enjoying each of their camote ice cream. Afterward, some of the boys wanted more merienda and ordered pancit canton!
After almost eight hours of trek, we arrived at the Domolpos Elementary School, which opens its gates to hikers as an alternative campsite. Those who run the school even let hikers to sleep and stay at the classrooms, which we did instead of bringing tents and setting up camp.
The rain also fall just as we were settling down, casting ambient hues while the sunset neared.
Children came out to play after the rain.
And then dusk had fallen.
The next morning, we started hike as early as 2 a.m. to catch the sunrise. But before this, we were lucky to catch glimpse of the Milky Way, however, no one from the team had a camera that could capture it. Which is even more special because it was reserved for our eyes only.
After more or less three hours, we reached the summit which was the perfect site for sunrise watching.
Dawn catching up in the horizon.
A drop of dew for a blessed few as the sun began to brew.
This author basking in all the those glorious rays.
And then savoring a plethora of morning hues.
When we had our fill of the most scenic sunrise while having breakfast, we began our long descent and traverse to Itogon. It’s another experience altogether because the trails are one of the most pristine, thickly forested with pine trees! Everything was just so “Instagrammable.” Everyone couldn’t resist.
Just take a look at this display of blues and greens on steroids.
Pine country is also cow country.
And may you find your itchy feet walking along Mt Ugo’s trails.