Facing Fear, Testing Limits, and Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 3

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

(Last of Three Parts)

Chasing Time, Going Home

DO you know that feeling when you’re chasing time to something very important, like a concert or a flight, but suddenly luck isn’t on your side? With every ticking of the clock, you’re tummy is also turning. You need to make it, no matter what.

There wasn’t any concert in the mountains or a flight back to Manila, but we were indeed chasing time on our last day at Kibungan. To be exact, chasing our bus ride back home. It was still in the evening but we already knew how limited our time and resources were. The chase was on. 

Continue reading “Facing Fear, Testing Limits, and Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 3”

Facing Fears, Testing Limits, and​ Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 2

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

(Second of Three Parts)

Crying Mountains to Tacadang

HOW does one prepare for a journey to someplace one has never been before? Often, a traveler relies on research and recommendations. For us mountaineers involved in community work, communication among locals and leaders are required.

It is them whom we based our itinerary and estimations on trek time. Often, if they say it takes them one hour to summit from jump off, then we double it for ourselves.

This was the case for our Kibungan circuit, in which half was to be spent on unfamiliar trails despite RAK Ph Mountaineers’ regular outreach activities in the mountainous province. We were aware that coming from Sitio Lanipew, all of us would technically be “first-timers” going to Barangay Tacadang proper on Day 2.

Continue reading “Facing Fears, Testing Limits, and​ Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 2”

Facing Fears, Testing Limits, and Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 1

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

(First of Three Parts)

Rainy Assault at Almasi

IMAGINE assaulting a steep trail with small steps carved from a mountain’s solid surface while being exposed to the forces of nature—behind you is the open mountain range covered in white. You realize you’re actually inside the clouds or the fog, whichever, for it is raining and every now and then, the wind blows sharp, cold stings. Below, you see the endless and tiresome steps you just took but not the bottom.

Now imagine arriving at the top of such the arduous ascent only to be faced with a new peak, beyond it, a silhouette of yet another peak. It feels and seems like there is no end to this assault.

​This was the infamous Almasi trail of Kibungan’s mountain range of high summits, deep gorges, thick forests and countless waterfalls.

Continue reading “Facing Fears, Testing Limits, and Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 1”

Rain or Shine: The Mount Kaypaye Dual Experience

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

IMAGINE going head on with a 70-degree assault of trail with sparse forest cover under the blaring sun in the middle of the day.

​This was the ordeal Traveling Journo Ph had to face in Mt. Kaypaye in Tanay, Rizal last November. I had to scale and traverse it along with RAK Ph Mountaineers in preparation for an outreach activity, as well as training for an upcoming major climb.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: Cold and Chilly Weather x Warm and Fuzzy Feelings at Mt. Ugo

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. 

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Get Mesmerized by the Pristine Trails of Mt. Palali

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

INHALE deeply—if not a little sharply—and fill the lungs with much needed air. Panting now, both organs expand and deflate as the heart in between beats faster and wilder. All this in rhythm with the feet that keep stepping forward and upward.

But while we were straining from a challenging trail, we managed to be mindful in both our breathing and our surrounding. We were meeting Mt. Palali truly for the first time, not only physically but also visually and emotionally.

Indeed, this mountain accessible via Quezon town in Nueva Vizcaya lives up to its reputation as the northern counterpart of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Arayat in southern Luzon—especially in terms of difficulty.

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Cordillera Cross Country: Traversing Mt. Amuyao’s Trail Less Traveled

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

RAIN was falling and despite the forest cover, it was seeping to the ground and whatever waterproof clothing we donned. Rain was also touching layers of leaves, tangles of vines and roots, and freshly grown moss attached to branches and bodies of trees — making vivid a green sea of fauna. This was a sight to behold but then there was the biting cold.

A day before, a tropical storm was forecasted to shroud most of the Cordillera Administrative region, north of the Philippines. Where we’re at, Mt. Amuyao, was part of Cordillera’s vast mountain range infamous for sea of clouds and cold temperature. Yet during the country’s rainy season, expect only to get the latter.

For someone’s first major climb, a mountain classified at 9/9 difficulty level, in the middle of a storm, was not the most ideal condition. Add to this the fact that it was a reverse-traverse from Banaue in Ifugao to Barlig in Mt. Province — regarded as trail less traveled of Mt. Amuyao.

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How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 3

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

IN November, this author’s outdoor and volunteer movement RAK Ph Mountaineers embarked on its first-ever, much-anticipated “The Great Cordillera Cross Country.”

It was a six-day adventure that saw our team of six trek three provinces of Cordillera by foot, face tough weather conditions, carry full packs heavier than ourselves, and test our limitations.

On the first part of this series, the Cordi cross country took us to reverse traverse of Mt. Amuyao from Batad, Ifugao to Barlig, Mt. Province. Then on the second part, we travel from Barlig to Besao. On this third and last part, we conclude our expedition by finally crossing over to Tubo, Abra.

More than the challenges we met along the way were the random acts of kindness we were unconditionally given. Here the best of them.

Continue reading “How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 3”

How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 2

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

RECENTLY, Traveling Journo Ph has shared about the first leg of RAK Ph Mountaineers’ first-ever, much-anticipated “The Great Cordillera Cross Country.”

It was a six-day adventure that saw our team of six trek three provinces of Cordillera by foot, face tough weather conditions, carry full packs heavier than ourselves, and test our limitations. But more than the challenges, it also showered us with random acts of kindness from the locals we met along the way.

On this second and last part, the journey continues with more challenges, and even more random acts of kindness from the locals we met along the way.

We take off from our descent at the municipality of Barlig, Mountain Province.

Continue reading “How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 2”

How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 1

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

AROUND the same time last year, I hiked my first summit: Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal. At 739 meters above sea level (MASL), it was classified as a minor climb yet I felt like my body would break from every step and slip that I took.

But not my spirit. I continued hiking other mountains and subjecting myself to physical pain while finding reward in the wealth of experiences that I gained along the way.

So that a year later after my first minor mountain, I found myself climbing my first major mountain, and not just that! The hike was part of RAK Ph Mountaineers’ first-ever, much-anticipated “The Great Cordillera Cross Country.” 

Continue reading “How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 1”