Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mt. Napulauan Traverse

Location: Hungduan to Hapao, Ifugao
Jump-off Point: Hungduan, Banaue
2,642+ Meters Above Sea Level (Per
Difficulty: Major Climb, 7/9 (Per

Such fine weekend, although a little bit cloudy, and we traveled to Banaue for a 2-day hike to Mt. Napulauan (via Ohayami Transit). Part of the astounding Cordillera range, this has been one of my target mountains following Mt. Amuyao last June 2012. And so, this was my second time in Ifugao province this year and I guess nothing has significantly changed yet since I went there last June.

After eating our breakfast and buying necessary things at the market of Banaue town, we had a 2-hour jeepney ride to the town of Hungduan (arranged beforehand), which is our entry point for this traverse. It was around 11am or 12nn when we started the trek. 

We began hiking and hours passed. As we go on with our trek, this was the time when one could likely ask (as buddy Dennis Hisanan, the organizer, has quoted), “what is assault?” and the answer is definitely “Mt. Napulauan!” From the very start of the trek, no one could escape the experience of ascending and ascending and ascending. Thank God, as mentioned earlier, that we did not have a sunny weather on that day. That was a little relief, otherwise it would add to the difficulty of the assault and it would surely become more tiring. Really a great help that it was cloudy and raining a bit from time to time. We arrived at the first campsite at around 2pm and then we resumed trekking. We reached the mossy forest and of course it’s still an ascending trail. Only few times that we had walked on a gradual trail. We were just joking to each other with the line “Makakarating din tayo, tiwala lang. “

Stable network signal is present throughout the traverse. Some of the things that amazed me were  seeing those  flora and fauna, a bird’s nest and a number of holes which we’re not so sure if they are wild boar’s territories or hunter’s traps. (Hence, extra focus and attention should be present during night trek because of these holes). Moreover, it was also fun eating Korean food during the meals courtesy of our Korean friend named Woosung Ju.

The nightfall came and so we had a dark forest trek  when we were approaching the summit. We ascended and then the trail seemed to be going down and then we ascended again. And there! We all arrived at the summit (which is also a campsite) at around 8pm on the average. The space is somewhat limited so our tents had to be a little compressed. Bad thing was, it rained hard. Setting camp was of course difficult as it was not only pouring hard but it was also cold because of the strong wind. If compared with my recent climbs, Mt. Amuyao and Mt. Pulag, the cold temperature there at the summit of Mt. Napulauan was more tolerable. Because of the rains, we were not able to have socials, and obviously everyone needed a restful night due to that one-day up’s great assault experience.

The next day was a blessing— the sun shone brightly and it was a fine, “rainless”, beautiful morning. It was actually a very sunny day ahead. We prepared and ate our breakfast and took pictures of the views. We were able to see the peak of Mt. Amuyao. At the opposite side, we saw a peak covered by clouds which according to the guide (if I heard it right) is the Mt. Pulag. 

I enjoyed our descent. It was long dense mossy forest. Amazingly, we were given moments of steady hiking. But since this was a traverse, a very steep descent is apparently a big challenge. At first , the descent was full of fun and laughter, we were only  expecting a 5-hour trek down to the exit point at Hapao (according to our organizer, Dennis Hisanan who already went there in 2011 and did the same traverse). However, we started noticing that we were already 5-hour trekking and yet we we seemed to be still at a thousand meters above sea level. And yes, we traversed through a long cut! (well, we just followed the guides.. perhaps that was the trail that they know) But still, we actually did a 7-8 hour descent instead of 5 hours.
We actually had a reservation in Ohayami bus on its  7pm trip to Manila. Although we tried to follow the itinerary, it was not possible anymore. Safety and welfare of the participants are more important. One of our companions got stranded because he fell down at around 30 feet and got an injury. What happened was a serious situation but still, thank God that the injury he got was a minor one. He was able to be rescued.  I would like to thank those guy companions who volunteered to rescue him. Truly, as sir Philip Cabales (one of those who rescued)  has said, that was expected in every mountaineer.

More inconvenience and stranded moments followed as we had difficulty finding a good transport going back to Manila since it was already late night. Well, that’s part of the challenge and we were able to take it. We all took home both the “joyful and irritating moments” of Mt. Napulauan traverse.  

*For a more convenient and relaxing climb, a 3-day itinerary is an option, having the first night stay at the first campsite and spending the second night at the summit.

For more information, you may contact the Tourism Office of Banaue, Ifugao and look for Ms. Weng 0916-7124282
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

BUSOG Turns TWO (at Mt. Balagbag)

Buddies United in Sports and Outdoors Guild, simply known as BUSOG mountaineers--- and we’re back to the mountain top as we celebrate our 2nd anniversary as a group of mountain hiking enthusiasts (14-15 July 2012)

We chose Mt. Balagbag via Licao-licao for this celebration to make it just light and chillax. With the help of fellow BUSOG mountaineers especially Lauren Ramos, the event was made possible.  We’re more than 20 participants who joined this anniversary with lots of guests (Layas Mountaineers and majority were from HP).  Although at the start of the trek, we were given a not-so-good weather, it was pouring hard and very cloudy, the climb pushed through, anyway. (By the way I was there in Mt. Balagbag just last February this year, see such post for some mountain details)

Thankfully, when we reached the summit which is also the camp site, the rain began to stop, making easy for us to set camp and prepare our dinner. The participants were divided into groups, t’was like fiesta when each group shared their food. 

Lots of individual introductions to oneself, mountain talks and kwentuhan happened on our social night. We also met new faces and new future climbing companions.

Beautiful morning awakened us the following day with some portion of sea of clouds right there at the summit.  After having our breakfast eaten, we prepared to have our respective tent downs and started to descend. We headed down to the falls for our side trip. We enjoyed much the waterfalls. There was water already on the upper part, unlike last February which was not yet rainy season, when we had to go down further just to find the area where we can bathe or swim.

Another great event for BUSOG Mountaineers. Kudos!

(This was when I discovered that my adventureproof Pentax camera was not suitable for running water, oh no, its destination after going back to Manila was at the service center  :( )
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