When day broke, it brought infinitely better weather than when we pitched camp the night before. The sun was up, the birds were chirping, the temperature wasn’t biting, butterflies were landing on our clothing…you could say it was perfect. It really is such a treat waking up to a scene when you’re in the mountains. Coupling that with the awesome scenery of Mt. Ugo certainly didn’t hurt. Oh and there were cows grazing nearby. Thank heavens they just arrived that morning because the previous year, when we camped at the other side, we shared the site with dozens of cows that kept walking around and bumping our tents all night long. It wasn’t as fun as it sounded.
For most of us, we took advantage of the sun’s heat to dry our clothes and tents which were soaked the night before. It would make for easier packing for one thing. My camp certainly looked like I just finished hanging out the laundry to dry. I had ground sheets, fly sheets and ponchos laying on the ground while my shirt, socks and pants were cleverly hanging from tree branches. I also laid my trekking shoes out hoping that it’ll dry somewhat which was a huge inconvenience because being a ‘waterproof’ pair, once the water seeps inside my shoes, it never ever goes out.
After laying out half of the contents of my pack in the sun, we ate breakfast in order to ready ourselves for the trek up to the summit and the subsequent descent to Kayapa. I helped myself to my usual Spicy Chicken Yakisoba while Tin found herself some Mountain Dew care of Master Rex. I don’t know, that girl and Mountain Dew seem to share an unbreakable bond. I, on the other hand, was content with my mixed Gatorade drink, which people still think is Tang or Eight o’clock.
Anyway, we soon broke camp then ascended the remaining kilometer up to the summit. Up the trail, you could see Mt. Pulag peeking behind a heavy cover of clouds. When we got nearer the summit though, especially around the mossy forest, the sun’s heat was quickly replaced by low fogs and much colder temperatures. It was still tolerable though since it wasn’t actually raining or anything but the change was clearly pronounced.
We finally arrived at the summit but due to the aforementioned fog, the clearing was fleeting. We did manage to have our obligatory photo op around the summit marker though. Jumpshots, wacky poses (monopolized by Tin I guess) and basically enjoying the summit for half an hour was what we did. I also kissed the peak which is a clichéd ritual I know, but I like doing it. Around 10:30, that’s when the rain started to pour. It wasn’t as strong as the day before but I did wear my poncho on the way down to also help with cold. Although, it was obvious that it was one of those downpours that you know was just passing by and would not last long.
We descended at the other side of the summit back to the campsite that we stayed at the year before. By this point, the fog cover was increasing which also limited the trail visibility. As we headed further down though, the rains and fog let up and revealed the amazing views once more. I actually slowed down a bit to appreciate and document the views a little more because when I climbed there last year, it was also pouring down so I didn’t see the view from that side much. Masters Rex, Ed, Vernz and Tin actually caught up with me because of that and I guess after that, we took every opportunity to take pictures of the amazing views (both with and without us in it).
After a steady descent, we ended up at the waiting shed which marked the boundary between the Benguet and the Nueva Vizcaya side of Mount Ugo. I decided to don shoes once more (I wore sandals on the way down) hoping that using it in the trail while exposed to the sun would help dry it out. We took a break at the waiting shed while I changed my footwear and was treated to the most inspirational quote a mountaineer could ask for after trekking for hours and hours while breathing and sweating heavily I might add:
After getting pumped up with energy by that monumental bible quote, it was off to traverse the long and winding Spanish trail part of Mt. Ugo. It was basically a 2 hour trek across flat ridges on the mountainsides. There were gradual inclines and descents but all in all, it was one long walk in the park. But again (I know market market na), being treated to the scenery of Mt. Ugo didn’t make the trek boring at all. We walked all they way, for an hour I think, without stopping until we reached the waiting shed near Ansipsip Elementary School. Master Rex would later inform us that it was just pure willpower that kept him going because he was half wishing that Tin (who was ahead of him) would stop and take a break but I guess Tin was oblivious to such aspirations. In her defense, she was keeping a fast pace because she was already hungry so the sooner she got to the waiting shed, then the sooner she could chow down the lunch she packed earlier. Master Rex chided that the next time we climbed together, he would tie bolts around our feet to somewhat regulate our pace and not pressure others too much. How’s that for a compliment? Hahahaha
We actually caught up with Masters Bart, Paul, Brandy and Earl at the waiting shed where they too took a much needed break. We stayed there for a while, with Tin eating her lunch, and spent our time trying to spot the tail part of our group. Since the trail was just by the mountainside, you could actually see where we started from 2 hours prior. Only master Rex was able to spot some of our climbmates moving like minuscule dots though, I think he still has perfect vision or whatever. After resting a bit, we resumed our trek to Domolpos village.
Like the previous part, we also did not stop until we reached the village. The trail was still long and winding and along the way, we passed by the peak marker for Mt. Samiento. We stopped on the road just outside the village and of course, did not pass up the opportunity to sneak in some self serving photo moments while we were at it. I told master Rex that we should just push through once we reached Domolpos (I thought they planned on resting a while there) since from there on, it would be continuously downhill anyway. Sure it would hurt our knees more but our descent would be much faster. They agreed to just push through and I guess that’s what I did.
Master Rex later kidded me that not long after reaching Domolpos, I suddenly disappeared on the trail. I guess I’m accustomed to descending as well so I was able to maintain a pretty fast pace. I caught up with Earl and Brandy who were caught in a fork in the road, which apparently still led to the same path anyway. After that area, about 10 minutes down, I recognized the spot where we first took a break while assaulting this side last year. That got me thinking that I was near the Kayapa jumpoff so I decided to quicken the pace a little more since I was feeling a bit hungry as well (unlike Tin, I did not pack any lunch huhuhu). After half an hour or so, I reached the cemented part of the trail where residential houses were and not long after that, I reached the main road leading to the Kayapa Public Market. I quickly ate at a carinderia where Masters Paul and Bart were already eating then proceeded to wait for the others to arrive. As luck would have it, as I was arranging my bag, rain started pouring down once more. And almost serendipitously, it poured harder than ever before hahaha I actually grimaced at the thought of the others who were undoubtedly caught in the downpour while I was there comfortably waiting in the shade offered by the carinderia hahaha
Anyhow, the rains didn’t seem to damper any of their spirits as Tin and Vernz were as jolly as ever when they caught up to us at the market some half hour later. We stayed in the carinderia the whole time while we waited for the rest of the group, catching some sleep whenever possible, eating whenever we felt like it and using the store’s outlet to charge our gadgets. I decided to just “wash up” in Baguio where we would be staying anyway since Tin and I were going straight to Mt. Timbak after the Ugo climb. It was almost 6PM when we were finally able to leave Kayapa, with the rain still pouring, and after 3 hours of daredevil driving among barely visible roadways, we finally arrived at Baguio. The group went on their separate ways in the station after the certificates were handed out. This was the time we found out about the fateful inclusion of Tin Tesorio in our Ugo climb hehehehe. Mam Rona was reunited with her bag and all was well in the world. 😀
While the rest of the group arranged for their respective trips home, Vernz, Tin and I decided to have dinner in Good Taste before Vernz headed home. I was all up for it at first but I guess that experience didn’t turn out as satisfactory as I imagined it would be. When I last ate at Good Taste, I remembered leaving very full and satisfied but I guess I forgot why. Now, Tin and I have very huge appetites. You can’t actually tell just by looking at us because I’m a relatively small guy and so is Tin. But I can eat a lot if I wanted to and let’s just say Tin can comfortably hold her own in a Man vs. Food fight. So when we arrived at Good Taste, we greedily ordered anything we thought sounded good because given the price on the menu, we thought we could handle it. Who would have thought that for just Php 80, they’d be serving you FIVE cuts of chicken in a curry meal or that the smallest serving size for a Molo Soup was half a punch bowl? In the end, it turned out that we were not as hungry as we thought because we actually gave up in finishing all of the dishes we ordered save for one, a carrot cake worth 17 pesos. Yes, dear reader, that was the only item that we managed to wholly consume and we even shared that. I do profusely apologize to the starving kids that my parents always reprimanded me about whenever I don’t finish my meal because try as we might (even with singing JMraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” to motivate us hehehe), we really couldn’t chow it all down. After that experience, I don’t think we”ll be rushing back to Good Taste anytime soon.
So that’s how our Mt. Ugo trip concluded. Of course for Tin and me, the start of the next trip was just around the corner so we headed back to Victory Liner terminal to wait for dawn 🙂 Again, thanks to all the “Masters” who allowed us to join their climb, it was very much worth it and I won’t ever get tired of saying that. More power to Team SAGUL!