Since I’ve been coping well dealing with my travel withdrawals, I finally dug my “inspiration box” to write something about my hiking adventures in the Philippines. So, pardon the lengthy Volume of pictures you are about to see. When you are being bombarded by the social media of the magnificent hiking trails located near your hometown every now and then, it gives you this strong urge to hike these trails once you get the chance. These pictures and posts made me feel like I was missing out a lot since they are mostly located in the Cordillera regions of the Philippines where I’m originally from. Hence, I made a promise to myself to hike at least one or two trails when I go home, and it finally happened last month. As I have done my fair share of the most grueling hikes in my life such as the infamous Wedgemount Lake hike I did last summer, it is safe for me to assert that these hikes are appropriate for beginners. Despite the fact that they are considered effortless hikes, the stunning view as you navigate your way towards the summit will absolutely knock you off your feet and literally give you the “feels.” And once you get to the summit of these trails, the mind-blowing sceneries you get to see and experience will make you realize how lucky you are to be witnessing such stunning creations.
- Mt. Ulap- This trail is located in Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet which is about forty-five minute ride from Baguio City. The hike takes about 5-6 hours depending on how fast you are. Before even starting the hike, it is mandatory to get a guide in the Ampucao Elementary School which costs about 600 pesos and 100 pesos for the registration. Having to descend the steep stairs in Quirino Hill every morning made this hike bearable, as I did not get the after-sore effect that I was quite expecting from the hike. You will indulge yourself with acres of grasslands and scenic views of Mt. Santo Tomas and Mt. Ugo to Mt. Pulag as you continue your assault up the mountains. The terrains are mostly flat with amazing rock formations along the way where you can challenge yourself getting rid of your fear of heights while taking pictures of the amazing view.
- Mt. Yangbew- This thirty-minute hike is probably one of the easiest hikes I have done so far. It is situated in Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet, a half an hour jeepney ride from Baguio City. For some reason, we got off way before the designated jump off point that we had to ask the locals how to get there from where the driver dropped us off. We literally had to pave our way through tall grasses, bamboos and muddy trails before we got to the top of Mt. Yangbew. The good thing about it is that we did not have to pay for the registration (30 pesos), as we pretty much walked through the trails where locals normally walk their horses. And yes, the trail was full of horse shit, literally. Once you get to the top of the mountain however, you get to roll on the grasslands to your heart’s content, get your tan and enjoy a panoramic view of La Trinidad, Benguet.
- Mt. Kalugong- This hike is recommended for beginners as it only takes about 45 minutes to get to the peak. The starting point is in Barangay Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet which is about half an hour ride from Baguio City. Once you get to the eco-park, you are required to pay 50 pesos as a registration. It was a bit awkward when we went there, as most of the tables were occupied with couples that we literally only took few pictures and started walking towards the rock formations. We did not get to sit on the tables to take a break because there were couples in every table who were “ruining” the view (LOL). Once you get to the rock formations, you will be welcomed by the magnificent view of La Trinidad. Wearing proper shoes as the rocks are jagged and uneven is highly recommended. I learned this the hard way when I almost fell few times because my shoes were very slippery.
- Ambuklao, Bokod, Benguet- How I ended up on a road trip to Ambuklao was unexpected. It was supposed to be a visit to the famous Ambuklao dam, one of the oldest power plants in the Philippines, but it did not happen due to some circumstances. However, I still got the chance to actually take pictures of the beautiful forestry and rivers around the area. I also got the chance to experience the hospitality of the locals there when I randomly hitched a ride in a truck of some strangers. When I handed the money to the local in front of me thinking that I needed to pay, I was told that it was not needed because I was literally sitting inside a police car. So thank you to those policemen who were very kind. You’ve made one stranger proud for your good service. I would have been stuck there for ages if not for you guys who were nice enough to drop me off where I could take a jeepney going back to Baguio City.