wild camping in the mist of the mountain god kabunyan and stucked in the middle of the storm!

Sagada Travel Blog

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a video of our hike and camp at mt. ampakaw, in sagada. music by deep forest: while the earth sleeps.

the high cordillera mountains in the philippines is so rich in culture and mythology, it is one of the last bastion of a region in the philippines, where our diverse culture is still preserved like in the old ways. the values and traditions are embedded so deeply in the psyche of the people because as we were colonized by the spaniards, americans and japanese, the colonizers havent conquered the tribes locked high and deep in the mountains. above all, the regions is filled with many myths, epics and legends - centered to their creator god, which is named kabunyan.

sleeping at 8 in the evening was so unusual for me, the last time i slept in that hour when i was in elementary! hahaha.

our campsite at the peak! gorgeous isnt it?!!!
anyway, me and ben forgot to close the window, i woke up shivering around midnigh, THERE WAS ACTUALLY FOG  CREEPING IN OUR WINDOW! as we were located in the topmost level of the inn! i was mesmerised seeing the fog, and i looked at ben, which he was in deep sleep with his mouth open! hahahaha. then i put on socks and my jumper to sleep in the cold, i didnt closed the window and slept deeply.

i woke up at around 6 am, ahead of ben. i went to the balcony and looked at the town of sagada, eventhough the temperature was warm with activity and fog, mists were still scattered around the small town. i looked at sky, it was still cloudy, not really a good weather for camping. when i got back to the room, ben was awake and i told him i will go down to eat breakfast. at the reception of the inn, fortunately, they serve breakfast.
my favorite picture! ben at the peak of mt. ampakaw
i ordered one for me, a heavy one, as i needed strength to hike to the peak of mt. ampakaw, normally at this time of the morning, i am still sleeping, and if i ever i eat only light breakfast, but i ordered rice, 2 sausages and 2 sunny side up eggs. ben came down too and ordered a heavy one of pancakes, ham and 2 eggs. while waiting for our orders, i went outside and smoked and i laughed so hard as i saw the koreans who were in our bus yesterday and checked in also at ganduyan, to be ACUALLY LEAVING SAGADA! hahha i mean, they were there not even for 24 hours and theyre packing up!

after me and ben finished eating our breakfast, we packed our stuff in the backpacks, including little kermit who was snugged safe and sound in ben's backpack. ben stuffed most of the important things in his pack, including our pot to boil water, thingamajigs such as a swiss knife, headlamps, and other small gadgets we need as he has a bigger backpack than mine.
ben at the peak with the valley below and high mountains beyond!
i packed our food in our stuff, together with the thickest towel in my house and i also took the blanket from the inn! hahahaha. so everything was set for our camping! i told the reception that were going away for the day and well be back tomorrow, and i told her not to open our room.... well because i stole the blanket hahaha and the room's fucking messy!


we set off at 7:30 in the morning with a happy mood! then i told ben we dont have anything for our lunch and we stopped by at yoghurt house to buy vegetable rice for our lunch/dinner that were gonna share.  after an hour or so! arrghhhh there were alot of people ordering, so ours took time, our food was ready! it was a bit drizzling, so i told ben, we dont have any kindeling to start a fire at the peak because everything will be wet and also some spare batteries for ben and his camera! so we went store by store to buy wood charcoal but they dont have any but i bought ice tea and ben extra 2 liters of water for us and sausages for me! then finally we gave up and went to a motor spare parts store to buy batteries, unfortunately they ran out, but we asked the guy if they sell charcoal, he was the most coolest guy in the entire world! hahaha and he asked what were we gonna do with the charcoal and we said were setting up fire in mt.
ben loving every minute of it!
ampakaw, he went to the back of the store and came back carrying a ton of old newspapers for us! he was so fucking nice! hahaha and he smiled so broadly and said have fun in sagada! oh yes!








off to mt. ampakaw!
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going out from the town, i still remember the way to mt, ampakaw - the highest peak in sagada at 1900 meters, through the ambasing route. ive hiked mt, ampakaw twice already but never actually camped, so this will gonna be my first time! everything has not changed, except the road is already cemented. but then suddenly ben spotted in the limestone rock formations some hanging coffins! ben was so excited and curious! ok, i asked him if he wanted to go down the road to see the hanging coffins and he said yes excitedly! on the way down, it was slippery, we actually HAD TO PASS SOMEONE'S HOUSE to be able to get down! new born puppies cluttered in the stairs and the mother dog growled at us lol, in the ground below, it was fucking wet and there are lots of water buffalo crap! hahahaha i was really careful not to step on them.
this is the life!
we explored the valley below and the limestone rock formations, suddenly, the sky was getting clearer and we cheered and high fived!!! we can see mt. ampakaw from below with the clouds dispersing from the peak!

after some attempts to find some trail and paths towards the hanging coffins, we gave up as the vegetation was so thick! we turned back again to the main road, it was a bit chilly before but now as the sun was up, it turned 360°! it got warmer and warmer, and finally the sun was really up and i am perspiring already, not helping was i was smoking every now and then carrying my heavy backpack then going uphill.


halfway to the peak!

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after getting out of the town proper of sagada, we must pass the village of ambasing.
mist covering us!
the only thing i remember is that there is an elementary school somewhere here that we have to take a turn. but getting to the school, it got quite bint confusing! there were two paths, a left and a right - of course lol! considering we are boys, it is the law of nature that we are shy to ask questions and just follow instincts! hahaha, so we looked like two little wet idiots in the middle of the two paths, then suddenly a woman shouted in english "are you going to mt. ampakaw?" then we said yes! then she said to follow the path to the left! we thanked her! as we got a little bit higher from the elementary school, i told ben i needed a break! my back was sweating and my tshirt was already wet, i told ben i need to breath! i drank my ice tea and smoked! hahahaha ben was  open mouthed as smoking was my way of breathing! hahahaha.
the valley below!
actually, it was unusual as we were walking too fast uphill. normally, we still would be 20 mins or so behind, but we were so advanced in schedule that it doenst hurt to stop for a while. we took some pictures of the nature around us, but still, we werent so high so we couldnt get a glimpse of the valley and the high peaks around sagada, only the peak of mt. amuyao, the highest mountain in mountain province can be seen from ambasing.






a steep trail and i needed another break! arrrghh!
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after the break at ambasing, the hardest part arrived as the trail is very very steep, and got harder to walk because it rained and the ground was wet, its ven harder to go up as the ground is red clay, plus running water from above mixed with oil coming from the pines.
BEAUTIFUL!
so its really slippery when wet! but just a few meters hiking the steep trail of ambasing with its difficulties, i beg to ben, who was hopping like a rabbit in the steep trail with ease! (wtf?!) that i needed a another break, it doenst matter if he went along, i can catch up with him! but he didnt left me, then there was a hose broken with running water in it, the heat from the sun was searing, and i dabbed water in face, cursing myself not to smoke anymore, but thinking of that, i lighted a cigarette and actually smoked again! hahaha. as i catched my breath, a man from below walked and catched up on us, the one thing i reconigzed is that hes fucking walking barefoot! amazing! with the sharp rocks and pebbles on the ground he can actually make it!


we greeted good morning to each other as it is a custom in sagada.
ben carried my bag! thank you ben!
then i asked him that if the trail were going is right and he said yes, just follow the trail as it goes up. he and ben chatted while i sat and drank. finally he left and walked past us.

then after 10 minutes, it was time to go and i looked up at the steep trail and wishing its a trail going back to my bed! hahahaha.






almost at the top and it never fails to blow me away!
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we finally reached halfway through the peak and i cant believe myself as were only like 20-30 minutes walking!  we were actually fast! including two short breaks! i told ben again to rest for a while.
a butterfly! a promise of hope?! hahaha
we were in a bald spot, so the pine trees didnt obscured the glorious view that behold us! finally we were high enough to see the valley below and the high peaks in the distance, but sadly, due to the erroneous hike uphill, the heat of the sun, smoking alot and the heavy backpack, i broke down. but my spirits were still high to reach the peak, then ben the most unbelievable decision ive seen! he offered to carry my bag! whattafuck?! he said it would be his exercise for his trek to nepal next month! whattafuck again?!! I WILL LOOK LIKE WIMP! nevertheless he was so fucking persistent, so i finaly gave in and i turned into a wimp! hahahaha! and it never felt so good withouth a backpack! my back can breath freely, it was so sweaty! from the last stage to reach the peak of ampakaw, we passed by 3 small waterfalls, but the last one was big and much water flowing, i was not surprised as it was raining so hard! much water was in the catch basin of the peak.
mist forming and going in our direction!
 

we took some pictures of the valley below us! we were so excited to get to the top! it wont be long now! then suddenly, as were about to move ahead, we heard someone singing in the local dialect, it was the guy we met earlier! eventhough he didnt had any voice training or so, his voice was like a spirit singing in the wind together with the soft wisps of the pine trees! it was amazing!


at the peak of the mountain and stuck in the tent for 17 hours in the middle of a storm!
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nearing mt. ampakaw, the vegetation changed, not drastically changed, but the landscape became a bit barren, and the water flowing through red earth path became silvery! it was mixed with something like carbon or mercury! it was amazing! the color mixed with the red earth was so surreal.
ben setting up kermit high in the clouds.


finally we reached the peak! ben was amazed of how much of a bald spot there was! only soft grass! then there wasnt only us on the peak, but a mother wild water buffalo and her offspring, we tried not to get into her way and found a spot near the edge of the mountain, but far from the water buffalos.  its been a long long long time since ive been to the peak of mt. ampakaw, and i only stayed for a couple of hours to watch the veiw then get down again, but today was not the day to go down in a couple of hours as we are camping here overnight! we even cheered! as we got to the peak in less than one hour! because its a two hours hike uphill! amazing! and what's more amazing was that the sun was shining so brightly at around 11 am! the view below the valley and the high peaks of mountain province plus the dominating peak of mt.
the high peaks of mountain province.
amuyao at 2700 meters in the distance was glorious! and to the otherside were rows and rows and rows of peaks! a sea of bald peaks with small villages scattered and in the distance we can see chico river! this is the gift of the god kabunyan to the igorot tribe who thrives in the cordillera mountains. a beautiful nature unmatched by any in the philippines. for me, i couldnt help but to compare the cordillera mountains to the alps in europe, for sure, the alps has higher peaks and snow clad, but here in the cordilleras, the mountains are heaven, as eventhough youre as high as only 1000 meters, clouds abound and within reach! the cordillera is a cloud forest!

ben started to build kermit! i am excited to see kermit too! i helped ben to put the pegs around kermit and in no time she was up! the sun was shining so brightly and we forgot our sunscreen, stupid us.
the path to mt. ampakaw!
we took out our shirts and dried them in the sun, in 5 minutes everything was dry! we were so high that the sun was really glaring. ben collected dry woods for the fire kindeling, while i opened my can of sausage and started eating.

as were trying to relax and take pictures, from the other side, huge amounts of clouds were forming! we were so speechless, because we are on top of the clouds, suddenly it was fast moving towards us! its becoming a rain cloud! funny because in the valley, the sun was shining! we gathered everything inlcluding the firewoods and put them inside the tent! now kermit the tent is very senstive! if its raining outside, you cannot touch the tent because if you do, it will get damp and and you'll get wet inside. so were inside the tent looking like twigs withouth even moving! hahahaha.
mt. amuyao covered by thick clouds!
after about an hour, the rain subsided then the sun came, again it was so hot! the glare dried the ground in just 10 minutes!

then we realized we were running out of drinking water. in the beginning we have almost 6 liters of wate, but ben doenst know THE ART OF RATIONING hahaha he drinks too much, so were down to one liter of water! what to do?!! then ben made a decision to go back and hike to the waterfalls we saw - about 15 minutes fast hike to collect water! before i can stop him, he went out!

while i was busy taking pictures and enjoying the beautful scenery made by the god kabunyan. then after minutes or so, rain clouds formed again! it was faster AND THICKER than the other one. then it started to pour thick drops and i went inside the tent, i heard a loud bang of thunder and i was so worried about ben being alone! THE WORDS OF THE OWNER OF GANDUYAN INN ECHOED IN MY THOUGHS "IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO YOU WITHOUTH A GUIDE NO ONE WOULD BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU" i shivered! 10-15 minutes passed and there was no sign of ben! i was scared inside the tent, not scared that I AM ALONE but scared of ben alone in the rain, cold wet, what if what if what if?!! then 20 minutes passed i hear someone running so fast towards the tent and opened the zippers! it was ben! thank god! i was so worried! i actually needed a hug that time! i dont care if it came from the water buffalos! hahaha just a hug will calm me!

ben filled the empty bottle and 1 small empty bottle of water! but then he forgot about the water purifying tablets, but we will just boil the water when the rain stops!

we just hanged around the tent doing nothing, well, it was the time to get to know each other alot (more than we travelled spain, portugal, germany and belgium).
hahahaha the life!
in just 6 days that me and ben were together, it felt as though here at the peak of mt. ampakaw, weve been travelling for 6 months! and i told him im getting tirred of him! hahaha joke!

still inside the tent wihtouth moving too much, i was cramping, then suddely, the downpour subsided and immediately went outside to take a quick piss, when i was outside the rain began starting to get strong again and it was cold outside! the area was covered in think grey clouds! its beautiful but i cant stay long outside, so i went back inside the tent, thank god i was not all wet.

after an hour, 2 hours, 3 hours - the rain wouldnt stop! it was so hard i swear the wind would knock poor little kermit off if were werent there and heavy thhings inside! it was already dark and were getting hungry, we couldnt boil water for noodles and stuff! we only have light crackers to nibble inside the tent, we played some card games which ben won most! then it was getting dark, we need our flashlights, ben had his head lamp and i got my small penlight with me.
the valley of sagada!
were just sitting awkwardly inside kermit, 3 hours stuck inside the tent was no fun at all! but quite adventurous! hahahaha.


at about 6pm, we decided to go out and stretch and piss in the woods! there was little sunlight and on the other side were thick clouds and little visibility, but the valley below was fucking awesome! clouds covered the mountains! softly moving between the mountain gaps and still coulds clous clouds were all around us! we took our piss quickly and went back again to the tent in a hurry! hahaha we were laughing and still in good spirits! because we resigned to the fact that the rain wouldnt stop!

ben slept in his soft mat, while i made a bed out of my father's old carpet - a prayer mat (because my father is muslim), and the thick towel from home and blanket from the inn which i stole hahaha.
high at 1900 meters!
it was dark now, and were alone in the tent, if we stopped talking the only thing we can hear is the trickling of rain in our tent. i was a little bit claustrophobic because of such small space and we cant open the tent, only the ventilator, that i was having a hard time breathing but i feel safe with ben around lol and the warning from the ganduyan inn owner ""IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO YOU WITHOUTH A GUIDE NO ONE WOULD BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU"  hahahahaha but still its so much fun!


ben and me were so hungry, we ate a bit of leftover rice and some canned beans and crackers, we slowly drank our water as we only had half a liter to share between us. as it gets darker and darker, my eyes were so tired and so was bens and we slept at around 7-8 pm. but before really settling in, i was shivering, i didnt expected this kind of weather, i put 2 ovelraying socks on my feet and my jumper, i was stupid that i didnt had jeans with me, as i flashed ben with a light, he was already dozing off wrapped like cocoon in his sleeping bag hahahaha.
early morning smoke for me!
i wrapped my shemag around my legs and prayed that nothing bad would happen as the storm raged on.

lauro says:
hahaha story teller - para namang ako si lola basyang ahahaha.

ay naku ruby napakaganda ng pilipinas kaya kung may pera ako ulit - at pupunta ako ng asya - wala na akong ibang country na pupuntahan - pilipinas lang talaga!
Posted on: Jun 22, 2010
Ruby12 says:
verrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy nice! nakaka-ingit naman, I wish I was there too enjoying the beauty of nature, I would like to have the same experience! ang ganda-ganda talaga! plus you are really a good story teller, hihi ;)
Posted on: Jun 22, 2010
lauro says:
thank you ver much purni, i hope you can make it to the philippines someday!
Posted on: Mar 01, 2010
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a video of our hike and camp at m…
our campsite at the peak! gorgeous…
our campsite at the peak! gorgeou…
my favorite picture! ben at the pe…
my favorite picture! ben at the p…
ben at the peak with the valley be…
ben at the peak with the valley b…
ben loving every minute of it!
ben loving every minute of it!
this is the life!
this is the life!
mist covering us!
mist covering us!
the valley below!
the valley below!
BEAUTIFUL!
BEAUTIFUL!
ben carried my bag! thank you ben!
ben carried my bag! thank you ben!
a butterfly! a promise of hope?! h…
a butterfly! a promise of hope?! …
mist forming and going in our dire…
mist forming and going in our dir…
ben setting up kermit high in the …
ben setting up kermit high in the…
the high peaks of mountain provinc…
the high peaks of mountain provin…
the path to mt. ampakaw!
the path to mt. ampakaw!
mt. amuyao covered by thick clouds!
mt. amuyao covered by thick clouds!
hahahaha the life!
hahahaha the life!
the valley of sagada!
the valley of sagada!
high at 1900 meters!
high at 1900 meters!
early morning smoke for me!
early morning smoke for me!
sagada all wet in the morning!
sagada all wet in the morning!
the bus terminal.
the bus terminal.
the municipal hall and the police …
the municipal hall and the police…
ben inside the room, i peeped! hah…
ben inside the room, i peeped! ha…
at yoghurt house waiting for our o…
at yoghurt house waiting for our …
mt. ampakaw on the road to ambasin…
mt. ampakaw on the road to ambasi…
ben the backpacker ^_^
ben the backpacker ^_^
haha i look more like attending a …
haha i look more like attending a…
going down to see the hanging coff…
going down to see the hanging cof…
yuck! wet and thick vegetation!
yuck! wet and thick vegetation!
peeping at ben! hahhaa
peeping at ben! hahhaa
the muddy path.
the muddy path.
hehehe
hehehe
the limestone rock formations and …
the limestone rock formations and…
a promising sky!
a promising sky!
ben!
ben!
the sky getting bluer!
the sky getting bluer!
funny limestone shapes!
funny limestone shapes!
yup!!! sky was getting clearer!
yup!!! sky was getting clearer!
oppps thick clouds at mt. ampakaw!
oppps thick clouds at mt. ampakaw!
getting thicker! arrghhh
getting thicker! arrghhh
ambasing!
ambasing!
in the elementary school in ambasi…
in the elementary school in ambas…
going uphill!
going uphill!
halfway through the peak of mt. am…
halfway through the peak of mt. a…
halfway!
halfway!
ben enjoying every minute!
ben enjoying every minute!
still not high but good enough!
still not high but good enough!
the valley below us!
the valley below us!
rice terraces!
rice terraces!
amazing! sky is getting bluer!
amazing! sky is getting bluer!
nearing the peak!
nearing the peak!
i dont know what im talking about!…
i dont know what im talking about…
beautiful!
beautiful!
we were thinking of camping here b…
we were thinking of camping here …
the waterfalls where we got our dr…
the waterfalls where we got our d…
nearing the peak!
nearing the peak!
almost there!
almost there!
ben almost at the peak!
ben almost at the peak!
the valley on the otherside!
the valley on the otherside!
the valley with villages scattered!
the valley with villages scattered!
this was heaven!
this was heaven!
in our campsite, in the edge of th…
in our campsite, in the edge of t…
was so hot we took out our shirts!
was so hot we took out our shirts!
sagada below!
sagada below!
ben gathering firewoods!
ben gathering firewoods!
kermit!!! at last!
kermit!!! at last!
kermit again!
kermit again!
clouds forming!
clouds forming!
but on the otherside was clear!
but on the otherside was clear!
thick clouds coming at us!
thick clouds coming at us!
the valley!
the valley!
rain clouds!
rain clouds!
in the valley too!
in the valley too!
we put all our things inside kermi…
we put all our things inside kerm…
this is a cloud forest!
this is a cloud forest!
stuck inside the tent for the firs…
stuck inside the tent for the fir…
hahahaha
hahahaha
it was still warm inside!
it was still warm inside!
awwwww
awwwww
the rain stopped!
the rain stopped!
hahahahaha
hahahahaha
in 10 mins. everything was dry aga…
in 10 mins. everything was dry ag…
me stretching!
me stretching!
another rain cloud was forming!
another rain cloud was forming!
rain clouds!!!
rain clouds!!!
we are really stuck inside the ten…
we are really stuck inside the te…
raining hard outside!
raining hard outside!
at about 6 pm this shot was taken …
at about 6 pm this shot was taken…
Sagada General Tips & Advice review
trails to camp in ampakaw mountain, sagada
sagada is a mountain town located deep in the cordillera mountains in the philippines. around sagada there are many peaks to hike like polis mounta… read entire review
Sagada
photo by: lauro