Friday, March 21, 2014

Cordillera to Sierra Madre [Day 1 and Day 2]_Motorcycle Riding

Day 1: Manila to Mt. Santo Tomas via Tubao
Date: February 17, 2014
Route Taken: Taguig – Bulacan – Pampanga – Tarlac – Pangasinan – La Union – Baguio via Asin Rd. – Mt. Sto. Tomas

     Almost every year, as a year starter, I always try to find spare time to travel on place or route that is new to me. And this time, I choose it to be in the mountainous area to feel the cold weather before the heat of the summer comes. And it is in the mountains of Cordillera and Sierra Madre.

     A week before, I already prepared the bike by bringing it to the motorcycle mechanic for tune-up, replace the rubber, align the wheel and even replacing the bearings and the speedometer gear.

     A night before takeoff, I was still busy reviewing the map and reading some articles regarding the places that I will be going. Adding the high energy level and great excitement, it was a sleepless night for me until I noticed that it is already 2 o ‘clock in the morning. No more time for me to have a nap, so I start preparing myself and pack my things.

     Four in the morning, I heat-up the engine, took the saddle and hit the road heading north. Somewhere in Pampanga, I started to feel sleepy and a bit dizzy. From time to time, I pull over to the shoulder to have at least a minute of rest.

     At the start, a minute of rest is helping me, but as the sun goes up, I can’t resist closing my eyes and there are instances that I need to pull-over to gasoline stations to have a nap or coffee break.

     Slowly, kilometer by kilometer, minute by minute, I made it to Rosario La Union where I had my lunch and 30 minutes break which really helped me to recharge. There I also refueled the bike before hitting the off-road of Tubao La Union.

   From Tubao, my sleepy eyes didn’t showed anymore as I enjoyed the beautiful sceneries of the mountains, river, streams and other landmarks along Asin Road going up to Baguio.

     Tubao River:

     Tuba River in front of Tuba National High School:

     Asin Road Tunnel:

     Mini-falls along Asin Road:

     Shrine of Brown Madonna:

     I just go straight the Asin Rd. and it ended me up in Marcos Highway in Baguio. I decided not to go to Baguio proper to avoid the traffic congestion in the area, and instead headed the way to the road to Mt. Santo Tomas.

     The first time I went on this mountain is during our educational trip in college. Mt. Santo Tomas is where telecommunications, relay stations and radio communication towers are located to have a good elevation. During that time, I was able to reach the summit of Mt. Santo Tomas by foot. So this time, I told to myself, I want to go up there with my motorcycle.

     Reaching the summit with my bike is not that easy. The rocky trail with a bit of inclination is already technical terrain for me. I experienced falling on my bike, but it didn’t stop me from achieving my personal goal for today, to reach the summit with my bike. And I did it.

Pictures from the summit of Mt. Santo Tomas:

     After bunch of photo shoots at the summit, I decided to go down right just before the sun sets to Mt. Cabuyao where there’s a secured area to pitch your tent which they call, “Picmar Heritage Lodge”. You can rent a room for minimum of 2 persons worth P1200. But I choose to rent a space for my tent worth only P150.

     I ate my dinner and had some beers which I bought in Marcos Highway before going up. Past 10PM when I hit the sack and enjoyed sleeping in a very cold and breezy mountain of Cordillera.

:: END OF DAY 1 ::

Day 2: Mt. Santo Tomas to Sagada via Kabayan
Date: February 18, 2014
Route Taken: Mt. Santo Tomas – Baguio – Binga Dam – Ambuklao Dam – Bokod – Kabayan – Buguias – Mountain Province – Sagada

     Already awake past 6am, but went out of the bag around 7am. Had a coffee from a vending machine at the house of the caretaker, took pictures of the beautiful sunrise and roam around.

     Inclusion of the P150 tent space fee is a free use of their bathroom. I would like to take a shower first before departing but it is still very cold at this early morning, so I decided to go to the highest point of this mountain where the PAGASA radar is located, by running to heat me up.
     From that location, you can have the overlooking view of Western side of Pangasinan with the West Philippine Sea in the background. At the Northwest side, added to the view is the man-made lake of Mt. Cabuyao which I believe they use this as a water source for their plants and crops. And of course at the opposite side in the South direction is Mt. Santo Tomas.

     After I heated up, I can almost tolerate the cold water to have a bath. Past 9am when I break camp and packed my things. Wave goodbye to the caretaker and hit the road again heading Northeast via Ambuklao road.
     Part of the plan is to visit Binga Dam which I haven’t been before. Binga Dam is a 9km off-road from the main road, so it added-up additional 18kms on my off-road adventure.

     After few more pictures and some minutes of rest at Binga Dam, I travel back to the main road heading Ambuklao Dam.

     After Ambuklao Dam, I continued riding heading Northeast then turn left going to Bokod Benguet. In Daclan, Bokod, there is another 2km side trip from the main road to visit the “Badekbek Sulfur Spring”. This is a high temperature natural spring where you can see it is actually boiling and you can see its smoke even from a far. Visitors are joking on it that if a pig or cattle accidentally dropped on this boiling water, it can immediately cooked and ready to eat.

      Few more pictures and I went back to the main road again. Passed-by the intersection going to Mt. Pulag and continued riding towards Kabayan, Benguet, where they are saying that old mummies are still culturally preserved.
     Unfortunately, for me to see the good preserved mummies, I need to hire a guide and hike 2 hours going on top of the mountain, but I’m in a time constraint. So I just went to the mummy museum within the town proper. But… it’s really unfortunate that the museum is closed today because the caretaker went out of town. So I just had my pictures of the museum outside without even a sneak of the said mummies [but I told to myself that I will be back and I will go up to the mountain to see those mummies].

     Had some rest in the area, took my lunch of chocolate and bread then continue riding intended going to Mountain Province via Buguias, Benguet.
     I can’t really tell if this is another misfortune because I got lost and I found myself approaching Ifugao area. I missed the intersection going to Buguias 30mins away. But the good thing happen is I got an opportunity to see and have some pictures of this lake which they called “Tabeo Lake”.

     Asked the locals for the correct direction and it made me went back to the correct track. I arrived in Mountain Province boundary at around 4:30PM.

     Past 8pm when I arrived in Sagada Poblacion safe. There is another misfortune of flat tire experience in total darkness, but still managed to find help from the locals.

     Town of Sagada has local ordinance that establishments and restaurants are closing at exactly 9PM, so the first thing I did after securing my lodging is looked for my dinner. Was able to have 2 bottles of beer then took the bed at 10PM and enjoyed sleeping in the cold night on a more comfortable bed compared to last night for only P250.

::  END OF DAY 2  ::

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No Speed Limit_Running

Date: February 9, 2014
Activity: No Speed Limit Run
Location: Ateneo University, Katipunan, Quezon City

     I have decided to run my first half-marathon of 2014 this February. Initially I planned to join the 2014 PSE Bull Run but due to late announcement of the said run and I was bit hassled with this year’s process of registration, I finally decided to join the 2014 NSL of Ateneo with only a week left. Still lucky that there are remaining slots left and I was able to register.

My Race Kits:

     And then the race day comes. I have no buddy today as my running buddies and team mates from what we called “Family and Friends Team” [FNF], registered and preparing for different events. But still I’m opt to have a 21k be my official run for this month of February. So here we go……

     Picture Before the Run:

     Picture After the Run: 

     The Sponsors:

          More pictures in the area:

     Four days before the run, I did a cross training to Mt. Sembrano which I posted on the previous report. I under estimated that mountain for a cross training trail run which made my legs aching even on the race day. Because of the pain that I felt on my every step, I wanted to finish the run faster because I think it will shorten the agony on each every step. Luckily again, unplanned and unintentional, I was able to finish the course faster than my usual time and I made new 21k Personal Record of 1 hour and 50mins.

     The Finisher’s Kit:

     I had some rest and pictures in the area. Wait for the raffle draw to finish but I am not lucky to win any prize. As everybody had been settled, I also prepare myself to leave and had a good meal reload at the nearest fastfood before I went home.

     That’s all for now, thank you for visiting and until next time…

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mt. Sembrano_Ride and Hike

Date: February 5, 2014
Activity: Ride and Hike
Location: Mt. Sembrano, Pililla, Rizal

     It’s been a while since I last updated this blog because I got bit busy with some travels and rides. So with that done, we can expect new places and more updates for this page.

    So let’s begin with the first one, Mt. Sembrano Ride and Hike.
    This is a solo-ride and I am not in a hurry, and taking and enjoying my time. But it looks it got me lax a lot and I took-off around 7 in the morning. This is already late considering that I need to travel 2hours to Pililla and to hike up to Mt. Sembrano under the scorching sun.
    Anyway, this was planned and scheduled for this week’s day-off so I have to go even it is already late.

   Prepared my things and rode my bike heading Pililla via Antipolo. Gas-up in Shell Antipolo, check tire pressure, bought some food stuffs and continue riding.

     Past 9am when I arrived in Pililla Rizal. Registered in Malaya Barangay Hall worth P20.00

    The Barangay Hall secretary advised me that there’s no safe parking in the mountain area and recommend to just park inside the Barangay Hall compound. It’s easier to look for parking for a motorcycle, so I just parked it on one of the corner, left my motorcycle gears on the bike, then start walking heading the mountain.

        From the jump-off point, it is a 15mins walk on a paved road then a minor ascend on a rocky road begins.

     Continued walking and ascending when I noticed that my reference point is getting far from me every time I checked on it. There I suspected that I was lost.

     Luckily, I met a local farmer to show the correct trail going to the summit. I was already 30mins far from the correct intersecting points going to Mangahan campsite. After 45mins of trekking from the point where I was lost, I reached the Mangahan camp site where you need to pay another entrance fee of P10.00.

     Other hikers, choose to camp overnight on this campsite and they are doing the summit assault the next morning. But for me, since this is a day hike only, I just took some minutes of rest then proceed with the assault.
     Then next part of the trail after this campsite is immediately a 50 to 60degrees difficult assault inside a thickly forested trail.

     I was again almost lost inside the forest because there are some trails of the same size but I found that it lead me to the farm area of the locals. Tracking back and using the basic experience of analyzing the trail, I managed to get back on the correct track and reached the first summit which they called “The North Peak” after an hour from the Mangahan camp site.

Had a brief water break on the North Peak then commence walking again, and after another 20mins, I’ve reached the highest point of Mt. Sembrano which they called “The South Peak”.

     Find some shed in the summit and there I ate my pack lunch of bread and sardines. After lunch, I enjoyed the beautiful overlooking view while lying on the grass with the cold breeze touching my skin.
     After an hour of rest, I start descending. In going down, I dropped by at the Manggahan Falls where you can tidy up and of course to have more beautiful pictures at the falls and at the stream.

     After few more pictures, I continue descending to Malaya Baranggay Hall, logged-off to inform the authority that I went back safe. Took my bike and ride it up to Famy via Jala-jala Rizal.

     Had my light meal of Lomi in Famy Laguna and then rode back to Taguig via Manila East Road.
     Luckily a perfect timing when I arrived in Bugarin viewdeck to see the sunset going down the horizon of Laguna Lake. Had a coffee on a local carinderia while watching the sun continue going down, touching the mountain of Talim Island and into the lake.

     As the sun almost gone, I hit the saddle again and continue riding back home. Drop by in Antipolo church to give thanks and some prayers. I arrived home safe past 8pm.
     This is a quick day-off ride and hike but full of beautiful pictures with the nature.
   That’s all for now, thank you for viewing and until next time!!!...