Friday, April 4, 2014

Cordillera to Sierra Madre [Day 3 and Day 4]_Motorcycle Riding

Cordillera to Sierra Madre [Day 3 and Day 4]_Motorcycle Riding

Day 3: Sagada to Isabela
Date: February 19, 2014
Route Taken: Sagada – Bontoc – Barlig – Natonin- Paracelis – Ifugao – Maris Dam – Magat Dam – Santiago – Echague, Isabela

     Woke-up around 7:30 in the morning, took my breakfast of bread and water, plot my route and prepare myself for today’s adventure.

    Past 9AM when I left the hotel. Drop by at the church in Poblacion to have some prayers and pictures as well.

     Then I started rolling heading Bontoc. I know that this segment is a very long off-road and far from city civilization so I told myself to at least lessen the stops and picture taking for me to complete the route before sundown. But there are some points that I can’t resist pulling over to have a sneak to the beauty of Cordillera Mountain Ranges such like this.

     I continued riding heading East direction going to Barlig. My next stop is on top of these majestic rice terraces. The Barlig Rice Terraces which is part of Cordillera Rice Terraces that was acknowledged and inscribed by UNESCO to showcase the ingenuity of Igorot engineering.

     After few more clicks from my camera, continued riding heading Natonin. From Barlig, it is already a complete and challenging off-road condition. Lucky for me that it is summer time so the bumpy road is dry and more manageable. Few kilometers from Barlig, I found myself riding alone in the middle of the mountain. Anywhere you point your eyes; it’s all mountain, and mountain, and mountain. What should to expect, this province is called Mountain Province.

     From Barlig to Paracelis, it has approximately 70kms of complete off-road. But from Paracelis, it is already 99% paved roads up to Isabela. Continued riding with no stops until I reached Isabela proper aiming to arrive on this province while the sun is still high.
     I’ve drop by at the two dams in the boundary of Ifugao and Isabela for few more pictures before going to Santiago to look for place to stay.

   Maris Dam:

Magat Dam:

     Past 5PM when I arrived in Santiago, Isabela. Looked for a place to stay, but as expected, hotel inside the city are more pricey than the nearby Municipality. So I decided to travel 10 more kilometers going to the nearby Municipality of Echague where I found a cheaper room worth P450 for overnight stay compared to P800 to P900 in the city.

      After I settled my room, looked for something to eat, looked for gas station to fill the bike’s tank. Had few bottles of beer and I ended the day.

:: End of Day 3 ::

Day 4: Isabela to Dinggalan, Aurora
Date: February 20, 2014
Route Taken: Echague, Isabela – Jones – Maddela – Dinadiawan, Aurora – Dipaculao – Maria Aurora – San Agustin – Bongabon, Nueva Ecija – Laur – Dinggalan, Aurora

     Get-up from the bed past 7AM, lubricate the bike, prepare myself and left the hotel at 9AM.
     I was assessed the previous day that I almost short of budget so I asked helped from my friend Rey who’s in Manila to send me some thousand bucks and he remit it to Cebuana Lhuiller yester night. So first destination after I left the hotel is to look for Cebuana Lhuiller in the area to claim the money.
     After that errand, I started rolling via the Echague backdoor bypassing the National Highway going to Maddela.

     In Madella, I dropped by to a known tourist attraction at this municipality, the “Maddela Waterfalls”. It is 3kms away from the main road. The 3km road are off-roads but manageable that you can even bring your sedan to the area.
     Maddela Waterfalls is a series of falls with basins below each falls for swimming. Others called it “Governor’s Rapid”. They have curved the stones to form natural steps for easy access going to the other falls above the hill. I was able to reach 4 waterfalls and basins. I believe there are more surprises and adventures above of it but the terrain is more difficult and stiff and I don’t have more time to explore so I enjoyed relaxing for few minutes on the last rapid that I’ve reached.

      It’s almost lunch time and I am not even at the half of this day’s route. This lap is one of the longest laps of the entire trip so even I still wanted to stay; I need to move forward because I am still too far to my today’s destination, in Dinggalan, Aurora.
     I get back on the road again traversing the mountainous terrain on the boundary of Isabela and Aurora. This is now part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges that’s why I titled this trip as “Cordillera to Sierra Madre”. There is an on-going construction on this part of the mountain with only approximately 20kms off-road left and I believe this can be completed the soonest.
     From Dinadiawan, Aurora to Baler is already 100% complete paved road. It is nice traversing this part of the road because it is a coastal road at the East Side of Luzon. I was even tempted to pull-over and touch the salt water because of the beautiful view and this was my first time to see body of sea water again after 4 days since I left Manila.

     Then continued riding heading Maria Aurora bypassing Baler proper. I been to Baler and Maria Aurora years back but I missed to visit this said “Century Old Balete Tree”. So I made it sure to put it on my itinerary this time.

     I enjoyed roaming around the area, passing through small openings to get inside or in the middle of the tree, climbing on top, picture taking and chatting with the locals when I noticed it is already 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
     Part of my route is the Villa to Bongabon road which I believe is a 70kms off-road with river-crossing so I need to move now to complete traversing this segment before sundown.

     Lucky for me that construction on this area is also on-going and there’s already around 20kms off-road left, so I was able to reach the Nueva Ecija – Aurora boundary right just in time that the sun is kissing the edge of the mountain.

     I arrived in Bongabon past 7pm. Heavy rain falls when I arrived in Bongabon so I put the electronic gadgets inside the bag with plastic for waterproofing. Passing through the mountainous area of Laur – Dinggalan road on heavy rainfall, cold weather, total darkness with small amount of light coming from a dirt bike really slows down my pace, but manage to arrive on my destination safe around 8:30PM where I met my father Allen to join with me on tomorrow’s adventure.
    Had some beers and chatting with my father before we hit the bed to rest our body in preparation for tomorrow’s more adventurous and final segment of this ride.

::  End of Day 4  ::