|Trekking through the pine forests of Mt. Ugo|
Joining me once again were my good companions Coby Sarreal and Koi Grey, the venerable 18-time Halcon climber Cynthia Sy, and Coby’s SBMS-mate Chito. All of us, sans Koi, took the 2200H bus from Pasay to Santiago, Isabela (360) and we got off at the Aritao Bus Terminal, where we were fetched by a jeepney (2500). We were met by my longtime guide Alex Basilio, and started trekking at 0630H.
We did not have expectations of good weather as Amang had still not dissipated by the time we left Manila, and the blue skies that greeted us at daybreak was a welcome sight.
Coming from Kayapa, the Ugo Traverse has four parts, and music lovers can liken it to the four movements of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. The first part is an allegro con brio - a steep ascent. And then a more relaxed andante con moto that connects Indupit to Dolompos, largely through wide trails that are almost roads. From Domolpos to Mt. Ugo summit is a short section that’s steep and scenic - a scherzo allegro - and finally the finale: another allegro, a long descent through pine forests until Tinongdan.
We reached Indupit (16.346971 N, 120.861089 E, 851 MASL) at 0824H, and after a 20-minute rest stop, commenced the easiest (though longest) part of the trail: a 10-kilometer stretch of wide paths with a few ups and downs, but largely flat, and mostly scenic. It is here where the winged Koi Grey caught up with us, which was a happy reunion. Before long, we could see the school at Domolpos, where I have spent three nights (2008, 2011, 2012). Since we were doing a dayhike, we no longer stopped by Domolpos (which would require a 15-minute descent from the main trial), and instead headed straight to the summit
Up the summit, the slopes were surrounded with pines, which give way to a mini-forest at the very top. There are steep parts: the ascent was still a good 350 meters.
Endnote: Of late I have enjoyed the major dayhikes greatly, and I will likely attempt to do the same thing for some more Cordillera peaks. Meanwhile, I am off to Palawan for another major climb! And when I get back to Manila in February I will likely explore those rocky peaks in Rodriguez, Rizal that have piqued my interest :)