Hiking matters #133: Mt. Sicapoo Day 3 – The long Timarid-Simagaysay traverse

On an ordinary mountain, you would call the return trip from the summit a descent, which means to go down. But in Mt. Sicapoo, the so-called “descent” actually entails ascending two mountains in succession, before going down, and going up again, and finally, finally, at the final stretch, the term ‘descent’ would be true to its meaning. To put things in perspective, Timarid, the first mountain, is climbed with an altitude gain of almost 500 meters – which makes that portion of the climb tougher than your average dayhike.

Thus, the third day is much more than a descent; it is, in itself, an adventure – and I think this is what makes Sicapoo a grand and majestic mountain. It is a kingdom so vast that however big your appetite for adventure is, it is sure to be the satisfied, if not on the summit, then somewhere along the trail. The trail, which, as measured by One Degree, runs to an exhilarating 49 kilometers!
We started descending from Bubuos campsite by 0730H, reaching the Saulay ridges an hour later — and as the sun waxed upon us, we began to behold Mt. Timarid — which is more majestic when viewed from the Sicapoo side. In a fortunate moment that I can only call an epiphany, a young deer appeared before us, running gracefully in the grassy ridges! It was too fast for photographs, but the sight of it! It is imprinted in my mind. Run, deer, run – to me you are Freedom.
Climbing up Timarid, with its steep and narrow trails, was truly a physical challenge, but when confronted with a mountain, my only strategy is to take things one step, one stride at a time. Soon we arrived at Timarid, and from there, Simagaysay proved easier.
From Simgaysay, we entered a forest, and past that forest, we emerged into open grassy slopes. In one sweep of your eyes you can see everything – the slopes winding downwards towards the plains of Ilocos Norte and onwards to South China Sea; behind you, Mt. Simagaysay guards the entrance to Sicapoo’s majestic domain. Narrow ridges connect hills and vales, and when passing through them amid the breathtaking view, a sense of wonder is bestowed upon you, and it becomes, like the deer, fleeting yet unforgettable.
After negotiating the hills, we went down to the One Degree Plateau – an amazingly vast flatland that looks like an African savannah. It takes quite a while to walk across this plateau, which, on summer months, is replete with duhat fruits and thus a very pleasant trek. But when Jo and I were passing by, I could only taste the delicious duhat in my memories.

From the Plateau, we reached the jumpoff in less than 30 minutes; by 1530H we were already fixing our things by the river, and before 1600H we were on the way back to Laoag, and then to Paoay, where Aggie Pinzon, our very kind host in Ilocos Norte, has a “Ilokano dinner” prepared for us. I must add that the the One Degree guys – i.e. Louie – even joined the driver in fetching us from the jumpoff, and the Iron Lady and I are very grateful for such an accommodating group. I was not feeling well before we started the climb (an upset stomach, perhaps) but I felt great as our jeep raced towards Laoag. Having climbed Sicapoo, Ilocos will never be the same.

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