Sagada, Mountain Province – Part 3

Going back from the small falls to the highway was really exhausting. It involved climbing up the concrete steps and by the time we reached the road, Kuya Larry and I were spent. We had to find air and relax our legs before heading back to the town proper.

We had lunch in one of the karenderya at the basement of the municipal hall. We still had another hike for the day going to Lake Danum, so I badly needed some carbs. I’m on a no-rice diet but I had to eat rice for this entire trip.

After lunch, I went back to St. Joseph to clean up and change. Kuya Larry warned me that it was going to be cold in Lake Danum so I wore my hoodie and my only pair of jeans.

I met up again with Kuya Larry in front of the Tourist Information Center at exactly 2pm, well maybe it was 2:05pm. We then started the trek right away.

The first part of the hike was mostly uphill so I was really worked up. I had to take my hoodie off because I was just sweating big time. I was left wearing a singlet but I didn’t feel much cold. The trail was fine though.

We made a lot of stops and during those stops, I would have good, and sometimes repetitive, conversations with Kuya Larry. I found out that he was just a year older than me (I still kept calling him Kuya after learning this). He said he used to be a mountaineer but stopped this hobby when he got married.

He also told me that on December 27, the number of tourists in Sagada was several times more than the number of tourists that day, so I was lucky to avoid that crowd (you must have noticed by now that I really hate huge crowds).

We passed by a group of cows (I’m too lazy to search for the collective noun for cows). I got scared there for a while. I’m not scared of cows at all but they were big enough to topple us down if they wanted to. They were just easily scared by our presence too so they ran away when we approached and left this sole cow on top of the hill.

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Actually, I have another picture featuring the group of cows but I like this picture better.

We then rested on a spot overlooking the town of Besao and, surprisingly, Tirad Pass which, according to Kuya Larry, was already part of Ilocos Sur. I didn’t know that Ilocos Sur had a boundary with Mountain Province but I guess there is.

That community partially hidden from view is Besao and that mountain in the far center with a pointed tip is Tirad Pass
That community partially hidden from view is Besao and that mountain in the far center with a pointed tip is Tirad Pass

We all know from our elementary history class that Tirad Pass was where the hero Gregorio Del Pilar died. It was nice to see that piece of history even though it was far.

We continued through a not-so-dense forest of ferns and pine trees with moss around their trunks. We must be in the mossy forest now.

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From that point, it was mostly downhill but there were still parts that were uphill, so we made a few more stops to rest.

The wind started to pick up and I was afraid the weather might turn bad. It also started to drizzle so that wasn’t a good sign. But it didn’t go on for long.

Kuya Larry expected us to reach Lake Danum by 4pm. But we made so many stops that we only got there by 4:30pm.

Sadly, the sky was overcast when we got there so we didn’t see the sunset. Whatever! I just took pictures of Lake Danum instead.

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Kuya Larry told me that the only source of the water in the lake is rain. It is not connected to any river or any larger body of water at all. Even during the dry season, it only shrinks but does not completely dry up.

We decided to head back to town a few minutes after. It was about another four kilometers of walking. I was too hot from all the hiking we did that while other people were shivering from the cold, I was only wearing a sleeveless shirt and still sweating.

We reached St. Joseph around 5pm. I paid Kuya Larry and said goodbye. He’s a really nice guy. You may contact him directly at 09483841791.

When I finally got to rest for good, I checked my phone and found that I walked more than 33 kilometers that day. That’s way longer than a half marathon. I haven’t run for a few weeks now, up until this writing, because of a broken toe but my all-day hiking seemed to have made it better. I would feel some soreness in my legs, however, for the next couple of days.

Because of all that trek that day, I really had a good night sleep.

I woke up early the next day to supposedly catch the 5am trip but I was too tired to hurry so I caught the 6am bus instead. The flyer did not indicate a 6am trip so they must have added buses to accommodate visitors going in and out of Sagada at that time of the year.

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