AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Sagada: Day 1

The Philippines is like the rest of Asia when it comes to hiking, you need a guide for almost everything. Well, actually you don’t need a guide, you just need to know where the path is. And because most information isn’t published then we don’t know where the paths are. Which then leads back to needing a guide simply because we can’t find the paths. Very annoying.

On our first day in Sagada we were given a map in the tourist information office. It showed a path going up Mt. Apacao, the Lonely Planet also said this was a good walk and easy to do alone. That was enough to convince us that hiking up this hill would be a good idea.

We had breakfast at the Yoghurt House, which serves really nice, thick yogurt (among many other nice options). We also ordered sandwiches which looked really tasty and a bag of fresh cookies.

We walked down main road out of Sagada into the next village. Luckily, Annemarie had found a very brief blog that someone had written and we were able to use that for basic directions because we got stuck at the first point. A small concrete track leads off to the right by the school in Ambasing up the hill and sharply to the right. The map had no details and the Lonely Planet gave no directions.

We followed this track almost the whole way to the ridge near the summit. It becomes a dirt track but still easy to follow. Most of the walk was in the shade which was very good for us, the air temperature was around 22’c but in the sun it was around 30’c. We still struggled a bit walking up there, showing that we really aren’t as fit as we’d like to be.

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We reached a flat plateau about two thirds of the way to the summit. From here the track went around the side of the slope, not up it. Our map was totally pointless for actual navigation and our very basic guide mentioned nothing. We looked around and followed the track hoping to see a path up. But nothing! We kept on walking. Still nothing!

At this point we have to give up on walking to the summit. But, it’s not all bad news, the map shows a red line (a path) linking Mt. Apacao with a lake to the north, which is a popular location and has a road leading back into Sagada. We see no other paths so we might as well continue following this track. The track steadily gets narrower until it passed a wooden hut, here it became a small path. The path went through a few fields then disappeared into a forest of ferns. For a few minutes we tried our best to follow the track but a it was difficult and a few times the path seemed to split, each time we took a guess on which was the correct route.

About 5 minutes of this and we had to give up and turn round. The path was almost indistinguishable, slightly flattened bits of bush and we had made an assumption on which was the correct path quite a few times now.

At this point I got very annoyed. How hard is it make an map? Or build paths for tourists? Surely better paths equals more tourists? This must be deliberate! Make it too difficult to do with a guide who knows the easy! First we couldn’t find the path to the summit, then we can’t find the path which leads to the lake. Goddam it!

We have no option but to turn back. Annemarie, looking on the bright side (somehow after my ranting and raving) reminds me that at least we has a good walk up the hill and back. Maybe… But still, a proper map isn’t hard!

We sat on a flat bit of short grass and ate our sandwiches. Very nice sandwiches too! Then walked back down the way we had come up.

It was disappointing that we couldn’t find the path to the summit or the the lake, but the walk was pretty nice overall.

Side note from Annemarie. We walked up the side of a hill covered in pines. We had a nice view down overlooking Sagada and the rice terraces. Should you wish to walk up to the viewpoint. Walk down from Sagada towards the caves on the main road. Continue to follow the road until you see a school in the right-handside. This is Ambasing School. Walk up the path that is parallel with the school. It is a concrete path here. It turns right around the corner before swiftly becoming a dirt track. Follow the dirt track all the way up to the viewpoint. The route to the top is just off the left-hand path at the top and is through an overgrown section of forest. We were told by a guide that this is way.

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We walked 5.5 miles in 3 hours. Our pace was a bit slow but we were stopping for photos as well many breaks for cooling down and drinking water.

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All our photos from the day can be viewed here.

Posted from Banaue, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines.

2 Comments

  1. This was quite a ranty post, even for you Andrew!

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    • At least it was honest. He did get really annoyed and complain lots. I thought the post was OK until the bit about the maps.

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