Luzon 321 Chronicles (Day-One): Mt Timbak

I arrived at Victory Terminal in Cubao two minutes before the call time. Since it was a long vacation time, many people have planned to go to Baguio. Lines for tickets were long. It was good that we bought our tickets days prior to the actual trip. Some of our friends were stuck along with the traffic jam in EDSA. So we thought of trading or selling some of the tickets to other passengers. There were six of us who proceeded with the 2000H-trip and the rest waited for another hour. Travel time to Baguio is 6 hours, enough time to sleep.

There were a lot of distractions so I was not able to sleep. While waiting for the others to arrive, we were instructed to go to the market and buy the things for the hike, including food.

When we returned to the assembly area, I was surprised to see Mang Elias as the driver of the monster jeep (colour: pink!). I met him when I did the Bakun Trio hike.

The pink monster jeep.
Slippery and winding road. Fog, fog, foggy morning!
Mountain rice terraces.
The highest highway point in the country.

The day started with a travel to Atok, Benguet for our first mountain – Mount Timbak. We were warned to maintain proper behaviour as the locals do not like unnecessary noise. Though the trails were easy to follow, we had a hard time finding the summit. We had to go through 3 summits before successfully finding our way to the correct one. Those who had been to Mt Kitanglad were telling the rest of the group that the two summits are similar in terms of the presence of antenna and towers. Not far from the summit is an area that looks like a sacred place to locals.

Plants in cordate formation.

After a short picture-taking session, we boarded the jeep again and proceeded to a burial cave with mummies. The guides told us that framing the mummies in cameras is not allowed as per the National Museum. Going into the cave, you must bend down to fit into the hole. Before doing it, I had doubts and health issues in my mind related to the air circulating inside the cave as it might be infected with something from the exposed mummies. But since they allow people to go inside and the guides themselves go too, I thought it to be safe. I do not know if I correctly identified internal organs in one of the mummies. There is also an infant mummy.

After that brief encounter with mummies, we began the journey to Kabayan, Benguet. It was a long ride on rough roads and I felt like a dirty clothes in a washing machine. Sitting in the air from being tossed up and down is never a good one. I held onto the bars inside the jeepney very tightly. There were times when the jeepney seemed on the edge of tumbling down into the roadside ravine. But thanks to the expertise of Mang Elias, we survived the muddy holes and steep slopes.

It was a relief when we reached the town’s centre.  We registered and arranged for our guides. While waiting for everything to be settled, I roamed around. What’s with the stares? I found a wagwagan store and it was here where I found a pair of thermal pants, which was on sale at 80pesos. I handed over my 500-peso-bill, but she told me that she has no change for it. Since I badly need the pants, I offered my 59 pesos. To my surprise, she accepted it.

When we reached our campsite near Lake Tabeo, I was already groggy and dizzy. All I wanted was to sleep inside the jeepney. Even the slightest movement registered a painful kick on my head and puking is and will never be an option. After a tent became available, I gathered my things and went inside of it and dozed off to Dreamland. No dinner, just the thermal pants encased on my lower appendages and my sleeping bag wrapped all over me.

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