This is the second part of our 3D/2N stay in Mountain Province on December 28-30, 2013. My previous article talked about our adventures in Day 1. You may click the link below to view our stories. Day 2 was more challenging as we had to climb Mt. Kiltepan, and likewise, conquer our fears in the extreme cave connection.
- Day 1: St. Mary Episcopal Church, Echo Valley and Sagada Hanging Coffins
- Day 2: Mt. Kiltepan and Sumaguing-Lumiang Cave Connection
- Day 3: Bontoc Museum
MT. KILTEPAN PEAK
They say that Mt. Kiltepan peak has the best view of sunrise in Sagada, where the sun rises on top of the sea of clouds.
Since we need to reach Mt. Kiltepan before 6am, we left the homestay at 4am to meet with Kuya Chad and his friends. It was a freaking cold morning, so a thick sweater, bonnet and muffler were great enought to protect our shivering bodies from the cold. We started the trek at 4:30am with the aid of our flashlights. We nearly got lost in the woods, but Kuya Chad managed to find our way.
There were several people waiting for the sunrise at the peak. A ray of light was already peaking behind the fog. So, we waited at 6am… then 6:30am… but there was no cinematic sunrise, just fog all around us. One of our friends got disappointed because it was his second attempt to climb the peak, but the fog would always welcome him. This no-show of sunrise gives us another reason to go back to Sagada. Nevertheless, we managed to take advantage of the foggy climate with our cinematic poses.
We passed by a village and incidentally dropped by Sagada Weaving, the home of quality handwoven products and is admired for its native-designed backpacks, sling bags, wallets/purses, pen holders, cellphone holders, among others. I bought a maroon Mas-in sling bag as my souvenir.
Sagada Weaving has an online shop which offers free shipping services anywhere in the Philippines. Since it is a manufacturing firm, the prices in Sagada are more affordable compared to the ones supplied in the city stores in its neighboring provinces. If you happen to go to Baguio City, you may visit their branch in Easter College in Baguio City.
On the street in the village, Ate Sinag stopped by a tree bearing pink flowers, which is called the butter flower. She picked a few and handed it to us. It really smelled like butter. I think this is something unique in Sagada so I am including it in this article 🙂
MARKET DAY SATURDAY, BREAKFAST AT STRAWBERRY CAFE
Saturday is a market day in Sagada. We wanted to do spelunking in the Sumaguing caves in the afternoon, so, we decided to buy extra clothes for this purpose as we passed by the ukayan (second-hand clothes) at the market.
We went our separate ways after the trek. So, the three of us rested and had our late breakfast at Strawberry Café overlooking the mountainous terrains of Sagada. I ordered for a healthy meal – omelette stuffed with lettuce – coupled with red rice. Red rice is a staple food in Sagada.
GAIA CAFE AND CRAFTS
Kuya Chad fetched us from the Strawberry Café and we continued trekking downhill towards Gaia Cafe and Crafts in Brgy. Ambasing, owned by his former schoolmate, Gawani. Gaia Café offers healthy beverages and meals,which I think people come back for. Also, the cafe lies in a strategic place because it is surrounded by heartwarming sceneries – the mountains, valleys and rice terraces – the sight of which appease the soul.
We did not have our lunch at the cafe because we just had our late breakfast. But we ordered shakes for dessert. I ordered for squash shake and it tastes good. Later, we decided to leave for the Sumaguing cave, which is situated blocks away from the cafe.
CLIMACTIC CAVE CONNECTION
Kuya Dang decided to try the cave connection (Lumiang cave traverse to Sumaguing cave) so he hired a tour guide and went ahead.There are two options:
- Short course caving: 1.5-2 hours from entrance to exit of the Sumaguing cave (average level of difficulty)
- Cave connection: 4-5 hours from the entrance (Lumiang cave) to exit (Sumaguing cave) (difficulty level: average to challenging)
Initially, the three of us agreed to try the Sumaguing cave only but later on, we changed our minds when we realized that we need to make the most of our experiences in Sagada. We looked for our tour guide, and he was plainly wearing shorts, sweatshirt and rubber slippers. So, we thought that we will be having an easy time in the caves.
At the entrance of the Lumiang cave, there were a number of small pinewood coffins piled on top of each other, which are said to be stored for centuries already. The deceased were kept in fetal positions, thus the size of the coffins.
The earlier trek was fun; we were admiring the well-preserved stalactites and stalagmites, until we reached a hole that requires rapelling to get to the other side. It was my first time to do rapelling and I had mixed emotions. I was nervous, but I have to face my fears as there was no way to back out. We’ve gone quite a long way.
Since we were getting deeper into the cave, the trail got muddy and slippery and our guide taught us to remove our shoes, walk barefooted, and do lots of sitting than walking for balance and safety. That did not sink into my mind, until we got into rigid and challenging trails that required us to brush/sit more often (I mean brush our butts on the soil) as we go down the slippery rocks and soil. 🙂 The only light we had radiated from the lamp (Petromax) that our guide lit. We did not have headlamps, just a flashlight for the three of us, to give additional brightness to our path. What I could feel that time was the fear of the unknown; we were in the dark places and we do not know what was ahead of us.
But I admire the guide because he was like Spiderman! He was adept at obtaining balance; though the trail was slippery, his rubber slippers sticked to the ground as he walks (not sit) while his right hand carries our lamp (kudos Kuya!). He was also our official photographer.
I remember rapelling again to an approximately 10 feet rock. There were lines of people and the tour guides helped each other to get the people to the higher ground. Our guide folded his knee and asked us to step on his thigh, hold onto the rope and carry our weights up, while another guide from the elevated rock reached his hand to pull us. There was so much teamwork and bayanihan in the cave!
I remember walking on knee-deep waters in the cave. The water was freezing cold. That time, we were in a beautiful place, very spacious, with plenty of stalactites and stalagmites, and columns. As we look up, there were bats. I learned that in some months, the water goes up to as high as the waist or the chest. So, it is really advisable to visit the caves on dry months.
I remember that in the dark places, we need to embrace a large rock, and swing to the other side of that rock. I got disoriented when it was my turn; my friend was teaching me to move my left foot but I moved my right foot instead – I interchanged my right foot with my left foot. 🙂 I was so afraid of letting my hands lose.
I remember walking on dry flat ground in the deep part of the cave. But after that, we need to descend to quite a high terrain, but it was too dark before us and we were clueless what was below. I have the fear of heights, thus, I could actually hear my heartbeat beating faster and stronger, and I felt the tears roll down my eyes. I was crying! (haha). The guide offered his hand and I successfully descended. Thank God, I (we) survived!
We rappelled again, and continued walking and the trail was getting easier until we heard the presence of many people. We were getting into the limelight of the Sumaguing caves with such beautiful, breathtaking and eye-catching rock formations. After all the sacrifices and bearing the difficulties, we got our reward for not quitting (but there was no way to quit though haha).
Below are some of nature’s wonders that were shaped within millions of years and served as Kabunyan’s gift for the Sagadians and the lovers of beauty of nature.
After such sweet connections with nature, we continued on our journey to the exit of the Sumaguing Cave. We passed by rubber ladders (rubber wheels) and there was much ascent. I was conquering my fear of heights at the same time without my friends knowing. At last, we were seeing the light. And yes, we survived the cave connection challenge!
DINNER AT GAIA CAFE, LEMON PIE HOUSE
We were happy and grateful to have our guide so we brought him to Gaia Cafe for dinner. With his advice, we followed the long road back to the town and checked the famous Lemon Pie House. The lemon pie was uniquely sour but delicious, so we bought for our family and relatives so they could also try.
The experiences in Day 2 were a bit extraordinary, full of fun and adventure. Back at the homestay, we packed out things as we have to leave early the next day to see the Bontoc Museum.
Those are our experiences in Day 2. Follow our Day 1 travel adventures in Sagada, Mountain Province.