How I Hiked the Toughest Climb of My Life.
A few weeks ago, somewhere close to 28 of us PCVs met in Sagada for a glorious thanksgiving feast. Delicious, wonderful, tasty. This post is not about that. But it is about the trip I took the day after, into Ifugao, the next mountain province over.
Ifugao is known for its famous mountain rice terraces, sometimes referred to as the unofficial 8th wonder of the world. Both Banaue and Batad are Unesco World Heritage Sites and tourists from all over the world come to see the breath-taking views. While the town of Banaue and its surrounding rice terraces are a beauty worth seeing, the terraces at Batad were incredible. Probably because being in Batad is like being hidden away from the busy world for a moment. Just you and the beauty that surrounds you.
The only way to get to Batad is by first traveling by jeepney down (or up?) a long dusty road through the mountains.
Once you reach the last stop, you must hike down into the village. There are no roads that lead to Batad. In fact, the only way that villagers can get supplies is either carrying it themselves or by hiring porters who run (literally) down the mountain path balancing a pole with baskets on either end stuffed full of various goods. These guys can reach the village in around 20 minutes. For everyone else (especially foreigners not used to such exercise) it can take an hour or hour and a half to reach the bottom.
We reached Batad, dropped our bags off in our rooms, and shoveled food gratefully into our stomachs before several of our group set off for the hike to the waterfall. It began by crossing the terraces walking along stone walls. Our guide told us a lot of cool information about the history of the terraces. One thing I found especially interested was the fact that all the rice produced from these terraces is not even enough to feed all the people in the village. Most families have to also buy commercial rice as well. To think that laboring to produce rice every year on these mountain terraces is still not enough to provide for your family. Most people also find jobs in the neighboring towns in order to supplement their funds.
We skirted across the terraces and over the next hill. The climb down the steep hillside/cliff was not too bad and by the time we reached the falls we were able to play around and have some fun.
It was on the way up that I experienced so grueling a hike that I was still feeling it days later. Steep steps, where there were steps. Steep inclines where there was only dirt or gravel. The sun was going down and the air had already cooled off but sweat was dripping steadily from my whole body. Soaked entirely though. Alas, our hiking guide, wearing nothing but tsinelas, didn’t even break a sweat.
I was so tired that I feel asleep as soon as I had finished dinner. But not before I had enjoyed this lovely view from my window.
The next day we still had one more hike, back up to the road. However, as strenuous as it was, I felt like it was nothing compared to the day before. I bounded up that mountain trail with stride.
Afterwards, we headed to Banaue where I hung out for the day relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
And THAT is why I absolutely love the mountains!
a girl who dreams