Sagada Mountain Biking

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mountain biking

Exploring Kanip-aw November 23, 2006 Thursday

Exploring Kanip-aw

It started out as a casual come-on ride to Kiltepan. Enroute, we passed by an unassuming trail that forked off from the main road. I've already noticed that trail since, and remain curious where it leads to. I nonchallantly asked, "...care to find out where that leads to?". With a 'yes', we detoured and followed the trail. It was a promising single-track on a slope. We proceeded, not expecting much, but the trail just went on and on, taking us deeper into the forest. Some parts we had to carry the bikes, but for the most part of it, it was sweet single-track. I was thinking...."why did we only do this now?". At some point, we had no idea where we were, and the trail still continued.

Excellent Campground
At some point, we came upon a flat clearing that was suitable for camping. The canopy was just right to provide ample cover from the sun but still adequate for a bright and airy surrounding. The forest floor had no overgrowth, but pine needles - ideal for pitching a tent. The trees were conveniently spaced to provide for multiple hammocks...whoa! It sat on a plateau overlooking what seems like a canyon. Spent bonfire gave away that we're not the only ones to see the camping opportunity of the place. We had to bookmark this place.

Marlboro Country Route
We came across 2 locals carrying wood. Not knowing where we were, they told us were already in an uninhabited barangay called Kanip-aw. They added that veering left of the trail would take us all the way to Marlboro Country, and right would take us to Ambasing. Wow! We never thought there would be an alternate route to Marlboro. This information gave us more reason to pursue the trail and come out the other side, instead of heading back the way we came. More exploration...cool!

In Search of the Marlboro Trailhead
It wasn't that easy. The trail sometimes disappeared or forked-off in different directions. We simply tried our best trying to veer left hoping we'd see a familiar trail that would lead us to Marlboro Country. At times, we had to carry our bikes up steep slopes to see the surrounding land and get our bearings, but the forest was too thick. In some areas, it became doubtful to follow the sketchy cow paths. We pushed through nonetheless. It was at some point when we noticed that to our right, across a broad valley, was a ridge that looked very much like the plateau of Marlboro Country. We went too far on the left and overshot a junction? There was no way to cross the valley. At that point, we had no idea where we would end if we pressed forward. We decided to turn back the way we came.

Round and Round We Went
We thought we were following a fairly discernable trail but it forked in many more sections than we thought. Finally, we came upon the burned tree trunk on the narrowest section of the ridge we were on. That was one of our landmarks - we knew we were on track. Then the strangest thing happened. After spinning on our grannies, portaging on rocky sections, and mashing on graded descents, we found ourselves back to the same burned tree stump, but from the same direction. How could we have doubled back without knowing it when we were on the narrowest section of the ridge? Could it be possible that we took a wrong turn and encircled what may well be a circular ridge? Folklore has it that the mischievous elementals play this kind of game to unsuspecting hikers. Hmmmm.

From the burned stump, we took a different direction and things started looking familiar again. We finally got a back to the main road and headed back home.

Ending Thoughts
The most memorable things are the ones that usually happen spontaneously, when things are unplanned. This is one such occasion. From a casual 'stretch ride' to Kiltepan, we ended up flushed with adrenalin exploring a trail system that took us on an exciting single-track that went on and on until we got lost and stumbled on an ideal campground. Next time I find myself on that trail system again, I'll either be on my bike, or have a backpack complete with tent, ground sheet and earth pad. Smores by a campfire anyone?

--- TheLoneRider

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