Oct 22, 2017
The Ride to Morning Hill
Location: Morning Hill (Himontagon Hills), Loay (municipality), Bohol (province), Philippines
Mountain Bike Guide: Jeffrey Huerte
Hard Core Jeffery
After doing the zipline, trekking the mountain trails and exploring 3 caves, we should have called it a day. But Jeffrey suggested climbing Morning Hill on our bikes. Huh? It's far and it's an unrelenting climb! Hmmm...this guy is crazy. But hey, why not?
Stairway to Heaven
It was a long ride on the highway to Loay and then towards Jagna. On an obscure road with the sign, "Himontagon Hills", we turned left and began a brutal climb that resembled Stairway to Heaven. It was long and steep that screamed "granny gear". There was a reprieve, but what followed as a long and unrelenting climb all the way the peak.
Towards the summit, the view opened up to the panoramic view of the coastline. The peak was flat with another lower peak connected by a single-track ridge. The top was comfortable with its grassy coating. It offered a 180℃ view of the surrounding islands. Because of its isolation and view, it was popular among lovers. There were many pairs just waiting for the sun to set.
From the higher summit, the ridge path was steeply going down before swinging back to an uphill climb towards the lower summit. It looked frighteningly scary to ride down on a bike - but I could see a line. It looked possible. Taking faith on my reading, I took the ride down...very carefully, feathering just enough to keep momentum but not locking-up so as not to go over the handle bars. I let go when the trail cleared up and pedaled all the way up to the other hill. What a rush! The interesting is, it wasn't difficult. It only looked scary. Jeffery followed suit and felt that surge as well.
Missing a Turn
On the way back, Jeffrey asked me to go ahead as he followed with his Go Pro video cam. I went fast and missed a turn. Jeffrey followed and caught up with me a distance away already from the turn. Instead of turning back, we decided to take our chance on this unproven trail.
The trail quickly narrowed down into a mud trail. Mud was caking around our tires as we dismounted to push our bikes. There were many fallen bamboo trees obstructing the path. Obviously, this trail hasn't been used in a long time. The sun was setting and I was afraid we'd still be inside the forest by the time it gets dark. We chanced upon a bathing area along the river. It would have been great to clean up but we didn't have much time left.
Towards the end of the trail, we came upon a chapel popular to students who need to pass the board exam - that's right, the board exam. Story goes that one student prayed in the chapel to pass the test - and he passed! He gave credit to the chapel and told his friends about it. Soon, more and more students came. Coincidence or not, most of the students passed the board. Now, it's the Mecca for board examinees. The modest chapel now grew into a small church.
I would have wanted to take pictures of the bathing area and the church but I was all too muddy and tired.
Eating Mud Pies
Continuing on our bikes, we came upon a downhill section. To clean up our tires, we hammered hard, spinning all the mud away. Of course the same mud went into our noses, our mouth and our eyes. Mud tastes like shit - literally!
When we finally reached the highway, to my surprise, I noticed we were already halfway home! The gamble we took in taking the unknown trail was a shortcut! From there, we just hammered hard to get back home before it got dark.
This ride was such a treat. First, it was completely unplanned - we should have rested after the trek and the caves. Second, Morning Hill offered a brutal climb and a spectacular view. Third, braving the downhill from high peak to low peak was a leap of faith. Fourth, we got lost and ended up on the brushy and muddy trail. Fifth, without even realizing it, we hit a short cut. Whoa! This ride is chock-full-of-treats!
Jeffrey, U da Man!
Loboc, Bohol, Philippines
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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