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Getting Lost to Marlboro Country July 18, 2006

Getting Lost to Marlboro Country

Aklay has been waiting for good weather for a hike to Marlboro Country, via Suyo (from the south) and coming out of Antadao. The 3-day typhoon just ended leaving a few landslides that closed Baguio from Sagada, but now, the sun is out - time for that hike. I've done the Marlboro hike 2 months back, but it was from Antadao and back the same way. The via-Suyo hike was to be longer and more challenging. Aklay on the other hand has done this route twice on a mountain bike, but from the other way - Antadao-Marlboro-Suyo, getting lost twice, until he found the right trailhead. The interesting thing about going to Marlboro Country is that there are so many trails the forth off, but only 1 trail leads out or in. The other trails are mostly cow paths that lead to a ravine, cliff or just a dead-end.

Overgrown Bushes
We walked the paved road from the Poblacion towards Suyo, passing by most of the popular caves - Lumiang Cave, Sumaging Cave, Crystal Cave and Balangagan. Shortly before Balangagan Cave, we swerved off-road and began our steep climb. After the 3 day non-stop rain, the forest was overgrown. Thorny bushes and abrasive leaves were knicking on our arms. Some sections required the bolo. I didn't know how much knicks I had until I took a shower upon coming back - the little cuts burned like crazy.

Mushroom Pickin'
I was hoping to chance on Atayan mushrooms along the way. I only saw a couple, but what seems plentiful was an orange mushroom with a slimy top. I didn't know if it was edible and Aklay wasn't familiar with it. At least he hasn't seen it sold in the market. I picked them all up anyway. I could show it to the locals when we get back. The edible ones promise a creamy mushroom pasta sauce.

Where to Now?
We came upon a ridge that provided us a view of where we should go...but we couldn't find the trail leading to it. The various ones we tried led us to a dead-end or a cliff. We back-tracked a bit hoping to find another fork. We did find a few more, but again, it led nowhere. We ran out of options. Frustrated, we decided to turn back. It's all good to me.

I thought going back was anti-climactic...until we got lost again. There were just too many trails forking. It was just as good. We saw a lot of things, some we would have missed - wild succulents growing on a rock, a lake within the mountain, a waterfall view, a huge nameless cave, Mount Polis and its surrounding villages, etc. We ended up on a steep slope that offered no way down. Luckily, a man was below curiously looking at us, somehow knowing we were lost. He hand-signaled which way to go. Following his direction, we found our way back into the main trail until we reached home.

Mushroom Sauce
I consulted with the Manang on the nearby store about the edibility of the mushrooms. Fortunately, all varieties I picked were edible - the atayan, the slimy orange, the matte orange and the huge burgundy. Sauteed with onions, garlic, pepper and bacon and then topped with cream, it was one kick-ass pasta dish!

Ending Thoughts
It was supposed to be a half day hike bringing us back by 12. I got home at 2:30, hungry and very tired. Disappointed? Nah! A good hike is a good hike. It's the journey...not the destination. Sometimes, the best things happen while getting lost - new things are discovered, the senses are more heightened and excitement fills the air. With a few provisions for the unexpected surprises, it's a rush on its own.

--- TheLoneRider

    Lessons Learned:
  • bring a raincoat and wear the front towards the back. This protects your front from the thorny and abrasive bushes that you have to wade through
  • short of having a camping stool, bring a plastic grocery bag to sit on rest stops. most of the time, the grass is wet and the rocks too sharp
  • have a hiking stick. it makes the descent more forgiving on the toes

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Wanna Fight? Lucid Thoughts

Wanna Fight?

(July 20, 2006) It was 4:30 am in Sagada as I was waiting for the first bus trip to Baguio. There were only a handful of people around that early as it was still dark. A drunk looking for a fight picked on me. Fight or Flight? Either way I do it, I lose. What to do? Luckily, I found a third way out.....more »»

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