Mt. Ugo Traverse: A guide to your first major climb

Do you still remember your first hike? Well, it’s probably the same as I remember mine. How many times did you ask your Guide if you’re almost there? How many more hours till we reach the summit? And then their usual response were, “we’re halfway there”, “almost there”, “30 more minutes”, or “a few more steps”. Yeah, that sounds familiar, right? They actually say that to push us, to keep us going. Imagine, if they said, “2 more hours”, “we’re not even close to half of it” or “we’ll probably get there tomorrow” (lol). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, no matter how many hours we take to get to the summit, it doesn’t matter. What matter most are, we did our best and the fact that we really made it to the summit. As soon as we see what’s up there, it’s all gonna be worth it anyway. You know your own body and you know when you needed a good rest, remember it’s for your own health so take it easy but always keep going.

I’m not new to hiking, I’ve been doing it for almost three years now, but I haven’t given myself a chance to try a major hike. I’ve been to Mt. Pulag but I don’t really consider it as a major hike because we chose to have the easiest path (Ambangeg trail) towards the summit. My friends and I have always wanted to try a major hike since then, but there’s always that one major reason we couldn’t do it and that was the proper hiking equipment. Major hike means you need to carry a tent with you, cooking materials, change of clothes and lots of water. It means, you have to pack real heavy stuff with you because major hike is not your usual day-hike. It requires 2 or more days, often than not.

This year, we decided to give Mt. Ugo a try. Having a 2130+ MASL, it is not as high as the neighboring mountains like Mt. Pulag. One thing that makes it difficult though is that most part of it is an open trail which means you’ll be exposed to the scorching heat of the sun most of the time not to mention the long walk. Although, other parts have pine trees, doesn’t mean that it will save you from the heat.

Trail to Summit

Mt. Ugo Traverse is around 30km in total. You’re going to walk 12KM on the first day and 18km on the next day. This would take you around 6 hours on the first day and 11 hours on the second day. You will start from Kayapa and walk your way through Itogon.

These are the things you need to remember before having your first major hike:

  1. Train – You must be emotionally and physically ready so go get some exercises like running/jogging or workout before the hike.
  2. Pack light – Yes, major hikes usually require 2 days or more, but don’t over pack, you’ll soon realize that some of the things you brought with you won’t help you and end up burden you. Remember, it’s difficult to walk with a heavy backpack on your back unless you’re willing to pay for a porter which will cost you around P1500.
  3. There should be a Leader/Organizer – As I mentioned earlier, you need to bring tents, cooking materials, food and water etc. If you are composed of a number of people in a group, there should be a proper distribution of tasks. These things should be divided and equally assigned. You can also pack it into one and have it carried by a Porter then you all could just share the expense.
  4. Bring lots of water – 4-5 liters. If you can intake tap/running water, there are places where you can refill your bottle on the villages along the trail.
  5. Trail food – Bring enough food to keep you going, this is an an exhausting activity. You need to recharge every now and then.
  6. Medicines and first-aid kit – If you have any medications, it is important to bring your medicines with you.
  7. You need a good pair of hiking shoes/sandals with a thick and comfortable sock. This is a long walk, you don’t want to have an athletes foot/wound on the way.
  8. Bring tupperware and utensils, this is a good alternative of disposable paper plates. Use it to store food and the cover to eat your food.
  9. Place all your valuables like gadgets and money in a waterproof pouch/container.

Views you get to see along the trail

It’s starting to get hot when we reached the Camp site

Open trail

Another fun experience you get here is a close encounter with the cows, they love to chase people but they’re actually friendly. Just don’t get too close 🙂

The horses seemed to be a little shy, but it’s nice to see them running around wild

Pine trees, a relief from the sun’s heat.

Now that you’re ready to take on the journey to your first major hike, here are some of the useful information for you to get started.

HOW TO GET THERE?

You can either hire a Private Van or commute via Bus

Commute (Going to Kayapa):

Ride Bus going to Aritao at Victory Liner GMA-Kamuning station (also known as Kamias) – Fare (P350/person)
Get off in Aritao
Look for jeepney to hire in Aritao going to Kayapa – Fare (around P2,000/jeepney)
It’s advisable to have a contact person and pre-arrange everything before hand as Jeepneys may not be available as early as 7am

Commute (Going back to Manila):

There are jeepneys that you can hire from Itogon to Baguio (around P2,000/jeepney)
From Baguio Bus terminal (Victory Liner) ride a bus going to Cubao/Pasay – P500/person

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 0
2200 Assembly, Victory Liner GMA-Kamuning Station
2300 ETD for Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya via Isabela-bound bus
Day 1
0500 ETA Aritao or Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya
0530 ETD for Kayapa, register at police station, secure guides and breakfast
0800 Start trek
1200 ETA Induct Village / Lunch
1300 Resume trek to Domolpos
1700 ETA Induct Village. Stay in the Elementary School
Day 2
0330 Wakeup call, breakfast
0430 Commence final leg to Summit
0700 ETA Mt. Ugo Summit (2150 MASL)
0900 Start descent on very steep, ridge-like pine forest trail
1200 ETA Lusod Village, lunch, register at Brgy. Hall
1300 Resume trek
1600 ETA Itogon Village (Photo-op)
1630 End of trek. Jeepney will be waiting past the river
1700 Arrival at Brgy. Hall (You’ll get a certificate from the Brgy officials)
1730 ETD for Baguio via chartered jeepney
1800 ETA Baguio, proceed to Manila by bus
*itinerary c/o KJames Caro
Other useful information:
Registration Fee (Brgy. Tinongdan) – P200
Guide Dee – P500/day
*Food expenses can be divided among yourselves

*Estimate budget per person is P2500.

MT. UGO (2,150+)
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks
**If you need a contact number to arrange a tour for you, you may send us a private message thru facebook.


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