I must admit. The urge to cover as much places as I can when traveling has lost its zing. New places still fascinate me but beyond the established tourist spots. Lately I have been visiting Bontoc, Mountain Province a lot. I’m still enticed to explore deeper into the area. My recent visit finds me hiking the Caneo to Tocucan Trail. Villages off the radar to most people since they are located in valleys tucked deep in the mountains. It was an idea thrown to us by our friend Suzzette which we gladly obliged as I was also looking for good suppliers for some native weaving.
“Wow! How does one get there?” I asked my companion Norbs while pointing down on a parallel electric line post way down below. It seemed so far and unreachable from where we were at Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly named Marlboro Mountain. After enjoying a wonderful play of billowing clouds after the sunrise, we were set for a long trek southwards of Sagada. It was a beautiful day for a trek but the rains the day before had dampened the ground making it more sticky and on some parts muddy. But after a few hours, we found ourselves below the electric line I was pointing to earlier but standing on the curious hues of the Blue Soil Hills of Sagada.
It was the day before the turn of the year and I found myself climbing up mountains to reach the nearby villages of Maligcong. I left Maligcong Homestay mid-morning to meet up with my guide Ezra at their family store near the turning point. He closed the store and got ready for our hike. We were going trek to Mainit to check out the hot springs and pass by the village of Guina-ang. I gave Ezra his share of oat bar from Suzette and we were on our way.
“No wonder not many people go here. This road to Tulgao Village is treacherous!” This I thought as I strive to keep my balance on our habal-habal (motorbike) as we ascend this very (very) rough road. At times we had to go down and walk just to be safe. I told myself that before that if I go back in Kalniga, I would visit the Palan-ah Falls we missed on our last visit. On our third day in Kalinga, we found ourself in a 30-minute hellish ride at a narrow high-altitude dirt road to Tulgao Village.
“Our priority is to get back to Tinglayan!” I said when we were discussing about our plans for the next day. We wanted to somehow include the falls and springs in Kalinga but it seems time isn’t on our side. It’s either we go back the same route to Bugnay or we go by Francis’s suggestion – a Kalinga Villages Traverse to the next two villages of Butbut and Ngibat then descending at Liyao for the main road to Tinglayan. We decided to go with the latter not really knowing what we’re getting into.