Hi everyone! I just got back from my most challenging hike up to date and it feels really fulfilling to be able to successfully finish a major hike with minimal complications. In this blog post, I will try to summarize my take on climbing Luzon’s 5th highest mountain and the Philippines’ 11th highest and my 18th mountain – Mt. Amuyao.
Elevation: 2,702+ MASL
Location: Batad, Banaue, Ifugao and Barlig, Mountain Province
Difficulty: Regular Traverse via Barlig to Batad – 8/9; Reverse Traverse via Batad to Barlig – 9/9
The group took on the reverse-traverse via Batad to Barlig
Trek to Summit: 17 hours
This hike tested not just my patience but also my physical limits. Fortunately, I was with a great group that helped each other complete the hike successfully. Read on below to know more about what transpired from April 22 until April 24.
To start off, for those who are planning to hike the same mountain, I summarized our travel details and cost-breakdown in the tables below:
TOTAL PER PERSON (11 pax)
ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME
Barlig, Mt. Province
TOTAL PER PERSON (11pax)
Guide Fee (1:5, per day = Php1,500)
Bunker House (Pat-Yay Village)
Bunker House (Mt. Amuyao Summit)
Free (first come, first serve)
Food and other groceries
SAFE BUDGET: Php 3,000 – Php 3,500
Day 0 – Heto na, heto na, heto na, ahhh!
The group decided to rent a van for this trip. Our contact person is Tristan Santos (0917-578-3875). The pickup points were at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and at Centris Mall in Quezon Avenue. At around 10:00PM, after everyone was finished eating dinner, we all headed to the van to jump-start our three days and two nights of adventure. Here we go!
Day 1 – Pat-Yay Kang Bata Ka!
It was a long drive going to Batad. Good thing that the van’s seats were comfortable enough to let us get some decent sleep. Somewhere along the way, we got stuck in traffic because of road construction. I was not sure how long this lasted because eventually, I fell asleep and only woke up when we made a quick stop over in Nueva Vizcaya.
After about two more hours, we finally arrived in Banaue where we had our pictures taken real quick before we fetched our guide for this trip, kuya Marvin, and went to Hidden Valley Restaurant to eat our breakfast.
We made sure to eat heavy because we knew we still had a long day ahead of us. After everyone was stuffed, we then drove to the Batad jump-off which is just a quick 15-min ride from the restaurant. Upon arrival, everyone then started repacking their bags and changing to comfortable hiking clothes. As soon as everything was good to go, we all gathered and prayed for guidance and proceeded with the hike.
Ascending via Batad
We passed by a registration area 20 minutes into the trail. Here, we also met up with our second guide, kuya Jose. It was also during this time when we first sighted the majestic view of the Batad Rice Terraces. Our guide said that we would have to cross parts of the terraces in order to get to our campsite at Pat-Yay.
Now, coming from the photos I saw online, I imagined the pathway of the terraces to be cemented so I was not worried. True enough, during the first few parts of the terraces, the path was cemented and straightforward. What caught us off-guard; however, was when we had to step/jump from one unstable rock to another because somehow, the path was not cemented anymore. And because we were walking on rice terraces, the path was really narrow and can only accommodate one person at a time. This meant having to really concentrate on the trail because one wrong move can make me fall five to six meters into a muddy field and that thought alone made me cringe.
Aside from the rice terraces, the trail also includes a generous amount of stairs that we had to climb one by one. It might sound easy but in reality, these stairs caused the death of our knees and this made me realize that I would rather ascend a mountain via a steep slope made out of land than stairs made out of rocks or concrete.
After about three hours, we reached Cambulo village where we took a rest and had lunch. There were a lot of dogs in the area and being the dog-lover that I am, I made friends with some. We only had a quick break because we knew that we still needed to trek a couple of more hours to reach our campsite in Pat-Yay and we wanted to, as much as possible, reduce the time for night trek.
Again we passed through a series of stairs and narrow rice terraces before reaching the mossy forest. It was not as enchanting as that of Mt. Pulag’s or Mt. Tabayoc’s but this was where I was most afraid mainly because of the said presence of limatik or leeches and myths about roaming spirits. Before entering the mossy forest, we all agreed that as much as possible, the group should stick together in the trail or at least nobody should be left alone. And because there were a lot of trees in this part, it was difficult for the sunlight to enter the forest making it a bit dim. Soon, we had to take out our headlights to aid our visibility of the trail especially since there are still cliffs we had to be wary of.
When the sun was completely gone, we only had our headlights to depend on. It was difficult because the heat and the light attracted a lot of insects causing them to go to our faces every now and then. As a mode of precaution, those that were in front gave signals or warnings of possible threats along the trail (i.e. cliffs, thorny plants, low headroom because of branches, etc.) to those who were at the back. The trail was a mixture of assaults and steep and slippery descents which made the night trek extra challenging. During this time, my knee was already acting up and the slippery trail made it worse. But because the plan was to really push ourselves to get to Pat-Yay (or else, Pat-Yay kang bata ka), I brushed the knee pain away and continued with the night trek.
After the slippery part, we arrived at the irrigation part where we had to, again, step/jump from one unstable rock to another while being mindful of the cliff on one side and the stream of water on the other. My mindset was that, if I lose my balance, I have to make sure I fall into the stream instead of the cliff – that it was better to get my shoes wet than to fall into oblivion. True enough, I slipped and fell in the stream.
And finally, after six gruelling hours of steep assaults, slippery descents and narrow paths after Cambulo, we reached Pat-Yay village – That is a total of nine hours of trek for the first day. Because it was already eight in the evening, the villagers were already inside their respective houses and we decided to rent one bunk house for everyone instead of pitching our tents. The breeze was already cool yet some of us, including myself, decided to take a bath before eating our yummy Adobo for dinner.
Day 2 – Wala Na Bang Mas Itatarik Pa?
We woke up at around 6:00AM only to be greeted by the beautiful view of Pat-Yay village facing the rice terraces. While some of us cooked breakfast, the others started to fix their things. The villagers were also already up and about and they watched as we did our morning routine. Aside from preparing breakfast, the group also decided to prepare everyone’s packed lunch so as not to set up the cook-set again along the trail.
We resumed our trek at around 8:20AM. Again, we had to pass through a series of rice terraces before entering another mossy forest. The assaults during the trail were extra exhausting because our legs were already hurting coming from the previous day of hiking for about nine hours.
Somewhere along the mossy forest, my group mate saw a leech that attached itself to my other group mate’s bag. Fortunately, nobody from our group got bitten or had a really serious encounter with the limatik because I, myself, would not know how to react.
The steep trek in the mossy forest continued for a couple of hours until we reached a waiting shed where we had our lunch. While eating; however, we noticed the abundance of bees that made it difficult for us to stay put in one place. We were also able to refill our empty bottles with water because there was a nearby water source.
After about an hour and a half, we resumed our trek. By this time, we only had to climb 600 meters more before we reach the summit. This motivated us to push our legs all throughout the extra steep trail. I do not remember flat surfaces anywhere but according to our guides, we would have to get through two major assaults before we reach the summit. Psh, is that the steepest you can get? Kidding. (I remember everyone complaining about the steepness of the trail every now and then. Lol.)
As the air got thinner, we knew we were already high up but we were not able to appreciate our altitude until we got out of the forest and saw the ranges of mountains. Our eyes feasted on the incredible view around us that made me affirm that this was worth the long hours of exhausting trek.
Because we were already out of the forest, the trail was now open and again, full of cliffs. In order to keep my composure, I focused on the trail without looking at either side. It was not long after when the transmitter/satellite of ABS-CBN came to view and that indicated that we were almost at the summit! And by the time we reached it around 4:00PM, I let out a sigh of relief. It felt great to be able to step on a flat surface again!
After we greeted all the other hikers in the area, we found a spot to pitch our tents. Unfortunately, the group did not have any extra groundsheet for my friend and I so we just decided to sleep in the bunker house. It was a good thing that we arrived relatively early because the bunker house is on a “first come, first serve basis”. Instead of setting up the tent, we used it as a mat and placed it at one area inside the bunker house. Then of course, we proceeded with taking photos at the summit! The breeze was really cold yet it did not stop some of us from taking our sweaty shirts off (I was challenged by my hike mate, Rowe, to do this).
Just before sunset; however, the clouds enveloped the summit and we were left with no clearing. The temperature also dropped by nightfall and it was amusing how everyone could see their breaths, in the form of fog, whenever they talked (because it was that cold). Aside from our clothes that kept us warm, we found extra comfort in our sumptuous dinner, sinigang na baboy! What made eating difficult; though, were the insects that flew everywhere. There was even a time when one got stuck inside my baunan but it was a good thing that I was almost done with my food and so not much was wasted.
I enjoyed staring at the night sky and watching as the clouds pass from one mountain to another. For a brief time, it rained while we were doing socials and we feared for the view the following day. Fortunately the rain was just quick to pass and it was back to socials before getting some shut-eye.
Day 3: Kung Di Mo Na Kaya, Kaya Mo Pa!
Much like what happened in Mt. Pulag, I was not able to sleep well during the wee hours of the night because of the cold that I even ended up using my emergency blanket. At around 4:45am, I just decided to get up and prepare for the sunrise. As I got up, I felt my already sore legs get extra sore. Wow. When I got out of the bunker house, there were already a lot of hikers gathered around the small space in the summit waiting for the sunrise.
We each had to find our own spots to take photos of the sunrise but it was difficult with so many people unknowingly photobombing each others’ photos. Fortunately, my group mates were able to find a lone spot where were able to take photos of everything without worrying about other people being in the photo.
At around 6:00AM, the sun started to rise and enveloped the sky with warm hues. It was a magnificent sight to behold especially since I was watching it on top of a mountain. Yes, there was a sea of clouds but according to our guide; it was not as remarkable as it usually is. Nonetheless, we were still thankful that we had good enough clearing to witness the sunrise.
After everyone was satisfied with their photos, we then proceeded to have breakfast – sinigang, danggit, toccinong isda and spam. Yummy! We were then quick to pack our things and take our last couple of photos at the summit. The clouds during this time reminded me of when I was at Mt. Ulap – big, puffy and white.
Just before 9:00AM, we were ready to descend. Our guide said that the descent should last for about four hours based on our pace.
Descending via Barlig
I knew we were going to pass by a lot of stairs along the trail but I did not expect it to be about 75% of it. The stairs were reminiscent of Mt. Ulap’s trail going to Sta. Fe. We were extra careful in descending because the trail was made slippery by the small rocks and because our legs were already sore.
When we arrived at the first waiting shed after an hour and twenty minutes, we took a break to eat our snacks and re-hydrate. The descent was really draining because the trail was open so we were directly below the sun battling its unmerciful heat. Wanting to get down as quickly as we can, we started running. Some of us slipped, tripped and/or had a minor case of a twisted ankle but these cases did not stop us from still running down.
I got nervous when I saw the rice terraces because I thought of what we had to go through in Batad. The rice terraces in Barlig; however, seemed to be more established so everything was cemented and there were no instances where we had to jump from one rock to another unlike in Batad.
After passing through the rice terraces, we had to go through the irrigation. Again, unlike in Batad, the path along the irrigation in Barlig is wider and not next to cliffs. Whew. After several minutes, we arrived at a community with really friendly locals. It was either they congratulated us or they inquired about our experience during the trek.
Just as when I thought the descent was over, our guide pointed us to where our rented van was supposed to fetch us. In order to get there we had to, that is right, climb a seemingly unending flight of stairs. I kept telling my hike mates that if my knee could talk, it would have probably cursed me a million times already. Lol. Climbing one step at a time, we eventually reached the part where our van was waiting. I immediately put my bag down and sat beside it. After some time, it sunk in that we have successfully completed the Reverse-Traverse of Mt. Amuyao marked with a 9/9 difficulty (according to some hikers)!
Everyone took their time eating lunch, taking a bath and doing their personal business inside the bathroom (lol) before going home. We made a stopover along the highest point of the Philippine highway system in Halsema Highway where we bought and ate snacks. By 9:00PM we were already in Baguio City where we ate our dinner before heading back to Manila.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the following people:
To kuya Tristan for being patient with our boisterousness inside the van and for driving us safely from Manila-Batad, Barlig-Baguio-Manila
To our guides, kuya Marvin and kuya Jose, for taking care of each and every one of us along the trail
To Lory and EJ who invited me to this climb to celebrate their first monthsary. Congratulations, lovebirds!
To Robin for helping co-organize the event and making the itinerary and for checking up on everyone’s conditions every now and then
To Rowe for lending me her knee support and the rope I used to tie the sole of my shoe because it opened on the first day
To Arnel for entertaining us the whole trip most especially during the second day when we were all really exhausted and for cooking our meals
To Kim for giving me Efficacent Oil and massaging my sore muscles, for lending us your tent that we used as a mat and for the pre-cooked adobo!
(He also wrote his version of our climb here. Please check it out too.)
To Mimi for cooking the sinigang and for sharing your spam during breakfast
To Will for teaching me how to be redundant. I think you were the one who taught me to be redundant. I feel that talking like this came from you. Lol. Kidding aside, thank you for laughs and for carrying most of the heavy things
To Kent for giving me the window seat and being patient with my pace during the night trek
To Joem for being patient with my documentation shenanigans be it through videos or photos
Tips and Observations:
You will pass by a lot of communities in Batad. There will be sari-sari stores from Batad Saddle until Cambulo. Expect to pay more than the regular prices though.
Bring at least 3L of water and refill at water sources accordingly. Before the climb, I thought there will only be one water source (in Cambulo), turns out, there are more including one in the mossy forest.
There are a lot of bees along the mossy forest. Be careful not to get stung.
Balancing skills are important especially when passing the pilapil or rice terraces and the irrigation in Batad.
Always remember to “observe silence” when doing socials in Pat-Yay as the villagers are very particular with noise.
During the climb, we were told to not make unnecessary noise along the trail and at the summit in order not to disturb those that guard the mountain so that they would give us clearing during one of the highlights of the climb, the sunrise.
There are a lot of insects especially at night. It is best to eat dinner inside the tent or bunk house.
Because of the cold temperature, expect your tummies to act up. Bring necessary medicine.
There is a bathroom inside the bunker house at the summit but it is much like the one in Saddle Camp of Mt. Pulag so yes, you have been warned.
Prepare to battle the heat of the sun in Barlig as most of the trail is open
Prepare for climbing A LOT of stairs. It may seem easy but it will make you want to curse whoever it was who invented the stairs.
Data connection is sporadic in Batad but is steady in Barlig
The going through steep assaults coupled with carrying heavy packs may cause cramps or spasms because of muscle fatigue. Help prevent this by eating salt even at the slightest discomfort.
Here is the video that summarizes our hike to Mt. Amuyao. This video also contains insights from my hike mates and I.
10:00PM – ETD Manila to Banaue
7:40AM – ETA Banaue. Stop over for photos.
8:30AM – ETA Hidden Valley Restaurant. Eat breakfast and buy packed lunch.
9:40AM – Arrival at Batad Jump-Off. Repack and do final preparations.
10:20AM – Start trek
10:40AM – Arrival at registration
1:30PM – ETA Cambulo. Eat lunch.
2:00PM – Resume trek
8:00PM – ETA Pat-Yay Village. Socials and rest for the night.
6:00AM – Call time for breakfast.
7:45AM – Break camp
8:20AM – Resume trek
9:30AM – Entry at mossy forest
12:30PM – Arrival at waiting shed. Eat lunch.
2:00PM – Resume trek
4:00PM – ETA Summit of Mt. Amuyao. Set camp. Socials.
5:00AM – Call time for sunrise viewing
5:30AM – Sunrise viewing
6:30AM – Breakfast
8:50AM – Start descend via Barlig Trail
10:10AM – Arrival at first waiting shed. Rest.
10:35AM – Resume trek
12:30PM – Arrival at Barlig village. Fix up and eat lunch.
Lunch, dinner and breakfast food (talk to your group about the arrangement)
Bag Rain Cover
Salt (to prevent muscle cramps/spasms)
Mess Kit (Plate, Spoon, Fork, Cup)
Even though there were so many instances during the trail when I re-evaluated why I was even there to begin with, maybe because of exhaustion or fatigue added to the fact that my shoe broke on the first day, I am extremely proud that I was able to conquer my most difficult climb up to date.
My legs were sore for about four days since we got back and it was difficult to walk and climb up and down the stairs (again) but it was a happy kind of pain that reminded me of how I was able to exceed what I thought was my limit.
Thank you, Lord, for guiding and giving everyone the strength that we needed to successfully finish the Rev-Trav.