Trekking Mt. Kupapey in Bontoc, Mt. Province

In Philippines
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The Mt. Province, Philippines is known for its natural beauty of mountains and seas. Located in the Upper part of Luzon, Mt. Kupapey is one beauty you would want to see. Surrounded by the breathtaking Rice Terraces, its beauty and presence, you are in for an adventure.

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Mt. Kupapey is known for its dawn hike to be able to see the Sea of clouds as the sun rises at the summit. It was my first time hiking in the dark so I was having some thoughts about it but when the alarm rang at 3:30 am all those doubts is replaced with excitement. We wash our faces, put on our leggings and jackets, got our cameras and we are set to go.

 

Walking in the dark

Make sure that you have a headlamp when going to Mt. Kupapey. It will be your only source of light before the sun rises. Also, bring water and trail food like energy bars that you can chew on while trekking. It is a 1.5 to 2 hours hike and without eating breakfast, you are going to be hungry going up. Walking down to a dark road with only tiny lights on our heads guiding our way is scary and exciting at the same time. The feeling of the unknown plays with your imagination and sparks up curiosity. We reach a turn and started going up to what seems to be an endless flight of stairs. It warms up our legs before the real trek begins.

Start of trek

The cement stairs slowly transition to soil, as we get farther, it gets darker and the stars brighter. Being in the dark heightens our senses, I can smell the grass and morning but I couldn’t see a thing besides what our headlamps can cover so it is literally one step at a time. There were puddles and some tree barks on our way up so it is slippery. I was following and trusting the person in front of me, to step where he steps as careful as I can. One of our friends turned on his radio and play some songs to accompany us and to beat the deafening silence of the dark.

 

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The Sun Rise at the summit

We arrived almost 5 am in the summit, It was still dark. There was a bonfire to keep ourselves warm but most of us went straight ahead to find a spot where we await the sun to rise. Everybody is excited, cameras out and the expectation to be amazed was on. The morning light lines the horizon, cutting through the dark skies. Slowly but surely the fluffy white clouds appears in between us and the mountains. It was breathtaking.

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The Sea of Clouds

The soft morning colors slowly engulf the darkness revealing the marvelous clouds that surround the mountains. It is thick and fluffy just like a dream. I took a moment to be still and just to bask in its beauty. To silence my mind and just be present in this moment. My tired body doesn’t complain anymore as what I see overwhelms me. The people around me also bask in their own moments, probably trying to capture, to remember this beauty.

Our guide brought coffee and biscuits. The hot coffee help with the cold and you don’t get to have coffee with this kind of view all the time. We take endless photos until the sun is all fully up. It was now hot and the clouds start to disappear and showed us the view of the Rice Terraces under it. It was beautiful, those layers of land made by man. It is made of mud walls and careful carving of the hills by the Ifugaos. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and is believed to be older than 2,000 years old.

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What to expect on the way down

At 7:30 am we started to go down. The trail showed us the view that we didn’t see when we ascend and it was breathtaking as well. It was a play of light and shadows trekking down. Pine trees all around, birds chirping, big and small cliffs and a small river. Also, the sun shining highlights the mountains.  There were lots of greens, browns, and gold.  Going down we had guide dogs to accompany us. “Those dogs like to accompany hikers in Mt. Kupapey,” said our tour guide.

Descending made it more dehydrating than going up because of the heat of the sun. Drink lots of water and eat some energy bar. There are also some crossroads so you really have to wait for your guide to know which way to go. Since we trek at dawn we had no landmarks, it is seeing all the views for the first time.

 

Walking in Rice Terraces

Our guide leads us to walk in the Rice terraces on our way down. I was scared at first because you’ll be walking in those small rows of mud in between rice fields. When we were there it was filled with water so it was slippery. You can only walk one person at a time so we look like children crossing the field in a line. Many of us soaked our feet while crossing the terraces. It was still an adventure until the end of the trek but it is beautiful. They were also some farmers and Carabaos working when we were crossing there. They greet and smile to us. You can see how much hard work they do and they do it every day.  You see the simplicity of life there and seeing the Rice Terraces up close made me have a better appreciation for our farmers and to what they do.

It was a morning of beauty and reality. I was tired and my shoes are filled with mud but it is nothing compared to what I had experience in Mt. Kupapey. It promised beauty and adventure and that is what I got. Iwas reminded that leaving our comfort zones sometimes bring us to unexpected places with unexpected things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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