[Abra] ► Mt Poswey (~1546 MASL) and Surviving at Least 9 Mountains More

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"...be careful what you wish for, 'cause you might just get it all. I wished for an all-out adventure and I got it all—more than I could handle."

[ABRA, PHILIPPINES] ► Whenever I hear the name Abra (name of a place), it's sweet-coated memories popping-out from my brain's database. You know, I've explored Abra more than I asked for and I have some of the best travels and adventures here because of the spontaneity and epic-ness of the experiences Abra offered me. Anyway, the past years, I've learned about an enchanting mountain called Mount Poswey. In spite of the many attempts to climb that mountain, I never made it to the summit until...
MT POSWEY, ABRA

[ABRA] ► HELLO! WELCOME TO ABRA!


The night before 19 November 2016, I traveled from ▼ #VIGAN

#VIGAN


to Abra to finally climb this mountain bearing an excitement in my heart. According to the organizers, the mountaineering group that would attempt to do a Mount Poswey traverse (which I was a part of) was the first organized group of outsiders to leisurely climb this mountain. Well, there have been some people who climbed this mountain before but they were visitors of the LGU doing some research or ocular inspections. Some were locals. Some were foreigners but not in an organized group of mountain climbers.

From Bangued to Bucay

Our meeting place was in the capital town of Bangued and the mountaineering team all went to the office of Cong JB Bernos through Mr Jun Rosales (tourism consultant) to register. There were seventeen of us. All faces were new to me. All of them were my first time to meet in person. There were groups from ▼ #BAGUIO

#BAGUIO


, Manila and Lagangilang town (in Abra). I didn't have my own sub-group. I was the only one who came from Vigan.

This is the good side of embracing a lifestyle based on outdoor activities, you have the chance to meet people with the same frequency as you. While in Bangued, though I was initially aloof, I gained my momentum and I joined the new circle of friends. In mountaineering, you need a core group. You can't afford to isolate yourself in the midst of uncertainties.

From Bangued, we were brought to the town of Bucay to have our lunch at Kubo ni Zek (a restaurant) and met some of the guides. The jeep that was arranged to bring us to the jump-off was also parked here waiting for our adventures to kick off.

BANGUED, ABRA

[BANGUED] ► THE MOUNT BULLAGAO SOARING OVER THE FIELDS ON OUR WAY TO BUCAY

KUBO NI ZEK, BUCAY, ABRA

[BUCAY] ► BRUNCH AT KUBO NI ZEK

KUBO NI ZEK, BUCAY, ABRA

[BUCAY] ► POWER-CHARGING WITH MY VIGAN COMFORT FOOD, SINANGLAO!


While in Bucay, I power-charged my body with the magic of my Bigueño comfort food—hot sinanglao soup dish! With a cup of rice, it made my day. I was ready to hike.

Toploading: Bucay-Manabo-Boliney

Together with some newly found friends, we stayed on top of the jeep. Staying on top (we call it toploading), you have the opportunity to enjoy the view 360 degrees. Abra's beautiful landscape is a thing I didn't want to miss so it's one of the reasons why I toploaded. From Bucay, we reached the town of Manabo, then Boliney.

BUCAY, ABRA

[BUCAY] ► THIS WAS HOW WE TRAVELED TO BOLINEY.

BUCAY, ABRA

[MANABO] ► RISKY LANDSLIDE IN MANABO ON OUR WAY TO BOLINEY

Boliney for the Second Time

Seeing the welcome arch of Boliney reminded me of my 2-week non-stop rainy day motorbike adventures with my friend Elric in 2013 wherein we reached Boliney under the rain so the surrounding was very green. The road was wet and our river/creek crossings were riskier because of the stronger current.

My second visit in Boliney was a dry day so the roads were dusty and the surrounding was not as verdant as my first visit. The supertyphoon Lawin that smashed Northern Luzon last October also left some damages in the town.

It felt good to be back in Boliney. The smile on my face was big. Traveling is also like love life, it's sweeter the second time around.

We finally reached our jump-off at Bgry Bao-yan where we were briefed about our itinerary, our trail and on what to expect. The local guides told us that the trek would be harder than usual because supertyphoon Lawin destroyed the hunter trails. Although it sounded a little worrisome for me, there's no way of turning back. It's a golden rule in mountaineering to finish what you've started. Backing out means trouble for the whole team.

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► THIS FELLOW CLIMBER WAS CHECKING THE MAP OF BRGY BAO-YAN, OUR JUMP-OFF.

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► ONE OF OUR GUIDES FOR THE CLIMB SHOWING HIS BOLO

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► MR JUN ROSALES BRIEFING THE PARTICIPANTS

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► THE PIONEER MT POSWEY TRAVERSE TEAM

I Almost Gave Up

On the very first few minutes of our trek, I suddenly felt nervous about my physical condition because I became tired easily. I, myself, was even surprised with that response of my body. I observed the other climbers if they look tired like me but it seemed like everything was working just fine with them. This gave me fear. The trek required us 2 days to finish the traverse and on the first few minutes, I didn't feel good maybe because I lacked sleep for the past three days. It was my fault anyway.

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► THE START OF THE CLIMB


It was hard to ignore my condition although I tried my best to focus on the trek. The first few minutes of the climb was as steep as crazy. I stayed focused but my body really seemed unconditioned to face the harder-than-usual 70 to 80-degree slope.

The fearful part was that the assault never stopped for the first few hours that I even considered giving up. One of the climbers noticed that I had facial flushing. I related it to my physical symptoms and it was consistent. I felt that the arteries in my head were pulsating as hard as fvck. What I was doing was like a suicide.

The trek actually started at 12:30 PM and we expected to reach the camp site near the summit after sunset. I had no choice but to stay focused because as the saying goes, "Ginusto mo 'yan. Panindigan mo."

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► AFTER FIFTEEN MINUTES, I RESTED EXACTLY IN THIS PLACE. YES, I WAS EXHAUSTED AFTER FIFTEEN MINUTES.

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► RESTING WITH THE GANG AFTER AN HOUR


The trail was insane. It was the hardest climb I've ever done—continuous assault with flat trails in the scale of rare to none. After more than one hour of hiking, it seemed like my body was able to adapt with the situation. I felt more physically fit to do it compared with the first few minutes. I was looking for answers why my body eventually turned adaptable and the reason I found out after analyzing my condition was maybe because I had no warm-up and pre-conditioning activities so my body was stressed to handle such sudden shift from sedentary to physically demanding activity.

The trek went on. Although it was inexplicably hard, risky and death-defying, I took the challenge and I survived it. When we were resting in a place in Mt Poswey they called as batto (from bato meaning stone, which was present there), I was hearing the laughter and chatter of the lead group. I couldn't see them. The mountain was just devoid of any noise pollution that a normal laughter could be heard from afar.

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► STOPPING FOR A MAJOR REST HERE AT BATTO, PART OF MOUNT POSWEY

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► SUPER ZOOMED: VIEW OF THE BAO-YAN VILLAGE FROM WHERE WE RESTED

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► MUSHROOM SPECIES I SPOTTED IN MOUNT POSWEY

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► FERN SPECIES I SPOTTED IN MOUNT POSWEY

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► WILD ORCHID IN MOUNT POSWEY

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► WATER SOURCE IN THE FOREST FOR DRINKING

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► NO IDEA WHAT IS THIS

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► NEGOTIATING WITH THIS, NO CHOICE BUT TO ASSAULT THIS RISKY LANDSLIDE

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► MOUNT POSWEY HAS RICH FLORA AND FAUNA


We continued the trek. We tried our best to reach the campsite before sunset so that we could enjoy the fiery sky but sadly, the sun rested first before we could reach the campsite. We were basically trekking the forest under the dark sky.

The air suddenly turned cooler. My clothes were drenched with sweat so when a cold breeze comes, I chilled to death. This is one of the feelings that I don't like to feel. My tolerance of cold is low and I can't focus if I'm chilling. We were already on an elevation of around ~1500 above sea level and the smell of pine trees gave me a refreshing feeling. My tired mindset was changed to a refreshing reset. Indeed, nature is therapeutic.

Few meters away, I was hearing the bark of dogs from above. It sounded victory for me. Confirmed, we reached the campsite safe and sound. Hurray!

Campsite

At the campsite, I pitched my tent, specifically, beach tent. Yeah. I used a beach tent in the forest. Anyway, the air turned cooler (my weakness) prompting me to don my next layer of thick cotton clothe.

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► WE SPENT THE NIGHT IN THE FOREST

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► COOKING FOR OUR DINNER

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► GRILLING SOME FOOD IN THE FOREST

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► BONFIRE, WE SERIOUSLY NEEDED SOME MORE HEAT TO FIGHT THE COLD


It rained. I was worried with my beach tent and the cold air but according to the local hunter guides of Boliney, the rain meant something special—it's a welcome shower from Kabunian, their tribal god residing in Mt Poswey.

We cooked our dinner and rested in our tents. We had to wake up early the next day for the assault to the summit. We wanted to welcome the sunrise at the summit.

At the Summit

At 5 AM, we trekked to the summit of Mt Poswey to watch the sunrise. You know, viewing the sunrise from the summit of a mountain is (almost) every mountaineer's fulfillment. It's an intangible reward that's hard to explain. Nature has the answer and I could never interpret it in my mortal capacity. The feeling is just heavenly. Only God could explain and give that feeling through the wonders of His creations.

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► I WELCOMED THE SUNRISE AT THE SUMMIT! // PHOTO TAKEN BY: SAUL GINO KILLIP

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► I WELCOMED THE SUNRISE AT THE SUMMIT! // PHOTO TAKEN BY SAAB LEBAY

MOUNT POSWEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► VIEW OF IKMIN RIVER FROM THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT POSWEY

Leaving Mt Poswey and Facing at Least Nine Mountains More

Immediately after enjoying the sunrise, we took our breakfast and started an equally challenging descent. Indeed, it's the hardest mountain climbing activity I've ever done as of this writing. The leg muscles were aching and I couldn't maintain a pace I normally do. Rock climbing, rock hugging, river crossing, bouldering and some more physically-demanding activities I couldn't imagine were present and I was actually doing them in the name of survival.

Some of the slopes were almost 90 degrees that we had to do a harness-free rapelling—only relying on the roots of shrubs and stepping on rocks attached to the soil. It was indeed risky because typhoon Lawin left dangerous marks in the mountains. When we reached Mt Littakan, our guide from Boliney endorsed us to the next guides from Tubo (I'll be sharing more stories about this on a series of posts I'll be publishing in the future covering this adventure).

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► OUR FIRST MAJOR RIVER CROSSING, DAMANIL RIVER

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► DESCENDING FROM MOUNT TOMOY-OK

BOLINEY, ABRA

[BOLINEY] ► DAMANIL RIVER, BOLINEY SEGMENT

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► AT MOUNT LITTAKAN, NEAR THE BORDER OF BOLINEY AND TUBO

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► OUR TEAM AT MOUNT MAKMAK

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► SANDY SHORE OF DAMANIL RIVER, TUBO SEGMENT

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► DAMANIL RIVER, TUBO SEGMENT // PHOTO TAKEN BY SAAB LEBAY

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► MOUNT AGIPASPAS

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► MOUNT KALUNGI


To cut the long story short after several creek/river crossings and long hours of trekking, we were confronted with a crucial decision if we should set-up our tent overnight deep in the forests of Tubo or continue the trek. The guide estimated that it would take us up to 10 in the evening if we maintain our slow pace. Given our aching legs and shoulders while carrying our backpacks and hungry tummy (we ran out of decent calorie source), we had no choice but to stay slow. If we chose to trek faster, it could be riskier since our physical capacity has reached its limit considering that would be trekking at night deep in the forest with trails destroyed by supertyphoon Lawin.

Personally, my mind was willing to finish what I have started but the body was weak. We climbed/traversed at least 9 mountains in this (mis)adventure with weak body that's full of fighting spirit under the moon, under the tall trees, under God's grace and mercy.

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► STOPOVER AT DADA RIVER TO REST OUR ACHING MUSCLES

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► MOUNT MABWADI NIGHT TREK

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► FINALLY! WE REACHED THE VILLAGE IN SITIO LIKOWAN!

TUBO, ABRA

[TUBO] ► WELCOME FOOD FOR US, GINATAANG MAIS


It was already 08:30 in the evening when we spotted a hanging bridge signifying that we have just left the forests—welcome to the village! Upon reaching the village, the hot bland ginataang mais cooked for us tasted like a specialty dish done by a chef of 5-star hotel for me. You know, being deprived of decent food would turn the worst food you don't usually eat a good food, you know what I mean? So when you see and eat some decent food, at least in my case, it's fiesta. The food served was bland and that was expected because the mountain villages lack the spices we could normally buy in the city market but as I said, that food was very special. It was a heavenly blessing after 2 days of eating loaf bread.

My co-climbers have taken a bath. We ate our dinner (eating that sardines was the best experience I ever had for that past few days) while some, including me, took the opportunity to have a power nap. With all the relaxation vibes in mind, we forgot that we still had to trek for about 1.5 hour from Sitio Likowan (where we rested) to Brgy Amtuagan proper.

Unli-trek. Where Can I Buy Energy?

Tired, energy-less and nursing a generalized muscle ache (I could hardly move, seriously), we waited for a habal-habal driver that could bring us to Sabnangan river port in the next town of Luba (our exit point and end of the traverse). Originally, the plan was to trek to Sabnangan from here but I just couldn't do it anymore. The other guys opted to trek though when they learned that there were limited habal-habal drivers who are capable of bringing us there. We also learned that there was an event in the village and most of the habal-habal drivers were drunk. My only option was to wait in the community center of the village.

It was already past midnight. The village elders have to go to sleep. I and a first-time climber, Jo, were the two last persons left inside that dark and cold community dwelling. Two good-hearted men accompanied us inside the hall while waiting for the habal-habal drivers. I fell asleep while waiting because my body couldn't stay awake anymore. I was sleep-deprived. One of the men woke me up when the drivers arrived.

That Night Ride to Sabnangan I Thought I'm Gonna Die

"Kumpet ka nga nalaing," said by the driver. He instructed me to get a tight grip because he'll be assaulting a steep unpaved, rocky and muddy road. I was shocked. His driving technique almost gave me a heart attack. Fortunately, I've been exposed to rough habal-habal rides like this before here in Tubo but this is by far the worst as we did it at night. With my weak body and aching muscles, adrenaline came gushing in. I stayed wide awake, surprisingly energetic and focused. The word "sleep" vanished in my vocabulary. At times, the driver couldn't balance the habal-habal yet he still continued to drive on his own discretion. I don't think he was careless. I believe it was the right way to do it.

I thought I'll end up in the hospital with fractures and abrasions. I placed my tent on my lap so that I could use my two hands in gripping but the ride was really wild that I could no longer balance the tent on my lap. The remedy I did was to bite the handle with my teeth and left it hanging there for that 30-minute span of wild rough riding. Figuratively, it was the longest motorbike ride in my life. You know, you wanted to stop but you just couldn't. How I wanted to finish that ride and just do the hike but I had no choice but to entrust my life to the driver.

We reached the Sabnangan footbridge and we crossed it until we reached the poblacion side where we waited for the other guys who trekked. I think it was already past 2 in the morning and we were still on an adventure-mode. While waiting, I fell asleep on the cold concrete floor of the stage they use for community programs. After about 30 minutes (or it could have been longer), we all squeezed ourselves inside the jeep—no more toploading this time. With my bad smell (I never took a bath during this 2-day trek), it was so awkward to stay in the midst of the people elbow to elbow. Kebbbs! Enjoy my smell and I'll fall asleep.

The adventure wasn't over yet until we reached the river port at the Tumbal river. The boat crew has been waiting there since the afternoon only to meet us at around 3 in the morning.

Back to Bangued

The sun has just risen when we reached the town of Bangued. Basically, our second day was a 24-hour sleepless and food-deprived adventure! What a great feeling to see the Abra Valley early in the morning and eating a hot Abra Miki for breakfast thereafter!

I finished the climb and I was able to scale my capacity. I won new friends. I gained new beautiful memories and experiences. After the climb, I promised myself I'd never do that Mt Poswey traverse again but I'm not going to close my heart for Mt Poswey yet. It's just that, be careful what you wish for, 'cause you might just get it all. I wished for an all-out adventure and I got it all—more than I could handle. Being able to survive was a great achievement though since I discovered my limits, my capacity and skills. I discovered more about myself. Thank you Mt Poswey! At the end of the day, I had no real regrets. I charged everything to experience. | end |

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Note: This post is just the summary of my Mount Poswey traverse experience and there are more stories to be told. More stories and insights are coming soon. This experience will be divided into series of posts I call as 'blogserye' so watch out for Chapter 1!

NOVEMBER 2016: MOUNT POSWEY TRAVERSE
ABRA PROVINCE, PHILIPPINES

MOUNT POSWEY CLIMB

[ABRA] ► HELLO! WELCOME TO ABRA!


► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

[1] This post was filed under the category "Experiences" There is a section below where you can see other related posts from this category.

[2] All maps I used on this post are from Google Maps.

[3] All photos are mine.

[4] The insights, condition and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.

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