Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mt. Sto Tomas



A MEMORABLE EARLY MORNING RIDE
AT MT. STO TOMAS


Our first group shot in Benguet after our mighty monster jeepney parked near the summit of Mt. Sto Tomas





9:00PM of May 19, The BACKPACKERS headed to Baguio City to commence our Huling Hirit this summer of 2012.







It was around 4 in the morning when our monster jeep came to fetch us near the Victory Liner station in Baguio City. The location of our adventure that morning is in the municipality of Tuba in the province of Benguet which is about an hour away from Baguio City. Mt. Cabuyao and Mt. Sto Tomas were the target destinations. Mt. Cabuyao is said to be the highest commuted peak in the Philippines, and is visible from many points in Baguio City. Across that are peaks with several towers on it: which comprise Mt. Sto Tomas. Our monster jeep entered Tuba, Benguet while it was still dark. The vista of Baguio City under the dark sky was very beautiful with astonishing lights shimmering like that of a Christmas tree. Alas, we were far from the polluted metropolis as we realized we were breathing fresh air. The jeepney started its own uphill hike until we reached Mt. Cabuyao. However I was surprised because I was not expecting for Kuya Elias, the driver of our monster jeep, to continue driving. We passed by Mt. Cabuyao and headed towards the jagged peaks of Mt. Sto Tomas!


Our monster jeepney - Lost In Love
Mountaineers are fond of calling these rented vehicles that go around the Cordillera region as monster jeeps. It is mainly because their engines and tires are built in such a way that it can endure hours of rough, complicated and usually uphill roads of the region. No matter how rocky, muddy and bumpy the road is, the monster jeep will try its best to survive from these hazards.





I haven't read or heard anything about a monster jeep which headed directly to Mt. Sto. Tomas. All along I thought that path was impenetrable. When our jeepney headed straight in that portion of the rustic town, I did not know if I will be relieved or scared. Relieved for we were foregoing that one hour of trekking, but scared for I anticipated a very dangerous trail for a vehicle. And it was indeed dangerous. The trail was quite wide for trekkers but for a four-wheeled vehicle, it was narrow. A wrong turn could be fatal. I remembered that famous line of a local describing the Rockies during our Mt. Maculot ascent: One miss, you die. Only here, one miss, WE die. Being seated in front, I can feel the endeavor of the vehicle's engine whenever our driver makes a hard turn. Because the road was not paved, the ride was bumpy. And bumping up and down on a mountain with deep ravines behind you was uncomfortable and scary. It was a supply of adrenaline rush whenever the monster jeep will tilt sideways during a crucial turn. Most of us shouted in both fear and excitement whenever the jeepney will experience either a hard bump or  a struggling turn.


A view of the ridges of Mt. Sto Tomas from the trail


I can still remember that sharp curve when Kuya Elias had to drive Lost In Love (from now on, I will be referring to our monster jeep's namesake) backwards. As the jeepney moved backwards, we became inches away from a nauseating view of the cliff behind us. The BACKPACKERS inside the jeepney were feeling both the tension and the excitement of the ride. It was the most memorable ride of our lives. Definitely a buwis-buhay one. We were grateful to have such a skilled driver who maneuvered us all the way to the (almost) top of Mt. Sto Tomas. And we were also thankful in boarding the staunch Lost In Love who carried us all and spared us from walking quite a heck of a distance.


BP Frank
BP Angel
BP Conts
BP Jovy


Lost In Love was parked near the peak of Mt. Sto Tomas. After anxiously getting out of the jeepney, we were greeted by the wonderful view of the world below and the other Cordillera mountains across the horizon. We did not waste any time and out came the cameras as the sun reflected perfect and beautiful morning rays.



PHOTO OPS

BP Chons
BP Ivan
BP Liz
BP York
BP Clue
BP Marion
BP Weng
This trip is also where we welcomed our four new members, with their official induction set at Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet.


Batch 4 - Anna
Batch 4 - April
Batch 4 - Des
Batch 4 - Tin


After the photo sessions we started to hike for around ten minutes until we reached the summit of Mt. Sto Tomas which was very well represented by a gigantic tower. Guard dogs approached us which made the lead pack hesitant in walking further up the viewdeck. But we managed to 'befriend' and emit positive vibes towards the canines and they let us through. And we were glad we did. From there, we were delighted to see Lingayen Gulf stretching towards the vast South China Sea. The view form the western portion was as delightful as that of the eastern side which was made more dramatic by the waterforms that surround the nearby province of La Union. We were literally above several cloud formations seen at lower ground. It was picturesque!



going up the tower
BP DeePee
the view from the tower
Our one and only guest climber - Marion Paulo @ Mt. Sto Tomas



It was such a beautiful morning!!!


And it was made more memorable by the thrilling monster jeepney ride,


the excellent view of the landscapes around


and the company of people who share the same passion: 


travelling, hiking, exploring and appreciating the wonders of our country!




Group shot at the summit of Mt. Sto Tomas

We wrapped up our visit at Mt. Sto Tomas and prepared for another scream-worthy ride back to the lower mountains of Tuba, Benguet. Our next destination in our Benguet Adventure: Mt. Cabuyao.




***Special credits to Tin and Frank for the pictures
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