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Wednesday, December 26

Mt. Osdung, Benguet: The Trail and the Top Load

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A lonely pine tree at the peak of Mount Osdung in Kibungan, Benguet

Mount Osdung is a mountain situated in the ranges of Cordillera in Kibungan, Benguet. It is said to be the 16th highest mountain in the Philippines. “Osdung” or “usdung” is a Kankanaey term (also Ilocano) which similarly means “to stoop” or as in bend your body to look downwards, as when you are on top of a summit or cliff. In Tagalog it means “tumingin sa ibaba (ng bundok) ”. Mount Osdung day hike is one of the easiest mountain climb you can actually do when you are in the highlands of the Cordillera Region.

Part 2 of Hiking Benguet Mountains: Mount Osdung

Farm of cabbages awaits you on top of Mt. Osdung
I was invited by a group of mountaineers who have plans to actually climb three mountains over the weekend (Mt. Osdung, Mt. Cabuyao and Mt. Sto. Tomas, all mountains are in the Benguet Province). I would have also climbed these three mountains but it was just Mount Osdung that I was able to hike because I have important matters to prepare for our upcoming field trip in Manila. Nonetheless it’s still worth the try because it was actually my first time to literally hike a mountain on purpose (I already hike every day in Baguio, and I already have attended pine tree planting activities that require activities like hiking).

My companions in this particular trip are Ivan, the Batang Lakwatsero; Agnes and Dane of Tramping Philippines, Bryan Cuesta, a nature photographer, and Allan Llamoso, HR manager and an adventure seeker. It was another set of faces I met from the previous faces I recognized during our Ambuklao trip. They came from Manila and they love the mountains. How I wonder I never tried hiking mountains when in fact I lived in the mountains for several years already. Maybe I just need to rediscover all these nature. Who know’s my 2013 will be packed with so much hiking in it.
Mount Osdung, Philippines
 And so we all rode the 6:30 AM departure bus bound to Sagada and after 3 hours we arrived at the Collideng Junction in Buguias, Benguet. From there we walked our trail to the mountain. But the driver of the truck which passed us by offered us a hitch to the municipal hall branch where there was an ongoing wedding ceremony. No we did not plan to attend the wedding ceremony it just happened that there was one during our day hike. Thank God our hiking time was reduced to several minutes. It was a long, winding and rough road indeed. And the sun was scorching hot.

Flowers growing in the surroundings of the mountain.
From there we were able to reach somehow the summit—not so fast because there was a ritual going on over the peak. We were advised by a local Igorot not to go on (they were butchering a pig I guess, not sure) but since every one of us does not want to leave without getting into the summit of Mt. Osdung, thus we found a way to reach it via the other way.

It was a wide farm of cabbages at that time and a series of cascading mountains. Nature and more nature. It was refreshing. But not too long because the Igorots told us not to take pictures of their ceremony. There is a cultural sensitivity over the mountains and we followed it. We did not take photos of their ritual, only the peak. We were supposed to reach the summit (there was this cultivated land over the peak) but we were again told that we should not be here and that we have to go home already. Ah quite a sad story, we didn’t have any jump shots over the summit of Mount Osdung. We were shooed out of the peak by this old woman with the beard (that is how my friend mountaineer described the local haha). Okay and so we left.

My mountaineer companions in this particular day hike to Mt Osdung
 Quite an experience, we waited for a jeepney that will go down to Collideng Junction. We were lucky enough there was one. We were that adventurous enough to do the “top load” or riding a vehicle on the roof of it. Great! It was another first time! It’s indeed a thrill because it was like anytime the jeepney we rode will tilt and fall off the ravine. I do not recommend tourists to do the top load over the zigzag roads of the mountains but it was like missing one-fourth of your life if you did not experience it. A wide angle of mountains and overlooking scenes is waiting over your top load experience!

Yey! The top load experience!!!
 The trail and the top load of my Mount Osdung experience made it more memorable aside from it was my first time to actually hike a mountain on purpose. After our Mount Osdung day hike, we were dropped off by the driver at the Collideng Junction and went inside the Traders Café for some hot arrozcaldo. It was really an easy mountain climb because we only spent less than an hour to reach the summit (I was expecting we’ll hike like two to three hours). So if you are a beginner and want to experience hiking the smoothest and easiest way possible you can jumpstart to trying a day hike to Mount Osdung in Benguet—and after that you can already engage to trying other mountains with more difficulty of reaching the summit. Do not worry, Mt. Osdung gives you the feel that you hiked a mountain with a difficult trail!

Hiking Benguet Mountains: Mount Osdung Travel Series:
Part 2: Mt. Osdung, Benguet: The Trail and the Top Load

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