Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nueva Vizcaya - going beyond Imugan to explore the magical pine forest of Salacsac

We woke up to a good weather the following morning after a good night's sleep, overshooting our target wake up call of 6.30 by almost two hours. Then again, it was nice to catch up on sleep, especially when nature provides your air conditioning. Our second day was alloted to going to the pine forest. The previous day, we had made arrangements to go through the Malico pass enroute to Salacsac via two tricycles. Alas, there was no tricycle available. But through the kindness and resourcefulness of the dormitory caretaker, we were able to hire a jeepney.Nueva Vizcaya Salacsac Trail Lone TreeMuch of the 10 kilometer road passing thru Malico is rough. I asked our driver if the reason for the name "Malico" is because of the way the road snakes and winds through the mountainsides. He laughingly nodded and along way, he points to an AUV which narrowly escaped certain mishap, miraculously because of a small tree that blocked its fall. The ravines are glaringly treacherous with no side bar or concrete barrier to break one's fall.Nueva Vizcaya Salacsac Trail Pine TreeThe area, according to my buddy, Ironwulf, is still Kalahan ancestral territory. Malico also has a historied past, the site where thousands of American, Japanese and Filipino soldiers perished during the Second World War. After around 45 minutes, we negotiated a path up to a school. we thank the heavens that the previous days were relatively rain-free. Otherwise, we would be hiking early as the dirt road would be too slippery for our jeep to negotiate. The path to the forest is clearly-marked and as cliche-ish as it may sound, the view is just amazing with verdant mountains stretching as far as the eyes can see.Nueva Vizcaya Salacsac Dining under the PinesIn under an hour, we hiked up to the abandoned school of Santa Rosa. Up a hilly terrain, we decided to unpack our lunch of adobo and kangkong, eating with a panoramic view of Dagupan and Itogon. It was not even 1pm when the clouds began to roll in and cover the forest in a fog-like shroud, a scene that seem to come out of Lord of the Rings.Nueva Vizcaya Santa Rosa Abandoned Elementary SchoolAs we got to our waiting jeepney at the Malico ridge, the air was heavy with moisture. the rains came down on our way back to imugan town proper. It was tempting to head back to slumberland after a morning at the magical Salacsac forest.Nueva Vizcaya Salacsac Foggy Forest


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