The former campsite has been turned into a parking lot, hence, visitors need only to step out of their vans and trudge a few steps to the viewpoint. The ease and convenience have turned this into a crowded place, complete with vendors and hawkers. While waiting for the sunrise, I espied people trying to outdo each other in climbing up the rocks for a better selfie, unmindful of their peril. Either they have no local guide (one isn't needed or required here) or they came straight from the city to catch the sunrise. Made me think I escape the city to avoid the crowds and here I find a sea of crowds.
|Kiltepan sunrise image from 2012|
Sad thing is, this phenomenon isn't just happening in Sagada. When we made a day trip/hike on Mt. Ulap in Itogon almost two years ago, we, a party of three (my buddy and our guide) were alone half of the half-day trek. When we waited for the sunrise on the first viewpoint, there were no crowds and the only sign of another human were the occasional flashes of torches on the distant campsite near the summit. Imagine my surprise to see pictures posted on social media last week where the registration area at the munisipyo resembled more of rock concert crowd than mountaineers preparing for a trek. While I'm inclined to say, "Hey we're lucky to have experienced the place before it really boomed," I'm not going to gloat and be content with the thought that another place to escape to is falling fast to commercialism. Far from it.
|Kiltepan View Deck from December 2016 • Photo by Gareth Likigan|
|Alone on Mt Ulap trail first viewpoint just two years ago|
Maybe, it's time the local governments of these places as well as the locals, set up some way to regulate the number of visitors, hold a lottery-style admission like the ones used for the national parks in the US. Also, it's a good time as any to put regulations in place (How about keeping peace and quiet in the outdoors? Please keep your wireless speakers at home) with regards to maintaining peace and order, maintaining the trails, educating visitors on trash management (it belongs to the trash can, not the trail).
Well, if this keeps up, we'll really run out of places to escape to. And we'll all be poorer for it.