Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Maligcong, Bontoc: Graffiti, Red Sky and Heavenly Light Over Mt Fato

Red sky over Mt Fato summit
There were graffiti on the limestone boulders that mark the summit of Mt Fato.  On a light-hearted note, you can call it local color.  On the other hand, they are blemishes that remind one that this landscape is increasingly being visited by locals and outsiders alike. 
 
When I first visited Mt Fato about 2 1/2 years ago with Maligcong friends, Suzette (Chees) and Tina (Sokoken), the site looked pristine with little to no visible signs of visitors.  The ground that stretches to the precipice overlooking Kupapey and to the distant east, the Sleeping Beauty mountain range in Tinglayan, was heavily blanketed by ferns.  Now, the pine trees have grown and obscured quite a bit of scenery below though that's a welcome development as far as nature is concerned.  The fern cover though was running thin, even balding, in places; there were wooden steps leading to the top of the boulders; even a hand-painted signage of Mt. Fato on a west-facing rock face.  The long and winding trail (there's a shorter, steeper trail that's less used by visitors) is rendered very visible even in the fading light after sunset, quite obviously treaded upon by an increasing number of feet.
Beautiful even in the fading light
We decided to see Fato in the sunset hour for a change as a warm-up to our hike from Caneo to Tocucan; I was also a bit rusty as I have not been shooting for quite a while and I can make do with a bit of practice.  Prior to our arrival, the heavens have been withholding rain for three days.   The afternoon sky threatened to release its rain anew, hence the cloudy conditions and reddish tint to the sky.

Considering that it's already summer, we got no postcard-pretty sunset snaps but that's nature for you.  There was a time when I told myself I won't revisit a place and keep pushing to see all the country's provinces in my lifetime.  Now here I am, visiting and revisiting this place, pushing my aging knees over and over again hiking and trekking, heeding nature's call time and again.  I guess that's the beauty of nature -- where things keep on changing and the landscape is never the same.  Here, as in life, there's a cycle of good, fair, overcast, stormy weather and if you find yourself in moody, temperamental weather, it becomes an opportunity to look forward to a better one.

As the sun prepared to sleep, we were gifted with a glimpse of heavenly light, as if a big spotlight shone and momentarily overpowered the clouds, draping the terraces and mountains with an ethereal glow, our patience repaid with a breathtaking moment of sublime beauty, however ephemeral it was.
One last hurrah before the sun prepared to sleep

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