This is the second part of our Mt. Damas adventure last June 18, 2017. To read more about the first part of our adventure, click here

Chasing Ubod Falls

Mt. Damas is surely, in spite of its height, no piece of cake. It is my 13th climb for 2017 and my first major climb. It took us about seven hours to complete the trek. After the grueling seven-hour hike, it is finally time to unwind and let some steam off. Upon arriving at the base of Mt. Damas, we rested for a while to catch our breaths before proceeding to Ubod Falls. Climbers usually end their Mt. Damas adventure with a short dip at the Ubod Falls.

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Deceptive. A lesson learned and a mountain conquered – never underestimate mountains in spite of their height.

To get to Ubod Falls, we climbed upstream, following again the winding river track. On our way, we encountered two smaller waterfalls. The first one is short but the second one, Si-el falls is quite tall. We initially thought this falls, Si-el Falls, was Ubod Falls but I was incredulous because it is different from the pictures I saw of Ubod Falls.  Ubod Falls is a tall straight falls while Si-el falls has a slight s-curve on its base. Si-el Falls was named after the school of the first explorers.

We climbed Si-el Falls through a roped segment on its left side. It was neither technical nor steep but those who are not physically in shape might find it a challenge. The top of Si-el Falls offered a great view of its base. We only had to walk for about 15-minutes more before reaching Ubod Falls. As we drew nearer the falls, the vision began to take shape.

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Alluring. The cold waters are inviting and my weary body is looking for some reprieve.
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Enchanting. Si-el Falls is a prelude to an even greater destination.

 

The first thing that got my attention was its height. At about 120 feet, it is higher than some of the waterfalls that I have already been to like Sagada’s Bomod-ok Falls, Oslob’s Tumalob Falls and Badian’s Kawasan Falls. However, the volume of the water flow is not as big as that of Bomod-ok or Kawasan. I think this is because the rainy season hasn’t arrived yet. Nonetheless, it is equally enchanting.

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As my body slowly got immersed, the cold waters rushed in to cool down my weary body. Man did it feel good, really good. The swimming spot is quite deep and is not advisable for those who don’t know how to swim. Being the daredevil that I am, I swam to the base of the waterfalls which is not really far from the shore. It’s been quite some time since I last swam on a pool of any kind.

However, there was something that I noticed – the water has a different smell. It is barely noticeable but my hypersensitive olfactory sense was able to detect traces of fish smell although there were no palpable signs of fishes swimming on the waterfalls. However, it could be possible that there are fishes at the top of the waterfalls. Another reason could be the prolonged dry spells which ensured the slow washing up of bodies of water like Ubod Falls.

After dipping and cooling down for a couple of minutes, my companions and I got up to soak in the scorching Sunday afternoon sun to dry ourselves before returning to the jump-off point. We also downed some snacks because our energy levels are still low due to our earlier exertion. There is also a water source near the waterfalls although I am still apprehensive of the idea of drinking water from these sources.

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Alive. The hills – and the mountains – are indeed teeming with activity, some invisible to the naked eye. 

The Cardiac Trail

After an ample amount of rest, we began packing our things up at around 3 PM for our trek back to the jump-off point. Instead of following the river track in going back, we are going to use the cardiac trail which the guides refer to as the shortcut. This will cut our return by about 30 minutes. The moniker though sounds ominous.

From Ubod Falls, the cardiac trail is incognito, hidden from the naked eye, shrouded by the thick vegetation. Just as what we expected, the cardiac trail took us to the assault of a smaller hill. The assault is similar to that of Mt. Damas, and is equally challenging. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the top which offered a wonderful perspective of Ubod Falls and its environs. Ubod Falls looked so minute in the sea of green trees.

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Lush. The green country side is a welcome sight.

We climbed down on the other side of the mini-Damas to the river crossing which we used in going to Mt. Damas. However, by using the cardiac trail, we avoided the roped segments of the river crossing which would have been challenging because we had to climb up these roped segments.

At around 4 PM, we reached the kubo where we bought some refreshments to cool us down. After a couple of minutes break, we resumed our walk back to the jump-off point which we completed sans any prolonged breaks. Without any breaks, it took us an hour to reach the jump-off point. While waiting for the rest of our group, we washed up. We also took the time to get to know some of our fellow climbers while immersing with some of the locals. The locals are Ilocanos. Listening to familiar terms and phrases were somehow comforting.

When the climbing group is finally complete, we began our return trip to Manila at around 7 PM. We stopped over at Tarlac City to have our late dinner. We finally reached Manila at around 12 midnight.

Oh my body, it is literally crushed! Thankfully I survived this weekend excursion mostly unscathed. So, until the next adventure!

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Triumphant! Here’s to another wonderful adventure away from the tumultuous urban life. Me on top of Si-el falls. Photo by Saul Gino Killip

 

 

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