Thursday, May 11, 2023

Hiking Through the Mossy Forests of Mt. Molmog in Bauko, Mt. Province

After three hours and a half of navigating through the tricky and winding roads of the Halsema Highway, the two vans finally stopped at the jump-off point for Mt. Molmog in Bauko, Mt. Province. A motley group of around 30 hikers have come to this place for a tree-planting/camping event organized by the town through Jomar Buclay and the Bauko Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO). 

The sun was yet to make its grand entrance in the horizon and we were at an altitude which can be fairly considered as moderate to high. That said, it was cold. The good news was there was hot coffee and bread waiting for us at the jump-off point. We took our time to shake off the morning jitters of the long drive from Baguio City. After a quick orientation, the hike commenced. It started to get warm as the sun inched higher above the surrounding mountains.

At the start of the trek, each hiker was given a bamboo seedling or two. We were to plant these at a section of the trail going to Mt. Molmog. Planting the trees went smoothly. All trees were planted firmly into the ground within an hour or so. With the planting done, the focus now was to make it to the summit of Mt. Molmog which is basically a grassy patch of land which also serves as a camping ground. 

Mt. Molmog isn't a difficult climb. Its trails are a perfect blend of moderate ups and downs. As long as you're fit, the hike to the summit should be a breeze. I didn't track how long it took us to reach the summit from the jump-off point but I'd say it was between 3-4 hours. Most of the time, you will be hiking through a thick mossy forest with grassy clearings here and there. Jump-off to summit measures approximately 9 to 10 kilometers.

At the summit, there's more than enough space for 8-10 camping tents. Tents in excess can set up camp in the surrounding forest. Which was exactly what we did. Some pitched their tents over the grassy clearing at the summit. Others pitched theirs in the surrounding forest.

We had pinikpikan for dinner. And some drinks, of course. Then everybody settled in for the night. It wasn't as cold as I expected during the night. Based on my experiences camping and pitching tents in similar mossy mountains in Kabayan and Bokod, it can be freezing cold at night. That wasn't the case here. It was cold but not freezing cold. I slept rather soundly for a change.

Everybody woke up early the next morning to watch the sun rise. It was beautiful as you would expect. Sunrises and sunsets are always a sight to behold here in the Cordilleras. A sea of clouds sometimes occur in Mt. Molmog. Unfortunately, we didn't see one when we were there. Maybe next time. 

We then had a little breakfast. Then the descent down the mountain. 

[P.S. - There's a mountain trail run to be held there this coming July. The race route will pass through Mt. Molmog. Just search for "Mountain Ridge Run" on Facebook for the complete details. See you there!]