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mountaineering

Hike to Bomod-ok Falls November 3, 2006

Hike to Bomod-ok Falls

The typical itinerary for Sagada is caving at Sumaging Cave, hike to Echo Valley, hike to Bokong Falls (small falls) and the day-long hike to Bomod-ok Falls (big falls). Surprisingly, given the many visits I've made to Sagada before settling here, I've never been to the big falls. With Mimsy's visit, I get tagged along to Siegrid's invite to Bomod-ok Falls.

Back in the Day
When roads in Sagada were still dirt, it took half a day to hike to Bomod-ok. From Poblacion, you pass the villages of Modongo, Banga-an and the coffee-growing village of Fidelisan before finally reaching the falls. It was big deal. It was so far you needed a guide. If you didn't leave early enough, you wouldn't make it back before sundown. Since it's a whole day affair, you bring lunch and water. Typically, the guide would bring a live chicken and pat it enroute for a savouring pinikpikan chicken lunch.

Present Day route
About 2 years back, the road from Poblacion to Banga-an was paved. There's even a public jeep plying the route, making 2 trips a day. Since we all have mountain bikes with us, Siegrid, Mimsy and myself biked from Poblacion to Banga-an. It was a mildly graded uphill ride. We locked our bikes at a nearby store and proceeded on foot. It was an hour all the way down from Banga-an to Fidelisan to Bomod-ok. They've made it easier by constructing concrete steps for the most part. Some sections cross over rice paddies and small streams. Fidelisan's version of the rice terraces is something else too. The scenery on the way down was an added perk. Visitors have to pay P10/head when registering at Fidelisan.

The Falls
Finally, we reached the falls. I've seen a lot of falls in Sagada during my hikes with Aklay, but so far, this is the most spectacular. The past rainy season ensured the water came down with a crushing might. It seems perfect, but the canyon-like topography of the area funnels the wind within that narrow passageway. The waterfall spray was constantly in your face, you had to shield yourself against the big rocks. Even with the heat of the overhead sun, the temperature was near arctic.

Swimming
There is a deep and spacious lagoon-like area for swimming where the water hits the ground. I dove headfirst but it felt scary. The water was icy cold, the pounding falls was creating an unsettling turbulence, there's a strong current that threatens to take you down the river, and when I surfaced, the wind was constantly spraying water on my face. The ensuing feeling was panic. I was out of the water as soon as I was in.

I looked for a more benign part of the river to dip but the icy cold water was too much of a challenge. I couldn't stay long.

Heading Back
After snacking on Aklay's bread, we headed back. It was about a 1 1/2-hour hike up the mountain to the main road where we left our bikes. If you've done the stair-climber machine at a gym, you get an idea what the hike back was like. Although our pace wasn't fast, we still had to pause a few times. I'm humbled to think that every resident of Fidelisan takes this hike up and down everytime they head to Poblacion. Worse, the jeeps may not be around so they'll have to walk all the way even when they've already hiked up the street level.

We were beat by the time we reached the road. We unlocked our bikes and headed back to Poblacion. Fortunately, it was mostly downhill all the way. We just coasted on the paved road, banking on turns and feeling the cool mountain air in our face.

Ending Thoughts
Visually, Bomod-ok Falls is unquestionably stunning. It wasn't a very hospitable place though. The wind was always racing, the water too cold and the sun too hot. There was no shade either. I now understand why the people who have been there recommend to see it, but would rather not see it again. Notwithstanding the challenge, I would still say it's a must-see place...even just once.

Many thanks Sieg! You really went out of your way this time.

--- TheLoneRider

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Waterfalls Blogs by TheLoneRider

Reader Comments:

Allan Olipane
(November 7, 2006) I have read about your big waterfall adventure. That was one of the sites we missed when we were there last month. Well described with accompanying photos. We will get back to Sagada and hope to visit the place and meet you as well.




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