Yesterday morning I just barely caught the jeep that went from Banaue to Sagada. It was a bumpy scenic ride, and we stopped a couple times long the way allowing us time to get generous glimpses of the mountains surrounding us and the scenic valleys below. The ride to Sagada takes the better part of the day, leaving at 8 am we don’t arrive until mid-afternoon.

Once I arrived in town, I made my way to my guest house and ended up with a double room with two double beds all to my self. The cold water shower was down the hall, and the staff kindly informed me I could purchase a bucket of hot water if I so desired. After settling in, the remainder of the day was spent wandering around town and eating delicious food at the Yogurt House.

The next morning, I picked up a not-to-scale map of the local area and chose nearby Mt Ampacao (more of an overly large hill, really) to scale as part of my efforts to prepare for climbing Mt Kinabalu. The day was sunny and I quickly became warm, though the breeze was cool and refreshing.The path was well-worn and generally traversed along a steep grassy hillside, with little shelter from teh sun.

When I reached the top of the mountain, I stopped for a snack and chatted with the only other hiker I encountered on the trail. He was a European ex-pat living in the area, and seemed somewhat surprised that I’d make this trip alone. He mentioned to me the American hiker who was killed in Batad a few years earlier and I told him that she was my friend and fellow volunteer. He seemed surprised that this did not discourage me from setting out alone. I told him that, despite that unfortunate incident, I still felt that the Philippines was one of the safest places I had been.

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