Monday, March 6, 2017

A walk from Halsema to Tuel, Tublay, Benguet and back


"Most of the times, the view along the way and the people we meet are what makes it worthwhile"


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-my pagnapagna-
(March 5, 2017 a Sunday)

In Preparation
I've been to this area before, when I got invited (indirectly) to attend a wedding celebration. I said indirectly because it was the cousin of the bride who invited me.

The short video of the wedding I attended dated February 28, 2017 a Tuesday

Some few days later, I decided to come back to see the "Asin Hot Springs" but with a twist, I have to walk from Halsema Highway at La Trinidad all the way to the said hot spring which is located at barangay Tuel, in the municipality of Tublay of the province of Benguet.
It was some few minutes ride with a "garrage" (their name call for taxi) that cost around 400 pesos as fare but turn it into a hike and you save the pesos while having an exercise with a view.
In preparation, I consulted "google map". I looked on the road that leads to the said hot springs and compared them with the hike I have done in Sablan. They were almost with the same distance and I think the road in Sablan was generally steeper than this road going to Tuel (the barangay where the hot springs are located). With "google map", I set on the street view to see what part of Halsema highway would I exit and familiarize what the building at the corner of branching road will look like.

My  ride to Halsema
Early morning, around 5:20, I rode a jeep (bound for C.Dangwa, not Wangal) parked near the Rizal park and just below the Baguio City Hall. I went down (5:47 am) at the "Cruz Samoyao road" a branching one-lane road from the Halsema Highway (La Trinidad) and it is located just before the Benguet Memorial Service (BMS) where another road branches going to Mt. Kalugong.

A Waterfall
I started walking going downhill at that road going through residential areas. Farther down when I got at the outskirt of the residential area, I happened to see a small waterfall at a distance. I've got to see it closer and asked some locals on how to get to that waterfalls.
At first, I went on the wrong trail and the one I asked directions were looking at me from a far distance at the road as I was going down the mountainside. They signaled me to go back above and go on to the other trail which I did and very much thankful for. The trail led me to a small bridge and below it was the stream and its waterfalls. I went to the edge of the waterfall but did not knew were to get further down to see the entirety of the waterfall. After a few minutes of frustration I went up to the trail at the bridge and met a man holding a grass cutter who was about to go to the barangay hall. He showed and led the way down to the waterfalls.
One of the locals who was also there at the waterfalls said that it is called "Binanga" (but his not sure) and added that the waterfall dries during the intense summer months.
Plenty of black pipes were placed at the waterfalls, tapping its waters for irrigating the flower and vegetable gardens.
Although quite clear, its waters' pureness and cleanliness is questionable.

An eye-catching mountain near the waterfalls.

The waterfalls as seen (zoomed) from the road.

The video of the waterfalls at Alno

A waterfall from far far away (must be from a small hydro power plant).

Some of the road signs along the way

Asin Hot Springs
After that encounter with the small waterfalls I went back to the road (7:24 am) and kept walking. The road is generally going down and down. After around an hour and a half of walking, I finally arrived (8:59 am) at the roadside entry going down to the "Asin Hot springs".
I saw a lone man playing billiards at the roadside "sari-sari store" to whom I asked if there was an entrance fee. He said that there were no fees to be paid and just go down near the river.
The concrete pathway led to the residential area, to some picnic sheds and just below it were the "Asin hot springs".
Although most of the area were now concreted and above it was where houses and sheds were built, the springs were coming out from the crevices of the rocks along the mountainside just at the riverside. One of which was provided with a blue pvc pipe and felt to be the hottest. In order to make its waters tolerable, one must dip at the river's water where the hot springs flowed.

The area where the Hot springs are located.

A small Cascade
I went further downstream to where a bridge was located. It looked picturesque with a nearly calm water below it. Just before it was a small cascade. I lingered there for a while and ate my snack of boiled eggs and a sandwich. After few minutes, I went back to the hot springs and to the road above.

Going Back
At the "sari-sari store", I sat down contemplating if I should wait for a chance ride or walk. Since it was still early (10:42 am), I have decided. I got my heavy backpack and walk my way on that uphill road. It was quite tiring but I can't help it, I liked it. Once in a while, I stop and enjoy some scenery while I rested. There were some vans, tamaraw fx, motorcycles and others that passed by but I was determined to just walk on that generally uphill road.
Near the entry point to La Trinidad dumpsite, at a waiting shed, I went to take shelter from the noontime sun and sat. There I met "manong" who was waiting for a ride. I greeted him and we talked for a while. From his looks, he was around 60+ years old. He said that he work at the dumpsite nearby, if I heard it right, he works as a sort of security guard at the dumpsite but without a salary but makes money through the scraps he collects from the dumpsite. He was not a native of the Cordilleras as he hails from Cabanatuan but been living in Benguet for almost 30 years now. He worked as a jeepney driver for Trancoville before but loves his work now since he works at his own time and at his own pace.
After a while, I stood and said my goodbye. I said to him that I got to keep going since its gonna be a long walk. As I strode my first steps, he said that "Sige, ako mahina na di na kaya maglakad. Maghihintay ako ng sasakyan" (Okay, I'm weak already can't walk so I'll just wait for a ride). As I walked uphill, I replied back, smiling, "Malapit na rin po ako manong, dararating rin ako diyan" (I'm already near that sir, I will also get there). Life it is!
I kept walking, walking and walking.
Near the outskirt of the residential areas where the small waterfall is located, I stopped to take photograph of the view and also to take a rest. A dump track happened to passed by and stopped at where I was. I looked at my back to see "manong" at the front seat beside the driver. He said "Halika na" (Come on). He was asking me to ride. 
I was so grateful but I politely said that I have to walk and take photographs along the way as I was determined to walk all the way. I was a little bit not happy to turn down such an offer of kindness. "Okay, sige", he said smiling as the dump track move on and went out of sight as it turned around the road bend. 
After taking photographs, I got on the road again into the residential areas. I went to a "sari-sari store" and had a short snack before the final ascend to the Halsema Highway above.
I was finally at Halsema Highway at Barangay Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet. From there. I got a jeepney ride going to Baguio City where I got to ride again going back to Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

Some scenes along the way

The Asin Hot Springs and the Small River Cascade

For my Hike to Sablan Hot springs CLICK HERE

Subject: Asin Hot Springs of Tuel
Location: Barangay of Tuel.
Municipality of Tublay
Province of Benguet
How to get there:


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