Thursday, March 14, 2019

TAPUAKAN River and Beyond


"The waters of Tapuakan River were crystal clear!
Although the rock formations are nothing extra ordinary, it serves
as landmarks along the river"

Please, let us practice the "LEAVE NO TRACE" (LNT) outdoor ethics.
Let us not vandalize, etch or write on its natural surfaces such as rocks and bark of trees.
Manage our waste products properly. Do not leave your garbage behind, bring it with you
when there is no proper disposal in the area. Do not litter!
Respect wildlife, "nature" and the local culture.
Minimize our impact!
Safety should be our priority!

-my pagnapagna-

Sometime during the duration of the Provincial Trade Fair in celebration of the 169th year Anniversary of La Union, one afternoon at the "Agri-Tourism Village", I talked to Mr. Cuaresma at the booth of the municipality of PUGO. He was alone that day at the booth as I asked, "Aside from the resorts, where can one visit at Pugo?" and he mentioned the one and only "Tapuakan" river and some rock formations upstream. Going farther upstream, there is what they call as "nagmantigaan/nagpatinggaan ti ikan". Translated as, "this is where fishes can not go farther up".
He also told me about an area farther uphill that can serve as a viewing point towards the lowlands but these, the "nagmantigaan/nagpatingaan ti ikan" and the viewpoint are located at the nearby municipality of Tuba of the province of Benguet.

March 3, 2019 a Sunday

From San Fernando City (La Union), I rode a mini-bus bound for Dagupan City but I alighted at Agoo town proper. There, I rode another bus (Victory Liner) bound for Baguio City where I alighted near the bridge at Tapuakan river area in Pugo, La Union.
Still early, I sipped a coffee at a nearby restaurant few meters just after the bridge. Afterwards, I went back, to the intersection and walked on the Pugo-Balangabang provincial road going eastward.
I passed by a roadside signage that said: to Tapuakan river. I kept on going farther up on that same road and seen one bicycle rider along the way.
I was now at Barangay Tabaan Norte and I kept going uphill. I asked from a roadside store if they knew an area somewhere farther above where one can have an "overlooking view" but they knew nothing of it. Maybe it is the Barangay Hall, they told me.
I arrived at the Barangay Hall but there seemed to be no viewing area around and so, I went on walking again farther. Then, I was at the back of the mountain and this part of the road seemed to be less used. 

There were no visible houses. Going farther, I noticed that there was a wooden gate barricading the road. I was hesitant to go further when a lady came by opened the gate, she passed through and closed it again. I asked her about the "viewing point" and she said "ediay a tatnu makitam didiay Twin Peaks (Go over there so you can see the Twin Peaks)" as she pointed further to the road. 
Going farther through the gates, the concreted road was now a dirt road and that was the ridge area of the mountain.
Seen some cows at the area which explains the gates. The gates stops these cows from wandering away.
Another gate that was placed between two peaks holds the cows in that area. That gate leads to a downhill road.
Two men arrived on a motorcycle to whom I asked about what can be seen farther down that road. 
"Awan .. banbantay lang (None... just mountains)", he casually replied after some quick thing.
After few minutes of talking, they passed through the gate and went on their way going down.
I went back and decided to go to Tapuakan river.
At Tapuakan river park, I talked to the lady caretaker and told her about the "rock formations" which she confirmed of its existence.
Since it was almost noontime, I rested at the shade and took a short nap on top of the elevated bedrocks.
After few minutes, I readied and went on upstream. There was this blue pipe which I followed along the way upstream and loses somewhere.

Mt. Sto Tomas as seen farther up along the river

An interesting one. I call it "Daily Bread" or "Domino Effect"


I finally arrived at the "Tuon Bato" rock formation and decided to do a sketch of it.

After some few minutes, a man came. He was "mang David" and owns the goats that roamed around. We talked, and in our conversation, I asked if there was a waterfall farther upstream. He confirmed of its existence and added that, since it is located far far upstream going there would take time that it would be best to start a trek early in the morning. He added that, it is located after passing two hanging bridges.
I thank him and went back to "Tapuakan river park" area. Rested there for a while and since it was a Sunday that day, seen many people swimming and having picnic.
After having that needed rest, I left and went to the national highway to get a ride going home.
Unfortunately, I had to wait and wait. All of the buses are filled. At that time, the traffic was bumper to bumper. This was all because it's Sunday, everybody were going home from the "Panagbenga" Festival's float parade at Baguio City.
I walked my way going to the junction near the town proper of Pugo and waited there again at the waiting shed. Sadly, all buses were filled and there were no room for additional passengers.
Some few minutes after six o'clock, a passenger jeep carrying wood door panels came and that's where I rode, along with other passengers, going to Agoo.
It was nighttime when I finally got to Home Sweet Home.

March 13, 2019 a Wednesday

Early in the morning, I was back at "Tapuakan River Park" (around 6:00 am).
I talked to the lady caretaker and told her that I will be going farther upstream to see some waterfalls.
And so, I went on (6:14 am). I kept going upstream. Passed by the "Kimmabalyo" (6:51 am) and "Tuon Bato"  (7:01 am) rock formations. 

this must be "Kimmabalyo"

"Tuon bato"

Just after the "Tuon Bato" there was this almost clearing (only few rocks on the river) followed by a mound of stones, gravels and sands and the rocks continued again.
Going farther, there was this basin area and on the right side was a elevated bedrock where they placed a tree trunk of around 6 inches in diameter and some few thinner ones that served as a bridge to a gap going to the other side. I have doubts on my capacity to cross it safely (I DO NOT push through when I doubt). I turned around and went to the other side of the river. Since there were no river bank at that side, I had to go further up to a vegetable garden above, walk some few meters and from there went down again to the river below.
Walking farther, I came to a stop to a wide bedrock area. The water had carved at one side creating a gully where there was this waterfall (small one) with a deep basin. I also love how the bedrock was made up of speckles of other stones that it looked like a poured concrete with delightful rocks. I told myself, this must be it, the one "mang David" told me.

One of the cascades along the river carving its way on the bedrock
with some deep clear watered basins or natural pools.

After getting some videos and photographs, I decided to go further upstream as it was still early in the morning, I have still time to explore.
Walking farther, I came across an "artwork" by the river (8:58 am). A sand sculpture in the shape of a fish and above was a hanging bridge. 

Seen this sand art along the river below the first hanging bridge

I then realized that the one I passed by earlier was not the one "mang David" was telling me. I remembered, he told me of two bridges.
And so I went further to see the second bridge.
Few minutes into the trek upstream, there was this bedrock area again. heavily carved at one side by the running water. Going farther, there was the river bend carved its way on the bedrock. I had to go up on one side to a bamboo area and to my delight, the second hanging bridge was just some few meters away. There, that's it, the second hanging bridge "mang David" was telling me.
Just below the hanging bridge were some boulders and a small opening between them. Going down to the opening leads to a small waterfall.

a small waterfall. This one is photographed  (slightly zoomed) from the second hanging bridge.

 I do not know if that was "mang David" was telling me. I was not sure. After taking photographs and videos, I went farther upstream but only for some few meters.

The last photograph I took upstream before going back

 There must be some more waterfalls upstream but I decided to go back.
Along the way I stopped and ate my packed lunch, just half of it.

Lunch time on top of a bedrock. I had rice, boiled egg and a fried yellow fin tuna slice

Along the way, on the riverbank, I heard something. I thought it was a sound of water from  an irrigation hose or pipeline. I stopped and looked around just to find out that it was coming from a snake that was gently moving straight among the dried leaves some 3 meters away. It was long enough and around an inch and a half in diameter. It had sensed my presence as it stopped for a while then continued to vanish among the rocks. I also continued walking.
At the "Tuon Bato" (12:46 pm), I ate my remaining packed lunch as some dogs came to share my food.
I finally arrived at "Tapuakan River Park" at 1:44 in the afternoon where I laid down my shorts to dry under the sun while I rested.

Tapuakan River Park area

few minutes later, after talking to the lady caretaker, I left the area bound for Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-


Subject: Tapuakan River (Tapuacan)
Location: barangay of Cares,
Municipality of  Pugo
Province of La Union
How to get there:

Subject: "Tuon Bato" & "Kimmabalyo" Rock Formation
Location: Tapuakan river,
Municipality of  Pugo
Province of La Union

How to get there:

Subject: Unknown Waterfalls
Location: Upper Tapuacan,
Municipality of  Tuba
Province of Benguet

How to get there:


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