Curfew begins at 10pm in Sagada, which left us nothing much to do but take to bed earlier than we usually do. You see, the room we were given at our accommodations,Umatan Matuba lodge, was only big enough to fit 2 double decker beds and a single bed which was occupied by Earl, the single joiner in our travel group.
There was a private bathroom which Earl opted not to use very much. (He used the common one downstairs), but there was no TV, not even WIFI to keep you preoccupied; and I think it’s because tourists that come to Sagada normally seek the adventurous outdoor activities and only come back to the lodge to clean up or rest, or perhaps, eat at the restaurant in the basement.
And it was just as well because all treks up the mountain to see the sea of clouds begins at 4am, so retiring early to bed the night before is crucial. The hike up takes about 2 hours and it takes another 2 hours going down, you’ll need all the rest you can get, so you can get through the activity successfully.
The Sea of Clouds in Sagada
I’ve always wanted to experience seeing a sea of clouds, however, in my head, I would be sitting at a table with a cup of coffee in my hand, staring mesmerized at a sea of endless wisps and billows .
This wasn’t the case in Sagada because there were so many groups that went up that day, and the coffee shop was at a campsite prior to reaching the peak, so it was really just looking and taking photos and all that. It was a bit unromantic, if you ask me.
But I wasn’t fully disappointed. We still very much enjoyed following the trail up the mountain until we reached the peak where we had a great view of the clouds. It was still breathtaking from where I stood and my kids loved the entire experience, even it meant having to wake up so early in the morning.
According to Albert, our guide, there were no sea of clouds for two days in Sagada that week because of the rains, so we were really fortunate that the clouds were back when we came, otherwise, our whole trip would’ve been a big bust. The sea of clouds was meant to be the highlight of our trip.
Our kids love being active and when we go places, we would always make sure that there’s a bit of action included in the itinerary. For example, when we went to Ilocos, we did the sand ride on a 4×4, which they love very much, in Baguio, we rode horses, and in Boracay, we did paragliding.
When they were younger, our trips were mostly centered on swimming or doing kiddie rides, but we had to shift gears as they got older. Boys have a natural receptacle for adventure in them that you need to fill.
The trek up wasn’t very hard because there was a trail to follow. I guess the challenge was that it was still dark when we set out and sometimes, the pathways were muddy.
The guides were sensitive enough to ask the group to stop and rest. Albert would ask us every now and then especially when someone would fall behind. And he’d notice this because people from the group would slow down until the rest has kept up.
There was a campsite halfway to the peak where they sold Arrozcaldo and eggs, noodles, cocoa, coffee, crackers and water for those who wanted to eat breakfast. We don’t normally eat heavy breakfasts, but for the sake of experience, we all ordered Arrozcaldo for all five of us.
We already saw the sea of clouds nearing the peak, but Albert prodded us towards the designated viewing site.
I think we were able to stay on the site for about 20 minutes. I observed that there was some sort of coordination going on with all the guides so everyone will have a chance to go closer and have their photos taken nearer the view.
Instead of going back the same way, Albert led us through a beautiful forest of tall trees. You won’t be scared about getting lost because the sun was already up and we only had to follow the trail that leads to the famous blue soil.
We came upon clearings a couple of times where campers stayed and vendors sold snacks and drinks.
Albert said that you can opt to camp instead of stay at the lodges, but you have to coordinate with the local office so they can provide people who can prepare the site and put up your tents for you.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, the local government is in control of all the tourist activities in their province, so you can’t just go there and plant a tent any time you want.
We asked Albert if they do the climbing everyday and he said only during peak seasons, like Christmas and Holy Week. On other months, they only have to do it on weekends when travelers usually come.
(READ: The History & Sights of Sagada)
The Marlboro Blue Soil
Our final stop was the site where we can see what they call the Marlboro Blue soil.
The blue soil indicates the high copper sulfate contained in Sagada’s hills. They said that when wet, they turn even bluer.
Some tourists skip the trek to see the sea of clouds and just go directly to where the blue soil is, so they pass the other way. The site is less than an hour away from where our jeepney ride was waiting for us.
Our Sea of Clouds and Marlboro Blue Soil trek was our most favourite part in our itinerary. Pablo says he loved the idea of having to climb up just to see the view, which Judah and Lukas agree to be worth the effort.
“There’s satisfaction when reaching the top as the sun rises. And then the hike back down was just as amazing because its like an adventure,” said my 18-year old son, Pablo, who almost didn’t make it to the trip because he was hospitalized for food poisoning a few days before Christmas.
Lukas, on the other hand, says he felt like we were transported into another world as we walked through the trees. He especially loved the weather.
Albert joked that Twilight was filmed in the forests of Sagada and the gullible me almost fell for it, hah! But they really looked like that, just without the snow.
Since I’ve been telling you some trivia in my previous blog, here’s another one: Did you know that the pine trees of Sagada, or the north, in general, were brought to the Philippines by the Americans? We didn’t have pine trees until they came to us.
Here’s a video of our tiny adventure:
What I really loved was seeing my kids having a blast walking on the trails, making their way through the trees, leaping from rocks and sometimes, sliding down slippery soil, makeshift walking sticks in hand, courtesy of our tour guides. They gave each of us one, and it turned out to be very useful, especially on those twisty and tricky paths. It made the whole trek way less exhausting for all of us.
For sure, I appreciate that my kids learn about history and science (such as how the sea of clouds is formed) when we travel, but maybe because I have boys, I want more for them.
Or maybe because I had it as a child.
I want them to go out, feel the winds on their faces, hear the sounds, see the world, feel the soft soil beneath their feet – to live life the way it’s meant to be lived — beyond their mobile phones and computers.
I want adventure for them and I hope they get to experience so much more of it.