Hiking Mt. Igduao in Valderrama Antique: A Tough Journey Full of Surprises, Sheer, and Serendipity | rich'nritch.com

Hiking Mt. Igduao in Valderrama Antique: A Tough Journey Full of Surprises, Sheer, and Serendipity

Mountains are more beautiful after the rain. Breathtaking view of Valderrama mountain ranges taken from Mt. Igduao in Valderrama, Antique.
Mountains are more beautiful after the rain. Breathtaking view of Valderrama mountain ranges taken from Mt. Igduao in Valderrama, Antique.

“Hold on tight,” Ritchel said as she starts her scooter. “I’m ready, let’s go!” I said with full of excitement. Then she squeezed the gas throttle. We’re going on a road-trip and hike Mt. Igduao in Valderrama, Antique. It’s in the opposite side of Mt. Igcuron which we already hiked separately sometime ago. It’s an approximately five-hour drive from Malay, Aklan. We had several stops on some beautiful spots along the road which ate a lot of our travel time. It was already dusk when we reached Culasi, Antique so we decided to have our dinner in the next town, Tibiao. Knowing that we wouldn’t make it to Valderrama, we decided to stay for a night in Tibiao. We stayed in a college-run hostel. Nobody was around when we arrived so we requested the security guard to call the caretaker. The latter arrived few minutes later and led us to our room. The room was good and the price was very cheap but still, we longed for the comfort of the sand as a night ago, we camped on the beach in Bel-is with our friends. It was a lot of fun.

The view of San Roque, Libertad coastline, Pandan Bay and the majestic Mt. Madjaas covered by clouds.
The view of San Roque, Libertad coastline, Pandan Bay and the majestic Mt. Madjaas covered by clouds.
A perfect hideaway. Escape the crowd at this hidden beach on the coast of Libertad Antique.
A perfect hideaway. Escape the crowd on this hidden beach on the coast of Libertad Antique.
Amazing view of sunset and a wooden boat on the beach of Tibiao, Antique
Amazing view of sunset and a wooden boat on the beach of Tibiao, Antique.
Stunning sunset with a glimpse of Malalison Island on the side
Stunning sunset with a glimpse of Malalison Island on the side
Vibrant sunset colours, vivid play of red and orange sky reflects on the sea showing a beautiful blaze
Vibrant sunset colours, vivid play of red and orange sky reflects on the sea showing a beautiful blaze

The next day, we woke up early for Valderrama. We stopped at a restaurant in Laua-an for breakfast and took out some food for the hike. We arrived in Valderrama at around 10:00 AM, registered in the police station and proceeded to Baranggay Binanogan to hire a guide. It didn’t took us long to find one. Shortly after preparing our gears and stuff, we began to ascend. 

The view of rice terraces at the foot of Mt. Igcuron
The view of rice terraces at the foot of Mt. Igcuron
Ridges, peaks, terraces all painted in green
Ridges, peaks, terraces all painted in green
The scenic view rice terraces shows how beautiful and useful nature can be when touched by the hands of men carefully.
The scenic view rice of terraces shows how beautiful and useful nature can be when touched by the hands of men carefully.

While on our way up to Mt. Igduao, the weather started to change. We walked speedily as the clouds get heavier and the sky gets darker. Luckily, we were near a hut when the rain poured down but still we got drenched. We rested in the house and had our lunch. The rain was intense. After waiting for almost an hour, the rain turned to drizzle prompting us to continue our hike. Before we left, the hut owner warned us of the danger ahead as there were cases of theft in the area. Missing cows were reported by the farmers. They suspected that some law offenders were hiding in the area and stealing farmers cows. The news shocked us as there was no warning given to us when we logged in at the police station. We were on the verge of abandoning the hike when the hut owner gave us safety tips and suggested a new trail to our guide to avoid the possible encounter with these people. Despite of being worried, soaked, cold, and even got lost on trail, we were able to successfully reach the summit after a few hours. The rain totally stopped when we’re at the peak. It left scattered clouds and moving fog which added impressive effects. It gave way to a breathtaking view of mountain ranges and ridges overlooking Mt. Igcuron and the long and winding stretch of Valderrama river. There, we witnessed how beautiful the mountains are after the rain. It was a heavenly moment where everything was picturesque. For almost an hour, we just stood there enjoying the cool breeze and stunning views before us and took photos once in a while.

A spectacular view of Mt. Igcuron summit appeard to us as the clouds slowly move away
A spectacular view of Mt. Igcuron summit appeared to us as the clouds slowly move away
The saddle camp between Mt. Igcuron and Mt. Igduao offers a perfect campsite
The saddle camp between Mt. Igcuron and Mt. Igduao offers a perfect campsite
A heavenly feel. Clouds move away and peaks come out.
A heavenly feel. Clouds move away and peaks come out.
The view of an unknown mountain floating on the bed of thick clouds.
The view of an unknown mountain floating on the bed of thick clouds.
A happy pose for nature’s bliss
A happy pose for nature’s bliss

Fuelled by curiosity, we explore the unexplored ridges
Fuelled by curiosity, we explored the unexplored ridges

The surprising ridge of Mt. Igduao decorated by fog
The surprising ridge of Mt. Igduao decorated by fog
A beautiful window of nature nurtured by men bounded by mountains in all sides
A beautiful window of nature nurtured by men bounded by mountains in all sides.
Breathtaking rice terraces down under the Mt. Igduao ridge
Breathtaking rice terraces down under the Mt. Igduao ridge
Taking a pose at our newly-explored ridge of Mt. Igduao
Taking a pose at our newly-explored ridge of Mt. Igduao

The overwhelming stretch of ridges canopied by thin sheets of clouds slowly moving away.
The overwhelming stretch of ridges canopied by thin sheets of clouds slowly moving away.
The array of ridges showed up when the clouds completely disappeared
The array of ridges showed up when the clouds completely disappeared.
The vast lands accentuated by ranges, rivers, and rice terraces.
The vast lands accentuated by ranges, rivers, and rice terraces.

It was my second hike to Mt. Igduao. On my first hike, I saw a long ridge that I promised myself to explore when I come back. Fueled with enthusiasm, Ritchel and I went to that spot which is still part of the mountain. It took us less than an hour to explore the ridge because there was no established trail yet. Halfway, we were totally blown away by the surrounding views. It was unexpected. Though we we’re not able to continue due to terrain difficulty, the scenery was very worth to see. We almost didn’t want to walk away.

The spot on the ridge where we stopped for it can no longer be pursued.
The spot on the ridge where we stopped for it can no longer be pursued.
Our guide trying to find a trail for us to cross the ridge.
Our guide trying to find a trail for us to cross the ridge.
The absence of the trail, slippery rocks and dense vegetation prevented us from continuing.
The absence of the trail, slippery rocks and dense vegetation prevented us from continuing.
Showing our happy faces for another sheer and surprising day of hiking adventure
Showing our happy faces for another sheer and surprising day of hiking adventure

Our guide takes a pause and wonder as he wanders in his own place
Our guide takes a pause and wonder as he wanders in his own place
The intricately sharp peaks and rocky walls make Mt. Igcuron incomparable
The intricately sharp peaks and rocky walls make Mt. Igcuron incomparable

We left Mt. Igduao at very late afternoon. We hastily walked to avoid a night trek. We staggered on steep rocks and held on to vines during our descent. We were approaching the end of the rice field when flashes of light stopped us. We bumped into five lads. They seem to be looking for something. We were surprised when we learned that they were actually looking for us. “Nag-alala kami kung bakit di pa kayo nakababa kaya nagpasya kami na hanapin kayo,” said by one of the boys. We tittered and apologetically told them that we explored the ridge and enjoyed taking photos without being conscious about the time. It was very dark when we arrived in Barangay Binanogan. When we reached the end of the foot trail, the barangay officials and the mother of our guide approached us. They worriedly asked why we descended late and told us about the reported missing cows and the alleged offenders. Other community members gathered around us and listened to the conversation. After apologizing, Ritchel tried to lessen their worries by cracking some of her old jokes and played around with the kids. She gave them our remaining trail food. She was also approached by one of the residents and told her about the the hygiene kit which Jackie, her friend, left a year ago when they hiked Mt. Igcuron. We left the crowd and went inside the house to get the kit. The woman who Ritchel met a year ago offered us her bathroom for us to wash and change clothes. Shortly after packing up, we said goodbye to the community. I must say, their smiles were contagious.

After less than an hour, we arrived in the town proper and logged out in the police station and left Valderrama. We stopped by in a restaurant in Bugasong, Antique for dinner. Thinking of a long drive home, we moved in haste because Ritchel has work the next day. Unfortunately, we got a flat tire even before we left the town of Bugasong. Stranded and didn’t know where to get it fixed, we walked to the nearby store and asked for the nearest vulcanizing shop. We tried looking everywhere but failed to find one. The store owner offered us a seat outside their store where they were having a drinking session. Later, he talked to his son over the phone who happened to be a policeman and surprisingly, we were picked up by a police patrol and brought to the closest lodge where we stayed for a night. Lying down on the bed that night, I recalled how things happened by pure serendipity.

A dinner after our successful climb
A dinner after our successful climb

Ritchel left at around 4:00 in the morning to catch the earliest bus and around 7AM, she informed me via SMS that she’s already in school. I went back to bed with glorious smile and and a grateful heart. I left Bugasong later that day after my tire got fixed.

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