Itogonia Wild Country Trail Run will definitely give you a wild country ride across jaw-dropping descents, steep climbs and a lot of visual treats of the greens of Itogon. Here’s a #TaleOfTheTrail View of the 16K route of the run.
The Yellow Trails of Camp John Hay has been one of my favorite trail playgrounds. Don of Active Pinas introduced me to the section that leads all the way to another municipality, Itogon. Every one gets a chance to enjoy the route that comes in 8K, 16K and 32K variety for the Itogonia Wild Country Trail Run happening on August 19, 2018. A month ago, I was able to explore a one-way 16K route that leads all the way to Poblacion, Itogon (32K out and back) where you can experience the hot springs. For this one, I’ll be focusing on portions of the 16K route.
Trekking the Itogonia Route
The two times I did the route, it was raining and foggy so we had the elements of a slippery trail as well as a foggy backdrop especially on the Camp John Hay area. I was with Don, John, Carlo and Art who were doing the recon for the 16K distance of Itogonia. We started at the Camp John Hay open field and the headed to the upper part of the Yellow Trail. The first kilometer was a rolling descent but is really muddy coming from the rains. We started running on the second kilometer before hitting the border at the US Embassy area.
After hitting the fork, we took the steep trail heading down. There is also a paved road at the side but it was a bit slippery so we opted to use the trail section. I was running on some stretches and taking it slow at some part. At the bottom of the descent, I made a misstep on the slippery trail and rolled my ankle. Sprained ankle in about 2 kilometers into the recon. I managed to shake it off but I felt a sharp sting if I ever over pronate on the trail.
It was a foggy morning. The trails were wet and slippery so we went at a more cautious pace. We shifted to the Happy Hollow part of the trail, which had an access from the base of the trail after the descent. It was several zigzag paths that is a bit technical especially when wet. It’s a fast trail on dry days and a slower trail when it rains unless you dare to go fast on the jaw-dropping descents. There are also peaks at the mountains of Itogon as well as some scenic ridges. 3 kilometers into the route, we exit shortly on a road segment at Kadaclan Village in Happy Hollow.
We then entered another trail segment with mix of stairs, trails and paved roads while passing though village houses. It was another round of slip and slide trail. We used the dirt roads at the side instead of the paved ones, which gets extra slippery from the build up of moss. It was another 2 kilometers of crazy descents, some hanging bridges before a 500 meter climb to the main road.
We’ve reached the main road before entering the school in Gumatdang, 5.5 kilometers into the recon. It was a steep uphill to the trail head, which led to another sets of climb. It was about 2 kilometers of climbing with about 350-400 meters of elevation gain. Now, it’s time for the Wild Country part of the trail with unli-climbs, wild grasses and technical surfaces.
We took it slower at this part with me requesting several rest stops just to catch my breath. The climb felt endless and forever until we reached another village area before the route goes on a downhill.
When the route went down, it also meant that it will be fast. I didn’t want to risk worsening my sprain so I went at brisk mode pace to catch up with the group. The trails were run-able though there were section, which was a bit technical. The weather was also much better in Itogon with its lower altitude so we had drier trails at this part.
This was my favorite part as we were now moving faster through forested trails and ridges, which gives you scenic looks of the lower part of Itogon and the nearby Mountain Ranges through different vantage points.
At about 9 kilometers into the race, we tried to check on two routes so I took the shorted but unexplored route while Don and the rest took the usual longer route. I liked this route because its on ridges with overlooking view of Itogon. The descents are much steeper but the trail surface is manageable. The trail led us back to the main road after 1 kilometer, passing through a coffee plantation.
The route differential was about 2 kilometers between the longer route and the route we took. We rested at the store while waiting for the other group. At this point, I decided to call it a day at 10.2 kilometers as a precaution on the sprained ankle since I still have Brooks Trail 102 the next day. This was the last bail-out point where I can get a ride after Baguio. I’d also like to leave the last 6K going back as a race-day surprise but just a little spoiler, it’s unli uphill.