As if our unexpected night trek from Dila Falls in CEDAR Impasug-ong would quell our adventurous spirit that day, we are again lurched into the unknown adventure. Well not completely unknown but the degree of activity would challenge not only to our group in this trek but also the people who are attempting to organize the Atugan river Trek in Impasug-ong as an eco-tourism destination. Members of the Travel Mindanao team were willing guinea pigs in this exploration of trekking more than 8km of the Atugan river stretch.
Homestay at a Poultry Farm
It was well deep into the night when a pickup truck drove us into a huge fenced farm. We couldn’t make out the place at first because of the darkness but we found out later that it was a poultry farm for a well known commercial chicken brand. We had to go through a foot bath to desensitize. We met up with our generous host, Rory and Dawn Roque’s family, a friend of WanderShugah‘s family. Over dinner, Rory and Dawn shared with us stories and insights about the place. Rory is the one responsible for running the farm. He had already done the Atugan River trek even with the head honcho of a major outdoor brand distributor. The team spent the night at one of the well ventilated rooms in their home that even without a fan, the cool breeze and a little spent from the afternoon hike easily put us to slumber.
Sunrise at the Vast Fields
Ching was up early to look for a sunrise. I followed suite and soon most of the TravelMindanao team were on the field with us. There was a little excitement going to awaken our blood. While looking for a nice place to shoot, one of the farm staff suggested we go to another site, up one of the water towers. But we had to avoid one of the ferocious dogs trained to attack any intruder going through the fence, thus we had to pass through a corn field to avoid him. We did reach the somewhat flimsy tower and made our way to the top platform. Aside from the many barns in the farm, we saw vast fields and mountains there. A view of the surrounding panorama bathed in morning light was a nice way to start the day.
The Atugan River Trek
Over breakfast we met Prof Chi, all geared up complete with quick dry clothes and trekking pole, to join us for the trek. It was funny as we were on our casual clothes. From the farm gates, we made our way down river where we could see the Atugan Bridge along Sayre Highway. It was a tense moment for us at the start when we saw the intimidating river we were gonna trek but once we got our groove, we just kept on going.
It was heavy bouldering, a lot of hopping over rocks and many river crossing. We’re glad our guides have enough rope to secure our crosses and even bring some of our gear as not to get wet on sudden slides and fallbacks on the water. Halfway through our trek, is where it gets interesting. Half of the group had to go down a waterfall and some of us had to go over hill the thick vegetation to avoid the falls then meet the rest of the group on the other side. There was an exciting spot where the guys had to jump into the river.
The trek just kept on going and going. We passed through many mini asik-asik falls and had nice packed lunch on a wall shade with curtains of water flowing through. At the end stretch, it was a tricky traverse through the hills and one member almost got separated from the group because of the numerous trails but gladly found his way. We breath a sigh of relief when we reached the Old Sayre Highway and waited at a small sari-sari store near the Atugan Swimming Pool area. The Atugan River trek lasted for six hours and we celebrated with bottles of coke and any snacks to munch-in available at the store. The pickup truck came soon to fetch us and bring us back to the poultry farm.
Bye Bye Bukidnon
The Atugan River trek was such a unique experience. Traversing that 8km river from one highway to another was a mean feat and the group deserved a good pat in the back. Veteran explorer Prof Chi commended our efforts and energy for finishing the trek. But we have much thanks to the Roque family who were very kind to host us in Impasug-ong. Our Travel Mindanao Bukidnon leg officially closed as we made our way to Cagayan de Oro. When we reached Agora Terminal in CDO, we also bid farewell to our friend Ching who joined us throughout our Bukidnon leg. She had been a wonderful company and a natural addition to the group. In the mean time more adventure awaits for us in Cagayan de Oro.
For those who are interested to experience the Atugan River Trek, it is best to visit the Barangay Hall at Capitan Bayong and coordinate with the Punong Barangay.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.