I’ve got a number of runner friends who are heavily involved in ultramarathons and trail running, so I don’t often see them at road or tri events. It came as a very pleasant surprise to find out they have a huge expedition brewing for 2015!
It began as one Facebook post inquiring whether there were connecting trails or natural pathways for the 6 provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region to make it the ultimate venue for the longest trail expedition in the Philippines. The idea, both being novel and challenging, stoked the interest of almost everyone especially those who are nature lovers and have solid athletic background.
The Cordillera Great Traverse (CGT) 2015 is an expedition aiming to establish the longest and the most scenic hiking/trekking destination in the Philippines by connecting the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Philippines. The CGT shall start from Sagada (Mountain Province), passing through Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Benguet and finally to Baguio City, around 400 kilometers in distance with hundred thousand meters of elevation gain and loss through the mountain passes, forests, rivers, waterfalls, rice terraces, villages and ancient trails. It shall pass through and highlight a scenic route and major tourist attractions and will present hikers/trekkers, both local and foreign, the natural beauty of the Cordillera mountains, rivaling some of the best trekking destinations in the world like the Appalachian Trail (3,500km, USA), the Great North Walk (250km, Australia), Drakensberg (220km, South Africa), and GR20 (180km Europe).
The Gran Cordillera is the highest and largest mountain range in the Philippines. It is known as the cool highlands of the Philippines. It is also home to a varied set of cultures from Benguet’s Kankanaey, the Ifugao and Kalinga and the Isneg in Apayao. The ethnic groups are distinct having kept the mountains their home for centuries. Each of the seven major ethno-linguistic groups has its own family of languages and cultures.
In terms of natural resources, it is the richest region in the Philippines. 11% of the total area is agricultural rice fields, orchards, pig farms and pasture lands. 60% of the country’s temperate vegetables are produced in the area. It is the country’s premier mining district. CAR provides ecosystem services to a large portion of Northern Luzon. It supplies most of Northern Luzon’s irrigation needs. The headwaters of many of Luzon’s major river systems originates in these mountains and serves as irrigation for the plains that surround the Cordillera Mountain range.
The region holds the Banaue rice terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the famous hanging coffin and limestone caves of Sagada. Kalinga is known for the Chico River, the country’s longest river that spans 174 kilometers. The mountain trails runs through farm fields, rolling hills, picturesque vegetable and fruit farms, gorgeous greenery and an aquatic medley of streams and rivers.
It sounds beautiful… and wickedly difficult! I’m not as hardcore as the CGT 2015 Team, which consists of National Geographic explorers, adventurers, nature lovers, ultrarunners, environmentalists, mountaineers, and fitness enthusiasts. Check out the team profile here: Cordillera Great Traverse Team Profile
I am however super proud of my friends who are part of this expedition: JP Alipio, Jonel Mendoza, Thumbie Remigio, Rene Villarta, Wilnar Iglesia, Alfred delos Reyes, Tin Ferrera, and Bong Alindada.
The CGT Team is currently in its planning stage from July to October 2014 and is in the process of securing appropriate registration with the government agencies and regulatory board, partnering with NGOs, environmentalists, government agencies, the local communities and volunteers. They aim to start mapping, reconning the route, and immersing in the culture by November 2014 to March 2015. The traverse proper is planned for April 2015.
Join them on the journey! Follow their social media accounts:
And if you’d like to support the CGT financially or in kind, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m looking forward to following their journey over the next few months!