Adams' poster falls: Anuplig
If there is one place where you have access to dozens of waterfalls in hiking distance of each other, that would be Adams in Ilocos Norte. Tucked in a lush green valley and surrounded by rain forest, some consider this small town as the "land of waterfalls". The signages around the town pointing you to trails leading to various waterfalls further reinforce that title.
Adams had been on my travel list for quite some time, but did not get the chance to visit it until recently. Its at least a 12 hour trip from Manila, and the weather had to be right. The "bad weather" considered by some for traveling is the best weather for shooting waterfalls. Rains make the falls fuller, and overcast skies are great for even lighting. But one weekend, our schedules and weather just fell into proper places, so I found myself (together with 3 other friends) enjoying the cool clime of Adams.
Our first destination that day was Anuplig Falls. Its the poster falls of Adams and supposedly very accessible. After a hearty lunch and a much needed quick shuteye (we rode the overnight bus from Manila), we started our trek to Anuplig, which according to our guide is just very near. (In Adams, everything is VERY near. When we asked our guide where this falls is, he replied: "nandyan lang yan" or "its just over there". We later found out that it really was just over there, over that mountain we see in the distance.)
Thirty minutes into the hike and our guide started getting questions like "are we there yet?". His reply of "we are already 1/2 of the way" did not help much. We reached the falls after an hour and fifteen minutes. The trail was actually well established and only the few hundred meters before the falls is treacherous.
I felt re-energized the moment I saw the falls. There's an air of mystery to it, probably due to the fact that its partially covered by a rock wall.
I was not able to shoot more than 10 frames when it started to drizzle which then turned to rain. Its one of the disadvantages of shooting in this weather - you only have a small window sometimes. Nevertheless I was quite happy with some of my shots.
Its more waterfalls the next day. After the sunrise shoot in Lover's Peak and a hearty breakfast (quite surprising how we woke up early considering the amount of wine we had at dinner the previous night) we were off again, planning to visit as many falls as we can that day. It was a sunny morning but I was hoping for some cloud cover later that day.
First stop was Maligligay falls (aka Pablo falls). The hike was supposedly much shorter than that of Anuplig. As usual, we got the "its just over there" reply when we asked how far it is. Our guide the previous day is not familiar with the trail so we had to get the services of another guide from a nearby community.
Unlike trail to Anuplig, the one to Maligligay is much more difficult. A few minutes into the hike and the trail turned single track with loose soil and slippery rocks. On your right is a wall of wet rocks and roots, on your left a steep drop to a river few hundred meters below. One slip and its bad news for you and your equipment.
The trail led to the top of the first layer and we reached it just in time for lunch. By this time sun light has become tamer and passing clouds diffused it. Again good thing for shooting waterfalls, but it also means our window is closing. I shot a few frames before eating our packed lunch.
The second layer is much bigger but there's no trail going down. We had to nimbly slide down a rock face with only shrubs and tree roots to hold on to.
The lodged log nicknamed by a friend, who visited the falls before us, as "bathing bear" (well, because it looks like a bear enjoying the falls) is still there.
It was a quick shoot and we had to pack up because of, you guessed it, rain. It was pouring when we reached the trail head. We waited the rain out a while before heading back to the poblacion for 2 more waterfalls.
This time our guide promised its really just very near. One of my friends decided to call it day (his knee is already troubling him) while the rest of decided to push on.
The trail started from a rickety hanging bridge just in front of the town center. It started raining again but I did not care as I am wet already. I was prepared and made sure my gears are properly waterproofed.
The trail was almost flat - no more slippery climbs. After less than 30 minutes we reached Inuwayan falls, a small twin cascade sitting right in the middle of the town mayor's farm.
There was not much to shoot in Inuwayan so we proceeded to Cabacan Falls which is just less than 10 minutes away.
Cabacan is just a small cascade, probably 15 feet high, with a shallow catch basin. The view from downstream is obscured by logs and huge rocks.
The rain finally let up so I was able to shoot without having to worry about droplets on the front of my lens.
framed by the forest
By the time we trudged back to town, the excitement has winded down and I started to feel my aching muscles. Tired and hungry, we slowly made our way back to our homestay. We must have been so hungry, for the platefuls of hot pancit quickly disappeared as soon as they are served.