Cordillera Great Traverse 2015: A Homegrown Expedition

A case can be made that if paths or trails could be identified and established to interconnect the six provinces of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), you would have one of the most scenic trekking/running destinations in Asia or even the world that would be synonymous with the likes of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km, USA), the Great North Walk (250km, Australia), Drakensberg (220km, South Africa) and GR20 (180km Europe).

A possible venue for a multi-day ultra marathon or a Fastest Recorded Time competition? Likely. A trekking/hiking destination for mountaineers all over the world? Most definitely!

This, in short is the gist of the Cordillera Great Traverse 2015 (CGT) — to establish the longest, most scenic and sustainable trekking/hiking/running trail destination in the Philippines by connecting the 6 CAR provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga Apayao, Abra, Benguet and the Mountain Province. This will be achieved through an expedition that will start next April 2015.

There is no need to justify the scenic merits of the Cordillera region. It will be the ultimate venue for the longest trail expedition in the Philippines covering about 400 kms of trails, mountain passes, waterfalls, rice terraces, ancient villages and along the crests and valleys of the Cordillera mountains, unique because of its Asian flavor, cultural heritage, natural diverse beauty and cool climate.

For a better perspective of what CGT 2015 is all about, here’s a primer of what’s in store for the next few months to come:

THE EXPEDITION:

OUR TIMELINE

JOURNEY :    (July- October 2014) –  plotting . research . coordination  

EXPEDITION:  ( November 2014-March 2015) –    mapping . route recon . immersion

TRAVERSE:  (April 2015) – expedition proper

OUR GOAL:

  • CONNECT THE TRAILS.  The traverse shall allow the CGT team to establish the longest and most scenic trekking/hiking trail destination in the Philippines.  This shall be done through research, mapping, immersion with the locals, and actual reconciliation of the trails of each province.
  • EXPLORE  The traverse shall allow the team to learn the culture of each of the ethnic groups who’ve held the mountains as their home for centuries.  The locals shall act as guides to establish the trails and lead them to discover more about the region.
  • PROTECT  The traverse shall be the means to mutually exchange knowledge with the locals on how to protect the mountains.  As the team maps the trails during the traverse, its aim is to be the advocates of protection of the Cordillera Mountains and its beauty.

 

HOW IT STARTED

The idea started with one Facebook post inquiring whether there were connecting trails or natural pathways for the 6 provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region as the ultimate venue for the longest trail expedition in the Philippines.  This would showcase the diverse natural beauty, cultural heritage and cool climate of the region.

The idea, both being novel and challenging, stoked the interest of almost everyone especially those who are nature lovers and have solid athletic background.

After several exchanges online, the CGT 2015 Team was formed and the first team meeting was held on June 7, 2014.

THE TEAM

The CGT 2015 Team consists of National Geographic explorers, adventurers, nature lovers, ultrarunners, environmentalists, mountaineers and fitness enthusiasts.

As of today, the team has a vital core of 43 members.  The CGT Team is currently on its planning stage spearheaded by its team members, contributing not just their solid athletic background but also their talent and skills as professionals in order to move the expedition forward.

The CGT 2015 is in the process of securing appropriate registration with the government agencies and regulatory board.  They aim to partner with NGOs, environmentalists, government agencies, the local communities and volunteers to achieve its goals. 

THE CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION (CAR)

The Gran Cordillera is the highest and largest mountain range in the Philippines. It is known as the cool highlands of the Philippines, an escape in the North from the sunny weather that covers most of the islands of the Philippines.

But more than that, it has much more to offer.

The region is a home of 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.

Cordillerans view land as the source of life, an integral part of their cultural identity that traces its origins from the land.

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; Chico River, Agno River, Abra River, Siffu River, Amburayan-Naguilian-Aringgay River System, Ahin River, Abulog-Apayao River system.

The region is a home to 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 longest river that spans 174 kilometers.  The mountain trails runs through farm fields, rolling hills, picturesque vegetable and fruit farms, gorgeous greenery and aquatic medley of streams and rivers.

You can click the link beside here for the Frequently Asked Questions on CGT2015: CGT 2015 FAQs.FINAL.pdf

Follow the CGT 2015 Team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and website at these links:

To those interested to be part of the recon/expedition, kindly refer to the FAQ link or contact us at:

Email: marketing@cordilleragreattraverse.com
Contact person:
Name: Tin Ferrera
 
(Thanks to Betty and Kyle Rosario for the Cordillera pictures)
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