A few years back, the LEAD Movement planned out an intense biking exploration at the northernmost Cordillera mountains. For the first time, mountain bikes sped on the challenging terrain of two of the most exotic towns in Ilocos Norte — Pagudpud and Adams. Always in search of a new thrill, the group explored one of the old backdoor trails in Adams that led back to Pagudpud. They named it the Badyang Trail in honor of their lead man, Badjang. The “Pagudams” turnaround proved to be a mountain biker’s dream come true for them.
Barangay Pansian in Pagudpud is the starting point. Spinning your bike high up into the mountains of Adams for three long hours seems like an agonizing idea, but not when your destination is the Eden of the North. While surviving the uphill struggle, marvel at the superfluous volume of pure beauty — cool breeze, chirping birds, lush green mountains and numerous cascading spring waters. Inch your way through shoulderless roads and ancient rusty creaky hanging bridges. The sight of the crystal clear Bulo River is inviting enough for a full stop, then, perhaps, a dive-in or a lunch by the riverbank. Or one can just simply chill out to the Zen feel of the surroundings.
For those who want to experience a taste of Adams’s unique cooking, ask around for the Lenie. She might be able to whip-up an exciting exotic meal of whatever is in season like boiled eel, crawfish (or crayfish), kukutit (crablets), and palileng (upland fish) caught fresh from the streams, wild bittermelon salad, rattan kilaw, raw banana heart dinakdakan, pickled balbalusa (tiny wild eggplants), glutinous mountain rice cake, and an assortment of local produce such as wild strawberries, barbados cherries, lanzones, bananas, rambutan, mandarin oranges, and dwarf pineapples — pure bliss for the adventurous tongue. A glass of fresh young coconut sherbet and a cup of homegrown coffee brew is a perfect cap to the whole gastronomic experience.
Cruising along the Adams Poblacion-Sitio Sinidangan route is like touring the countyside in an earlier era. The charming village of Sinidangan reminds us to thank Our Maker for such beautiful places on earth still undisturbed by the artificialities of the modern world. After a friendly encounter with the village folk, gear up for a wild ride. The next leg is only for those who dare the extreme — from slippery mossy creeks to boulders upon boulders, through giant wild flora with humongous roots throughout the ditches and yes, brace yourself… happy welcoming limatiks (mountain leeches)! Don’t get panicky finding your way through. Losing control is way more difficult than keeping an eye on the ball.
Exit Adams and enter Pagudpud through Barangay Pasaleng. The adventure continues with a dip at the natural jacuzzi-like Kiwat Falls. The rejuvenating break conditions you for the next bumpy leg — a long stretch of riverbed. Surely, rock and roll! And back to starting point. After the gruelling ride, head for home or spend an extra day or two for another stirring experience at the beach.
Pagudpud is home to extraordinary beaches. It boasts of spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the bluest oceans lined with pebble-sand shores. Cool accomodations abound in this lovely town. Check out Pansian, Saud or Blue Lagoon in Maira-ira. The breathtakingly serene town named Pagudpud, after the Tagalog word pagod, which means tired, ironically, spells out E-X-H-I-L-A-R-A-T-I-O-N.
A must for this “mild to wild” adventure is a camera; never leave home without it!