09-Jun-2007 -- The weekend of June 9-10, 2007 and the Independence Day holiday of June 12 gave me and Santah the chance to have a trip to see Sagada, Bontoc and Banaue, famous for its rice terraces and mountain ranges. I was warned that the road from Banaue to Bontoc and going up to Sagada could be a real challenge but I trusted that my Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive pick-up can match the rough, twisting, climbing and narrow roads with mostly cliff on one side but these are all part of the fun and adventure we are used to in our travels in the Philippines. Besides the priceless views of the rice terraces and the cool weather of the mountain, I have this opportunity to view the unconquered confluence in Bay-yo, Bontoc. There have been two attempts made, in 2004 by Jeffrey and by Rainer in 2005. Rainer might as well be the king of confluence hunters with 143 visits and over a hundred successful ones all over the world. At 60 years old, I have no illusion of beating this remarkable guy and not in this confluence where he had failed due to steep grade, so this is not an attempt but more of an exploration to answer the difficult question: Can there be another way to reach this CF without being a veteran mountaineer?
I stopped along the highway where my GPS pointed to the CF just across the other mountain. Jeffrey may have incorrectly perceived that the CF is on the side of the mountain but it looks like it is at the top of the mountain. I was standing on the road and GPS points 2.19 Km. away. Right down below, near the river, was the town of Bay-yo. From this vantage point I saw what these guys were up to. The ridge looks scary steep with thick undergrowth. Studying the Google Map later, there may be another way to get to the CF by going north about 6 kilometers further where that mountain range slope gradually down from 1,800 meter elevation to about 1,160 meters and the river below it is only about 200 meters below (see sketch). A grade with 700-meter rise in about 6 kilometers is not bad for the leg and technically this CF may be reachable to mortals like me. I am a firm believer that the shortest distance to a point is not necessarily a straight line. Well, I need to work out this plan in the future but I need to convince my wife first to join me or at least allow me to go for it in the future. I had an unfinished business of visiting Batad near Banaue because everyone says the best rice terraces, the Amphitheater, can be found here. So definitely I am going back there and I might take the chance to visit 17N 121E if nobody else is attempting to do it before me.