We might have already written numerous articles about the beautiful city of Baguio. Perhaps, that’s because the city never runs out of reasons to leave its visitors in awe of what it has to offer. One of which is Baguio’s Yellow Trail, or Camp John Hay Forest Bathing Trail. Indeed, in the purest of nature, there is healing and peace. The calm and quiet that we can hope to have access to in a world that seems to scream at us with raging sounds.
On our recent visit to the Summer Capital of the Philippines, we were welcomed by the gloomy weather. It was drizzling, mist blanketing the streets, fog covering the tree-tops, and the wind blowing with the scent of pine trees—practically the Baguio we all have grown to know. But instead of taking the usual tourist routes within the city, we explored the road less traveled.
Technically, it is not that less traveled if you would compare it with Atok, Sto. Tomas (where the satellite discs that looked like Mickey Mouse’s ears are mounted), or the roads and trails leading up to Sagada. The trails are easily accessible by going to Camp John Hay. Specifically, the famous Yellow Trail, where tourists can bask in nature’s atmosphere through forest bathing.
Bathing? In the Forest?
In a place like Baguio, which hit 6.3 degrees Celsius back in 1961, taking a bath can be challenging. But to set the records straight, we are not talking about literally taking a bath in the forest. That would give you shivers, or worse, hypothermia. Forest bathing came from the Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku (pronounced with a silent R). It means taking in the atmosphere of the forest. Ideally, one would have to stay on the trail for at least two hours to maximize the benefits of forest bathing, which includes lowering blood pressure.
The Forest Bathing at Camp John Hay was opened to the public in November 2018. To get to the Camp John Hay Yellow Trail, you will have to log in first at the nearest security outpost for safety and recordkeeping purposes. The nearest one from the trail is right at the entrance of the IHG center inside Camp John Hay. Once you are done, you will have to walk your way up to the Bell Amphitheater, next to the Bell House.
Right on the side of the usually empty parking space, you will see the Torii with the marking of Forest Bathing at Camp John Hay. This is where your journey inside the highest point of Baguio will begin. A downward trail will welcome you which will lead you to the first Yellow Trail marking. You may consider the up and down trail from the entrance as a primer to what is in store for you inside the forest.
In the forest there’s peace.
You will pass by bridges over shallow streams, varying kinds, and colors of flowers, tall Pine trees, and some ruins from way back in 1945. We visited the place early in the morning. As soon as we reached the heart of the trail, the sight of the sunlight piercing through the tall trees instantly set the tone for a memorable experience. The noise and sound of a busy city could not penetrate the thick walls of the forest.
The sound of the birds calling, the crisp blowing of the wind, and the fog coming down from up top, safely blanketing the surface, was an experience truly worth remembering. For a moment, it felt like the forest was washing off all the burdens and negative energy we were carrying. We felt light. We felt great. Though it could get a bit exhausting, we got way more than what we were expecting. We came out of the trail feeling energized and optimistic. It was a reminder that it is possible to find peace and quiet despite the noise around us.
Should you find yourself in Baguio, we highly recommend visiting the Forest Bathing at Camp John Hay Yellow Trail. Undoubtedly, the best place to find peace is in nature.