Mt. Pulag- dubbed as the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines and Luzon’s highest peak is one of the most visited mountain in the country. For the record, hiking Mt. Pulag was not on my bucket list even though a lot of my friends were pushing me to go there to witness the “SEA of CLOUDS”. I asked myself, “Am I brave enough to conquer Mt. Pulag?” According to my friends who went there, the temperature can even go down to negative degrees. I admit I am quiet frail to low temperatures and I was afraid I wouldn’t survive the hike.
Even though I have so many fears and doubts in life, I still seem to end up doing what I thought I wasn’t capable of. So, to cut the long story short I went to Mt. Pulag last November 2015 together with my cousins, Via and Lj. We were talking about having our first legit travel together that is not too expensive, somewhere in Luzon and something that we haven’t done together before. In fact, it was their first mountain to hike. How exciting is that?!
We agreed on signing up with Trail Adventours, a group of dynamic personalities whose interest in outdoors has taken them to far off destinations from mountains to distant seas. Their Mt. Pulag package includes everything from round trip transportation, accommodation, fees, camp meals, tour coordinator, TrailAd shirt, bag tag, and of course a certificate of conquest. What else could you ask for? All you need to do is to prepare yourself physically for the hike. — Thank you so much, Jeric (Team Leader), Bugs and Emil!
To be honest, I didn’t have any physical activities to prepare myself for the climb. I was very much concerned about what to wear because I needed to survive not just the trail but also the temperature. I bought some winter clothes and thank God for Uniqlo and Ukay-Ukay (oh yes! That’s where I bought my thermal jacket) where you can buy these things for a pretty decent price. Since we know that for a tropical country like ours, it’s not practical to buy expensive winter clothes.
ROAD TO PULAG
We left Manila evening of November 13, 2015 and arrived in Baguio at around 4:30am. There were 23 of us including the 3 tour coordinators from TrailAd. Two jeepneys were waiting for us at the Victory Liner terminal. We were divided into two groups so it would be more comfortable for us to travel for another 4 hours. After an hour, we stopped for breakfast and then off to our side trips (Yes! It was part of the package).Going to our first side trip, we rode on top of the jeepney along with other hikers. Another tick off on my bucket list! Yay! We went to Ambuklao Dam, JangJang hanging bridge and Daclan Sulfur Spring.
After our “mini” fieldtrip, we headed to the nearby health center in Ambangeg to secure a medical certificate. You read it right. It was implemented a few days before our scheduled hike due to a death incident of a female hiker. NO MED CERT, NO HIKE. It took us less than an hour before everyone got their medical certificate. We had our lunch after that (c/o TrailAd) and we went straight to DENR registration site to pay for the fees and attend the orientation. Finally, after a long trip, side trips, and orientation we reached BABAN’s HOMESTAY near the ranger station. We were no longer allowed to the campsite because it was too crowded already.
Thank God that we stayed at the homestay because according to locals the temperature at campsite plummets to freezing. I fell in love with Baban’s interior which made me wanna stay there forever! Lol We shared the room with our new found friends all the way from Chicago, USA!
We had an early dinner at 5:30pm followed by a “getting to know” part and distribution of TrailAd shirts and bag tag. We slept early since we needed to leave at midnight to reach the summit just in time for sunrise. We woke up at 11pm, munched on some bread and noodles to fill our tank for the long journey.
As scheduled, we left the jump off point at exactly 12midnight. I wore 2 leggings and waterproof pants, fleece jacket, long sleeves, sweater, beanie and 2 gloves but the cold still penetrated my skin. I was still shaking! Booo! I brought my day hike bag along with my winter jacket, 2liters of water and some trail food but after few minutes of walking, I already started to catch my breath. I asked my cousin Julius to carry my bag while I try to get back my normal pace (we decided to bring one bag and put all our stuff there and agreed to take turns in carrying it).
The Ambangeg trail we passed through was the easiest compared to the other trails and the most popular being dubbed “beginner friendly”. As we entered the pine forest, wide unpaved roads greeted us and after a few minutes of walking the trail lead us to the mossy section of the forest. Then came the assault part of the trail which lasted for around 30minutes depending on the person’s pace. Finally after that entire struggle we reached the camp 1.
We took a quick break and went back on the trail. A few hours later we arrived at camp 2. Took a breather while we were waiting for the others in our group. This time, I had to wear my winter jacket because the temperature drops even more. An open trail flanked by grasses and dwarf bamboos will lead you to the peak from camp 2.
One last steep terrain and finally we reached the peak of Mt. Pulag. When we got there a bunch of people were waiting for the sunrise. The TrailAd tour guide made some coffee for us. And oh my god! I never tasted 3 in 1 coffee so good. That was the best coffee ever especially when you’re 2,922 meters above sea level. After an hour of waiting, the majestic sea of clouds started rolling in. Though not the same as the one I always see on Google but the feeling when you’re on the top of the 3rd highest mountain was so surreal!
Only half of the group went to the summit from the peak because most of them were already exhausted. After 15 minutes, we finally arrived at Mt. Pulag summit. I Thank God for giving me a healthy body to conquer the Third Highest mountain in the Philippines.
“Spend money on experience. Earthly belongings will fade and won’t have any value in the future. – Anonymous”