Thursday, January 30, 2014

Conquering Mt. Pulag Part 2: Climbing and Reaching the Summit

We arrived in Baguio before the break of dawn, which proved to be a little bit uncomfortable because of the really cold weather that greeted us. Nonetheless, we were all excited, as most of us were first timers in both climbing mountains and climbing Luzon's highest peak. We were fetched by our jeepney which brought us to a cafeteria-type restaurant where we had breakfast. After breakfast, we traveled from Baguio City to the Mount Pulag Protected Area Office (DENR Office) in Benguet, where we were briefed on what to expect and the proper decorum when climbing.

We were taking the easy trail - the Ambangeg Trail - to the summit of Mt. Pulag. Everyone climbing Pulag has to register with the DENR office first and undergo a briefing. Since Mt. Pulag is a National Park and a protected area, there are rules and regulations that should be observed when climbing the mountain.

After the DENR office, our jeepney brought us to the ranger station, which was located an hour away from where we were. The ranger station served as our starting point of our climb, and where we met our local guides (mandatory in all climbs to Pulag. You can opt to carry your own bag up or hire a porter who will bring it up for you for only Php 250 per way. Since it was my first time, and I want to experience how it was done, I opted to carry my own load.

It wasn't an easy hike, trust me. The trail was beginner-friendly, in the sense that you will just have to follow it, but it was a long two to three hours of walking, panting, drinking water, stopping, resting, and catching your every breath. With each step being a battle in my brain that I fought hard for, reaching camp was like hitting a gold mine!

Pine-forest at the start of the trail. Obligatory pose with the greenery, which was abundant along the trail.

Reaching the camp. Setting up the tents for the night, before we go on with our assault to the summit.

Since there were a lot from our group who went ahead and reached the camp first, this was the view when we finally reached camp. It was already set-up, tents were just assigned to us. After settling down and changing clothes, we explored our camp, took pictures, and got ready for dinner. I was so famished that I ate so much. It was the best adobo I had in the longest. Or probably it was just because we were all tired and hungry.

What camp was like. Tents beside each other, maybe to keep everyone warm because it was really so cold.

A sight that surprised us, sea of clouds, before the sun went away.
"Roomed" with Primex and Jerome in the tent.

Reaching the summit of Mt. Pulag!

Waiting for sunrise.

The sun finally shows up. Good morning!

On the summit, with the famous sea of clouds.

After dinner, the three of us (Primex, Jerome and I) immediately went to bed. I wore my thermals, two jackets, scarf, hoodie and gloves, hoping it was already enough to beat the cold. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling cold close to chills several times in the middle of the night. The temperature went so low, it kept most of us awake.

Suddenly, our alarms went off at 3am. It was time to wake up and prepare for our assault. It was dark and so cold. It felt colder than when I was in China with snow. I put on my headlights, and grabbed my assault bag, and we were off to the summit by 3:30am.

We marched single file, looking at every step I took with my headlights, pointed at the ground and at the feet of the person in front of me, guiding me through the cold morning towards the summit. We reached the peak at around 5am. It was still dark and extremely cold, but the feeling inside was that of achievement and happiness. We were happy to have reached the top. All our efforts were rewarded, especially, when sunrise broke, and the sight was that of pure bliss.

Climbing Mt. Pulag was one of the great achievements I have ever done in my life. I never thought I would be able to do it this early, but thanks to Travel Factor, I was able to live my dream and experience a different adventure.

The climb taught me a lot of things, and gave me a lot of realizations. This experience was a renewal of my thirst for thrill and adventure, to live more and travel more this year. It taught me to have courage and determination, amidst all adversities and hardships. It taught me to never give up. It gave me new friends, whom I had fun with. But most of all, I connected with nature, which we all should protect and treasure, so that the future generations will have these wonders to appreciate and enjoy.

Tomorrow is here so live more and try climbing Mt. Pulag. I tell you that it would be the best decision you will make. You will not regret it. It is both a challenge and an eye-opener. You can do it. It is both fulfilling and rewarding to your body and soul. You just have to believe and you are half-way there! :)

Photos by Gestine Campo and myself.

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