Mt. Pulag Escapade: Reaching the Clouds

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag ranked as the highest mountain in Luzon and the third highest mountain in the Philippines at 2, 922 meters above sea level.  The mountain is famous for its majestic “sea of clouds” and the view of Milky Way Galaxy at dawn. Almost hundreds of hikers and mountaineers travel to Benguet just to take a glimpse of this majestic view and I am one of them.

After a long preparation; regular exercise to improve stamina, buying hiking equipment, and pulling out those winter collection from the back of my closets – I am ready to be on top of the world. My heart is jumping with excitement but at the same time anxious about what’s ahead. The mountain is known to have the coldest temperature during November, December, and January as it is its peak season but I will let my worries worry itself.

November 14, 2015, 0630hrs – Touched down Baguio City.

Stopped over at DENR for Mt. Pulag Registration
Stop over at DENR for Mt. Pulag Registration

From Baguio City, we rode a Jeepney going to Bokod, Benguet for registration and orientation at DENR office with a stopover for snacks. All visitors are required to secure a permit and undergo a 20-30 mins orientation or briefing before the climb due to the recent death of a 50-year-old woman who had a heart attack while climbing the mountain. It is now a prerequisite to present a medical certificate to assure that all trekkers are fit to climb.

We reached the Ranger station at 0630Pm.  The weather was really cold and we looked for a bed to lay down our dead tired bodies. The locals were very friendly and had this all smiling faces when we arrived. Too bad I didn’t get to capture the surroundings as I was too exhausted.

The other groups camped out the house and we stayed inside. The room was small and five of us had to share the bed but it is better than freeze outside. Organizer of the climb served us a fine dinner outside with pork stew and vegetables – a great way to gather all hikers from different walks of life.

Bokod Benguet Beautiful Scenery
Bokod Benguet Beautiful Scenery

Wake up call at 10:30 PM

I slept for an hour and woke up shivering from the cold air coming through the open windows. The cold water poured on my face seemed to awaken all of my nerves as I try to get myself cleaned up for an early trek. Coffee was served albeit its hot temperature didn’t last long as well. We’ve waited for 30 more minutes for our guides then start our night trek with headlamps on.

We arrived at Camp 2 extension at 0230Am, earlier than the anticipated time. However, our trek for the summit was halted and we were advised to wait until sunrise to avoid congestion at the summit. It was 2:30 am in a vast open field and the wind was blowing cold crisp air with almost freezing temperature around 4 degrees centigrade. I thought we are only going to wait for a couple of minutes but it lasted for two hours. My fingers and feet were all frozen and my body was shaking, I don’t know how I survived but it was a hell of an experience. However. all those trembling and giving up moments disappeared when I saw the sun crossed the horizon – it was magical.

Light after darkness

Mt. Pulag Sunrise and Sea of Clouds
Mt. Pulag Sunrise and Sea of Clouds

After the sunrise viewing and countless picture-taking, we went down a bit to eat breakfast then trek again to the summit. It was 0700AM and almost everyone who enjoyed the sunrise at the top was trekking down. I expected the trail to be hard but I’m glad it wasn’t, although there were two moderate steep parts and a very long trek.

Mt. Pulag would never disappoint any trekkers – the views along the way are spectacular. I can see clouds moving in front of my eyes! adding to the scenery is the dwarf bamboos which look like tall trees afar, the grassland, mountain slopes and pine trees are such a beauty to behold.

Mt. Pulag grassland and sea of clouds
Mt. Pulag grassland and a sea of clouds

Mt. Pulag Summit

We reached the summit at 1100AM. I have conquered Mt. Pulag and I am on top of the world. The weather was windy and cloudy but there’s no way we’re gonna let it get on our way in taking more photos and videos to share and keep. It was one of the most memorable adventures for me wherein I didn’t just conquer another summit but I survived the cold.

I feel proud, overjoyed and blessed. Not everyone can get to see a magical moment like this – the opportunity and joy of accomplishing something out of your comfort zone,  up high in the mountains, conquering your fears, and exceed your abilities. Nothing can compare to that feeling, it made me appreciate life even more.

Mt.Pulag Escapade with Trekkers at the summit
Mt.Pulag Escapade with Trekkers at the summit

Mount Pulag Nov 14-15, 2015

ITINERARY:

Day 1 (Saturday, Nov 14, 2015)

0100 – ASSEMBLY Shell Gas station Mckinley Corner Edsa – Ayala
0300 – ETD via chartered Bus
0800 – ETA Baguio, board chartered jeep
0830 – ETD Baguio to DENR Bokod (visitor’s center)
1230 – ETA DENR (registration and briefing by mam mereng, Mount Pulag park superintendent)
0130 – ETD DENR to babadak ranger station bokod
0230 – ETA Bokod, present reg fee – camp at the ranger station (prepare dinner etc.)
0730 – Lights out!

Day 2 (Sunday, Nov 15, 2015)

0000 – Wakeup time (Quick breakfast)
0100 – Start Trek!
0230 – Camp 1
0400 – Camp 2
0530 – Summit (Sunrise Viewing)
0700 – Start Descent
0830 – Camp 2
0900 – Camp 3
1030 – Back @ Ranger station (pack up/early Lunch)
1200 – ETD to Baguio
1500 – Baguio / Post climb early dinner
1900 – Victory Liner Terminal/Baguio bus station – Manila-bound bus
2000 – ETD to Manila

Day 3 (Monday, Nov 16, 2014)
0300 – ETA Manila
Expenses – 2800 (all in)

Inclusions:

Transpo fee
Registration fee
Guide fee
Dinner Day 1 / Bfast and Lunch Day 2

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