A journey to the clouds – that’s what I aimed for my birthday trip this year.
Picturing myself standing in Philippines’ third and Luzon’s highest peak with a sea of clouds behind me is how I wanna start this 2013 – aiming for the highest as high as the clouds in my remaining travels and adventure.
Taking Up the Challenge
The trek to Mt Pulag is a long and arduous one.
No, there were no heavy snowfall, gusty winds or mighty boulders along the way, but heavy forest mist and a tough trail instead when we went there on Friday, February 1. These can be quite challenging for first-time hikers.
In addition to that is the freezing weather that looms as you reach higher and higher.
There’s even a recent news that the climate in Mt. Pulag had reached below zero-degree. Wow! Imagine that!
But for sure Adventuroj wouldn’t let that stop a dream of climbing the third highest peak in the Philippines!
Challenging Rough Roads
To reach the top you have to pass through several pit stops –
a 4am meet up at the Victory Liner Baguio City with the group we’re coming with
Trying the Taho at Baguio City
While waiting at Victory Liner I’ve had my first taste of the popular Strawberry Taho in Baguio. Indeed a must try for the sweet tooth!
After the meet up, we boarded a 4×4 Jeepney then proceeded to the Mt Pulag Tourism Office for the registration and the orientation.
Mt Pulag Tourism Orientation
Then off we go for another zigzag slippery ride on a narrow road that with just a single mistake will send your Jeep rolling on a cliff. Scary huh?
Aboard the jeepney, one could also witness the unique construction of the houses here to combat the cold weather.
4×4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag
After a challenging ride, we reached the 2nd stop at the Ranger Station.
Mt Pulag Ranger Station
Here the trekkers will be dropped off and the hike will start.
In the ranger station also is where you’ll hire your tour guide to accompany you through the night and towards the peak.
Tour guide fee – 500 / guide / group
You could also hire a porter to carry your things if you want the trail to be a lighter one.
Porter fee – 500 / porter
*Tents can also be rented at 200php.
Hike to Mt Pulag: The Start of the Adventure
At around 1pm, the hike began.
At first an easy one, enjoying ourselves to the luscious green and scenic view from the mountain tops.
But as time passed, our bags got heavier.
We realized we should just opted for a porter. Probably that way we could have enjoyed the hike more.
Reaching Camp 1
After 2 or more hours, we reached the first camp.
Here one could rest in a man made shelter, and could also set camp if you want to spend the night.
Spending the Night at Camp 2
But we proceeded to Camp 2 and stayed there for the night, an hour or two away from Camp 1, but nearer to the summit.
Sunset Snapshots at Camp 2
We were also lucky to witness the sunset at Camp 2 , and so here are some photo ops.
The Fatal Challenge: Surviving the Night
The trek is nothing compared to the challenge we’ve endured as night time approached.
Night-time be a true test of grit with the cold reaching near-freezing levels. I even thought that I’ would die in the cold.
Having 5 shirts and a thick jacket plus 3 jogging pants sure DID NOT made me warm enough to have a comfy sleep. The winds are horrible and scary, they are howling making as if the tents will fly away in any second.
Rising Up for a New Journey to the Summit
But we did it! We survived the freezing atmosphere!
The heavens were filled with a cacophony of stars as we woke up at 4 am to bravely make that trek towards the summit to catch the sunrise. It was awe-inspiring.
We were awoken by our guide for the early trek to the summit in expectant of a sunrise and to see the majestic sea of clouds that every Mt Pulag climber wishes to see.
A Slippery and Wet Journey to the Clouds
But as we proceeded the weather didn’t seem to cooperate.
It started to drizzle. And when we reach the summit it’s freezing though it’s already 6am.
Zero visibility and yes – NO sea of clouds 😦
A Rewarding ‘Heavenly’ Experience
Although I did not get to witness the sea of clouds, the journey, however, is more than rewarding.
The experience of a rich flora along the trail – it’s like entering an entirely new realm as the sight of wide open slopes give in to that of closely-huddled trees, ferns of different shapes, and other rich vegetation.
Alas, even a most courageous heart is no match for the elements when one is not properly-geared. Warm clothing and sturdy shoes aside, though, one can never match the company of people with happy dispositions when taking on such a tough adventure. Bring lots of them when you make that journey to the clouds.
For those who’ve reached Mt. Pulag’s peak, meanwhile, the reward, as they say, was “heavenly.” And they’re being literal about it.
At 2,922 meters above sea level, after all, reaching Mt. Pulag’s peak is like reaching the heavens. They have photos of the clouds behind them to prove it.