It was five years ago when me and my friends decided to go on hiking. It’s not an ordinary climb because Mt. Pulag, the mountain we’re about to reach is the highest peak in Luzon and the third highest in the Philippines.
Mt. Pulag is located in the province of Benguet in the northern part of the country. It is 2,922 meters above sea-level and famous for the so called ‘sea of clouds’ view. Actually that sea of clouds scene were the reason why we decided to hike eventhough we didn’t have any much experience in mountain climbing. Being the highest mountain in Luzon, hiking Mt. Pulag was indeed a very challenging activity for me.
So how me and my friends got to engaged in such daring activity? We really love adventure and what we were looking for that time is somewhere cold to spend the long weekend ahead. One of my friend received an invitation from the group of Filipino adventurer to explore Mt. Pulag, and there’s still four slots left in the group because some of them backed-out. So that’s it, we all four paid the fees, packed our bags and go, with no preparations and without realizing the challenges we were about to face.
The excitement we felt that time was immeasurable though we travel five hours from Manila to Baguio City by bus and another almost two hour nauseous trip in a monster jeepney going to Bokod, Benguet where the Environment Office was located and the start of the trail. It was already lunch time when we arrived so we took our lunch first then confirmed our registration in the visitor’s/tourist’s area and signed some waiver after. There was also an orientation provided by our tourist guides and the necessary precautions we need to abide upon the trail.
Most in our group are like professional mountain climbers and the rest, including us are all beginners. As everybody prepares, changing hiking wears like that, then we realized that we were not fully equipped with proper hiking clothes and personal gears (like head lamp, trekking pole, poncho for the rain, etc.). Actually, we didn’t had much time to prepare. Good thing we brought camping tent and foods with us and most importantly, we were all physically fit prior to climbing.
The trekking was about to begin when the weather seemed to disagree with our hike. It was February and the temperature was freezin’ 10 degrees with rain. Despite of light rainshower, the group’s tourist guides decided to go on the timeline. Since we were in Ambangeng trail which is the easiest and safest trail to Mt. Pulag, no much to worry about and it only takes 3-4 hours to reach the summit. It was already closed to sunset when we reached the first base camp after more than an hour, where the group spent the night. It was much better to reach the summit before sunrise to see the wonder of the sea of clouds and the rest of the view.
We pitched our tent in a muddy ground, ate dinner and sleep. Unfortunately, it rained all night and got colder. We all woke up at around 2am and start again trekking after an hour. It’s dark and rain still pouring but we never stopped because we need to arrive at the summit before sunrise. We started to feel the challenges because of the muddy and steep trail, we only followed our tour guide because he has the headlamp with him. The trail is like only one way path and one wrong move would bring us to great danger. Our things got wet and so we were, and we really feel the burden.
After almost three hours of hardship, muddy and wet trekked, we reached the summit. But unfortunately and as expected, we didn’t experienced the much awaiting ‘sea of clouds’ we were all wanted to see because of the bad weather. But one thing we were grateful of was that our group reached the summit without any casualties.
Reaching the summit of the highest mountain in Luzon was a great accomplishment for me. I was very proud of myself. There were also some lessons I learned through our journey, which somehow made me a stronger and more independent person. I would definitely keep all the memories I had in climbing Mt. Pulag for lifetime.
I would love to climb again the peak of Mt. Pulag probably someday to experience what I missed, the ‘sea of clouds’. And when that time comes, I’ll make sure to be well-prepared and bring better camera with me.