I am not a beach person.
I think I would never be..simply because I don’t know how to swim. My typical summer would be at my room, AC on turbo cool, my laptop and my hoard of junk foods. But summer of this year was totally different. I had a life-changing adventure I would never forget because it gave me my series of firsts.
Last April, my highschool barkada and I were planning for our summer escapade. I suggested that we try something the group have never done before, like trekking, instead of just going to the beach. I did some intense research and came across Pinoymountaineer’s website. Upon reading the forums, I was intrigued by a certain mountain which they claim is an adventure above the clouds and should be included in every mountaineer’s bucketlist. After further discussions and all convincing powers exhausted, only two from our barkada bought the idea of climbing MOUNT PULAG.
We looked for a travel agency that would accommodate the three of us, settled the fees and attended the pre-climb meeting. Anna Jean, Diane (my bestfriend from our barkada), and I were exchanging text messages of how excited we were. Anna Jean got a flu just a week before the climb but we even shopped together for our ‘things-to-bring’ despite her sickie condition. Night before the trip, Annajean backed out for health reasons. I felt like I had to make the call if Diane and I were still pushing through. Diane was also having second thoughts when she read somewhere that one needs to be physically fit to be able to climb Mt.Pulag and some even had a near death experience.
We are no mountaineers, we have no gears and we don’t really exercise every day. We just have A HAPPY DISPOSITION, A SENSE OF ADVENTURE, and AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE, so despite the hesitation we gave it a GO.. conquering the mountain and conquering ourselves.
We were 28 in the group, some pro mountaineers, some amateurs, and some adventure seekers just like us. The itinerary was to leave Manila on a Friday night, go up Mt.Pulag from Baguio on Saturday, summit on Sunday morning, back to Baguio by Sunday night and back in Manila by early Monday morning.
We left Victory Liner Pasay around 12MN and arrived at Baguio around 6AM. After alighting from the Bus, we were automatically transferred to a jeepney which brought us to Bokod, Benguet. The road to Benguet was a gazillion of smooth zigzags and curves. Thanks to our mighty red jeep and to our very confident driver we arrived at our first stop without injuries.
8AM. Pinkan Jo Eatery, Bokod Benguet.
We had our breakfast at this eatery and we were also supposed take out for lunch but we just opted to buy some biscuits and candies because we weren’t really satisfied with their food.
10:30AM. DENR Office, Ambangeg, Benguet.
We had the registration and briefing at the DENR Office. The officer-in-charged gave a short lecture about the sacred mountain, the different trails and the dos-and-don’ts when trekking. The bumpy and dusty road we travelled before reaching the DENR office was compensated by the lovely view of the landscape just near the station.
1PM. Siesta spot near Ranger Station.
The jeepney can only bring hikers up to this point. We were given an hour break to eat our lunch and take some power naps.
2PM. Trekking starts NOW. (Fight!!!!)
There are 4 major trails leading to the summit: Ambangeg – the executive trail, Akiki – the killer trail, Tawangan – the trail of bloodsuckers, and Ambaguio. We obviously didn’t take the road less travelled so we chose the Ambangeg Trail, the friendliest.
Despite the cool breeze, Diane and I were still sweating because the trail wasn’t so easy for non-mountaineers like us. We hired a porter to carry our bags all throughout the climb. Every 10minutes we were resting, taking photos, and laughing our asses off.
3PM. ‘Wheeeeew’ Hut, Camp1.
When we reached Camp 1, we were already exhausted and very thirsty because we ran out of water. Our fellow campers told us that the spring water was just 10minutes away from the hut but it took us almost an hour before we were able to refill our containers. That was the sweetest and most refreshing drink we ever had in our entire lives.
4PM. Camp 2.
The climb was indeed a test of leg muscle endurance and willpower. From the Camp 2 signage, we were less than 1km from the saddle camp and we were already enjoying our slow ascent along the rolling hills.
The Rolling Hills. (A painting that came to life!)
Before Sunset. Embracing Mother Earth.
While the travel guides were busy setting up the tents, we had enough time to enjoy the view. After taking lots of pictures, the camera’s battery was already empty and same with our energy levels. Diane and I decided to go inside our tent to change our clothes for next day’s summit and we just dozed it off. We were awakened by our mates around 7PM because dinner was already available. It was freezing cold outside as the temperature continued to drop down. It was already past 10PM and I can’t sleep because I could hardly breathe. The temperature was just unbearable, thanks to my partner for patiently checking on me and for keeping me warm throughout the night.
3:30AM. Sunday, 4degreesC.
We left the campsite early because we were targeting to witness sunrise at the mountain’s peak. With a mini flashlight as our guide, Diane and I braved the cold and struggled to reach peak 2 after an hour.
4:30AM. Peak 2.
5AM. Mr.Sun already awake.
We were near the summit and our jaws just dropped upon witnessing one of God’s masterpieces. The Sun’s beauty was just SURRRRRREAAL!!!!
5:27AM. Summit of Mt.Pulag.
Diane and I reached the summit just before sunrise. Some were crying, jumping, shouting, and others praising God for the gift of nature. I couldn’t put into words what I felt specially when I heard someone telling the others that he wasn’t able to reach the summit on his first attempt and he was thankful God blessed his second climb with a good weather. I was speechless because I realized how blessed Diane and I were.
Before Sunrise. My bestfriend, Diane, enjoying the Sea of fluffy Clouds.
(One of my favorite shots.)
(Worth more than a two-day muscle pain.)
Savoring the beauty of God’s creations.
We laid on the grass and just waited for the sunrise. That was probably one of the most peaceful moments of our lives.
5:40AM. Sunrise. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the amazing rays?
Time to leave.
The steep trail going back to the camp.
7:15AM. Back to the campsite.
The ‘elder woman’ between us, on the upper right corner, was our porter slash our hero.
We left the campsite around 8:30AM and reached the Ranger Station at almost 11AM. After having lunch we were back on the road. Diane and I were thinking of maximizing the whole trip so when we were on our way to Baguio we decided to try ‘top-loading.” On top of the jeep, we talked about mature stuffs, shouted, laughed, and hoped that we were better persons after the trip. The top-load was really a once in a lifetime experience and the best exercise we gave to our butts.HAHA 😀
Good Taste. (Tastes better.haha)
After a healthy dinner, we were given some time to enjoy Baguio. Diane and I decided to walk around Burnham Park. We rented a bicycle since my bestfriend had never experienced biking at the famous park. We left Baguio at 12MN and arrived in Manila before 6AM.
To reach the summit of Mt.Pulag, the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines, was already a lifetime achievement for me, but to enjoy the sunrise at the peak of the mountain with your bestest bud was a dream come true. I will forever be grateful to God for the Gift of Nature, for mountains, skies, sunrises and sunsets, for the Gift of Friendship, and of course for the Gift of Life.