May 24, 2014
I started seriously climbing mountains in April last year, a passion that I wanted to pursue since college but didn't have time nor the money. Now that I have the money, I do not have the time. And so when I do find the time, I make it a point to make it worth, and boy, it was worth it!
Mt. Pulag, the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,922 MASL is every mountaineer's (or wannabe-like me) dream climb. Since it has been on my bucket list since forever, and when I found both extra money and time, I went ahead and organized one with friends and UP Org. It was a very memorable climb!
The photo above shows our travel from Baguio up to the start of the trek. We arrived in Baguio at early morning, then we took a rented jeepney to Benguet. We were at the DENR office at around 8, after a short stop over for breakfast and packed lunch. There was a one-hour orientation, mostly they put the fear of God in you so that you treat the mountain as sacred as possible, as well you should. After the orientation, we boarded the jeep once again and traveled for maybe 2 hours more to reach the ranger station. We registered at the ranger station and hired ourselves a porter (yes, so that they will earn money too). Porter fee is P250 per way for a 15-kl bag, and 60 per addtl kilo. It was a well-spent P500, as I know I couldnt have reached the summit with my 10-kl bag!
Honestly, it was an easy trail but it was difficult for me. The air was thin given the elevation and i find myself easily tired from the climb. But we took our time and took breaks as needed-it wasn't a race after all. The view was great too, as well as the trail.
It rained when we were almost at the camp site, so our tents (provided by UP org) got wet. But we made the best out of the situation. We changed from our wet clothes into dry ones, and layered our clothes for the cold. It wasn't as cold as we feared, but I still needed a thermal sando, a dry fit shirt, 2 jackets, a bonnet, a scarf and mittens to fight the cold. We had the best tasting coffee ever, no thanks to the cold! Then I had a killer migraine, and I was barely able to eat dinner. Three hours after dinner, with no socials because of the heavy rains, and yet I wasn't able to sleep. The rain water seeped into our tent and my sleeping bag got soaked! I just turn to the other side, and tried hard to sleep. Then after just maybe a couple of hours, it was time to get up and march up to the summit.
Oh and then it was all worth it! The trek to the summit took maybe an hour and half, in the dark with only your headlamp, and in muddy trail. But when we reached the summit, I felt like a child who wanted to jump because of the beauty of it. On top, you can't help but think how can there be no God when something this beautiful exists? You can't help but say a silent prayer for having been given the chance to witness this beauty! And oh, I have no words to describe just how beautiful it was!
And then too soon, it was time to head back to camp. We had a great breakfast thanks to Jacq, Rey and Mitch and we break camp after securing our things. Our porters were there already, ready for our bags. So we then descended to the ranger station and it took us only one and a half hour. The ascent took twice that I think, hahaha!
At the ranger station, we took an ice cold shower! My breathing stopped, hahahah and I had to curse to ward off the cold. But we survived to tell the tale, and we looked so happy about it, don't we? I learned a lot of things in Mt. Pulag, and I will share it one of these days. But I will never, ever forget how lucky I feel for having witnessed such beauty, and finding in my self, the strength to do it!