Just like most unica hijas out there, I too have protective parents: I cannot take any public transportation without being accompanied by someone they can trust; should be home by 8pm; not allowed to go anywhere with friends aside from school and home; and definitely forbidden to sleep over even just in our neighborhood. But that was only until college, also the time when I sworn to myself to consider pushing my own boundaries – most especially my parents’ boundaries for me – and to try things I did not consider trying before. And just last September, one goal was crossed out of my list: to go on a hike.
This was actually our second attempt to climb mount Pulag because our first one was unfortunately got cancelled due to strong wind and rain, but luckily, this time it was a fine night and day.
The day before our climb, we went to different places:
Jangjang hanging bridge
Badekbek sulfur springs
After the tour, we headed over to DENR for orientation. In here, history and rules of Mount Pulag was discussed, and respect for the environment was being reminded to everyone.
Afterwards, for about 45 minutes, we finally arrived in the homestay where we spent our night. We did not get a chance to camp because DENR only allows limited campers as they are letting the grass grow and the environment to cope up from the distraction caused by building tents.
By 12:30am, we were woken up by our call time and we were asked to prepare for the climb. The good thing about homestay was the idea of not bringing everything, just the important ones: flashlights, cameras, batteries, power banks, snacks, water and fleece jacket/sweaters – which totally saved me from back pains.
However, even though I only brought few things, my bag’s weight still has impact on the long walk. Good thing, my Cabin Zero backpack is lightweight – though it is just a travel backpack and not the one for hiking.
At 1:00am, our climb finally started. There are two trails in climbing Mount Pulag: the Ambangeg trail that takes for about three to four hours depending on the pacing, and the Akiki trail that could last for days. We took the easier one, which was the Ambangeg trail.
As we started our climb, there was nothing to see but the light coming from my head flashlight and the stars, but aside from that everything else was just darkness. At first, it was cold, which gave me an extra challenge to breathe. I even experienced few heart burns, which maybe because of the chilly air that I am breathing and also the lack of warm up, but eventually, my body seemed to adjust to the weather as I was able to breath properly and walked our way to the first camp.
Here is a tip: just wear a shirt and a waterproof jacket when going up and just bring your fleece with you – you will only need it in the summit. By the way, if you do not have any omni-tech jacket yet, consider this Columbia Omni-Tech as it utilizes Omni-Shield technology, which prevents water from coming in no matter how hard the rain is. Keep in mind that this kind of jacket is a must when going to Mount Pulag because of unexpected rain especially during the month of June to September.
In line with this, backpack cover is also significant particularly during the rainy season. Knowing me, I will never settle on the plain one but definitely the cute one like this bag cover I got from Wanderskye. The color might be prone to dirt but it is easy to wash – trust me, mine got traces of mud all over the bottom area. And the fun part is, I can write on it!
One the different note, this mountain is definitely easier than the other mountains but for someone who is not that engaged in running and always skipping leg days, plus a first timer, this one is a bit challenging – the steep areas in particular. That is why, it is really important to invest on a good pair of hiking shoes because similar with flats, heels and sneakers, each has different purposes and effects. And so, I donned my Merrell Capra.
Other than the fact that it comes with vibrant hues that I undoubtably want – most especially this purple pair that I wore – it is designed for people who are into adventures like going on a hike. With its Vibram MegaGrip, improving grip and durability, long and grueling hours on the mountainside will never become a problem. Plus, the outsole design is constructed like goat hooves with a split-toe design for enhanced grip on rock edges and crevices, while the UniFly™ midsole provides serious feel and agility. As a result, whether the path is stony, mossy or muddy, I did not fall, slip or trip, which saved me from scratches and injuries.
Going back, it was not difficult to know when you are about to reach every camp because the terrain changes every before you arrive the camp. The first camp was the one I will never forget because of its very steep terrain that made difficult by slippery ground caused by mud – could not imagine if I just opted for a pair of running shoes.
After four hours of hiking on a bumpy, rocky and mucky ground, right in front of us, finally, was the sea of clouds, and behind it was the sun that slowly peaking out.
It was indeed an amazing and stunning view to gaze at. It was one of those views that made me feel that as if I am part of the nature, and made me realize how much I would miss if I did not stop taking photos, sit down and just watch every movement of the clouds and the sun – thankfully, I did.
This dog is probably the happiest dog I ever seen!
It was only during our descent that I saw and appreciated the surroundings particularly the Mossy forest – because as mentioned, our ascend was literally pitch-black and just a ray of light coming from my head flashlight.
Apart from the experience, having new friends is the best part!
After the hike, we took a few hours of nap and travelled back to Baguio, but instead of going straight to the bus station, we went to Azalea Residences Baguio to rest, and stayed there for two nights!
Here is a quick glance of our Mount Pulag trip: