Journey to the Rooftop of Mainland Luzon: Mt. Pulag

I have been to multiple summits already. It’s not that much and I still consider myself a novice. I am still new to this and I am eager to learn and experience more. Truth is, on my way to the summit of Luzon’s highest mountain I swore to myself I would never go on hiking again, that it is not for me, and that there are other activities more enjoyable than straining myself just to reach that point. However, that part was also the one where my mother mountain showed me how she was marvelously created. I was in complete awe, even after my fourth time (to date), it was all too different climbs altogether.

This is an account of that special day when I venture into the vast beauty of 
Mt. Pulag (February 15-16, 2014)

Playground of the Gods

Mount Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon standing above 2922 meters above sea level (MASL) and the third highest mountain in the Philippines. Located within the municipalities of Buguias, Kabayan and Bokod in Benguet, Tinoc in Ifugao and Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya, it is a home to some of North Luzon’s ethnic ethnic groups like the Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Kankana-ey, and Ibanag. Most of them consider the said mountain a sacred place not only because they consider it a resting place and playground of their gods but also a place where they bury their dead. It is also home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.

Ambangeg/Babadac Trail. Also known as the Executive trail or Celebrity trail to some – is well established and considered as the main trail going to Mt. Pulag. The trek starts at the Babadac Ranger Station, which is already 2500+ MASL. It is mandatory to hire guides from the Kalanguya community and porters are available as well. One could also opt to hire a habal-habal going to the first main ascent of the trail. Still, others prefer to hike the entire trail.

The Experience

Aside from being my first hike, what made me beyond excited was the fact that I’m going to experience a lot of first’s along the way. Some of these first’s were the following:

📍 see Rice Terraces. I know these terraces look good in photographs but they are way more fascinating up close and personal.

📍 ride top-load style on a jeepney. As it is my first time hiking, I want to try anything as much as possible like it’ll be my first and last hike.

📍witness Sea of Clouds. They call it as such because it literally looks like sea of clouds. It was so magnificent like a huge wave was crashing down the shore (which is the summit).

📍witness a twilight. I’m not a fan of Twilight saga movie, but this kind of twilight where facing west you can see the moon and facing east you can see the sun rising – definitely breathtaking.

“Twilight” – Forgive my panoramic shot. It was taken using a mobile phone.

📍 cross a hanging bridge. This hanging bridge located at the back of Jang-Jang Canteen is known for being the longest in Kabayan, Benguet.

Sunrise at Kabayan’s famous bridge located just at the back of Jang-jang’s Eatery.

📍sleep in a tent. It’s uncomfortable at first but since I’m the kind of person who loves to sleep, I didn’t have much problem in taking a good night sleep.We saw ice crystal that morning before heading to the summit. Cool!

photo credit: Gilbert Pedroso

I never thought a time like this would happen to me. My old self wouldn’t even dare think climbing mountains. Achievement Unlocked!

Take-aways

* It is really important to prepare oneself for this climb. Actually, preparation is necessary for every climb – be it a minor or a major one.

** Know your water consumption level. I brought 4L of water with me and honestly it’s more of a burden than of help to me.

*** Do no bring unnecessary things even if it looks like one. Learn to trim down luxuries. I think making a list of stuff to bring will definitely help.

**** Do not give up. Take it slowly if you must, but never ever give up. On our first day, we started our hike all the way from the Ranger Station to Camp 2 and from Camp 2 to the summit on our second day. It was quite a feat for a novice like me. Moreover, I’m also stubborn in riding the habal-habal and hiring a porter. I’m like, “I don’t care about my back problems. I chose to hike this mountain and I’d rather experience everything good and bad than asking myself a lot of what ifs“. Props to Kuya Guide, you really pushed me to reach the summit. I almost gave up along the way.

What I’ve conquered is not the mountain, but myself. Success kid!

Other readings:

📍 Hiking Notes: Mt. Pulag

📍 Revisiting Mt. Pulag National Park via Akiki Trail

📍10 Reasons Why You Should Try Hiking in Cordillera

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