Mount Pulag: A walk in the clouds (and some first-time tips and blunders!)
Prince Henry: "You swim alone, climb rocks, rescue servants,
is there anything you don't do?"
Yes, I'm channeling Drew Barrymore's character in one of my all-time favorite chick flicks, Ever After. I don't know when it started but, ever since, I've always had this thirst for adventure and inkling to always try out new things. Currently, I scuba dive and I've revived my interest in surfing. Years back, I've done spelunking, wall climbing, and wakeboarding. Generally, activities that I like involve the beach (Isn't it obvious? :p) So this time around, I decided to try something new: MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.
Considering that this is a far cry from my usual lounging-in-the-beach-and-getting-a-tan hobby, I knew I was in for a new challenge. While I had a dozen bikinis stored in my closet, I had zero climbing gear and clothes!
But, I thought, what the heck?! I should try this now while I still have the stamina.
So, in a very un-Koryn fashion, I, along with my sister, brother-in-law, and our friend Fritz, signed up for travelfactor.org's Mount Pulag expedition. Mount Pulag is the second highest peak in the country. Ambitious for a beginner, right? I was actually nervous days before the climb. More because I have extremely low tolerance for cold and I've been told by friends who've been there that Mount Pulag is freezing especially in the early morning. I went on panic buying mode and visited my doctor the last minute to make sure I'm in tip-top shape.
Then after days of nervous anticipation, we were finally off to a new adventure.
And adventure it was!
We left Manila around 11:30 p.m. and arrived in Baguio City around 6:00a.m. There were 30 of us in the group. After a quick breakfast, it was a one hour ride to Ambuklao dam where we stopped for a short photo op.
And after that, it was another two-hour ride to the DENR office where we were to undergo a brief orientation. It was a bumpy ride but sleep-deprived me was snoring the whole time (even during the orientation haha).
After the orientation (which I told was hilarious because the DENR lady was really quirky!), it was another one hour ride to the Ranger Station--our final stop before we make our ascent.
We had a quick lunch at the Ranger Station and were given time to prepare our stuff (READ: Make our backpacks AND ourselves waterproof!). I wasn't going to pretend that I'm this hardcore climber (haha) so I paid a porter to carry some of my stuff.
And thus began the three-hour hike to the Camp Site.
The hike was no joke. While it was an easy trail, it was all uphill. After 30 minutes I was already huffing and puffing! (NOTE TO SELF: Return your regular jogging routine!)
|Rest time. A 15-minute pit stop.|
|The destination. So near yet so far!|
At one point, I realized I had stopped talking, unconsciously devoting all my energy to every step. And, finally, after three hours (or was it more?), we reached the Camp Site! And yes, it was freeeeeeezing!
|Our home for the night.|
I was majorly exhausted and after settling in our tent, I was ready to doze off to dreamland when I saw the setting sun creating beautiful hues across the skyline.
|Photo op. The other campers didn't want to miss out on the good photo opportunity either.|
|The Shire. A scene from "Lord of the Rings"? Nu-uh. This is actually the camp latrine. Think: "Slumdog Millionaire". Kinda ruins the image for you, huh? Haha. But these two little huts saved a lot of us more than once :p|
|My turn in front of the lens. Of course, how can I resist having my picture taken against this gorgeous backdrop? ;)|
When I was finally satisfied with the shots I took, I went back to our tent, snuggled in, and went off to a deep slumber.
The next day, this would be the image that would greet me:
But of course, not without another long hike to the summit first!
|Endless hiking. Those little dots you see on the upper right corner is actually the Camp Site. Yes. The summit was that far.|
My sister (or was it our guide?) said that the summit was just 1.5km away from the Camp Site. It felt more like 5km!
I was just about to give up when the sun began to peek and created this amazing image:
I was in awe. More especially with the sea of clouds blanketing the mountains.
Before going to Mount Pulag, I pictured myself doing a "jump shot" with the sunrise and sea of clouds as my background. But when we finally reached the summit, I was soooooo tired that the next thing I did was sit down and simply take in the view.
|Travelfactor.org, FTW! Joven, one of our guides.|
After around 45 minutes, it was time to go back to camp.
And then before we knew it, it was time to break camp.
|The motley crew. Tired, sweaty, dirty, but happy :)|
We set off for another three-hour trek back to the Ranger Station. But not without taking a last look at the most essential part of our adventure: THE LATRINE. Hahaha.
I was dead tired when we got back to Manila. I wanted to sort the pictures right away but exhaustion got the best of me.
The next morning, I reviewed all my photos and thought back to my two-day adventure: I probably wouldn't do it again, but it's definitely something worth experiencing even once in your life.
If anyone of you are interested in going on a Mount Pulag adventure, I highly recommend travelfactor.org--very organized and they really take care of you.