My mother mountain. I was able to conquer the highest peak in Luzon.

I am beyond grateful to climb the famed Mt. Pulag. This is undoubtedly most of the bucketlist of hikers; beginner or not. One of my dream hikes and I am glad that I made it.

 

Mt Pulag towers 2,926 m above sea level and also known as “Playground of the Gods”. It has the most breathtaking scenic view of grassland, mossy forest and sea of clouds. It is the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines next to Mt. Apo and Mt Dulang – dulang. There are 4 major trails to the summit, namely for Benguet: the Ambangeg (for beginners), Akiki (the killer trail), Tawangan and if from Nueva Vizcaya, the Ambaguio trail.

Since that this is my first hike, I went for the Ambangeg Trail.

 

The Preparation:

When 2024 came in, I promised myself that I will prioritize my physical health. Due to unforeseen circumstances I was not able to do that on the first month of the year. Came February, I purchased smart watch with the purpose of tracking my daily as my goal is to reach 10,000 steps everyday if possible.

I am so committed on my daily walk and as one of the “doom scroller” on TikTok, my for you page was filled with hiking stuff and I became interested on climbing Mt. Pulag. This might be ambitious considering that there are a lot of mountains nearby but I made up my mind that Mt. Pulag will be my “mother mountain”.

I walked/ran and consistently achieving 10,000 steps or more every single day for 3 weeks as the preparation for my first climb. On top of that, I bought hiking gears [which is very expensive by the way] because I am committed that I will conquer more mountains after this first climb, I invested on hiking shoes and outfits.

 

The Hike:

I hike with my officemates/friends last March 16-17 and we book for a Travel and Tours company. For Php 4,500 that already includes: back and forth transportation, 3 hosted meals, tour guide, registration/certificates. I must say that it is worth it because the food was delicious and the coordinator was so accommodating.

Day 0: March 15, 2024 11:00AM : We met up at Greenfield and we started to travel to Benguet.

Day 1 | March 16, 2024: We had our first coffee somewhere in Pangasinan as we continue our ride to Benguet. When we arrived there we had our breakfast to the infamous buffet near DENR office. Afterwards we continue the trip until we arrived to the Baba lak Ranger Station where our homestay.

It was freaking cold, thankfully we had unlimited Barako coffee and the homestay is a little warm. They also provided thick blankets which definitely helped to minimize the cold.

After the delicious lunch, there was a free time to get to know the other joiners. We had a drink [I drank 2 cups of coffee by the way] and they had alcohol. We had a great time and we were to know them, mainly what is the reason of them climbing up Mt. Pulag, and there I found out new friends.

Since that everyone had alcohol, after dinner everyone already fell asleep as early as 8:00PM so that it was an ample time for us to rest.

 

Day 2 | March 17, 2024: The hike proper.


We left at the homestay around 2:30 AM which is kind of late since that there were hikers who started 1:00AM. We had our breakfast and got ready. I had 4 layers of clothing which includes: sports bra, Uniqlo shirt [not heattech though], yoga jacket and parka. I had leggings and waterproof pants also 2 layers of thick socks and my hiking shoes. I also have gloves and bonnet.

I also brought my backpack with small Pocarri Sweat, 1 liter of water, trail foods and other essentials.

I underestimated the cold, I couldn’t feel my fingers when I tried to remove the gloves. Thankfully I was prepared enough and my layers of clothes kept me warm. I am also thankful to my hiking shoes, it really protected me, it was comfortable, waterproof and I didn’t feel any coldness on my feet during the whole hike.

It was all walk at first then came the first assault before we reach the Camp 1. I almost passed out. I thought I would not be able to continue. But thankfully my co-hikers assisted me and I managed to go to Camp 1. We took a rest for couple of minutes and started to hike again.

There were minimal assaults going to Camp 2 but it was more manageable than the first 1 and we reached the second camp smoothly and we had another rest for about 20 minutes.

By that time, the sun was almost rising and we need to be on the “Tower” or Grassland for us to see the anticipated sunrise and sea of clouds. It was challenging to reach the tower, multiple and more difficult assaults, nevertheless we made it on time and I witnessed one of the most breath taking view that I had seen on my existence. Unfortunately there is no sea of clouds [I promised to have a revenge hike to see it soon] but the whole view was so beautiful and my camera did not give it justice.

I told earlier that it was cold when we left, but it is even colder on the grassland, most of the hikers where shivering but it was worth it because of the view.




After 1 hour on the grassland, some of the joiners on our batch did not push through on going to the peak. I am very determined to reach the summit so I continue. It was 2 hours hike. I was barely hanging there, I took my time to walk and I let other hikers to pass me I hiked by my own phase.

 

After the never-ending walk, we reached the summit. It was so fulfilling and I felt that I am on top of the world. We had a long rest because there is a long queue of hikers that wants to take a picture on the summit. I take my time to rest, and eat trail foods while we wait for our turn.




After the photo op on the summit, we started to descend, it was challenging considering that I am walking for about 5 hours and thankfully I have my trusted pole and still took my time to descend.

I couldn’t remember how I managed to survive, when we were out of the trail, there were stores selling ice candy and refreshments, some offered motor ride [habal-habal] but we decided to walk until we were back to the ranger station.

I had a sigh of relief when we were done. I was absolutely tired and we ate lunch, take a quick rest and showered and we prepared on going home.

This is one of the books experience and I am sure that I will share this adventure to most of my friends and even to my child in the future.

I am looking forward for more mountains to conquer.

 

 

 

 


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