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Monday, May 23, 2011

Mt. Pulag Cover: Rising Above the Clouds

Climb Date: May 14-15, 2011

Mt. Pulag (Ambangeg-Ambangeg)
Bokod, Benguet

Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Stn, Bokod, Benguet
LLA: 16°34'58"N 120°53'15"E, 2922 MASL (#3)
Hours to summit / Days required: 4-5 hours / 2 days
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2

Source: Pinoy Mountaineer

Through winding slopes and rolling hills, I can now see the trail clearly from where we were. After trekking for half an hour, walking in pitch black with the trail lit faintly by my headlamp, the sky is now starting to glow. Peeking on my right is a burst of warm hues of orange, yellow and red, slowly pushing away the darkness of the previous night. It was 5:00 am, and we were about 30 minutes away from the peak at 2,922 meters above sea level (MASL).

As we excitedly took the final steps to the summit, the majesty of the view gradually revealed itself. Then, finally standing on top, there it was -- the fabled sunrise at Mt. Pulag. The most amazing, most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen! 

Journey to Mt. Pulag

We joined the public group tour of TRIPinas, the same trip organizer that we got for our Mt. Pinatubo trek. We left Manila for Baguio on Friday night, taking the 2200H Victory Liner bus. We had to spend the night on the bus, so we made sure to have a good sleep -- we need all the energy for the climb. We got to Baguio at around 0400H, then boarded the monster jeepney which was our ride to Kabayan, Benguet.

Called the "monster jeepney," it can negotiate through rough terrain better than your average 4x4! 

We stopped by Pinkan Jo (a small roadside restaurant) for breakfast and to pick up our lunch. After the paved road, there begins the negotiation with the winding rocky road. No, not the fancy, delicious kind. This one made me bump my head several times, and just generally shook our body for about 3 hours. Literally.

the winding rocky road

Everyone hiking at Mt. Pulag is required to register at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Here a 30-minute orientation is done to ensure that everyone is aware of the do's and don't's, the conservation efforts and the things to expect. 

DENR office

memorabilia left by fellow mountaineers

After the orientation, we were back on the winding rocky road again, this time heading to the Ranger Station.

The Ranger Station is the home of the local guides and porters. This is where the actual climb is arranged, and all climbing groups are assigned 1 guide for every 10 persons. 

Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail

The trail starts with a wide road, leading up to the pine forest. Mossy forest follows thereafter, showcasing beautifully shaped trees and colorful berries. The trail to Camp 1 is a little steep, challenging the lungs with the change in altitude and thinning air. 

vegetative cover of Mount Pulag, illustrated (DENR office)

beautiful scenery while on the wide trail

We stopped at Camp 1 to have our lunch. It was a welcome rest after the first leg of the trail. Moving forward, it was quite a breezy hike for about 3 hours to Camp 2 amidst the mossy forest. I was carrying a 15-kilo (33 lbs.) Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL pack, and more than halfway through the hike, I just couldn't move with the same pace anymore. One of our mountaineer colleagues offered to exchange his small pack with mine, and it was refreshing to walk again with a lighter load. 

Camp 1
hut at Camp 1, where you can take your lunch or have a welcome break
continuation of trail from Camp 1

mossy forest 

tree that grows horizontally from the cliff 
yep, that's still the horizontal tree
giant fern

This means you're already very near Camp 2!

Reaching Camp 2, we found our spot to pitch our tent. Good thing I practiced pitching it a week before, as the dark clouds started threatening us with rain. 

my Conquer Micra Tent

lovely view of the sky from my tent
One place I had to find was the latrine. This is where you do your toilet business. A deep hole was dug, covered with "steps" (a few slabs of wood to secure your position while using it, squatting) and contained in a nipa hut.

After a cup of hot chocolate, we decided to trek to the grasslands for a good sunset view.

sun is starting to set in the background

NEW FRIENDS ALERT! Trisha, the girl on the left, knows my celebrity cat Rue! :)

Sunset at about 2,600+ MASL

It started getting chilly as the sun was going down. We trekked to the tower (well, we technically didn't get there anymore as the clouds were starting to cover the view as we were on the last hill), and this is the sunset that we waited for:

This photo reminds me of The Lion King movie.

Camp at Night

After a nice, warm dinner of sinigang, and at 13 degrees, we decided to hie off to our tents for warmth. It was getting cold, and I was wearing two jackets, fleece gloves and a bonnet. Then at about 1930H, heavy rains started pouring! It went on for about 30 minutes and I was lucky that my new Conquer Micra Tent held up well against the heavy downpour. 

As the night was long and cold, I woke up every hour, checking the time and temperature. I was also in dire need of a loo visit but it's a few steps away and it's totally dark so I had to hold it in my bladder.

Sunrise at 2,922 MASL (highest peak in Luzon, 3rd in the Philippines)

At 0300H, we were up to prepare for the assault. I was in awe when I opened my tent -- there was the black sky, glittered with thousands of twinkling stars! This is a sight I would never see in the city! And it was chilly outside the tent as well:

10.2 degrees, 0338H

We started trekking to the summit at 0400H. And at 0500H, we were marveling at the beauty of nature, thanking God for allowing us to witness a beauty that beholds everyone. As the sun rises over the sea of clouds, I was silent. I wanted to take everything in, but no camera will ever freeze the moment as I see it. The view was so surreal, so heavenly, so magnificent. No wonder Mt. Pulag is called the playground of the gods.

Here's the view on the other side -- equally stunning!

And here's the temperature reading!

9.1 degrees at 0512H
7.4 degrees at 0529H
Here's the group whom I shared the beauty of the sunrise with:

Going back to Camp 2, we passed by this lone tree along the way. Must be very lonely at the top! (It's the only tree there, the rest of the mountains is covered with dwarf bamboos which makes it looks like rolling grasslands.)

Just another awesome view on our way down:

Break Camp

After having breakfast back at the camp, we started preparing for our trek down. And here's our group, before heading back to the Ranger Station:

It was a truly rewarding experience to see such beauty. It made me realize how amazingly beautiful and naturally blessed our country is. One can never get enough of the fabled Pulag sunrise, and so we vow to come back some time -- and on that next journey, we will take the harder trail, Akiki, also called as the "killer trail" by some mountaineers!

See Also: What's In My Pulag Pack?


wow! you've done Pulag! What an accomplishment! great post! :)

The sunrise is really beautiful! Worth all the sweat and effort :)

A dream climb of mine. A lot of people invite me to join them but I always chicken out because of the climate. Lol. Breathtaking shots!

Wow, Pulag! I have to get fit for a climb on that mountain. Nice tent you got there. Beautiful photos :)

hay... i dream that one day I'd be able to climb that mountain too =)

hay..... i dream that one day I'd be able to clime that mountain

Hey gaye emami make your dream happen! It's all worth the effort! The sunrise from top is really something.

And you can easily beat the cold temp with the right clothing :)

Ang ganda talaga ng sunrise sa Mt. Pulag, sulit ang pagod at paggising ng maaga kapag nakita mo na yung sunrise. Nakakainlove di ba :)

Super! Sulit lahat ng pagod at pawis :) Gusto kong bumalik via Akiki Trail! Mahirap daw talaga kaya tinawag na "killer trail!"

Wow! One of my dreams is to climb Pulag. I hope to fulfill that dream this year. Nice adventure and amazing photos. My draw literally dropped!

Wow! One of my dreams is to climb Pulag. I hope to fulfill that dream this year. Nice adventure and amazing photos. My draw literally dropped!

It was my dream, too, back in 2006. It took me 5 years to fulfill it! But definitely worth all the effort, sweat, shortness of breath, and energy. Hope you get to see Mt. Pulag this year, @cfd1736912b88f52561c4b419cab2eb8:disqus  :)

naiinggit lang ako pag nankakakaita ako ng mga nakapag-Pulag na. hehe ang ganda kase tlga  ng view.  :)

Hehe super ganda nga talaga @6967bcc680357ce4d0348c0de53f34f1:disqus ! Gusto kong bumalik within the year, baka December (gusto ko lang lamigin ulit!). Tara!!! :)

inggit ako, i've never really climbed/hiked a mountain before. Isa ito sa mga goals ko this year! Congrats on the climb! :D

*Jaw not draw. Hehe. Anyway, I started dreaming of reaching its peak in 2008. Okay, I'm inspired again. :)

hi..just want to ask kung saan mo nabili ung Conquer Micra Tent mo... i want one too! =D

message me at 09195156475

Hi @8d83d286d254cd3bceb508dbf367b7c9 ! I got it from Conquer store in Robinsons Pioneer (747-0726). There's a detailed description of the things I got for my Pulag climb in this post:

Hey Jonna! 

I just saw this blog today, and I sent an email. :)

HI joanna,

Really inspired of your travel stints. I would like know where i can get Conquer micra tent and the altimeter/weather station you used when you were in Pulag. Hope to hear from you.

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