“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
Our group was still two hours away from the Mount Pulag camp site and in between heavy breaths, one of our companions was able to quip those funny lines.
Minutes later, the group became quiet and as our backpacks bore down on our soldiers with our breaths getting heavier and heavier the higher we ascend, you could almost hear everyone having the same thoughts: “What have I gotten myself into?”
The road to Pulag
Mount Pulag is the second highest peak in the country. Anyone who wants to conquer it, especially the first-time climbers, should have the necessary preparations—physical and mental—prior to the climb.
For climbing neophytes, it’s better to sign up for expeditions organized by seasoned travel groups. They usually hold orientations weeks prior to the climb where participants are briefed on what to expect and what items to bring.
From Manila, there are terminals where you can board the 11:30 p.m. bus bound for Baguio City. Estimated arrival in the City of Pines is usually 6:00 a.m. From there, it is a one-hour jeepney ride to the first stop of the adventure: the Ambuklao Dam.
From Abuklao Dam, it’s another two-hour ride to the DENR office where all climbers undergo a brief orientation. From there, it’s another one-hour ride to the Ranger Station—the final stop before the ascent.
The Ranger Station is where climbers can do their last minute preparations—have lunch and make their backpacks waterproof. The less hardcore climbers can opt to hire a porter to carry their stuff during the hike.
Once everything and everyone is set, the three-hour hike to the Camp Site begins.
While first-time climbers are usually taken to the easy trail, the hike can still be a bit of a challenge because the higher up the mountain you get, the thinner the air becomes making your breaths heavy.
But, after three-hours of huffing and puffing, climbers will be greeted by their first dose of nature’s wonder when they reach the Camp Site.
It’s like stepping into a different world.
And the best treat for the day wouldn’t be the warm soup prepared by the guides nor the cozy tents where you can rest your tired legs but the magnificent sunset.
The journey to the peak
The target is to catch the view of the sunrise at the peak which is roughly 1.5km from the Camp Site. In order to do so, climbers would have to start venturing out even before the break of dawn.
But during the hike alone, climbers will already see a hint of the famous sea of clouds.
The moment the sun begins to peek, climbers will be treated to a breathtaking mix of different hues of blue, yellow, and orange.
And once the sun has finally risen, climbers will get to bask in the majestic glory of the mountains coated in a sea of clouds highlighted by orange hues.
Climbers are usually given 15 minutes to enjoy the sunrise after which, they begin the downhill journey back to the Camp Site.
Not everybody can say “I walked into a sea of clouds.” It might entail a few aching joints here and there but nothing a glimpse of all of nature’s wonders–clouds, sunrise, sunset, breathtaking mountain ranges–can’t cure.
- Consult seasoned climbers or your travel group and ask for a list of must-brings and must-wear for the expedition.
- Weeks prior to the climb, try to establish a regular running routine to build your stamina.
- There is absolutely no electricity at the camp site. So if you are the type who cannot afford to be incommunicado, make sure your phone is fully charged and you have an extra battery or power bank with you.