Above the Clouds: Conquering Mt. Pulag

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“Dream hikes do come true”, I whispered with a smile on my face as I watched the sunrise with my fellow hikers.

According to one of our fellow hikers, the temperature that night would be around -2 degrees at night and as for me, I could barely even stand our office’s AC at maximum. That’s how bothered I am by the cold. Sadly, I’m not like Elsa.

Pulag was my first mountain for 2016 and one of my most memorable hikes too. This was the trip that brought me closer to one of my best friends now, this adorable girl Celene.

 It all began when she messaged me 4 months ago, asking me if I was interested in joining their Mt. Pulag trip. I immediately said yes. Besides, I don’t know anyone else who would go with me, and opportunities like these are rare so of course, it’s a YES. 

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The Journey

We traveled for 6 hours from Manila to Baguio then switched to rented vans from Baguio to Mt. Pulag’s camping grounds. My friend, Celene invited me to this trip with her officemates since she knew that I have always wanted to climb Mount Pulag.

Mount Pulag is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country. Its peak is 2,922 meters above sea level, and is the highest mountain in Luzon and the third highest mountain in the whole Philippines.

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What welcomes you in the DENR station: memorabilia from previous hikers.

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I must admit I took this trip for granted. I didn’t prepare much since it was months away and I had other travel plans before the Pulag Hike. I crammed, and only started buying hiking equipment and important things to bring 5 days before the hike. I also only started getting back to working out then! Imagine how sore my muscles were.

DSC_6230DSC_6320At around 1 am, we started the trek. It was dark out and my only source of light was the moon and my headlight. I was nervous and shivering because of the biting cold, but also excited at the same time. We were a large group so it was really embarrassing whenever I would ask for a pause because i needed to catch my breath.

I felt like I was on the verge of an asthma attack halfway through the hike. I was wearing a heavy coat to keep myself warm yet my thermal clothes still wasn’t enough to ward off the cold. My knees were sore, the air was thin and I kept on accidentally slipping. I did not want to be a burden so I kept going even though I wanted to go back.
My fellow hikers were all nice and understanding. We would pause whenever someone needed a break, and we would say encouragements to each other until we reached the summit. “The sea of clouds is going to be worth all this. Konti pa, kaya mo yan. ” 

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We were blessed with good weather according to our guides. We reached the second camp just before sunrise. The sea of clouds is already visible from there. What I saw before my eyes was probably one of the most  beautiful sights I have ever seen. I wasn’t breathless anymore because of the hike but because of the view.

Mount Pulag was fondly called as the playground of the gods because of its breathtaking view. I was in awe as I watched the sky changing colors as the sun rises, the clouds forming like fluff beneath us and the sun illuminating our surroundings, giving the beautiful scenery an orange glow. It was so beautiful and I am glad that I made it here.

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Watching the sunrise with the sea of clouds was a wonderful experience.

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The sea of clouds with the rising sun took our hearts in awe. I sat there, beside my new friends and just stared at the beauty of what’s in front of me. I know it’s a cliche but that mesmerizing view was worth the hike.

If asked, would I come back? Maybe. But not now. When I’m fit enough to try the Akiki trail. That sunrise is always worth coming back, though 🙂

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My happy face explains it all. 

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Highlight of the hike?  SOMEBODY FROM OUR TEAM PROPOSED.

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FOOT NOTES:

On what to wear: We went there during the coldest season of the year, around December – February where temperatures drop down to negative degrees (which we experienced during our night camp).

For the upper body, I wore a black sweatshirt (which I also wore during the afternoons where the cold weather was bearable), a thick inner jacket (thrifted) and my H&M Trench Coat which, btw is also thrifted.

For my lower body, I wore thick leggings. Still, I felt super cold that night so I layered it with trekking pants.

For the accessories & shoes: you may opt to wear beanies/bonnets to protect your head, scarves, extra socks and gloves. All these accessories are important. I invested in hiking shoes this time because the last time I wore my favorite pair of Nike running shoes to a hike, I slipped more than a lot. For Mount Pulag, I wanted to be safe than sorry so I bought a pair of Trekking shoes on sale.

Other things to bring: It’s important to be ready for a major hike like Pulag. Bring trail food, enough water, a trustworthy tent and thick enough sleeping bags + thermal blanket (though you could rent these things at the ranger station), personal medicines and head lamps & a flash light. My headlamp and flashlight gave up on me just when I was already near the summit. Good thing I had my iphone fully charged and I used its flashlight function to reach the top. Not advisable though, it’s best to have a trustworthy light source if you want to be safe.

Also: LEAVE NO TRACE.  Hiking is a fun activity but, we should help preserve the beauty of our mountains by practicing the right manners. Leave no trash and respect your surroundings. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Above the Clouds: Conquering Mt. Pulag

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