Friday, February 5, 2016

Sweet Cold Embrace of Mt. Pulag

It seems like Mt. Pulag has been one of the favorite playground of nature lovers, despite of the very cold climate, there's no way that it can stop them. Maybe for others they like that kind of weather but for me, it is one of my most dreaded situations because I am allergic to cold weather! My skin gets itchy and I tremble so easily, so I had a hard time deciding, that's why I am so late going there. But who will not chill with the 5 degree freezing temperature?

Amazing view of the summit!

Anyway, Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines standing at 2,922 meters high above sea level and its peak meets the borders of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. The mountain is famous for its superb sea of clouds which tourists can enjoy during sunrise and take selfie or groupie shots or panoramic shots or whatever kinda shots. Or you can just stand and admire the gift of heaven to mankind.

Campsite.
We arrived at noon and camped just a few blocks away from the ranger station. It was not that cold yet that I still enjoyed the cold breeze but not until late in the afternoon when wind started to howl, and the ground became so cold that it was penetrating through the tarpaulin, the insulation and the thick sleeping bed in our tent. The temperature started to drop until our tent has become a freezer!  Before that, I had some time wandering around the place and it is way too far from the chaotic environment of the metropolis.

Awesome View!

We had dinner at 6 PM, early huh? We should get some sleep for our trek going to the summit which will start at 1 AM. I had a hard time sleeping because it was so damn cold! I took a few shots of brandy to make me feel warm but it didn't help. By 11 PM I stood up and walked out of the tent to move my numb body and it helped! At 12 MN we had some coffee and sandwiches and prepared for our trek. I got four layers of tops (2 heat tech shirts, a wool sweater and a hooded jacket), three layers of bottoms, two socks, a shawl to wrap my head and half of my face, a thick scarf and gloves. I thought that would keep me warm but not really. I don't have a photo of me with that outfit because I looked like a ninja spring roll.


We started to walk at 1:30 AM and it was totally dark in the forest, only the flicker of headlamps and flashlights lighted our way which looked like fireflies flying in single file. We passed by Camp 1, and arrived  in Camp 2 by 4:30 AM, and because it's too early to go to the summit, we stayed at the bunkhouse to rest and prepare for the assault to the summit. It would take another hour of trekking to get to the summit so we must regain energy and so I slept!

Magic!

It didn't take too long, we started to ascend to the peak... it was drizzling, dark and cold! But thanks to the long trek which made us sweat and kept us warm a bit. Sunrise hasn't shown yet when we arrived, but as soon as it emerges on the horizon everyone stood up, started to set their cameras and clicked away! Be sure you wrap your cameras with thick cloth before trekking just to be sure it will work at the peak. Clouds came passing by in different shapes, it crawls along the slopes of the mountains and it was a fantastic phenomena of nature! Well I saw sea of clouds every time I'm in a plane, but it's something different when they're within your reach and touches your face. They're like acrobats in the air entertaining each and everyone of us there! It was an amazing experience!
Now back to the campsite!




 Well talking about cameras...my DSLR didn't work on that moment! Oh my God, why did you let it happen? It's a good thing that I brought my underwater camera so I thought there would be no problem with it getting moist and all, but if not I wouldn't have any photos at all!


Well I don't have any idea how it was like when we were going to the summit, but I never realized that there were more surprises and it was this beautiful! How wonderful it was to walk along the trails surrounded by rolling hills and clouds and it is such God's grace!


 This dog keeps on guiding us, going to the foot of Mt. Pulag but it disappeared later.





I think this white flower is "Edelweiss".

Some frozen delights along the way. I learned that we also passed by a large area of mossy forest, which I think has inhabited the mountain since time immemorial.

Hands off please!


And as we got to the foot of Mt. Pulag, another surprise awaits!




Oh well, I was tired, my body and feet hurts but I am very very happy! I promise to go back and commune with nature again in this wonderful gift of heaven.

REMINDERS:
1. Be sure that you secure a medical certificate before you go. No medical certificate no climb.
2. Attend the orientation at the DENR office for some information about the going there and how to stay safe while on the mountain.
3. Please LEAVE NO TRACE! Do not leave your trash, put them in a garbage bag and dispose them properly.
4. I have to tell you that it is really cold up there, so be sure you're prepared for it. Keep yourself warm. Layers of clothes, socks, scarf, beanie and gloves is advisable.
4. Homestays and campsites are available and can be arranged.

HOW TO GET THERE?
1. There are travel agencies that books tourists covering transportation expenses, food, tour guides, accommodations and other fees. All you have to do is pay, pack your things and get on the bus!
2. If you're on your own, take a bus going to Baguio via Victory Liner. Find a transportation which will take you to Mt. Pulag in Kabayan. There are jeepneys outside Victory Liner terminal which takes passengers to Mt. Pulag.
3. Attend the orientation at DENR office. IT IS A MUST!

It is better if you have an arrangement with homestays, they can arrange everything for you. Well thank you for reading and until my next adventure! I was with Travel Factor during this trip, it's a travel agency and they arranged everything for us. Please visit their Facebook page.


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