Pulag: Into the Playgrounds of the Gods

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(Blanket of clouds)

If Greece has Mount Olympus to be the haven of their immortals, the Philippine lower mythology has Mount Pulag to be the playgrounds of the gods.

Listening to the stories and tales of Mt. Pulag when I am still a kid leave wonder and fascination in my young mind. Plus, numerous feature stories I watched on television about this mountain made me dream of climbing it one day. Okay. Before continuing my adventure, let me give you an overview about Mt.Pulag. Dubbed as the Playground of the Gods and Sea of Clouds, the mountain stand 2922 meters in the province of Benguet. It is the coldest point of the Philippines that reach below zero degrees in the month of December to February.

Then came the perfect time I was able to climb this dream mountain of mine. A package of 2,800 including fare and fee was laid upon my table! I am very excited, that the day before my trip I was not able to sleep well 🙂

10 o’ clock of Friday evening I met up with my fellow tourist (my professor, long-time friend and other new faces I’ve never met before) in Cubao Victory Station. With some lively chats and pulling of jokes, the trip was not boring. 6 o’ clock we arrived at Baguio City, ate our breakfast and prepared our things in the jeep that will escort us to Mt. Pulag.

I do love adventure! I have done so many adventures and daredevil adventures that I always charge to experience. But the ride on jeep (topload baby!) off to Pulag had given a lot of experiences that I enjoy!

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(Coaster ride? hell of a ride. Feels like Im about to throw up! With Sir Norman in the front)

We arrived at the DENR center for a quick orientation about this mystic mountain. The orientation was informative, we were told that Pulag is a sacred place for the natives and we must respect the sanctity of the place. After the orientation we traveled for 30 minutes to reach the ranger station. Oh well, the ride from DENR to the ranger station was really bumpy. Prepare your butts to get hurt. Don’t worry, the beautiful surroundings and ravines will greet you (just don’t think negative things like falling down)

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(Register and attend the orientation. Best tasting banana chips!)

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(With the gang!)

As we reach the ranger station we prepared, ate our lunch and hired some porter guys that will carry our stuff to the base camp. As we were preparing, suddenly the hail pellets began to fall! First time experience of rain of hail in this tropical country! After the rain, fogs began to envelope the whole place. Feels like we’re in heaven!

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(could you ask for more?)

We started the hike to the base camp on exactly 2pm. Of course, as our team walk we couldn’t resist to do camera whoringJ. We want to enjoy the moment that finally we are touching down this beautiful mountain. Every curves and steeps of the mountain offer great variety of paronama from the billowing moving clouds down to the luscious flora of the mountain. I couldn’t help but to say “thank you Lord!” as we traverse the trail.

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(in luscious green I found pax)

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(pine trees all over)

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 (fill your lungs with the fresh fog covering the place)

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 (terraces? We’re not in Banaue!)

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(wow!)

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 (pitcher plant? I don’t have any idea.)

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(some wild flowers)

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(reaching the base camp 2)

The mountain is simply fantastic, it host several plants I am not familiar with and easy trails that I never expected. It was 6 o’clock when we reach the camp 2. Tents scattered everywhere. Our porter told us there are 500 people that were registered to assault the summit at 3 am. Together with my group we settled to spend the night. We changed our clothes, ate our supper and had a little chit chat.

It’s time to sleep then suddenly, it was raining! It was non-stop! Unexpected turn of events, the water went inside our tent! Soaking wet all our belongings and sleeping bags! Flood inside our tent? Yes! We’re panicking and we decided to go to the tent of our organizer.

Our group organizer let us in and told us they were about to go in our tent to stay coz the water also drench the thermal sheets of their tent. Then that’s it, seven people crammed inside the tent with wet thermal sheets and with capacity of 3 person only. Charge to experience.

We couldn’t sleep, no good sleeping position is good for us to rest. We stayed so close that our body heat serve as protection from the deadly cold outside. We tried to get rest but its futile, for us to entertain ourselves we made fun of our condition. Then a brilliant idea was made, we will sleep in soldier position. That ladies and gentlemen is the best one hour of my night in that mountain. I was able to sleep for one hour before 3 a.m.

At 3 a.m, people who camped were awake. It’s time to assault the summit. With nothing but strong conviction to reach the top and beat the cold we join the hundreds of people on climbing the top. It’s almost a 3 hour walk and the trail is illuminated by flashlights. It is like a dawn procession, only this is no Catholic tradition.

Then as we are reaching the top tadahhh!!!

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 (sunrise!)

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(supreme sun in the vast sky)

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(playing the light)

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(uncovering the place!)

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(side 1)

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(the ascend to the top)

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(closer look on dwarf bamboos)

Finally, 2922 above sea level. We have not seen the sea of clouds but the view was really amazing and breath taking!

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More camera whoring moments.

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More bonding with my groups.

Appreciating Mother nature more and more and more!

As the sun perch and melt the mist clear view of the mountain greeted us. Dwarf bamboos carpeted the whole summit and its small peak below mossy forest and pine forest are in their liveliest green.

Truly, jaw dropping.

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After that we climbed down to the base camp. As we traverse the same trail, the beauty of Pulag slowly uncovered.  Unlike the climb ascending in the dark dawn which I couldn’t see the view, I like the descend more.

The view? Wonderful and so exquisite! I’m speechless!

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After reaching the camping area we ate our breakfast and packed our bags and tent. Time to leave the mountain.

Hiking down, I feel that I don’t want to leave the place. I feel in love with the serenity, peace and sacredness of the mountain. But, my life below the mountain is waiting for me.

I will definitely go back to climb this mountain. Other part of my adventurous soul was left in its summit. I may not have seen the sea of clouds, but every cold wind that blew in my body, every hail that rained in my coat and the priceless bonding with new found friends, that what I call “a must experience”.

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