We made a few hour stop at the Ranger Station before proceeding to Camp 2. The welcoming faces of the people made us quite relieved of the hour long habal-habal ride. After doing the pre-mountain hiking formalities with the Ranger Station personnel (who suggested that we can have a paluto or request for home cooking on a nearby sari-sari store), we took our lunch of steamy chicken tinola with the freshest cabbage I could imagine. Looking around the place, I found out that most of the children have similar physical features with those of the Andes people in South America, as I had seen on a documentary about people living on high altitude areas.
When all on the table was nothing but leftovers and we were already full to our hearts content, we started preparing for our hiking adventure to Camp 2, accompanied by Ate Nida, our tour guide. She told us that she had been a porter before and it was her first time as a tour guide, but she know the trail well. Moments after we left the Ranger Station, she offered to carry the baggage of one of my companion upon seeing that we are already catching our breaths just a hundred yards from there. I was surprised to see her nimble and strong, despite her age and the fact that she is a woman. Nevertheless, we continue to hike to Camp 2, passing on plantations carved on mountain slopes, pine forests and the most amusing part of the trail to me – the mossy forest.
A cup of coffee after traversing the rugged road to the Ranger Station surely have a calming effect to the mind and body.
…so was the start of our hike along the carved road on the mountain slopes
At first I thought those black things were electric wires. It turned out that those hanging hoses were the irrigation system for vegetable gardens below.
Picture-taking at Camp 1. We managed to take a rest for few minutes but we have to be on Camp 2 before sundown.
We spotted few species of flora that thrive amidst the mossy forest. It was as if we’re in a completely different world.
Ate Nida told us that Camp 2 will be few walks away from this sign post. Fog started to spread on the trail, but it didn’t hinder our visibility.
Finally, we reached Camp 2. Dwarf bamboos grow all over the place, but there’s a designated place to set-up the tent. Our tour guide selected the best spot, and from there we unpacked our things and started to make a temporary shelter for the night.
Dwarf bamboo is similar to its lowland counterpart, though they differ totally in size.
Something to protect us from weather elements? This tent will do, hopefully.
We went to sleep as early as 7 o’clock in the evening, after having our dinner of cup noodles and crackers. Everyone seemed to be too tired to stay late, so each of us made ourselves in the cozy position possible inside the tent. We were glad because there are two more group of hikers who set up their tent just a few meters away from our tent and both of them seemed to sleep early as we were. According to the Visitor’s Center personnel back in the center, there are times when a large number of hikers set camp around the campsite that some groups start complaining because of the unruly behavior of other groups. Today, they are somehow trying to limit the number of hikers in Mount Pulag, so as to preserve its diverse ecosystem and natural wonders.
I tried hard to sleep, but because of the temperature, both my numbing feet and hands made me uncomfortable, keeping me awake from time to time. I was already wearing a five-layer inner shirt-jacket combination, but the cold air keeps on penetrating my skin. The wind was producing a whizzing sound overhead as it lands on the dwarf bamboo bush. It was already sweeping our little tent and I was fearful that it might get blown away soon, but somehow then tent stood in place. That was the longest night of my life and I never expected that the cold temperature will drop to that degree. By around 3 o’clock in the morning, my fellow hikers started waking up and we prepared hot coffee before proceeding to the early morning hike to the summit. An hour later, our tour guide told us that we can leave our things in the tent and we need to catch up with the rising sun. Soon, we began our hike following the other groups.
It was still dark when we set out, so we have to bring flashlight along. I was quite surprised to see the stars early that morning because they all seemed nearer there on the mountaintop. We made a few stop on the way even though we were on the grassland part of the mountain but we managed to reach the summit just in time for the sunrise.
We took a series of rest along the way. This time, we were almost halfway.
Few minutes and it would be sunrise. We barely made it in time.
At 2,922 meters above sea level, we were already atop the highest mountain in Luzon.
Looking at the sea of clouds was surreal defined.
I stood in awe and wonder looking at the sea of clouds on the summit of Mount Pulag. It was indeed a creation a Divine Artist only could ever do. All the tiring moments while we were on our way to the peak seem to vanish as we all look at the sun, the clouds below us and the distant lands around the mountain. I’ve been reading about how surreal it is on top, but at that very moment, I experienced a feeling that is worth remembering in someone’s lifetime.
I am planning to go back sometime in the future. Perhaps with another friends, perhaps at some other trail (there are several trails to the Mount Pulag summit). I you’re a beginner, Ambangeg Trail is highly recommended. There’s no need to be strict on schedule especially if you are free for a week, because most of the exciting things happen along the way to your destination. You might add Mount Pulag hiking to one of your things to do sometime within the year, but better go there on the first months of the year and on weekdays. Upon reaching the summit, you will surely realize that you are already on the “playground of the gods.”