Mount Pulag (Benguet, PH)

Climbing Mt. Pulag: Thoughts and Reflection

“Yes, tell your story. Be an example to others. Tell everyone that it is possible, and then others will find the courage to climb their own mountains.” Paulo Coelho, Like The Flowing River

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This is about someone’s passion. It is about excitement and fervor – a simple straight forward account as to why some people are passionate about mountains and how climbing mountains change some of us. This is my passion.

The grassland.

The grassland.

I know I’ve made several blogs now but I have to confess, I still have trouble starting out one… it worries me since I may not be able to substantiate my reasons… But then again, given that I assert this as my own account, then I guess no one can malign me for my own words and perspective… I have scaled Mount Pulag 13 times for the past 10 years. Yes, 13 times! This is not a rundown as to what happened on each of those 13 Pulag climbs but a narrative of the reasons of climbing this very same mountain. More so, this is a tale about happiness, friendship and all else that comes in between the two. I am no longer surprised whenever someone asks me as to why I continue climbing Mount Pulag… Here are some personal reasons I have come to realize why I keep coming back to the Playground of the Gods.

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Most enjoyable way to experience Pulag is with friends!

Recreating the Past Why not go somewhere new and have completely new experiences? – Someone once told me. I have to admit though that I am pretty stuck with the thought that “I keep going back to one place because it makes me recreate the experiences I had the last time.” True enough, going back makes me feel reunited with the people who once shared that memorable escapade with me. It makes me feel rejuvenated and alive, and no one can take that fact away from me.

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Things never happen the same way twice. I have been sharing this line to anyone who persistently asks me as to why I like going back to a place where I have been to several times. I may have that tendency to recreate the past experiences I have had, but there is more to recreating. For me, no matter how frequent I have been to one place, no matter how similar things may look like, there are those small details that make something very special… something different…. It would be inequitable to say that one climb is more memorable than the other since every climb I made was unique and unforgettable. Hence turning something into a whole, new experience…

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The famed sea of clouds.

Being on top of the mountain is like partly living a dream.

There are times when I close my eyes, I could vividly imagine how quaint the grassland is with its swaying dwarf bamboos; the way the sun bursts over the cottony sea of clouds. The astonishing display of emblem during a crack of dawn – swathed in amazing gold, carroty, scarlet, and burgundy shades never fails to amaze. Sunrise experience over 2,922 meters above sea level is indescribable feeling. I would think of the azure sky during the day; the stars in the night sky and how that vastness made me feel smaller. When you’re out there, you suppose that you see every minute star in the universe, especially during clear hours of darkness. Gazing up from mats laid on campsites, you see the grimy lights of the Milky Way. It is like being in a planetarium with the sky as your dome. It sounded like a dream, a trance perhaps few of the mountaineers and nature-lovers took to their forty winks after the entire climb.

Moments of unqualified free will.

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Jump of Joy atop Pulag’s peak!

I love the ride to Pulag despite the long and meandering path. I love that sweltering feeling yet cold and clammy sensation enveloping my body during exasperating walks through the pine and mossy forests. I have loved the sub-zero cold weather that sometimes robs me off some precious time to sleep despite being cocooned inside my sleeping bag. I have had a time of my life with different people who made every climb extra, extra memorable and uniquely special. The incomparable persona of the different individuals who decided to come and experience Pulag with me added more excitement and color to my climbs. Friends were made out of total strangers… Stories shared have stirred each other to look at life with a more hopeful stance… And the wonders of nature made us value the righteousness of God’s creation. The days spent may have passed too soon… And most of us went back to face our own lives… But then again, the memories derived continue to hang around.

Mount Pulag's amazing sea of clouds.

Mount Pulag’s amazing sea of clouds.

This entry may sound pretty minor and unimportant to most of you; nevertheless, I don’t intend to make you understand every emotion and information I have jotted down. But as I go through my writing, I am convinced that this is something I am passionate about – all of these I have personally experienced, all of these my eyes have marvelled face-to-face. And as I wrap up this piece, I felt more wistful than ever. The voices, the laughter, and the clicking of the cameras during spur-of-the moment shots slowly reverberate into my ears. With my eyes shut, I could still feel the arctic touch of the breeze brushing through my cheeks, like I am still perched atop Mount Pulag’s peak… with my friends laughing… and celebrating life. And for a fleeting moment, I am in nostalgia .

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Remember – Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak . And as Edmund Hillary once said — It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. And that is something that will make us happy.”

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Some Things You Might Just Wanna Know: (If you are planning a Do-It-Yourself Climb with your friends and you do not want to join a travel group).

PULAG BUDGET ESTIMATE

Manila-Baguio-Manila via Victory (either from Pasay or Cubao) – Php940

Taxi from Victory terminal to Slaughterhouse and back (Magsaysay) – Php150

Baguio-Bokod-Baguio via A-Liner – Php250-270

Bokod-Babadak-Bokod via habal-habal – Php400*** (I am not sure if there is a fixed rate now)

Registration fee (+ environmental fee) in Mt. Pulag – Php225 Guide fee (P1000/group of 7)

***If you opt to hire a chartered jeepney if you come in group of 10 or more, then this is much more convenient and advisable. (Jeep rental is around Php 8-10K)

CONTACTS NEEDED Emerita Albas +639196315402 – It is essential to inform her that you are climbing Mt..

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SAMPLE ITINERARY (via Ambangeg Trail or the Easy trail)

Day 1

0000 Take bus from Manila to Baguio City

0600 ETA Baguio City Baguio City. Breakfast.

0700 Head to the bus terminal at Old Slaughterhouse

0800 Take A-Liner bus bound for Kabayan

1100 ETA Visitors’ Center. Registration / Orientation 1200 Set out for Ranger Station via habal-habal

1300 ETA at Ranger Station; Lunch/secure guide; Start trek

1600 ETA Camp 2. Set up camp

1800 Dinner at campsite; socials

*However, if you opt for a chartered jeepney, you might want to be in Baguio a little earlier.

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Day 2

0330 Early morning trek to summit for sunrise

0500 Arrival at summit and wait for sunrise

0730 Start descent from summit

0830 Back at Camp 2; breakfast

1000 Decamp; start descent to Ranger Station

1200 Back at Ranger; Lunch/Settle guide fees

1300 Back at Visitors’ Center. Wait for bus back to Baguio

1700 ETA Baguio City.

1900 Head back to Manila

*Please note that bus rides do not have fix schedules as they would come from Kabayan Town proper.

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What to Bring: (from Chasing Philippines)
Each participant should have the following:
* bubble-type jacket
* poncho
* trekking shoes
* sleeping pad
* sleeping bag
* thermal gloves
* thermal pants
* thermal socks
* bonnet
* at least 1.5 to 2 L of water
* headlamp
* toiletries
* thermal blanket

The group should bring the following depending on the number of joiners:
* tent
* stoves
* butane gas
* rice
* canned goods
* trail food
* medicine kit
* cookset
* trash bag

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AGAIN: Important Contacts:
Ms. Gina Epe (Monster Jeepney) – 09198169234
Ms. Emerita Albas (aka Maam Mering of DENR) – 09196315402

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