Part 3: Mt. Pulag – Tests of Limits

Mt. Pulag

After the funny side trip we’ve been at Ambulalacao Lake, it’s time for the real thing! If you missed out how this all started, you may go back to Part 1.

Tawangan Arc Multi-Purpose Cooperative
We took our quick lunch at the Tawangan Arc Multi-Purpose Cooperative at Tawangan, Kabayan, Benguet. After in a few, we met our guide and porter (Thank God! We got a porter, our loads would be lighter).

Selfie with the locals. They are scared of the camera (or me? lol)
Around Quarter to 3, my first major trek to the third highest mountain of the Philippines begin!

T’was a skeptical start and also exciting since this is my first time to be on a Major climb and I haven’t got much preparation especially carrying full load. Also, it was already afternoon when we started and estimated time on arrival to the Camp site is 6 hours if your phase is fast enough.

 

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Tawangan Trail
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Tawangan Trail
First part of the trail is a bushy jungle. With tall trees, water streams, actually there were around 4 streams that we passed and got fresh water.

Water Source amidst Tawangan Trail

LEECHES! LEECHES!

Oops! I didn’t notice this until I reached the tent. I was leeched near my feet!

There are lot of tiny leeches. Few of them went to my backpack and one in my hand, AND I WAS ASTONISHED! Really! T’was my first time to see a leech and it was on my hand! Actually, I never felt anything, it’s just kinda gross to see this bloodsucker that is wiggling around your hands. They are difficult to remove because they’re stuck. My friends said that you may leave it on and they will just remove themselves when they’re full.

DARK NIGHT TREK

Night Trek. Scary isn’t it?

What could be more thrilling than trekking throughout complete dark jungle with only light from your headlamp and the shining bright moon?

Throughout the night, I feel worried about what will happen. It’s dark, we were starving, we were exhausted, we were slow yet we should push through the campsite because there is no single place to pitch our tents all through the jungle. But I never expected that this night would I would eat on the BEST dining place I could be off. We dined out at the knife edge between Tawangan jungle that is so-called as “Junior Pulag”.

DINNER AT JUNIOR PULAG

Junior Pulag is one of a kind. Who would’ve thought to find that paradise between heavy forests of the Tawangan Trail. Both sides you can see vast and high mountain ranges; up above, you can stare all night the surreal galaxy; the wind chill that refreshes the tiredness we have from the trek. I wish we could camp out there, however, it is not advised because the deep cliffs beside are risky.

We quickly had our dinner because we still got 2 hours to take to reach the camp site.

TREK PA MORE!

After that refreshing dinner at the best dining place, we resumed our trek around 10 PM going to the campsite. We went through the jungle still exhausted. With that, we decided to rest for 5 minutes every 30 minutes to catch up our breath.

One thing I could not forget and maybe one of the remarkable moments I had in this adventure is that on the last 5-minute stop, I laid down with my bag on the floor and completely slept. That’s how drained I was! My friends woke me up after a while and said that I was snoring out loud! But I was thankful for that because I was recharged and was able to trek faster to the campsite. In my mind, I keep on telling myself to push harder and be motivated to continue the trek to reach the camp site so that I can finally rest.

We reached the campsite of Tawangan trail around midnight. Quickly, we pitched off the tents and finally had a good night sleep.

SCENIC GRASSLAND

After that tiresome night, we were fully energized to continue this awesome adventure. We were not able to get up early to watch the sunrise because we reached the camp very late.

Grassland going to the summit of Mt. Pulag
What a beautiful scenery, isn’t it?
We resumed around 10 in the morning and we had 2 hours to reach the peak of Mt. Pulag throughout the beautifully scenic grassland. Tall golden grass, cool wind chill, steep trails, what can you ask for more?

Mt. Pulag Summit – YAY!

Steep trail going up to the summit of Mt. Pulag

Last challenge to the summit is its steep trail going up. My legs were in pain; my inner fire is the only I had to continue to reach the highest peak of my life.

Finally, we reached 2922 masl. Congratulations to self for achieving and conquering your first major climb!

Limitless View from the Summit of Mt. Pulag
The view from the summit is limitless, the vast mountains of Cordilleras; the golden colors of the mountain ranges; the fresh and cool wind chill. I really wished I could stay up all day but we need to get back before we reach dark again.

GOING HOME THROUGH AMBANGEG TRAIL

Ambangeg Trail.

Ambangeg Trail is the most established trail among the three (Tawangan and Akiki). I believe this is the commercialized one and indeed the easiest, also the shortest path. But personally, I hate that trail. Why? Due to its widened stone path, it looked like a street at provinces. You can even do a group talk while hiking and not follow the-usual line. But yeah, it’s the easiest. However, I’m also thankful for that since it did not require much effort as we did taking Tawangan Trail, how much more in Akiki Trail.

It took around 2 hours to reach the Ranger Station of Ambangeg.

We achieved Mt. Pulag!
I felt really glad for achieving and conquering this kind of adventure. It made me realize my limits, how I pushed myself to pursue this adventure, how I was able to enjoy being with nature amidst being fatigue. Words can’t describe how grateful I am during that adventure. It’s truly a highlight of my 2016. I’m looking forward for my next major climb. Would it be then second highest? We’ll see 🙂

SUMMARY OF ITINERARY

01:00 PM – ETA Tawangan Jump Off

3:00 PM – Start Trek

9:00 PM – ETA Junior Pulag, Dinner

10:00 PM – Resume trek

12:00 AM – ETA Camp, Pitch camp, lights out


9:30 AM – Breakfast, Break Camp

10:00 AM – Start Trek

11:30 AM – Summit!

12:10 PM – ETA down to Ambangeg Trail

1:30 PM – Lunch at Camp 2, Ambangeg Trail

2:10 PM – Resume Trek

4:00 PM – Arrival, Ambangeg Ranger Station

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