Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mountain | Walking In The Clouds of Mt Pulag

MOUNTAIN | Walking In The Clouds of Mt Pulag Part 1
Mt Pulag Climb in Photos

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”
- Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps 

Mt Pulag for most Filipino outdoor enthusiast is the mountain of dreams, what with the many taglines and titles alluded to this esteemed peak in the Cordilleras. There had been a lot of instances where I planned to climb this mountain only to be re-scheduled, thwarted or cancelled, perhaps it was fate that I have come to a point where I would read through someone’s account of their personal experience in a blog post, thinking that most had been exaggerated stories of zero visibilities, extreme cold, or deadly inclines, I have kept my opinion to myself until I’ve experienced it but I have been deeply jealous all along, I have yet to confirm why this is a must-do in the bucket list.

If only I had more freedom from my strict work schedule, a climb to Mt Pulag would not sound like a hike of a lifetime for me, it only made it more like a mountain of dreams the longer I delay. I’ve heard stories from novice climber friends describing the whole experience as life changing, it only confirms the fact that a lot of allusions had been given to Mt Pulag being “The Playground of the Gods,” “The Coldest Place in the Philippines,” “Resting place of the Ancestors” these had only fueled my lust.

The dry bed of Agno River, photo taken photo taken in Ambuklao.

Ambuklao Dam Viewpoint, a side trip while passing through Brgy Ambuklao, Bokod, Benguet
on the way to the DENR for Mt Pulag climb registration.

Rough Terrain sorrounding the Ambuklao Dam reservoir is a sight to behold, a landscape that is familiar in the Cordillera's.

Being the 3rd Highest
With the proud altitude of 2,922 MASL, one of crown premiere Two Thousander Mountains in the Philippines. A large part of Mt Pulag is designated as a National Park with incredible diversity of Flora and Fauna, a home to some endemic and threatened animals. At lower elevations is Pine Forrest along rugged Cordillera landscape with scattering of falls and small lakes, farms and terraces. Along the slopes is the esteemed mossy forest of some diverse and stunted trees frequently enveloped by fog, with arrays of ferns and moss’s hugging the trees. The 3 summits of Mt Pulag including a wide area around the summit is a rolling grassland landscape of grass and dwarf bamboos endemic to the area.

 The Jump Off: The Rangers Station
Taking the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail of Mt Pulag, one is required to pass through the Rangers Station. This is where you can hire the needed guides for the climb.

The Farm Lands

Farm lands are the first terrain to be passed, with scattering of vegetable plots and paddies carving this side of the mountain, making vegetable terraces.

The farm lands is much like a walk in the park.

The Mossy Forrest
The Mossy forest covers the mid section of the trail, starts with the trail going into thickly forested area of diverse flora. Moss of the kind typically found in high altitude places in the Cordillera covers some Forrest tree trunks and even fallen branches. Endemic orchids and some unfamiliar plants can be seen along the trail.

The start of the trail from Camping Ground 1, bounded by the mossy forest.

Edible wild berries.

Wild Orchids

Unfamiliar Ferns

The trail is also ladden with exposed old tree roots.

A twisted and gnarled old tree is a regular sight.

Walking in the clouds, from time to time, we find ourselves walking straight into a gloomy fog, like a misty setting in a movie, only that this is real.

The constant fog that bathes the trees is positively the culprit behind the bloom of mosses.

Tree tunnels and heavy fog can hinder visibility; you can just imagine if its raining heavily, this climb would have been miserably cold.

Our guide is this kind and gentle man who is a member of a rare local tribe that lives in Mt Pulag.

Once past the Mossy forest, you'll find yourself in an open landscape of Grassland which is the site for Camping Ground 2. It was 2 hours of pleasant trek with gentle incline, but here I gave in to my exhaustion. We have reached our camping site for this night, my thermal jacket is soaked but I won't dare remove it. The cold is creeping in.

The view from the camp site is the grassland summits of Mt Pulag covered in rolling hills and dried grass and offshoots of dwarf endemic bamboo.

On The Map

Mount Pulag (or sometimes Mount Pulog) is the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines (but is currently the official 2nd highest). It is Luzon’s highest peak at 2,922 meters above sea level. The borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya meet at the mountain's peak.

Continue with Part II in this Link:

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. Amazing nature! I wish I can go on a mountain adventure someday too!

  2. I'm from Baguio and I still have to climb Mt. Pulag. Seeing your photos makes me want to do it faster.

  3. Wow! The sceneries are really beautiful! A visual feast!

  4. Francis your story and photos are amazing! I had the chance to climb Pulag but was not able to go years ago. You rekindled my interest in climbing it one day! My hubby is an avid hiker and will show your blog to him. Maybe when we next visit the Philippines, we can include this in our itinerary. Thank you and I look forward to Part 2.

    - Karen

  5. Exploring the beauty of nature never gets old! You had a wonderful experience at Mt. Pulag :)

  6. I have been planning on climbing Mt. Pulag for the longest time, have yet to take the plunge! Is a guide required to hike up and down the mountain?

    1. Yes Sir!
      Requirement ng DENR ang Guide sa Mt Pulag.
      Iba pa yung porters if you wanna hire one. :)

  7. I've heard so many people say that Mt. Pulag is the best mountain to climb for first-timers. My friend has been asking us to try it. The views all look great!

  8. I love all your photos and I admire you for being able to climb mountains. I don't think I can do that.


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