It has been months since my trip to Mount Pulag. It has been three months, but the experience is still fresh. I will never forget it, ever! The coldness, people and, of course, the wonderful landscape.
Mount Pulag is a very well known national park in the Philippines, locally or internationally. If you happen to be from Baguio, you’ll notice the popularity because of the numerous backpackers that come and go (Ahem! Victory Bus Terminal). If you are observant, many of the backpackers you see are actually there for the nth time, myself included. Many tourists return because of, number one, the trail. There are four major trails going to Pulag. Number 2, and the ultimate reason is, because of the majestic “Mount Pulag Sea of Clouds” and “Mount Pulag Milky Way Galaxy View.”
Many of the acquaintances I have talked to have not been lucky with a clearing. A member of a group I was with last 2013 told me that it was his 8th time and still he was not lucky to witness the breathtaking view. Everything he saw was fog, and rain to make it worse. They say it is all about timing, but nope, many disagree. I think there’s no best time or best month to climb Mount Pulag because the weather in the mountains is unpredictable. Many still did not witness the phenomenon even in summer or in a non-rainy season. Locals say that if you respect the mountain and not to be obnoxious in the camp or along the trail, you will surely witness it. It is a superstition, yes, but you won’t lose anything if you believe it, right? And besides, we should really respect nature.
It was December 2014 when I joined a group to go to Mount Pulag. Negatron hit me because it was also the month of December when my first hike there that was not lucky. But everything was set, I tried to be positive. We were ready especially my housemate who is a first timer in hiking.
Because we were only after the view, we took the easiest trail. Ambangeg trail is easy that others call it a “celebrity trail.” When we arrived at camp 2 in the afternoon, it was a little bit foggy. I really thought that in the next day, the chance of clearing in the summit is very thin. I was a bit hopeless then while we set our tent for the evening.
We finished setting up the tent and sunset came. The fog cleared and lo and behold, sea of clouds in camp 2! Quickly, we went to a vantage point. I saw some who paused for a while to see the view. Some got their camera into a time-lapse mode.
It was so beautiful and satisfying.
Surviving Mount Pulag
Darkness came shortly after. Fog came back with drizzle so we had to go to our tents. Temperature dropped quickly that our meals went from hot to cold in a matter of seconds. We had our dinner and after that we were ready to sleep. But sleep we can’t. It was freezing! We checked at the time and it was only 8 pm. It was the longest and painful camping I have ever had. My housemate and I shared the same tent and we joked like it was our last night and we might die of hypothermia. We talked about how life is beautiful and we should cherish it. He also mentioned a flashback of his early years. It was funny remembering it. I believe it was 3-degree celsius at that time. To make things worse, we were bombarded with strong winds. We couldn’t sleep well. I can’t imagine those who were stranded in a much colder situation.
There would be no problem if we were prepared. But I think that’s the thrill I also seek (stupid, I know).
A Mesmerizing View
It was 4:00 in the morning when one of our organizers started to wake us up. I opened our tent and it was still foggy with rain shower. Instead of being cold inside the tent, we thought it was better if we hiked to the summit to let our body work and be warm. We grabbed our flashlights, regrouped and started to walk. It worked! Our bodies were no longer cold. We were almost at the summit and we still see no clearing. We didn’t want to go back, we were still hopeful.
We reached the summit and there is still no sign of clearing. We waited for some time. Couple of minutes. More minutes. Wait… Is the fog going away? Is this the SEA OF CLOUDS? AWW YIIIS!
We were emotional. We didn’t actually cry, maybe some, but we were clapping, our smiles reached our ears, we hugged, made handshakes, high-fives, and jumped with joy. Nature can be rough, scary, and beautiful at the same time.
Here’s a video of our travel:
Taken by Jhon Ronell Arana. You can check his blog site here: The Adventures of Bongskie
I will definitely return to Pulag and next itinerary would be the “Mount Pulag Milky Way Galaxy View”.
How many times have you failed to see the view? How did you feel when you finally saw the wonderful sea of clouds?
Photo credits: Jerold Caballero
Video credits: Jhon Ronell Arana
Thanks to: Travel Tipid Tours