Mt. Pulag – On Top of the Clouds, Uncovering the “Playground of the Gods”

I am still in the hype in remembering the most divine place I dreamt of visiting. I can’t imagine I’ll be able to see myself on top of the clouds this early, a big check on my bucket list. 

On top of the clouds
It’s indeed a serene moment for me, sorry for being so dramatic but really, I wanted to see myself up there, on what they've called “Playground of the Gods”. Thanks to Roseann for inviting me and to Marvin for leading and arranging a trip like this. They are such a blessing.

I tagged some of my friends along with permission. All were excited just like me. Thanks to Jona, Kathy, Jess and Dana for adding up spice on my dream trip. And of course to Hal for the hike, chill and being my assistant, haha!

It was a fair weather Thursday, Jess, Dana, Hal and I went to Victory Liner terminal to meet the others, we were such a big group that was headed by Juxtapoz Mountaineers, with Marvin being the leader. It was a fast night and we arrived at Baguio quite early. We ate breakfast waited for our service (two big jeeps) and then all set a ride to Benguet. We had a short view of Ambuklao dam and then continue the ride while the road gets rougher and narrower.

Quick shot before the rough ride
We stopped at DENR office and had a humorous yet serious briefing before they let us start the trek. It’s a good reminder for all of us to behave and respect the sacred mountain. I really admire the talk of DENR Park Superintendent Ma'am Emerita Albas, she just showed us how she value our environment and how she would encourage us all to do the same.

We then continued our ride to the Rangers Station. This really excites me as we were already at the base of the mountain. Now this is a test of strength and endurance especially for the first time hikers. (First hike major agad!)
While waiting for our guides and stuffs
The ranger station
The biggest group of hikers that day
As much as I tried to limit the weight of my backpack, it’s still heavy yet I was able to manage the hike pretty well. Thank you for almost everyday jogging 2 weeks before the hike and no leg pain at all, only my back. :D

We stop at camp 1 then it rained hard. I thought we are fully prepared already but we forgot to bring a raincoat. Luckily a local was selling blue plastic bags to act as a rain coat. We thought we will not be able to reach to camp 2 because of the heavy rain but we were able to continue the trek before the sunset. 

It was still raining when we reached the camp 2, we setup our tent as fast as we could and I cuddled inside immediately. I didn't realize I fell asleep, wasted and cold. It's not the physical strength I am nervous about on this trip but the cold temperature I'll be facing. And yes, my thick jacket is not enough. 

Majority were still putting the tent up here. 
It's a tough night for all of us, it's still raining and I can't remember anymore when it stopped. We woke up at 3:00am, get ready and start the trek to the summit. This is it. 

It’s an easier trek for me because there's no backpack and just a deep breath because of thin air. I’m wondering if we will be able to see the clouds or its just foggy mountain. As soon as we arrive the summit, we waited for the sunrise and when the sun was already peaking slowly, here's what I saw. 
Serene moment 
I survive Mt. Pulag!
With Dana and Jess and Hal
With Kathy and Jona plus Hal again
And because it was still dark when we trek towards the summit, we appreciate the view more on our way back to the camp. Indeed it is such a magnificent view everywhere. We saw dwarf Bamboo, Benguet Pine and some wild berries.  

Should keep the single file
The grassland
Overlooking our campsite
And finally we are back preparing our breakfast
Going back was easier and more refreshing because we get to see the wonderful view we walked previously with our headlamps and flashlights. After the summit, we had our breakfast packed our bags and get ready to trek down.

We spent a night in Baguio to freshen up and rest, more chatting and bonding. We went to mass the next day, some had a quick tour in Baguio while some already left earlier all with a blissful reminiscence of the mountain.

How to go there:
From Baguio, you can make arrangements for Jeepneys to take you directly to the ranger station. But before that, you need to stop over to the DENR office for registration and orientation. Approximately 4-5 hours from Baguio to the ranger station, then the trek will be around 3-4 hours to Camp 2. (could be shorter for others) It’s also around 1 hour to ascend to summit for either sunrise or sunset, depending on the time of your arrival. That's Ambangeg trail, other trails are much difficult and would need days to finish. 

Contacts Needed:
Emerita Albas +639196315402 – To set a schedule of the climb and,
Gina Epe +639198169234 – for Jeepney rental from Baguio to Ranger Station

Mount Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines. It’s at 2,922 meters above sea level and the highest peak in Luzon.  

*Photos grabbed from my fellow hikers and some are taken from Hal’s phone. 
Final shot before we left. (Ang dami namin!)

“And if these mountains had eyes, they would wake to find two strangers in their fences, standing in admiration as a breathing red pours its tinge upon earth's shore. These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man's weak praise should be given God's attention.” 

― Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road