MT. PULAG – HEAVEN ON EARTH
“Hindi ka ba nagsasawa dyan?” (“Don’t you get tired of it?”) my youngest brother asked when he knew that I will be climbing again Mt. Pulag. I replied “hindi” (“no”) with a smile. I was sorting my mountaineering equipments then I realized that it will be my 7th time on Luzon’s highest peak. I started climbing Pulag in 2004 and have been there almost every year.
Our departure time from the Metro to Baguio was earlier than what is supposed to be. I was in a hurry since I only had an hour in the office to pack my things. Good thing that the bus station is nearby my work location, I managed to have a quick dinner just outside the station. I easily fell asleep inside the cold bus because of the fatigue and stress from the busy work week in the office. As far as I remember, I only went down for a pee during a stop over in Tarlac and after that, I slept like there’s no tomorrow. We were already at the Baguio bus station when I woke up. While waiting for our rented jeep, I went outside the station to buy a hot coffee, perfect for 2:30am cold Baguio temperature. A pink hardy 4 x 4 jeep finally came; the driver went down and introduced himself, his name is Dixon. The scene looks familiar; I think I already met him and rode this jeep before. Yes, the same jeep and driver that brought us to Pulag during 2006 climb. He is a quiet driver compared with my favorite driver, the late Roger Guzman, but the skills of both are extraordinary. The last stretch
ed of the road going to the jump off was punishing, as we need to go down our jeep to? walk. Dixon helps other s jeeps who can’t cross the path by tugging it with our jeep. Only an experienced driver with capable vehicle can pass by the road.
The usual route was cut-off due to on going road concretion. A 30-minute hike was needed for us to reach the Ranger Station. After the registration, we had our quick lunch then started to hike. The trail was easy but my pace was a little bit slow because of my heavy packs. After 3 ½ hours of hiking, I arrived at Camp 2 which is our designated camp site. As I pitched my tent, fogs started to cover the place. It drizzled a little but manageable for us stay outside for socials. My group mates retired early in their tents after eating, I climbed up to the peak of Camp 2 Extension hoping for a good photo opportunity but there was none. I went back to my tent at around 6pm and called it a day. At around 9PM, I was awakened by lightning and loud thunders, rain started to fall and the temperature dropped below 10 degrees. I was experiencing a sign of mild hypothermia – uncontrollable shivering. I regret that I didn’t bring my sleeping bag / sleeping mat. I was hungry but I can’t cook inside the tent because of the hazard. Good thing I still have pears and jellies which serve as my dinner. I also took paracetamol and ibuprofen to prevent a possible fever. I was relieved and went to sleep again. At around 1am; I was awakened again, this time by uncontrollable shaking of my body. I did everything that time fight mild hypothermia; I emptied and wore my backpack which serves as my sleeping mat, put liniment oil on my body, took another set of paracetamol and ibufropen, added another layer of clothes with headwear as balaclava and I even forced myself to pee inside my tent (in a ziploc, not in my Nalgene bottle) to conserve heat. So much watching of adventure flicks, I videotaped myself inside the tent ala 127 hours. I thought I was going to die. Haha!
I heard someone calling my name outside, it was Christine. I looked at my watch and it was 4am, wake up time. All the members of the group including Ditas (our guide) were already outside preparing for the summit assault. I really don’t have plans of joining them in the assault because I want to shoot star trails from our camp but I gave in due to the unwanted lights of climbers on my frame. The sun rose so fast that I had to stop to shoot the sunrise at the hill between Peak 3 and Peak 2. No sea of clouds but the view was still majestic. I’ve seen this many times before but I was still awed by its beauty. A free show from Mother Nature that not everyone can avail.
I am with the company of my awesome travel blogger friends on this climb, please visit their sites below
Christine Fernandez – www.jovialwanderer.com
Marky Ramone Go – www.nomadicexperiences.com
Gay Emami-Mitra – www.pinaytraveljunkie.com
Izah Morales – www.tripadora.com