This was originally posted a few months back as a note on my Facebook account. Back then, I still wasn’t convinced I could start and maintain a blog. I’m putting this here because it is where it should be. Here is a link to my original post.
The Akiki trail is definitely one of the best trails I’ve seen in my 10 months of mountaineering. (I can’t believe it’s only been ten months!) It boasts of beautiful pine and mossy forests, vast grasslands, sufficient water sources, and good campsites. There is even the Eddet river which is really, really beautiful. There are tons of picture-perfect views along this trail!
Challenge-wise, Akiki is not one to be taken for granted. Even with a good and steady pacing, climbing Pulag via this trail can take 10-12 hours of hiking. (Challenge gladly accepted!) With barely any even surface, one will have to hike up steep slopes for most of the climb. I’m not really sure how long it took us, though I’m quite convinced that we were going at a good pace (I was hiking along with pros! Even I was surprised at myself!) and just enough breaks that we made it to the campsites just in time. The hike was really very difficult but we persevered. Mind over mountain. 🙂
The tougher challenge, though, was the weather. Up the pine-covered slopes and through the mossy forest, we had temperate climate which actually helped with the laborious hike. But once we were out of the mossy forest and into the grassland (where we had no cover at all), it rained hard. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.” The wind and the rain continued pounding us until we reached the saddle camp. Needless to say, even if we had “waterproof” jackets or ponchos on, we were all soaking wet. That, combined with the extreme cold in Pulag, would have to be the most trying time I had as a mountaineer. We had to set up camp, pitch our tents, and fix ourselves in the rain. That night had to be the coldest, harshest, and most uncomfortable night I experienced in my almost 24 years of existence. Like I said, “yung trail kaya, yung camp muntik nang hindi.” (“The trail, I managed; the camp, I almost did not.”)
The harsh weather didn’t let up the next day. We headed to the summit without any hope of having a clearing – of seeing Pulag’s famed Sea of Clouds. As expected, the view from the summit was all white. There was only fog. But we were thankful anyway. It was an excellent achievement after all! We had just survived a long and arduous climb. We had just survived an unrelenting pounding of cold win and rain. We had just survived a bitterly cold night at camp. We just survived Pulag at its worst!
I am so happy to have climbed Pulag a second time. And this time, I really feel like I survived. I accomplished something I never thought I could and I loved it. I love it. So I end with a quote from one of my favorite characters on TV and I hope people – mountaineer or not – would take it to heart: “Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature.”
Be a force of nature. 🙂
Some things to know:
- “Twenty One” is the title of my original post because it’s about my 21st climb.
- Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines; it is the highest peak in the main island of Luzon.
- The mountain is part of the Cordillera Range and it lies on the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.
- The mountain is home to a variety of flora like pine trees and dwarf bamboos and fauna like the dwarf cloud rat, which is endemic to the Cordilleras.
- It is one of the most famous destinations in Luzon attracting a large number of people every year. Almost anyone can climb Pulag if they wish as it can be really easy especially by taking the Ambangeg trail, which is aptly dubbed as the “easy” trail.
- Apart from the Ambangeg and Akiki trails, there are two other established trails to the summit: the Tawangan trail coming from Benguet and the Ambaguio trail coming from Nueva Vizcaya.
Want to climb Mt. Pulag?
Do you want to take the easy way? Or do you want a go at the “killer” trail? You could also go for the limatik-infested (blood leech) Tawangan trail or the very long Ambaguio trail. Whichever way you take, it will be very rewarding! Have a chance to witness the famed “sea of clouds” phenomenon. I have a few friends who organize regular climbs up Mt. Pulag and if you’re interested, all you have to do is ask. Comment on this post or send me a message by clicking this link.