Most first timers opt to go with the Ambangeg trail, the easiest. Others would go to the more challenging route, the Akiki trail. It is dubbed as the “killer trail” attributing to the steep slopes, uneven paths, and the difficulty of the trail going to the summit. It will require 10-11 hours to reach the peak. Adventurous climbers will probably try different trails in one climb the most common of which is the Akiki-Ambangeg combination. But whichever trail you choose, climbing Mount Pulag promises to be one heck of an adventure. Most especially if you are a nature lover like me. I promise you, reaching the top of Mount Pulag is the closest you will ever get to heaven.
Start of the hike going to Mount PulagOur group was the first batch to arrive at the Badabak Ranger Station, the jump-off point to Mount Pulag. After arranging all our backpacks, we got ourselves ready for the long hike. We were met by our guide, Andrew. He doesn’t talk much but he sure knows how to lead our pack traversing the patchy trail with such an ease. Most of us at the pack would shout: "Manong Andrew, antayin mo kami!" (please wait for us!)
Andrew, our guide
We were informed that from the Ranger Station to Campsite 2, it would take around 3-4 hours depending on the phase of the climbers. We arrived at the Ranger Sstation around 11 am so we’d probably reach Camp 2 before three in the afternoon. I immediately assumed the 4-hour hike since I would be taking photos along the way.
Start of the trail passing through the green, lush vegetation
Passing through tall pine trees
From the station, the trail was easy. Definitely much easier than the Summit Trail to Mount Kinabalu, which I fondly dubbed as the “distressing stairways to heaven”. We passed by wide trails that even small vehicles could pass through. The smell of pine tree was a refreshing boost. One of the best perks of mountain climbing is enjoying the lush, green vegetation and the picturesque landscape.
Signs along the trail
Along the way, we found signs and markings to constantly remind climbers on how to respect the mountain. There were also markings for the nearest water source.
Oki is improvising, hehe (She was just joking around of course)
Around 2:30 pm, we reached Camp 2, the saddle campsite. Camp 2 is the most preferred campsite among climbers due to some of its “amenities”—wide and flat camping area, latrines, and close water source. But since this camp is the closest to the summit, the temperature is freezing cold. When we got to the camp it was around 5-6 degrees C. Well for someone like me who hates the cold weather, my hands and feet got numb at an instant. Brrrrr.
Darn, the weather was just freezing cold!
Aside from the thick fog, it was raining when we got to Camp 2. The good thing about getting into the campsite first was that we get to scout for the most convenient spot ahead of the other groups. We built our tent inside a shed, just a few steps away from the open campsite. The weather is manageable there. Some of our fellow hikers went there to cook their dinner.
Fellow climbers cooking a sumptous dinner
Since it was foggy and the weather was quite unpredictable, we postponed our initial plan of going to the summit for the sunset. It was raining anyway. We opted to take the assault very early in the morning hoping and wishing that the gods and goddess of the mountains would let us witness the sunrise amidst the snub weather.
Father and son, Noli and Niel (9 years old, the youngest climber in the group)
We went early to bed to get ready for the early morning assault to the summit.
Will we ever see the sunrise?