Mount Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon and the second highest in the Philippines used to be nothing but just a place I often hear. Not once had I imagined myself being on its summit and watching the sun greet the world ‘good morning as it rises above the sky.
The trail that our group took is Ambangeg Trail (difficulty level 3-4), but for a beginner like me, it felt like a six. Please note that this is also my first overnight camp and first attempt at mountain climbing. Luckily, I had all the things I needed with me to survive, and if you are also planning to take a trip to this mountain, I suggest you also remember this basic survival items:
Basic Survival Kit
Tent with flysheet and footprint (in case it rains, you can also use an old tarp as footprint)
Poncho/Raincoat (again, in case it rains)
Gloves (surgical and mountain/construction, because the cold just seeps through the normal ones)
Ziploc/Waterproof bag (for your gadgets)
Powerbank (for your phone, please note there is no signal up there)
Jacket, preferably thick
Walking stick (optional)
First Aid Kit
Arm and Leg Sleeves
Thermal Blanket (it helped a lot)
Tissue and wet wipes (no toilet but the grasslands)
Oxycan (in case you get short of breath when trekking)
Trashbag (to cover your bag in case it doesn’t have one and for your mess)
Meal and Cook Set
Before you get to start trekking, you are all required to attend the DENR orientation to know the do’s and don’ts in the mountain. It takes about an hour or so, and hopefully, you already had your breakfast by then because it can be really lengthy, but the superintendent is really fun and had loads of comments about life, you might want to take.
The beginning of the hike to camp one is relatively easy, but it took some getting used to of the load on my bag because of all the things cramped inside it. It took us one hour before we reached camp one where we took a little rest. I remember how we keep on asking our guide how long it will still take us to get to the top. Once we have regained our strength, it took us two hours to get to Camp 2. By that time, it is already starting to get cold, but fortunately no sign of rain in sight. From there, although the path isn’t so steep, it gets very difficult to move up because of the thinning of oxygen. To get to camp 2, we rest for almost every fifteen to thirty minutes, but from camp 2 to saddle where we would be staying, there was a part where we rest for almost every two minutes to catch our breath.
It was almost sunset when we reached our campsite, and I was almost already freezing. I even got a little feverish but thankfully, the medicine I took help. I didn’t get to eat any dinner though. It was freezing that night and the temperature dropped at 4 degrees Celsius, our tent was moist and even wet inside. I am really happy I had the thermal blanket with me.
From saddle to the summit, it’s a fifteen to twenty minute hike and so we woke up at 3:30 AM, pack up, and by four am started trekking to be among the first to watch the sun rise. At around 2,900m above ground, I can’t almost feel my fingers and could barely get my feet to walk, and I was really out of breath, but I’m really glad that I forced myself because there was no beauty par compared to that majestic view of the sun, of all its glory, signalling us that we survived the night, and that here comes another day to enjoy.
What I took home from the trip was more than the photos and the adventure, but also an opportunity to meet different people that inspired my every step further up the summit, whose lives briefly touched mine and made the trip a blast. I had a thousand laughter and joy with them on that very short trip of ours which I will surely treasure for the rest of my life.