At the start of this month, I’ve made a pre-post here in When in Manila about my plans of conquering Mt. Pulag (you can see it here) and when that trip ended, I am here to give you a detailed account of my experience. Like what I’ve said before, this is my first time to ever climb a mountain and I’m proud to say that I survived!
That’s putting it in a bit too much, it’s not like my life was in such great danger! But hey, this is the 3rd highest peak in the country and it’s right to be proud of such an accomplishment especially when I know that my body has been out of shape for quite a while! :P
Now I want this post to be helpful (if not entertaining) so that future-Mt-Pulag-conquerors (especially the first timers) can get a glimpse of the real deal and have more knowledge when conquering Mt. Pulag the right way.
First, let me tell you about the itinerary:
Assembly time at 09:00PM at the Victory Bus Liner station
> We actually left at around 11PM
Arrival in Baguio
> We surprisingly arrived early in Baguio, at around 3AM
> We had an early breakfast at Baguio
Jeepney ride and arrival in Ranger Station, Lunch
> From 6AM up till 11PM to the DENR Station and then arrived at the Ranger station at around 1PM I think.
Start of the trek and arrival at the campsite
> This took us up until sunset.
Overnight at Mt. Pulag
Wake up early to start the Summit Assault
> As early as 3AM!
Start of the trek down
Arrival in Ranger Station and then Baguio
Depart Baguio to Manila
ETA Manila around 03:00 AM
> We actually left really early from Baguio (3PM instead of the 9PM supposed-to-be-departure) so we arrived in Manila at around 11PM
And next, let me tell you of the different TIPS that you should take note of when going up this towering mountain. (We took the Ambangeg trail–the beginner one. So of course, in no way am I saying the things below claiming like I’m some sort of pro, but I know this will help the beginners like me. :)
I know, I know. It’s common knowledge. Damn right it is. But this is still a vital thing for me to mention because some hikers seem like they’re ready to elope given the number and size of their bags on a regular hike. Actually, that much ‘packing’ is going to help if you’re going to get lost in a mountain (let’s hope that shouldn’t be the case) but for simple hikes such as this, it’s best to ‘contain yourself’. And by that, I mean it: just pack light.
This is actually the glory of booking your trip with Byaheng Victory–you don’t need to pack any tents or food for your meals because their team has it all covered for you. All you have to do is pack your essentials. Water. Clothes. Sleeping Bags. Snacks. Clothes. Flashlight. Eating Utensils. Toiletries. …Did I say clothes already?
I consider myself to be almost out-of-shape but I managed with a medium-sized backpack (not even those hiking-kind of backpacks) and it all contained the things that I needed. I didn’t need a porter either. (Someone who could carry your things for you). But of course, it’s best to let go of your pride and hire a porter if you know for yourself that you can’t manage long hours of hiking, lugging your baggage, and all.
I mean I also had those moments where I was all “ENOUGH GIMME A PORTEEEEER!” but I guess I just wanted to enjoy it because pain is part of the pleasure anyways–of hiking of course.
Okay the picture might not make so much sense, but basically, the jeepney ride from Baguio up to the ranger station will be eventful and you should prepare for it. The first few hours will be a bliss, just like your voyage from Manila to Baguio with Victory Liner: hollaaaa to flat and well-cemented roads! But boy, say goodbye to it because as it goes on way high up, oh sweet baby jesus.. it’s gonna get bumpy!
I hardly get dizzy or nauseous on trips no matter how swerve-y or ragged the drive could be, but… this one got me. I simply got dizzy at one point. So just for a precaution, best that you take a pill of Bonamine, sleep before the voyage, or pray that in time, they repair the roads.
The first stop on your journey will be at the DENR station wherein you’ll need to be briefed. This is a protected area and by all means, just follow and respect nature as it is. We’ve polluted Manila enough so let’s not pollute this place as well, okay? :P
Basically, you need to listen and follow the reminders that they tell you. Some examples: (1) No spitting, (2) No shouting, (3) No taking or reckless touching of plants, (4) Stay on trail, and more.
Second stop: The Ranger Station. In here, you can prepare for your hike. First note: go and abuse the restroom (if you gotta go then go! It’s hard to find a good spot anyways during the hike to ‘relieve’ yourself so better now than later. It’s a not-so-good restroom actually but it’s better than the one high up in the mountains.)
Also, eat and pack some energy here. There are stores around this area so if you forgot to bring water (important!) or snacks along the way, then buy ’em here. And then , gear up: wear the proper hiking clothes, secure your bags, and hire a porter if you must. It’s not so much (I think around Php300 for the porter).
*And also: just to be safe, you can bring extra footwear (a light one) in extreme cases that your hiking shoes could get ruined. Some of our fellow hikers had their shoes in pieces along the hike and good enough some hikers offered them their extra footwear, like slippers–which isn’t really a good piece, but better that than nothing.
Now actually, mine got ruined too. But it wasn’t in pieces, the front piece just opened up halfway but I was still able to walk in it. So, hurray!
I said it before in my post but I’ll say it again: 2-3 Liters of water per person would be enough for a one-way hike up. And please, don’t put so much trust in the spring waters up in the mountains especially if it is summer because we didn’t see no spring. I mean, there wasn’t that much water in it. Not even a drop–wait, a muddy drop may be, but basically: NILL.
They said it hasn’t rained for a while, so yeah, go figure! Still… even if you went here on a good season and you’re icky with the water you drink, then better to bring your own. If you rather plan on using the spring water, take note of the signage: don’t take a bath here and don’t wash your clothes/shoes/utensils here either.