Long treks in the Philippines are much more rare when compared with an almost limitless number of day hikes available, many within driving distance from Manila. For those with an entire weekend to spare, the Purgatory Traverse is a must-do.
Despite its foreboding name, the Purgatory Traverse offers some of the most mystical and scenic views of the Cordillera Central mountain range. The traverse takes its name after one of the three major mountain peaks hikers would bag along this weekend trail of Mt. Purgatory.
The Purgatory Traverse
Like many Philippine hikes, the traverse begins at a village jump-off point. I hike, as usual, with the ever-reliable Trail Adventours team. All transportation, guides, and porters are already arranged by them for this relatively long trip. The customary briefing and reminders on the “Leave No Trace” principles are received at the trail head, and off we go.
The first day begins with some difficulty, as we hike up the first of the three major mountain peaks, Mt. Pack (2290 MASL). The weather isn’t at its best, with thick fog and light rain, but it made the hike much cooler (the traverse is sometimes noted for its stifling humidity and suffocating heat, given the denseness of the mossy forest along the trail).
It is this mossy forest that distinguishes the Purgatory Traverse from many other full weekend hikes, and what gives it its legendary mystical feel. The fog rolls in, thick and low, reminding one of scenes from thrillers and how alien the mountains can be.
A full day of trekking brings us to one of the major communities dotting the trail; we could not have been more thankful for this as. At least, we will get to spend the night in some warmth. Right before dinner the temperature sharply drops, reminding us of how different the weather systems are at this altitude.
The second day starts with a hearty breakfast, a trademark of the extremely organized Trail Adventours guide teams. This would be a much longer day, as we bag Mt. Purgatory (2080 MASL), as well as a short detour to the third major mountain peak, Mt. Komkompol (2329 MASL). The trails are well established and well used; farmers use them often, as well as local schoolchildren.
The weather did not improve by much, but this was a blessing in disguise; the challenging traverse did not add the burden of heat on us hikers. The second day is straightforward, but quite long and tiring. The changing landscape keeps things exciting though, as we move from rough roads to dense forest to pine trails and back to dirt roads.
For the experience, the scenery, and the three peaks to bag along this trail, I highly recommend the Purgatory Traverse to all experienced hikers.
The Purgatory Traverse has a difficulty rating of 6/9, and the length of the trail is what makes the hike challenging. It is highly recommended for hikers to have comfortably completed several day hikes prior to attempting this trek. A 30-40L bag is sufficient, as Trail Adventours provides the food and accommodation to ensure an enjoyable experience.
Get in touch with Trail Adventours and book your first full weekend hike with them at the Purgatory Traverse!
All photos by me. See more at Instagram.com/jsncruz.
License – CC: Attribution, non-commercial.
The Purgatory Traverse
Trail Adventours has generously sponsored my hike and this fact has not affected my judgement on the experience as a whole.