My First Hiking Experience: Mt. Pulag, Benguet

I was invited by a friend to join trekking the Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg Trail organized by Layag Malaya Backpackers. I excitedly joined in because this will be my first ever mountain hiking experience. And knowing that Mt. Pulag is the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines, this made me eagerly want to go.

The event fee was Php 2,600 for 2 days and 1 night (May 7-8) inclusive of 2 meals, camping fee, guide fee, environmental fee and round trip transportation fee. I think the amount I paid for this event was fairly reasonable since they will be picking us up from Manila.
Things To Bring
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Waterproof Jacket/Fleece Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Extra Socks
  • Bonnet
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Eating Utensils
  • Trash bag
  • Oxycan (Available at Mercury Drug Store)
  • Medicines
  • Snacks (preferably energy food)
  • Water (2 liters)
Itinerary
Day 0
11PM MEET UP SM NORTH EDSA THE BLOCK BDO (outside) infront of UV EXPRESS STATION
12pm ETD BAGUIO CITY
 
Day 1 (May 7)
3 am STOPOVER SISON PAGSANJAN
6am ETA BAGUIO/ETD DENR PULAG
7am Stopover Breakfast/Buy Packed Lunch
9am ETA DENR PULAG/Registration
11am ETD RANGER STATION
12pm ETA RANGER CAMP/Lunch
6pm Dinner/Socials
9pm Lights off
 
We arrived in Baguio at 6 o’clock in the morning. We stopped there for an hour before we head to Mt. Pulag DENR office for the registration and briefing.
DENR Office
Banners from different groups of mountaineer who made it to the summit decorated the entire wall of the DENR office.
 
Reminder: DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) will not allow you to hike unless you have “Fit To Climb” Medical certificate provided. This is necessary since there have been some cases who died during the trek because of dehydration.
 
From the DENR office, we head for another hour ride going to Ranger Station/Camp, which is the starting point of the trek. It is 10km away from DENR Office to Ranger Station.
Camping under the scorching heat but chilly wind.

We arrived at the Ranger Station with this sight of hikers camping under the sun. It was sunny but a bit chilly that day. As we made our way up there, we can really feel the crisp fresh air that is very different from the metro.

Going up there to our camping ground

The funny thing was I thought it was already the start of trek but we just went up there because it will be our camping site. Walking up there was a challenge because of the heavy bag on my back plus the very steep trail.

Batakagans camping site
At the other side of our camp site is this overlooking panoramic view of the village.
Our very colorful tent can fit 3 to 4 pax
We set up our tent and stayed here for a night before we start our trek at dawn. We slept early so we can have enough energy to climb the summit tomorrow.
Reminder: The weather here can go as low as negative 0 degree, so be ready to bundle up yourself especially when you go up to the summit.
 
They prepared Tinola and Galunggong for dinner
There are stores where you can buy food if you like. There are also public toilets and baths that you can use. Some locals will let you use their bathrooms for free but you can donate money if you want or if they asked you to.
Day 2 (May 8)
12:00 am Wake up call
1:00 am Ascend (depends on schedule given by DENR)
5:30 am Summit Sea of Clouds Sunrise Watching
12:00pm LUNCH at the Camp
2pm ETD DENR
3pm ETD SIDETRIP
6pm ETA BAGUIO (sidetrip, buy souvenirs)
9pm ETD MANILA
We woke up at 1 o’clock in the morning and prepared ourselves for the big day. We packed light and left some of our stuff at the camp site. We started our trek around 2 am. The organizer told us that it will only take 3 hours walk, but it can take longer than 3 hours depending on our pace.
After an hour we reached the Camp Site 1. We took 5 minutes rest before hiking for 1 hour and 45 minutes to the viewpoint.
This is the view deck where we watched the sun to rise

It’s very cold up here. My hands got very numb even when I’m wearing gloves. I think this is the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced here in the Philippines. They told me that the temperature there can get even colder.

The sun about rise

We were just in time for the sunrise. I think we reached the viewpoint at around 5 o’clock in the morning.

Minimal sea of clouds

I’m expecting to see an ocean of clouds but unfortunately I just saw a few bundle of clouds. This was actually one of the reasons why I want to go here. They said that there was no rain last night which could’ve gave us a great view of sea of clouds.

We hid in this big hole at the view deck to keep ourselves warm.
The trail going to the summit
After 30 minutes of watching the sun, we continue our journey to the summit. We were told that it is only 30 to 45 minutes walk from the view deck, but it was a complete lie. For a first timer like me, it took me more than an hour to reach the top.
The Peak of Deception
One of the professional mountaineer who came with us named this trail as “The Peak of Deception” because of the very unpredictable length of trail. From the viewpoint I can quickly assume that I can trek the summit for only 10 or 15 minutes, but as we traced the trail we were surprised that we have to conquer four mountains hiding behind each mountain to reach the peak. The trail is very steep, so we need to rest every 20 to 30 steps to grasp for air and catch our breath.
I survived Mt. Pulag

It was such an amazing experience to reach the peak of the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines. It was worth all the pain and tiredness I experienced along the trail. The view was jaw-dropping.

Descending from the summit
 
My two hiking buddy with our tour guide at the the middle

We went down before before 7:30 am and reached our camp site by 11 am. Our pace got a little slower because we are already tired.

Inside the mossy forest of Pulag
We left the Ranger Station by 1 o’clock in the afternoon and reached Baguio at around 6 pm. We ate and took a short side trip around Baguio to buy souvenirs. You can also buy souvenirs at the Ranger Station after your hike.
Day 3
1 am ETA MANILA
“If you give up you’ll never see the beauty of the world that is waiting for you”
It feels so great to be up there. You feel the world and nature at your feet. I highly suggest that everyone should go and see Mt. Pulag. It’s one of the mountains that you should never miss hiking.

Lazada Philippines

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