Chasing Chanting Clouds at Mt. Pulag
Saturday, June 09, 2012
Rushel M. Agagas
Mt. Pulag, the highest mountain peak in Luzon, known for its unique grandeur and ” Sea of Clouds”, tops the list of almost all outdoor enthusiasts. Standing at a majestic heights of 2922 meters above sea level, it has gained popularity among trekking and non-trekking communities here and abroad. Most people with a first hand experience of the beauty of Mt. Pulag strongly recommends it.
As is often said, taking to the summit is optional, and going down is mandatory. Aiming to walk on its summit, Planters Products Inc, planned a two-day tour to Mt Pulag for its employees. With a long list of reminders, and packed bags, employees prepared for long travel hours. Starting from the night of June 8 of 2012 and arriving in Baguio at about five the following morning - is just a warm-up. A couple more hours of road dirt that snakes its way to Benguet, and stopping at DENR for a group registration, everyone is reminded of do’s and don’ts in getting into the mountain.
The adventure began rather early. Going through the rough road and knocking off the jeepney’s tires three times made its passengers shout of fear, and later, relief for not edging into deep ravines that littered the ascent. With help from the natives, the group reached the Ranger Station safely.
A 10-km trek to Mt. Pulag’s summit is definitely not-a-walk-in-the-park. With huge backpacks weighing you down, craggy trails and freezing temperatures, reaching the jump-off seemed-like an endless hours of travel. But it did not deter anyone in moving up ahead.
The first part of the trek is quite easy, a walk on a relatively flat terrain with towering trees and deep ravines, and a good view of the mountain kept the group excited. Then the steeps started to test every one’s muscles and resolve. It is in these steep ascents when one starts to ask how much further can one go. At this point, it is no longer your will-power but the moss-covered rainforest that nudges you to proceed – amidst the mud and rock covered path that lies ahead. Arriving at the campsite with dried sweat a couple of hours later, the group needed tochange clothes to prevent hypothermia.
At time check, the setting sun denied us the option to go into the summit at sunset. Hence, the group started to set-up camp and with the tents mounted, a calm and cold night inhibited the group from staying out in the open. After a quick munch, everybody hit the sacks as early as seven tops. And snores from tired and fatigue-worn bodies followed.
At 3:00 AM, still wearing hand and body warmers, the group got out of the tent for the most awaited moment of summit assault. Shivering outside the comforts of their tents, everyone struggled in taking each step, walking incoherently up and down the slope leading to the peak. With only a bottle of water and a camera on-hand, the trek was still pretty daunting since oxygen was getting thinner on the way up. Add to that the rush to push forward in chasing the sunrise that was about to come out.
The last stretch was intense. It will be twilight in any moment. With the mountain breeze blowing on your faces, you can see the mountainous path and grasses of gold where you trod. Turning a gaze higher, a majestic Sea-of-Cloud unfolds with the glorious sunrise. No wonder it was dubbed as the playground-of-the-gods. The place is surrounded by bamboos dwarfed by an enchanting scenery. Despite the cold mountain breeze, everyone feels warm and welcomes a calming peace – to behold such wonder and beauty of nature.
As the sun wakes from its sleep, everyone scampered in taking pictures (and videos), as if taking pictures will keep it etched in our memories for all eternity.
Leaving had been difficult. It was hard to leave the summit. The mountains. The view. The grandeur. The journey was no longer just above the clouds. For there are millions of people below, waking up at the exact moment we did, but none opened their eyes to the magnificent view we have just seen. Truly, the mountains reserve their choice of gifts for those who stand upon their summits.