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Mt. Pulag and the Sea of Clouds

Mt. Pulag
Among the mountains that I was able to hike, Mt. Pulag is one of best in terms of beauty and experience. The famous “Sea of Clouds” is another feature that this mountain can be proud of, so if you’re on the summit, you’ll feel that you’re above the clouds; please refer to the photo at the bottom

Mt. Pulag is considered as the highest point in Luzon that ranges 2,922 MASL and in the Philippines. If you’re from Manila, Baguio City is the major drop off point to reach the jump off area of this gigantic mountain. But while on the way to it's jump off, you'll experience amazing journey. Read the details below:

Ambuklao Dam
From Baguio City, we chartered a jeepney going to DENR to process our registration and to attend the seminar. DENR officials conduct seminar to make sure that all the hikers are aware of the MUST DO and MUST NOT DO, especially the Leave No Trace principle.  But while on the way to DENR, we witnessed an amazing environment of this area. Instead of placing our stuff as top load, we placed them inside the jeep and we occupied literally on the top. I can’t forget the feeling while the cool wind blew my curly hair and our eyes were full of gorgeous sceneries.

Benguet Terraces
We passed by the stores and cafeteria along the way; took a rest and had our breakfast. After DENR, next part was the exciting zig-zag road to the Ranger Station, which is the jump off point. This part, the road contains a lot of left and right turns which added an amazing experience to the traveller; by the way, we were still on the top load this time. What we saw were the plantation of carrots, radish and other vegetables, which serve as the main source of income for the locals, on their man-made rice terraces.

It was around 1:30PM when we reached the Ranger Station and then processed our guides and porters. In processing those, policies are involved like weighing hikers load. In Ranger Station, stores and rest rooms are available. The wind was really cool.
 
Trail in Mt. Pulag
After the Ranger Station will be the start of trekking. The trails going to the summit of Mt. Pulag are well established, because they are maintained by the management. A lot of hikers are interested to experience the famous “Sea of Clouds” will be another reason. First part is trekking the trail surrounded by pines, grasses and mosses. There are trail marks and stations that hikers can follow to prevent loosing on the right track. Again, DO NOT THROW your garbage in any part of the trail/mountain. DO NOT pick or remove any plants on the trail, LET THEM LIVE. Just to inform you, there are trails that hikers can choose from, Ambangeg Trail is advisable for the first timer.

Camp Site in Mt. Pulag
Camp Site in Mt. Pulag
 Next part will be the grassland, it is where you’ll see nothing but grass, that’s why they call it “grassland” make sense right? It is also the area where the temperature is much lower because of the altitude; so therefore my breathing was also affected by that factor. This is one of the best parts in hiking Mt. Pulag, because this is where the shadows of the ranges and the gorgeous slopes can be seen. You'll also can see the other mountains nearby, covered by the clouds. From afar, the trail on the grassland looks amazing, look on the photo above and right. 

Ito yung part na kung saan habang kausap ko yung kasama ko, pero hindi namin namamalayang may tumutulo na palang sipon sa mga ilong namin, dahil sa malamig na hangin at fog. By the way, with regards to the trail, there are parts where trail foundation is weak because of  the grass, so please be careful. Trails were also modified, the management placed rocks and stones on the some parts to make sure that hikers are well protected from untoward incidents.

Photos above show how colorful the camp site was during our hike, a lot of hikers were there. At the camp site, there is an area which serves as the rest room, but just to set your expectations, it's not that modern like we have in hotels. Another reminder in camping, please DON'T throw your spoiled/leftover foods near the camp site, because it will attract insects. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE - Camp site is really cold, yes! But there are times where the grasses are dry, so it means it can easily burnt.

Sea of Clouds in Mt. Pulag
The unforgettable part of this hike was to witness the "Sea of Clouds," photo above. It was around 5AM when we woke up and proceeded to the summit to see this spectacular event. According to the other hikers, last night the temperature went down to 5 degrees celcious, so imagine how hard for us to wake up that time. The cold wind was like a spear when striking in any parts of my body. Kakalowkang lamig talaga.

From the camp site to the summit, it took us more than 20 minutes and I know you'll be asking why, it's because from the camp site up to the summit, the trail was full of hikers. Hindi kami makatakbo paakyat para at least mabasawasan ang lamig na aming nararamdaman, pero hindi talaga pwede.

After experiencing those challenges, while the sun was rising, we were astounded by everything! On the summit of Mt. Pulag, you can see the gorgeous cloud formations, the artistic slopes of the mountain ranges from afar and the grassland appears like a playground. The color of the horizon was the mix of gray, blue and gold; seems to be perfect for a photo background. Kakaiba talaga yung feeling kapag nasa taas ka ng Mt. Pulag, hindi ko maipaliwanag sa salita, kailangan nyo talaga itong maranasan.

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

Registration to the DENR IS A MUST.
Leave No Trace Principle must be observed.
Mt. Pulag has a freezing point; jackets, gloves and warmer are advisable.

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