I was never fond of mountain climbing. Still, that didn't stop me from climbing Luzon's highest peak. This all started when Andie organized a fun climb. And since I still have the travel bug, the curiosity of seeing the majestic sea of clouds got me enlisted right away. The group met up at Victory Liner Pasay and departed around 9pm. Since I just came from work, I was able to sleep through the entire 8-hour bus ride to Baguio. We then transferred to a chartered jeepney that took us to the DENR station to give us a brief orientation. The head was actually hesitant on allowing us to climb Pulag because of the continuous rains but after seeing how excited we are especially for newbies like me, she gave us a go signal. After getting the green light, we had our buffet lunch at the DENR canteen. For 100 pesos, I didn't expect the food to be really that good but I was wrong. These people really know how to make home-cooked meals. And after that scrumptious lunch, we headed to the ranger station for the start of our trek. Here, we hired a porter to bring our food and other stuffs that we are unable to carry. It's actually pretty cheap at 250 pesos. And since we're 17, each of us just shelled out 15 pesos. And so the grueling trek finally started.
This wasn't a fun a climb at all. Trust me. There were times where I wasn't able to feel my hands due to the extreme low temperature. Most of us also had to make dozens of stops to rest. I remember seeing everything in white due to exhaustion. Nevertheless, we reached the camp after 4 hours of trekking. Given that I've read numerous stories of first time climbers about their experience in Pulag, I was prepared for the worst that could happen within the next few hours and that would be sleeping under the cold weather. It was around 8C or even lower and to make the situation worse, we had to sleep with our clothes all wet because most of the tents that we brought weren't waterproof. Well it wasn't that close to hypothermia as I was expecting but it was extremely cold that night.
We woke up around 4am to prepare for our sunrise assault to the summit and with so much excitement, I even forgot eat my breakfast. Yes, this is the epic 1 hour trek that would really test our patience and determination. It was total pitch black. Armed with just a headlamp, we trekked slippery cliffs and rocky paths. As we go higher, the temperature drops and I think it was around 5C. The strong winds and the rain made it harder for us to climb Luzon's highest mountain. I swear I almost died more than a dozen times during this hike. The first attempt wasn't a success.
Our guide said it wouldn't be possible to reach the peak because of the rain so we just settled for the grassland summit. But on our way back to camp, the skies turned to blue and we saw a peek of the infamous sea of clouds right in front of us.
That prompted us to go back and reach the summit, with or without the sea of clouds. And with much determination, we were able to climb Luzon's highest peak on our second attempt. I guess this is what mountain climbing is all about. What you're about to see on the peak, sea of clouds or no sea of clouds, it doesn't matter.
And as a popular song goes, it's not about how fast you get there or what's waiting on the other side, it's all about the climb.