Last February 24, I successfully climbed Mt. Pulag for the second time. There were some hassles along the way but everything ended very well. But I guess it was these “hassles” that bonded our group closer. I was part of an organized group unlike the first time around when my friends and I did a do-it-yourself (DIY) tour. Due to the imposition of stricter rules in the national park, a DIY has become practically impossible.
Anyway, in spite of the odds, my group was able to complete the Mt. Pulag trek (through the easier Ambangeg-Ambangeg backtrail). Back from the cold of the proverbial Playground of the Gods, I can’t help but ruminate on the things when I wanted to come back (and perhaps keep on coming back) to Mt. Pulag.
Here are ten good reasons why you should include climbing Mt. Pulag in your bucket list:
1. Climbing is always good for the health.
Let us start with the obvious. Physical activities, such as mountain climbing, have been proven to be good for the health. Mt. Pulag’s nearly 16-kilometer stretch help improve one’s stamina and cardiovascular muscles. Climbing Mt. Pulag comes with a bonus. With the air pressure thinner at 2,926 MASL, it helps strengthen one’s lung capacity. However, it is not conducive for individuals with lung problems. The piercing cold can also be a good training for endurance; there are times that the temperature dip to sub-zero.
2. It gives a break from the usual routine.
The fast-paced advances in technology resulted to an equally past-paced living. Everyday we wake up, take a bath, go to the office, deal with traffic, stay on your cubicle and work for eight to twelve hours, go home, sleep, then repeat process. Our lives have become predictable, a cycle. Once in a while, we need a break from all of these. We all long for an escape, a way to break the chain.
What better way than to climb mountains like Mt. Pulag?
Mt. Pulag’s rolling grasslands, its idyllic setting, its cold breeze are a world away from the scathing heat and the provoking traffic of urban megalomania. Take a walk, a long walk that is, but at least it is a far cry from the quotidian existence that one is so used to.
3. It gives off a calming effect.
Our fast-paced living also resulted into different types of pressure emanating from all corners. These pressures can be very debilitating if goes unchecked. In my nearly three years of climbing, a weekend off in the mountains eases some pressure. It is not infinite but simply being wrapped around in tranquility washes some off these pressures away.
4. It is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country.
Mt. Pulag, and the rest of the Cordilleras is known for its opulent ecosystem. The cold temperature and the high altitude make it conducive for different flora and fauna to thrive. Amongst its crowned denizens are the Benguet dwarf bamboo, the Philippine deer, the dwarf cloud rat and the long-haired fruit bath. The dwarf bamboo is endemic to the area. Mt. Pulag is the only place that hosts four cloud rat species.
5. The area surrounding Mt. Pulag is a melting pot.
Tucked in the heart of the Cordilleras, the area surrounding Mt. Pulag is a melting pot of different cultures. The Kalanguyas, the Ibalois, the Kankanaeys and other Cordilleran tribe have descended into the slopes of Mt. Pulag. The locals are all hospitable and welcoming they are more than willing to educate visitors of their way of life. During my first visit, there was a cultural presentation at the Ambangeg ranger station; the locals perform this during special occasions.
6. Mt. Pulag is a photography enthusiasts’ paradise.
Apart from the diverse ecosystem, Mt. Pulag offers a very idyllic landscape. From the pine forest to the montane forest to the summit, Mt. Pulag doesn’t run out of wonderful spots for those perfect and Instagram-worthy shots. Every nook and cranny are spots to take those perfect pictures. It is no surprise to encounter a photographer or a photography enthusiast along the trails of Mt. Pulag.
7. Dazzle in a delightful view of the Milky Way.
At nearly 3,000 MASL, Mt. Pulag National Park draws visitors closer to the skies, giving them a better view of the Milky Way. Away from the metro’s light pollution, Mt. Pulag is a great vantage point to draw out the different constellations. In fact, one renowned photographer stayed in the park for a week just to capture Mt. Pulag’s night scenes. The result is a stunning abstract of stars and constellations.
8. Witness a magnificent sunrise.
One of the pleasures of chasing Mt. Pulag’s summit is to bear witness to that wonderful sunrise. The typical sunrise is captivating but witnessing the sun rise above the mountainous horizon is an entirely different experience. The sunrise at 2,929 MASL gives an entirely different appeal. Pair the sunrise with an amazing sea of clouds and you have an ethereal view, one that no picture will ever give justice to.
9. The majestic sea of clouds.
But of course, the sea of clouds. One of the reasons Mt. Pulag remains one of the country’s most sought-after mountaineering destination is the sea of clouds that seem to carpet the mountains of the Cordilleras. The cottony rolling clouds is so idyllic that even non-mountaineering enthusiasts dare to tackle on the challenge of Mt. Pulag. And who can blame them? The sight of a sea of clouds is just breathtaking.
10. Climb now before it gets desecrated further.
It is undeniable that Mt. Pulag is a premier climbing destination. Even beginners, with proper supervision and good preparation, can climb it. Due to improvements in infrastructures over the years, access to Mt. Pulag is easier than it was before. It also means one thing – the escalation of development. Twice I’ve been to Mt. Pulag and I can notice how kaingin is slowly wiping out some of the parts of the national park. Mt. Pulag turning into another Mt. Timbak is not far from reality and is a cause for great concern.
Let us help preserve Mt. Pulag by adhering to all the regulations that are in place to keep the sacred mountain from further degradation. Lest one forgets, Mt. Pulag is not just another mountain, it is a sacred place for the locals and for all Cordillerans.
I hope this piece convinces you to take the plunge and climb Mt. Pulag. Ambangeg trail is very conducive for starters. It could be quite challenging though as the trail’s length runs a whopping 15 kilometers back and forth. The cold can be piercing, too. But the human body is built to endure so much more. Its capabilities is beyond one’s imagination. Besides, the view at the top is worth a thousand ships sailing.
Photo credits: Featured image and pictures without watermarks are owned by Mr. Voltaire Coycoyen.