Friday, April 26, 2013

Mt. Pulag (Kabayan, Benguet): The Road to the Playground of Gods

Kabayan, Benguet
Feb 24-26, 2012

Title: The Road to the Playground of Gods

(This is a recount of my first encounter with the sea of clouds and surreal slopes that Mt. Pulag has become synonymous with.
The cringe, exhaustion, extreme heat, thin air, dropping temp, breathtaking sunrise and soap-opera worthy experience
are the
bits and pieces of memories I have with this mountain.) 

~ These heights bring delights...  that sky stretches wide...
Rolling blues, shimmering bright...

...passing by  below our weary eyes.
On a soulful plight, our breaths hold tight
Oh that peaceful clouds, behold thy light!  ~

 (the early morning scene at  Mt. Pulag )

In the heart of imposing Cordilleras, lies a playground fit for the gods. Defined by its distinctive slopes, dwarf bamboos and sea of clouds, Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet, dubbed as the country’s third highest peak, stands proud and enigmatic at 2,922 MASL, welcoming trekkers with picture-framed panoramas and one-of-kind mountain experience.

Since college, I have been yearning to experience the magic of Mt. Pulag but financial constraints would always pull me back. Finally, three years after graduation, I found myself at last, trudging the slopes leading to its famed peak. Ironically, as I trekked the mountain’s summit hours before its glorious sunrise, the elation I should have been feeling wasn’t there. Instead, my whole mind was silently screaming and my body was involuntarily shaking from the cold. Suffice it to say, the experience Mt. Pulag gave me was a complete capsule of “wow” and “aw”.




~Seeing is believing, wonder keeps you going.
 memory is lasting, till our hearts keep beating.
This feeling is never fleeting,
for in my dreams i see them weaving...  ~

 (sneak peak of our little adventures at  Mt. Pulag )

On the Road

As always, we left Cubao at around 11pm on a rented van and arrived at Baguio City almost four hours later. It was a brisk travel and I barely slept through whole trip. Arriving at the City of Pines at three in the morning is expectedly cold, agonizing at that. And so, as I scrambled my way out of the van, I was holding on to my jacket and thin neck scarf as if I’m holding on a life-support system. Living my whole life in the lowlands did not accustom me to this kind of climate.  


~ So pack light and leave the worries behind... 
travel is an affair of heart and mind
The rush and waiting makes it interesting
that path your trudging is always worth telling.~

 (scenes on the road leading to  Mt. Pulag )

The rented jeepney that would take us to Bokod, Benguet was waiting for us when we arrived, so it was matter of minutes before we were on the road again. Snuggled in between big heavy backpacks and cold metal, I tried catching more sleep. Unfortunately, it was almost next to impossible. Although more than half of the highways were paved, most were also winding, and the rest were dirt-road bumpy. There were couple of times I fell from my seat and several times I hit my head on the solid metal railings; that I decided to scrap the idea of sleeping and just enjoy the scenery and the small excited conversations among my buddies.

Of the nine people that was cramped inside the jeep, I personally knew only four, the rest were new acquaintances I met just hours ago. Meeting new individuals with the same and equal passion for adventure is like finding a slice of chocolate cake during a hungry midnight hour! We might have varied reasons for joining the trip but the excitement to be stepping at the grassy fortress of Mt. Pulag was so overwhelmingly infectious. It wasn’t long before the ice was broken and we were cracking jokes at one another. 

Mountain Side Breakfast


Feast your eyes with thy surreal beauty.
Fill your breath with the scent of bounty 
friends to share this memory
ain't we lucky to have this company?~

 ( our little stopovers, our way of maximizing 
this idyllic mountain panoramas leading to  Mt. Pulag )

Around 7 in the morning, we stopped to eat our breakfast at a restaurant atop a mountain roadside. There were quite a number of trekkers when we arrived there. Surprisingly, I even bump to an old trekking companion way back in college whom I haven’t seen for almost four years!  Kuya Meynard, who was there for a medical mission, was as surprised as I was. The last time we were on a trip together, we were battling the slopes of Mt. Isarog in Camarines Sur. After losing contact for years, how ironic that we would meet again in another parallel environment. Indeed, what a small world this is.

Food was served the “turo-turo” style. Expectedly, the cost was higher than one would expect in a “turo-turo.” But who’s complaining? Especially if you’d be sipping hot coffee and warm soup on a cold morning, in a remote place overlooking a vista of mountainous opulence. After travelling that far and knowing there gonna be more travelling and lots of walking later, warm food and humble views are your perfect appetizing alibi. A great pleasure treat!

(To be continued. bits and pieces of memories.  The Road to the Playground of Gods.) 


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