“Before I leave home let me thank again my Watwat World Teammates. Like I said, we can always come back for sunsets and sunrises and rolling clouds, but we’ll never have a Pulag Climb under typhoon signal no.2. It was awesome being with you guys. Thank you for taking care of a 50-year old hiker” – Jogin Tamayo.
My 6th Mt. Pulag climb was a greater adventure than I imagined. After weeks of preparing for the 1st watwatworld friendship and discovery climb bound for Mt. Pulag, the day came for all of the participants to meet at Caltex, Victory Station, Baguio City. Prior to the meet-up, there were concerns about the weather as Typhoon Louis was spotted entering the PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) and according to PAG-ASA at that time, the landfall would come around Sunday evening. And so we thought.
But since everybody was prepared to go, no one backed down and by 4:00am, we were all at the meet-up area. We gathered around and introduced ourselves one by one. After a prayer, we boarded the Jeepney and the adventure began.
Our first stop was breakfast at Gina’s place located alongside Ambuklao Road. After breakfast, we proceeded to Ambuklao Dam, took some good photos of the dam and spillway, 30 minutes after, we were back on the road, this time going to the DENR parks office at Ambangeg. By 8:30am we were at the DENR waiting for our group’s turn for the basic orientation which is mandatory for all climb participants.
We finished the orientation after an hour, took some pictures and went back to the road. The weather was fine that morning with the sun providing adequate warmth. After an hour of bumby road, our jeepney stopped and told us that we have to walk a certain portion of the road because it was being cemented. Considering that I am carrying two big backpack and a bag full of tents, it was the start of my challenge. Good thing the male participants helped me carry the heavy bags. After walking some distance, we arrived at the area where another pink jeep was waiting to bring us further up to the Ranger Station.
Thirty minutes after, we arrived at the Ranger station. It was called so because a few years back, it was indeed a station for military and forest rangers. Today, the Mt. Pulag Ranger Station is actually a small office-hut being used by the association of Park Guides and Porters. It serves as the main registration table for all climbers. The guides and porters are all locals. Our guides that day were Ador and edeline and our porters were strong 50 year olds!
We had lunch near our favorite store (packed lunch) and by 12:30N we started to ascend. Still the weather was normal. When we arrived at Camp 1, ( a waiting shed ), it started to drizzle and along the way at the Mossy Forest, rain started to pour. Good thing we secured our bags with big plastic covers. The path was muddy and slippery. Rain drops were sliding in our faces but it made the hike more enjoyable. Also, the water springs were so refreshing that each one had a gulp to fulfillment.
At around 3:30pm, we arrived at the Campsite. It was raining hard and the wind was harshly painful to the skin. We started to set camp, put up tents and kitchen. Then all of a sudden we felt hard tiny droplets falling down, it was ice droplets the size of a peanut. We welcomed the short hailstorm with joy. An hour later, after helping each other, our tents and makeshift kitchen were done. We immediately started to cook water for coffee. At around 4:30 to 5:30pm the rain stopped.
By 5:30pm, it started to rain again. Without possibility of having a good dinner together, we made sandwiches and hot coffee/chocolate instead and delivered the light dinner to their tents. It was getting dark and the weather was becoming more unpredictable. Half of our group decided to go to the Guide station (a small waiting shed with roof that serves as sleeping area for the Guides and Porters). We remained. We had four tents that night but we decided to tent-pool. Jogin, Gerry and Sprite stayed at one tent. Me, Yulia, Retz and Leronz stayed on another. The other two tents had our bags and other things.
It was a very long night. I checked my watch and it was just 8:30pm. Outside our tent, we can hear the whistling sound of the wind and the harsh fall of the rain. I thought this is it. We have to survive the night. With the strong winds, the sides of our tent were already slapping with each other and water began to slip inside our tents. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours. Despite the bad weather, Jogin, Gerry and Sprite were laughing inside their tent – the reason – Selfthree. They were taking pictures of each other, of course, just for fun.
The wind became stronger and our tent was already wet inside. We had to move in closer to each other and depend on the warmth of our bodies for the much needed heat. At around 4:00am, the rain stopped briefly and we had the chance to get out of our tents. That when we saw that our other two tents were smashed flat by the wind and barely survived. Our guides came to check on us and asked if we still wanted to go up the summit. With courageous hearts, me, Yulia, Retz, Gerry and Mike Sabado decided to give it a try. It was dark and the pathway to the summit was slippery wet. We were already near the base of the mountain summit 1, but it started to rain again. The Summit was already a few minutes away but I decided that we back down and return to the campsite. Maybe it was a sign that we continue no more.
We packed our things and went to the Guide’s Station to prepare breakfast. While I was cooking, the weather cooperated and the group went to the see the beautiful landscape, took pictures and came back for a bountiful breakfast. Despite the night’s bad weather, the morning was filled with laughter and memorable moments. We also celebrated Sir Jogin’s 50th birthday that morning with loaf bread, corned beef, ham, noodles, chichacorn, rice and coffee.
10am was the time to descend back to the Ranger Station. Then to the DENR office for the certificates, Side tripped to Badekbek sulfur spring, side tripped to the long bridge and ate tilapia for lunch. Around 5:00pm, Sunday, we were back at the Victory station. Said our goodbyes and parted ways. It was indeed an adventure. Not the usual Mt. Pulag story, but it was a memorable Mt. Pulag Adventure.
We have upcoming Mt. Pulag Schedules. For the month of October 2014 – May 2015. If you would like to join us, please click on the contact us link above. Our next scheduled climb is October 25-26, 2014.
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