Monday, March 2, 2015

A Beautiful Letdown: My Fourth Annual Climb to Mt. Pulag

December 20-21, 2014

"There seemed to be a hole in my heart! I felt incomplete. And yet, every climb to Mt. Pulag is always fun, something great to keep in my heart."

This is a story of an epic fail quest for the summit of Mt. Pulag. Admittedly, we failed to reach it due to inevitable, uncontrollable forces. And that was the saddest part. Now guess what happened next..."

For the year 2014, this was my fourth annual climb to Mt. Pulag. Again, the reasons are to fulfill my vow to pay a yearly visit to this majestic mountain and share this experience with my not-so-regular climber friends or just starting out to climb. These reasons were also the very reasons why we chose the easiest trail, Ambangeg. 

As early as September, I already had a Facebook event and as early as mid-October, headcount was already full so the slots were closed immediately. Take note that organizing climbs during peak season  is very crucial in terms of reservation. I learned that as at Dec 2014, slots were already full until March 2015. Anyway, the count was finalised to 31pax including me and buddy Dennis as the organizers. Great thing here was that two of my cousins, Ate Cel who was having a break from work in Qatar and Kuya Butchoy from Quezon as well as my youngest sibling Maybe, were able to join this climb event. More to this was that my old/closest friends and new friends introduced by friends of friends were part of it.

More challenges in organizing a Pulag climb during the month of December include: (1) reservation of tickets ahead of time.. well, earlier than the usual reservation as people are chasing the cold weather of Baguio City during Christmas time. I regret I cannot give information as to when Victory Liner Bus is allowing early ticket reservation. As to our case, when I went there at the terminal to personally buy tickets two weeks before the event,  it ranges from 5-15 unoccupied seats for schedules 9pm to 11pm. What a relief when they set another bus schedule so that the 31 of us will be riding together in only one bus; (2) traffic jam all over Metro Manila. Surprisingly, we didn't actually encounter this dilemma, I don't know what happened to EDSA during that particular Friday night. Nonetheless, I still couldn't lift this probable dilemma as EDSA is still EDSA and December is still December. You gotta really prepare for that.

Moving on, we had a smooth ride going to Baguio. As our strategy to secure our tickets on our way back to Manila the following day, I fell in line immediately and bought the tickets right after the drop off in Victory Liner Baguio.

         Breakfast at Madam Gina's

                 Groupie at DENR

The different things about this Pulag climb compared to our usual itinerary in the past were that, we were early that we even managed to be at DENR as early as 7:30 or 8am to attend the orientation at DENR. Another unusual thing this time was that our breakfast stopover happened not in Pinkan but at the carinderia of Ma'am Gina (to whom we also rented our two jeepneys) which to me is relatively new. Indeed, she has established her "suki."

By 11:30am after securing required fees, guides and porters, we started the trek. It was a very fine weather that day as we ascend to Camp 2.  

It's peak season in Pulag and during that weekend, hundreds of hikers went up to Mt. Pulag. Although we arrived early at Camp 2, the camp space left to us was uncomfortable being not that flat. All of our tents seemed to cause us to slide down.

Everybody in the group arrived there by 3pm. Some stayed and slept inside their tents while some of us decided to go up to Camp 2 extension to witness the sunset. All of us, being hopeful, had no idea that, that would be the last time in which we could experience the calmness of the skies during our stay in Mt. Pulag. 

     As the sun beautifully goes down

               View of sea of clouds 
              from Camp 2 extension

   with Lingkod friends: Dine, Bev,Fernand

We had a delicious dinner courtesy of our cook, Dennis by 6pm and before 7pm, everyone of us were resting inside our respective tents. 

Lights off. I heard some drops in our tents. It was fog rain I think.

"There'll be sea of clouds tomorrow if it should rain tonight." I heard Dennis uttered from the tent beside ours.

But there were winds also.

I was awakened by some moist by my side at around 10pm. It was still raining. It was honestly cold already and since I was in the leftmost part of our tent, I could really feel the moist. I couldn't mind the coldness. I was instead distracted by the rain and the roaring winds until 11pm

By 2:30am which is actually our call time to get up, it seemed calm outside. I walked outside and woke them up. It was foggy. After a while, it rained again. 

OK, since there'll be no sunrise to view already, "let's just go to the summit by 6am." I told them.

One hour has passed... 6am and still raining.

Another hour. Yes, we waited for another hour. OK, 7am the least.

7am, and still raining. The winds got stronger as the morning progresses and light scatters.

The next things that happened broke my heart. Everyone was wet and feeling cold, their things wet, and they had no choice but to set their tent down in the middle of the rain. They also had to evacuate to the nipa hut where guides and porters stayed overnight. Dennis was there and preparing for our breakfast. With the help of guide, we had the to do "tent down."

    it's wet and cold, and they survived!

We had no choice but to move in the middle of incovenience. We went down. We bid goodbye to Camp 2. We had a rainy trek going down.

And down after camp 1, it was sunny already with isolated drops. :( Pulag must not be really allowing us to go to her summit. 

Despite all of these, what I honor about the participants is their capacity to move on, smile and laugh and just enjoy whatever they have at the moment. 

               it's still fun anyway! :)

   sidetrip photo!!! with my sister at Ambuklao Dam view

Oftentimes, it's hard to comprehend the reason for a sudden happening. More of, if it turned to be totally opposite the way we expected it to be. 

We may never know the reason behind but we believe it conveys an invitation for us to re-visit her majesty. It must be teaching us to be hopeful and be patient. Truly, there's a wisdom behind waiting for the right time. 

                Just happy!

I was writing this note receiving a news from Dennis that they just had a sea of clouds this morning in his Timbak-Pulag traverse event (a week after our climb). And I would say... Hashtag Bitter! Hehe!

Well, let's see next year in my 5th Annual Climb to Mt. Pulag! :) #hopeful

*Photo Credits: Qitter Vhostek, Rod Yap, Maan Villegas

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