The Day Mount Pulag Conquered Me

Sea of Clouds at Mount Pulag
Trailing clouds of glory, do we come

We have unfinished business, this mountain and I.

I’m not much of a mountaineer. In fact, I’m not a mountaineer at all. I love the concept of hiking and sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere, but for the most part, that remained as such: a concept. But a coworker who was just recently starting to climb showed me a photo of Mount Pulag’s famous sea of clouds, and I knew it’s a sight I just HAD to see.

I prepared as best as I could. I bought a backpack and a tent, things I may or may not ever use again, and psyched myself out and pictured all the poses I will do and imagined all the pretty photos I will take. So I packed and off I went, blissfully unaware just how thoroughly out of shape my body truly is.

Hikers at Mount Pulag

It was a rude awakening. Pride caused me to refuse letting my bag be carried off by a porter. How difficult can it be, I thought. I managed just fine with the stupid thing strapped on my back while we wait to board our bus, and never felt that it’s too heavy to carry by myself. But carrying a bag full of bulky camping items across a flat, tiled surface is immensely different when you’re defying gravity. It seemed to weigh 10 times more during our ascent than it did in the bus station. In no time at all I grew tired, breathing became a chore, and it was all I can do not to collapse on the greenery and black out. I pushed as far as I could, but about 1/3 of the way a porter came passing by on her way down and I asked, begged almost, for her to take my pack.

Trailmix for Mount Pulag
Almonds, M&M's with nuts, Regular M&M's, Greenpeas, Chocochip Cookies, and virtually anything we felt like eating

We got to our camping site, enjoyed the last few minutes of daylight remaining and took a few photos (including the one above), and set up our tent. We were so tired that even getting up to eat dinner was unthinkable, so we skipped the social stuff and just went to sleep. It’s ok, I told myself. We’re tired but we survived. The view will be worth it.

And then mother nature decided to play an unfunny little joke and sent a storm our way.

Storm clouds at Mount Pulag
The cold winds are rising

Our tent got flooded, the winds were howling, and we were freezing. I’ve never felt so cold in my life–I can’t feel my extremities, it was that bad. I was told it was -3 degrees during the night, so I guess the fact that I was woken up a few times that night by my chattering teeth wasn’t just me being a ninny. We kept hoping that the rain would stop, but it never did. We decided not to go with the group who will push on to the summit. We thought we probably wouldn’t see a thing, anyway, and we were right. They told us all they could see was the fog.

In the morning, we set up as neatly and as quickly as we could, sent off our stuff with a porter, and began climbing down. The descent was a better experience, partly because we have no heavy bags to distract us from the view, but also because it wasn’t raining in the lower parts of the mountain. The scenery was just spectacular: pine trees and flowers grow wild and made everything photo-worthy. The air was sweet and cool. And because I was frustrated by the lack of pretty cloud photos in my camera, I had to content myself with other things: a cobweb laced with raindrops, a hill covered with tiny white flowers. Too soon we reached the ranger’s station, and were on our way back home.

Water Webs at Mount Pulag
Nature-made Diamond Necklaces
Dewdrops at Mount Pulag
Rain could make such pretty things
Wildflowers at Mount Pulag
I keep hearing "Eidelweiss" in my head

It was a VERY exhausting experience for a mountaineering noob (my polite way of saying OMG I’m fat and out of shape). My head filled with a mishmash of Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings references, which I truly believe kept me sane during the ridiculously tiring ordeal:

When the hike started: TO MORDOR!!!! (To which my coworker replied “One does not simply walk into Mordor)
When the first signs of fog became visible: OMG we’re in Winterfell! (The people closest to me intoned “Winter is coming”)
In the tent: Katniss and Peeta were stuck in a cave in the rain too, and they didn’t even have a tent. And they were injured.
On the way down: You are a water dancer. Water dancers do not slip over rocks, no matter how muddy they are. Syrio Forel taught you better than that.

It sounds crazy, but at times when you’re in pain (haha!) I guess the mind defaults to whatever you’re most comfortable with, and I’m nothing if not a voracious reader.

And though I had a terrible time toughing out the cold, it was a fun and incredible experience. Now I can say I was stuck in a tent in the middle of a storm on top of a mountain, and that I rode on top of a jeepney for an hour. But for you noobs who also want to give it a shot, let me give you a piece of golden advice: PORTERS. Hire them.

I will give Mount Pulag another try. Who knows? Maybe THAT will be a pleasant enough experience to convince me that other mountains–and not just this one–is worth exploring.

Soup at Mount Pulag
K braving the cold with some soup
Muddy shoes at Mount Pulag
Shoes NOT made for hiking
Veggie Patch at Mount Pulag
Little veggie patches and a tiny stream
Jump at Mount Pulag
The obligatory jump shot
Mini Rice Terraces at Mount Pulag
Bits of Rice Terraces dot the mountainside
Pine trees at Mount Pulag
Pine trees cover the mountains
Hikers at Mount Pulag
The thwarted conquerors
Valley at Mount Pulag
A stream in a valley we stopped at on our way home
Stream at Mount Pulag
Whoosh, it goes
The Moon
I didn't get to take a photo of the moon as planned, so I took this when I got home


28 thoughts on “The Day Mount Pulag Conquered Me

  1. Very nice photos you got there. When did you climb? I’ll be there this weekend. Sana lang hindi umulan sa taas. I don’t want to feel disappointed. Hehehe.

  2. Despite your ordeal, you still managed to take very beautiful photos :)

    Oh, and LOL at those Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings references :))

  3. ang ganda ng photos mo at congrats! ibang klase parang feeling ko si garduce ang sinusundan ko nyahaha matagal ko ng pangarap gawin din ito kaso wala pang pagkakataon eh pero pag dumating yun go for the gold ako at gagayahin kita, go!

    1. Hahahah salamat salamat, pero hindi naman naming naakyat yung summit! Oo puntahan mo din, masaya naman at maganda yung view! Malamig pa!

  4. Nice photos especially the clouds and the dew drops on the leaf. I’m excited. I’ll be going to Pulag this April and i’m not a mountaineer. hehe

    1. Your photos are amazing too! You’ll take better photos I bet, and I hope you have better weather than what we experienced. 😛 It’s fun! Cardio cardio na to prepare! 😀

  5. As much as I would like to climb the highest mountains, di ko magawa due to a heart condition. Your experience and photos made me experience something I na sana magawa ko in the future.

    1. Oh that sucks! Well, kaya naman mag explore ng iba na sing ganda din ng mountaintops. And malay mo one day kaya mo ng mag climb 😀 Hope you can experience it kahit once. Kami din, ayaw na namin. After siguro namin na makita na talaga yung clouds, we’ll stick to beaches na rin. Hahaha! Kakapagod umakyat

  6. I love the diamond necklace. It was sad to hear that you never reach the top due to the storm but atleast you have captured some stunning images along the way. ako kaya kelan makakapag-Pulag?

    BTW, I’m also a fan of Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games. Yung Game of Thrones is next on my list. Malapit na showing ng Hunger Games sa march 24 na!! hehehe

    1. Joan, March 22 sa SM ang showing ng HG!!!!!! Ayiiiieeeeeee super excited na ako! I’ve read LOTR and GoT din! Ganda ng Game of Thrones, naadik ako dun at natapos ko yung 5 books in two months! Parang ayaw ko ng magtrabaho nun at gusto ko na lang magbasa hahahaha

      Try Pulag at least once! Worth it yung view, kahit di pa namin nakita yung clouds, ang ganda pa din nung place. Sana madami ding ganung lugar sa Manila

  7. My gosh! I applaud you for braving the weather conditions. Baka di nako nagising sa lamig nyan.. hehe! But I’ve heard of Mt. Pulag and the beauty of the clouds. Would love to go there, pero pag super fit nako.. I don’t think I will last in that trek! Btw, ang GANDA ng photos mo!!! You’ve captured the very essence of those elements. =)

    1. Hahaha Kailangan i-brave eh, wala kaming kasama pababa! Hahahaha. Enjoy naman and mag try pa ulit kami para makita namin yung clouds

  8. Oh wow I’ve been to Mt. Pulag once during college and umiiyak ako pag dating sa base camp dahil sa bigat ng bag ko. Lesson learned: pack lightly.

  9. it also rained when I climbed pulag, but not as hard as you experienced. ang hirap, nakakataranta ang ulan, what more bahain na kayo. im sure that’s terrible. oh well, charge to experience.

    may araw din sayo si mt.pulag. hehe

    nice photos, specially the dew. :)

    1. Grabe, sobrang ginaw! Plano namin bumalik in September, kasi sabi mas madalas daw swertihin yung mga nagpupunta dun on that month 😀 Ewan ko lang gano ka totoo haha

  10. ohmygoodness, this trail is beautiful! these are beautiful pictures. i’ve been wanting to conquer mt. pulag for so long, but i’ve been so out of shape and I’m afraid I can’t handle it haha.

    btw, thanks for dropping by my blog. bookmarking you!
    frances recently posted..Shakespeare and CompanyMy Profile

    1. It’s not so bad, lalo na if you hire porters. :) Mas maeenjoy mo. Hey, if I made it I have no doubt that you can too.

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