After our climb in Mt. Daguldol, we braved the trail of Mt. Pulag together with my veteran climber sister-in-law Ate Lani. This was around September when there was a typhoon expected to hit the upper part of Luzon. Aside from the weather, I was more apprehensive of the arduous 5 hour trek going up which starts around 1 in the morning. We need to leave early so that we may be able to reach the peak for sunrise. After all, Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon and the view is expected to be amazing. We left by Friday and attended the pre-climb seminar Saturday morning and forced ourselves to sleep in the afternoon. We really need to rest so that we can wake up at 12 midnight.
The climb was perfect. We woke up on time, the weather cooperated, and the trail was not muddy nor slippery even if it rained the day before. We reached one of the peaks around 5:30 am to watch the sunrise and the sea of clouds.
The view was achingly beautiful. It was like something out of a postcard.
My only thought was “Ang ganda!!!” and I was just ecstatic that Julia and I get to experience the wonder of Mt. Pulag. We were completely immersed in this paradise and disconnected to the busy city. I mean we were literally disconnected because my phone battery died when we reached the peak. Thankfully ate Lani was able to take a few pictures for proof!
After sunrise, we walked for another couple of kilometers. It was then when Julia almost gave up. She was so tired from walking for 5 hours but we were almost there! I can really feel her determination slipping. After a lot of convincing from all of our group mates including the cheers from foreigners and the strangers that we pass by along the way, she did it! They all clapped for her when we finally reached the top.
Why, why, why do we do this?
- The view is great. Mt. Pulag is known for the sea of clouds and we want to experience it first hand. I saw ate Lani’s pictures from her four climbs and vowed that someday I would be able to climb it with Julia. It is not just because I want her to experience things but also for a selfish reason. Since this is an activity that I want to do, I want to have a member of my family with me so that I can share the moment. When I travel alone, I always think about my family that “They should have been here with me!” But if I am with Julia, it dampens the yearning out of the happy moment.
- Reaching the top is a challenge and then an achievement. Being able to try something new is always a challenge. Climbing lets you focus on a single goal and that is to reach the top. Knowing how long and hard it was pushes us to our limits of not giving up. As I said, we were only a kilometer away from the top when Julia wanted to quit. She wanted to go back. After a lot of encouragement, she eventually did it. On our descend, I asked her, “I thought you’re already tired, what made you decide to still go to the summit?” and her answer was “I really wanted to reach the top, I was just sleepy and tired before that. But I am happy that I chose to still do it.”
- We were able to meet new people. There is something about sharing a similar struggle that makes people closer. We met new friends that I can’t thank enough for taking care of Julia.
- Easier retention of information. Before the hike, we attended the seminar where the guides taught us what to do and how to behave. We also learned that Pulag means “bald” and that the mountain gave the illusion of being bald because of the grasslands at the upper area. The vegetation was divided into four: Mixed vegetation, (where the locals convert the land to plant vegetables), the pine forest, the mossy forest, and the grasslands. It is easier to remember these facts while walking in the trail and feeling the transition between the areas. Julia on the other hand was able to remember the animals (I honestly don’t) and was constantly hoping that she gets to see them.
- Walking simplifies life and calms the mind. There is peace in walking surrounded by all the greenery. As much as possible I don’t want to take pictures (I deliberately turned off the phone during our climb) lest we take the present for granted. My questions and comments to Julia are about the things we see, hear, and feel. It was difficult, because my mind takes me back to work or to the people I left behind, but I remind myself that this is my chance to be here and I should make the most of it.