Nature-ral High

Nature-ral High
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

February 27, 2008

Mt. Pulag

As I leave my house last thursday. I said to myself, "This is it. Im on my way to the mountain I had been longing to climb for so many years". There are so many things running into my mind. Will I be OK? Is it gonna be frezzing on the summit? Is it gonna rain? etc. etc. I was having butterflies in my stomach, this usually happens to me everytime I climb a major mountain. Our trail is by Akiki-Ambangeg.

Day 1 (Feb 21, 200)
We are took the Victory Liner in Pasay going to Baguio. We met at around 10PM, our bus left at 01:00AM the next day.

(DaY2 Feb 22, 2008)
We arrived in Baguio 7:30AM. From there we took a taxi going to the place called "Slaughter House". From here we had our breakfast and then waited for the bus (ordinary and mini) going to Kabayan, our jumpoff.

My friend (our EL) told me its a good thing theres only a few passengers waiting since normally its crowded. He said there was a time when he stood for 3 hours in the bus due to large quantity of passengers! I saw two groups of foreigners going to Kabayan too (brits and israelis), btw, Kabayan is a place where there are century old mummies much like in Sagada. He said If I could persuade these foreigners to hire a jeep much better because there will be less competition on the bus. So I did my thing and I was able to make the groups of Brits hire an FX, much like a win-win situation. hehehe. When the bus arrived at around 10am our group was able to be seated. According to our EL there are only one or two bus trips going to kabayan a day depending on the season. By 11:30am we passed by Ambuklao dam.

My friend was able to chat to his seatmate (we were three on the seat) I overheard him conversing in English. It was an old lady who is a retired teacher, she said she knows English but not Tagalog. She said she learned to speak English because there were American missionaries when she was just a kid. We arrived at our jumpoff at around 4:30 am (1230 masl). Before proceeding, we log our names in the DENR station here.

The trail was rolling and there were lots of pine trees. Beautiful scenery indeed.

At around 6:00pm we arrived at our first camp, its a camp beside Edet river. After setting our tents. We had our dinner. The temperature is 18C degrees according to my watch, but is much colder early in the morning (16C). The height here in Edet is 1230 masl. The weather was good, the sky was clear and the moon shine on us. We can even see stars. So far so good.

(DAY3 Feb 23,2008)
Our wake up call is 4:00am. After preparing, we left at 7:00am. We passed by a bridged. the trail was continous assault, my guess is that its 45-60 degrees inclination. Now I know why they called it the "killer trail". Seeing the view, the difficulty is very much worth it. Words cannot explain how beautiful the sceneries that we passed by. Lots of pine trees, Wild flower covered ground and there were occasional birds.

We had our lunch in marlboro country ( a place were there are domesticated cows that are roaming freely). The height here is 2085 masl. After lunch the weather worsened and there is an indication is gonna rain, and it did.
There is now zero visibility. We passed by mossy forest and was able to take only one picture.

We reach the grasslands were there are bonsai bamboo plants. The area was open but the surrounding was still foggy. If there were visibility and no rain Im sure the view is breathtaking. We arrived at our campsite at around 6:30pm at 2700masl. It was raining and the temperature was freezing (10C). The inside of our tent was a bit wet because we set it up while its raining. We took our dinner and went to sleep hoping that there will be clearing the next day, as what usually happens after the rain in the mountain. My guess is that early in the morning, the temperature reached 6C deg.

(DAY4 Feb 24,2008)
We woke up early, but sadly there was still rain.

We decided not to assault going to the summit since there were no visibility. We were not able to see the famed Pulag sunrise and the sea of clouds. Worsed is, I had stomach problems. After taking some medicine I had to make a decision, do I take breakfast and have problems on the trail (breakfast was cornedbeef)? Or just take a few spoonfull of rice and risk having low energy on the trail? I decided to take the latter. We break camp raining and left at around 9:30am. Since we havent summitted, we took the trail that will pass by the summit. We reach the summit at around 10:30am, it registered 2870masl on my watch. After frustratingly staying for a while we decided to leave. The trail going down is just like passing by several hills or somehing like small mountains (as with all the terrain in the mountain provinces), the trail was on the side of the hills. Whenever we are on the side where the wind is blowing (windchill), when the wind hit my face and body its very very cold. The trail was also muddy and trampled. We learned later that a group also decided to climb via amabngeg route only (100 total!) and went down ahead of us. This explained the trampled muddy trail. After an hour my face is feeling numb due to coldness and rain. My feet and hand is also feeling numb. While waiting for our groupmates which is on our tail I decided to sit down and to rest. After a while I felt sleepiness getting into my head. It was a very good feeling. I decided to fight it over because I remember this is the start of Hypothermia sinking in. we continued our trek and arrived at a stopver (camp2) to have our lunch at around 12:30pm. At last, my stomach is now feeling well and I can eat well. I felt so weak and need to reload. After eating we continued for our last leg of walking. We arrived at the ranger station at around 5:30pm, we had a reservation at a cabin. We'll stay here for the night. After cleaning up and my friend prepared carbonara for dinner =). The cabin has a fireplace, We had our post climb and our last socialization.

(DAY5 Feb 25,2008)
We woke up early again, had our breakfast and prepared our self to leave for Baguio. The weather is good now. No sign of rain, Im sure there is clearing on the summit (bummer).

Our transpo is a hired jeep. We left at around 8:00am, arrived in Baguio at 2:30pm. Two hours early from our reservation (we tickets after arriving last thursday). We had 2 hours to roam around and see what was left of Panagbenga festival. At exacly 4:30 pm we left for manila.

Im still exausted as of this writing. My leg muscles still hurts. I'm frustrated of what happened but not completely dissappointed. Although I missed a lot of things that Im expecting, I learned a lot too. This is a good training for my future climbs. But one thing is for sure, Im definitely am going back to Mt. Pulag. =)

February 18, 2008

Mt. Kalisungan

I finally decided to create a blog for my climbs. I think this is much better than keeping a journal since it much easier to share to other enthusiast.

Last Saturday, February 16, 2008 I joined a group of Mountaineers to climb Mt. Kalisungan. The Exploration Lead of this climb is someone I met in one of my past climbs (Mt. Maculot to be exact).
Our trek starts at Erais farm, Masapang Laguna. From this place you will have a complete view of the mountain. The trek starts a bit uphill but after 30 minutes it started to be become steep, my guess is that its about 35-45 degrees inclination. An hour into walking and I felt a bit of pain between my ankle and sole, I guess this has to do with the continouos inclination of the trail, funny thing is its the first time I had experience this. The most common trees that I saw on the trail are mostly bananas and coconuts.

Its a good thing that our Lead decided to hire a friend-guide. The trail is not established and there are times we had to pass through completely vegetation covered ground. According to our guide he had been to Mt. Kalisungan three times and he had been lost three times also. I dont suggest night trekking on this mountain. 3/4 into to mountain you will reach the "kugun-gan" grasslands, Its a good thing that I brought my arm warmer and protected me from scrathes and bruises (my legs is kinda immune so no worry if I dont have leggings). The grass is tall and is even higher than me, I sometimes use my trekking poles to shield my face from these grass.

We reached the summit at about 12:30 PM, the wind is strong on the summit and theres sign that its going to rain (the weather is gloomy when we started our trek, btw).
On the summit you can see five of the famed Laguna lakes. My research on the internet says the summit is about 700 meters, on my ProTrek it registered 685 meters.

We hurriedly take some pictures and decided to eat our lunch. Midway into our food it started to rain, wind is strong and cold (wind chill). Luckily I brought my poncho and rain-proof my stuff. I was actually having second thoughts of doing this because it was sunny in Manila. As the saying goes, "Never underestimate any mountain" and thank God I didn't. We are already late base on our Itinerary so after a while we decided to head back down. With the trail being steep, imagine what will happen if you add rain on it. It was very slippery plus the fact that kugon grassland is an open space with strong winds, heading back was difficult. But midway going down, the trail is dry and theres no evidence of rain.
This is our training climb for Mt. Pulag climb next week. So did it prepare me in someway? Yes of course. Not only that it warm me up for the climb next week (my legs is a bit hurting as of this writing) , It already developed the needed cooperation and camarederie with group that is very much needed in any majorclimb.
If I may add, the only experience I didnt like about this climb is that one of my companion brought his mp3 player and played it along the way (I wish he had just use and earphone and did not share it with us). Whenever I climb I love to escape the luxuries of the city and would only love listening to nature. But on the summit he decided to turn it off and since it rained he never played it again. =)