Finally after a year I’m back to Mt. Pulag. This time via Akiki trail. This is not in my plan actually, until a friend of mine offered his slot to replace him since he has prior commitment. When I finally secured my slot, it’s on! I know I have to prepare for this since the trail is not friendly. Otherwise they wouldn’t call it the killer trail. Standing at 2922MASL, Mt. Pulag is considered to be the highest mountain in Luzon, and third highest in the Philippines.
With the guidance of another friend, she briefed me about how the trail looks like and how I should be serious about this climb. She told me that I need to nourish myself week before the climb. Banana after meals, keeping myself hydrated, city running among my preparations and of course enough sleep. I didn’t regret preparing because it helped me survive the climb.
Then the hike date came, our meeting place is at McDonald’s Quezon Avenue Southbound. I’m a bit early because I live near the area. I didn’t bother being early at all since the McDo branch is full of fellow traveller/hikers. Past 12am when our driver, Kuya Jojo (09273566138) arrived. He drives a typical van until we hop inside and offered us a karaoke. He has an 18 inch LED TV, an entertainment van indeed. None from the group accepted the offer instead we requested for some music for us to catch some sleep. 😃 We left the city around 1AM.
Around 4AM we were at Leeza’s Restaurant somewhere in Pangasinan for a light breakfast. Then continued our way to the DENR Office. We have several stops in between but I wasn’t able to take note of it. We reached the Mt. Pulag DENR office around 8AM. Our organizer processed our registration and advised us to attend the seminar. The process took more than an hour to complete. At 10AM, we transferred to a monster jeep to proceed at Akiki Ranger Station. It was an hour long ride with a little bit of zigzag along the way. But it offers a nice view of of the Benguet Mountains. Even if its a little bumpy, I was able to sleep for a bit. ^_^
We arrived at the Akiki Ranger Station around 11:30AM. We waited quite long here as there’s no guide available. We decided to eat our lunch bought at the store near the DENR office while waiting. I also drink my first B Complex shot to prepare myself for the climb.
Note: There’s a few staircase on the way to the main building of the Akiki Ranget Station. Its like a premonition of what lies ahead. 😂
Not sure of the rules for the guides, but I believe 15 participants are required to have 2 tour guides. But our organizer was able to huggle and we ended with 1 tour guide and a porter.
JUMP OFF TO EDET
We officially started our trek around 1PM. Our first stop is the Edet River. First few minutes of walking composed of a rough road. Looks like, they’re building roads directly to the jump off. Anyway, we continued our walk and rested for a bit in an open area, before entering the actual trail. The actual way to Edet is rolling hills. If not that crowded, you can run and can reach Edet in no time. We tried to ask the other group ahead of if we can advance. They happily allowed us. 😄 Our total duration from jump off to Edet is 1h20mins. We rested for a bit and took some pictures. There’s a water source here as well. I refilled my small water bottle and as always, mountain water is so refreshing. We went ahead in order to avoid the bulk of people going up. The next trail is a fragile looking hanging bridge. We were advised by our organizer to cross the hanging bridge by pairs. So we did it. I even took my friend’s gopro as I cross the bridge with a gushing waters underneath. We took another snaps of photos before heading to the “real” trail.
EDET TO E CAMP
Now this is the real deal, after we left Edet River and started walking I didn’t see any flat surface at all. Its like a never ending assault. We’re currently on the lead pack at this point of the climb. We’re four in total. To speed up, we do a 1-2,1-2, pattern wherein after a couple of steps we’re resting for less than 1 or 2 mins. Aside from that we’re taking some photos in between. Mind you, the surrounding is very instagrammable. We continued the same sequence until we reached the E Camp around for about 2hrs. We were welcomed by a flock of cows resting with us. I almost attempt to have a selfie with the cows but was afraid I might get suwag.
E CAMP TO MARLBORO HILLS
After resting for approximately 15minutes, we continued our way to Marlboro Hills. The trail is getting steeper as we climb up. At this point of the climb Kuya Jeff is pacing us. Since we don’t have a tour guide, we make sure that we’re together. We usually allotted around 1 to 2 minutes of rest but if someone is so tired we’re resting for 5 minutes. We also take a moment to appreciate the trail. We reached the Marlboro Hills around 4 or 5PM. We also struggle if we should continue or not. After 30minutes of discussion and refilling our empty bottles we decided to proceed our trek to saddle. Its getting colder on this part of the mountain so I wore my jacket. Initially I’m just wearing a drifit shirt and rashguard. Our total duration is 1h15mins.
MARLBORO HILLS TO SADDLE
Its already getting dark when we started our trek up. The unlimited assault is still there. Its like my body is getting used to it though part of me hurts. Kuya Jeff is still on the lead. We entered the Mossy Forest which is a sign that we’re making good progress. Though I didn’t see it clearly, but I think the mossy forest is so vibrant. The mossy forest is not steeper compared to what we encountered on the way to Marlboro. But the steep trail is still there. I think I’m getting used to night trekking but I’m still afraid we might get lost. We stopped by E Camps and water source in between. We rejoiced after we reached the open area of Grassland. We know we’re really making a good progress here. The grassland is reminiscent of Ambangeg trail though make it a bit steeper. Thankfully the moon shines bright so our way is quite lit. We rested for a bit here and continued our walk to saddle. There are some fork trails along the way but thankfully EJ and Lory remembered the trail really well. It was a relief when we saw the tent lights of the groups that’s been there for 3 nights. It really is the Saddle. It took us 4 grueling hours to complete it.
The challenge now is setting up of tent. Its really cold on this part of the mountain. This is the challenge when you climbed Benguet Mountains, the moment you stop moving, that’s the time when you feel cold. Aside from that, our tent is with the porter so there’s no room for me and Kuya Jeff. Thankfully. Lory and EJ have their A frame we set it up completely adjacent to a tall grass and their tadpole tent in order to trap the heat. After we finalized the setup we squeezed ourselves in, Lory and EJ on the tent while me and Jeff on the A frame. EJ prepared some hot coffee and hot water to warm our noodles. This is the part where I regret I bought a flavored Hunts Pork and Beans. Original flavor taste better. But since I have no choice I still ate it. 😂 After cleaning up our food mess we prepared our sleeping bags to sleep. I also drank my second dose of Bcomplex. We’re suppose to accompany EJ to his drinking session but because I’m dead tired, the moment I shoot myself to sleeping bag I fell asleep in less than 5minutes. 😂
We woke up at 5am to prepare for the summit. EJ heated some hot coffee I also ate another pack of my Pork and Beans. We walk our way up to the summit and reached it after 30minutes or so. As always Mt. Pulag offers a really dramatic view of the summit. Here we saw our fellow hikers. I also saw the peak where we at when I last visited this place. I also got the chance to take a photo to the famous Mt. Pulag sign board. We took some more snaps and then decided to go down to break camp.
AMBANGEG RANGER STATION
Though I still feel cold, I chose to pack my jackets and just wore a drifit shirt and an arm band. We also brought our trash as we go down practicing Leave No Trace. 😁 We went passed the rocky terrain of Ambangeg as well as its long Mossy Forest. Since there are a lot of hikers around, it took us more than 3 hours to reached the ranger station. We waited until 1PM before we went back to Manila.
Here are some more photos you can enjoy. ^_^
This experience will not be possible without the help of the following people.
To Randy: Our organizer, thank you for ensuring that every participant is safe and sound. I really appreciate your gesture of checking our status from time to time. Hoping to join your organized climb soon. God bless you more Sir! 🙂
To Joem: Thank you for giving me this slot, it’s really a great experience for me. Let’s climb soon.
To Mimi: Thank you for your guidance on how to prepare for this climb. I took your advise seriously which really help me on this climb. I hope I made you proud. ^_^
To Jeff: Congrats to us for surviving a night with only A-Frame as our shelter. Thank you for pacing us real quick. Your strength and endurance to the trail is worthy to be asked the infamous question: How to be you po? Till our next climb. 🙂
To Lory and EJ: You guys rock! Our Team work wouldn’t be possible without your knowledge of the trail. I’m so happy seeing you lovebirds together though sometimes it made me cringe a bit because of your overflowing sweetness. But nonetheless, I’m happy to know both of you and hopefully your love will last a lifetime. Thank you for this wonderful experience. Next climb please. ^_^
To the 11 Other Participants: Congrats to us for accomplishing the Akiki Trail. Completing the challenging trail of Akiki proved that we’re taking our mountaineer journey to the next level. Hope to see you again some other time.
Here’s a short video clip of our climb. Hope you like it.
PS: Thanks for Lory this video
What’s inside my bag:
Pair of Heat Tech Jogging Pants and Long Sleeves
1 Drifit Shirt
1 Long Sleeve
1 Hoodie Jacket
1 Down Jacket
2 Gloves (Fleece (Bought from Daiso for P88) and Normal gloves)
1 Trekking pants
1 Medicine Kit (Wound Cleansing)
2 Tablets of Neurobion
2 Tablets of Ponstan
2 Tablets of Berrocca
1 Earth Pad
1 Sleeping Bag
2 Water Bottle (1.5L)
1 small bottle (500ML)
1 Extra Sandals
Food: 6 packs Pork and Beans, Happy Peanuts, Jelly Ace and Raisins for Trail Foods
Total Weight – 12 Kilos