Walking on Clouds: Climbing Mt. Pulag with Byaheng Victory of Travel Factor [SP]
Mountain tops look like islands in the sky amidst the sea of clouds on Mt. Pulag National Park
By past midnight the cold became unbearable, dropping to a few degrees freezing. Our camping tents were of no help as they were built for warmer climates and were well ventilated. We were spending the night under the crystal night sky near the summit of Mt. Pulag (also called Mt. Pulog), the highest peak in Luzon Island, rising 2,922 meters above sea level along the Cordillera mountain range. I’ve always wanted to climb Mt Pulag – the third highest peak in the Philippines – in Benguet for the longest time, but I always missed the opportunity to do so because of other travel commitments. Thanks to Travel Factor, I climbed the peak last weekend on one of their exciting adventure tours!
Hikers with headlamps blaze the trail during the pre-dawn summit assault
Traveling to Mt. Pulag entails traveling to Baguio City, where we chartered a jeepney to the DENR office. All climbers were required to attend an orientation on the environmental and cultural rules when climbing the mountain. Designated as a protected national park, Mt. Pulag hosts a fragile biodiversity of plants and animals, many of them endemic the region such as the Giant Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat (Crateromys schadenbergi) that lives in the mossy forests on the mountain’s shoulders, and the Dwarf Bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis) that thrive on the open summit together with the more common cogon grass. Moreover, Mt. Pulag has long been considered sacred ground where the souls of ancestors reside for the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera like the Ibaloi and Kakana-ey. Another tribe that live in and around the mountain that I haven’t heard of before are the Kalanguya, who are culturally similar to the Ibaloi and Kankana-ey but speak a different language. Most of the hiking guides and porters in Mt. Pulag National Park are Kalanguya. From the DENR office, we drove to the trailhead at the ranger station. From here, it’s a two to three hour ascent through rough road then mossy forests to a series of designated campsites in the grasslands, where have to spend the night for the following morning’s final assault to the summit.
A Kalanguya guide rests on a thicket of cogon grass and dwarf bamboo
By three in the morning, campers began stumbling out of their tents with barely any sleep to begin the final summit assault up the undulating grassland of Pulag’s apex. It was a surreal sight – very much like my climb a few years back on Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo – to see a meandering stream of headlamps slowly blaze the hour-long trail to the very top to catch the sunrise. Upon reaching the top, we watched the sparkling night sky transform into glorious dawn, the sunlight breaking into pastel hues that grew more intense until the sun finally broke through the edge of the sea clouds – like the horizon of an ocean – through the mountaintops that looked like islands in the sky. It was one of the most beautiful works of nature I have seen in my life.
The morning sky blushes as the sun emerges
Byaheng Victory is a series of group adventures showcasing some of the most awe-inspiring North Luzon destination reached by Victory Liner, the Philippines’ premiere bus transportation company. I’m usually not for availing tour packages but Travel Factor makes traveling to some destinations in the Philippines much cheaper by sharing the cost with other travelers.
Through a partnership with Travel Factor, the country’s leading adventure travel company, Byaheng Victory brings to life trips that combine the excitement of exploring North Luzon treasures and the highest level of comfort and safety that comes with every Victory Liner bus ride. For the oncoming travel season, they will be doing tours to Mt. Pulag, Mt. Pinatubo, Sagada, Kalinga, Pangasinan and Zambales. They will also be doing special trips like food tours and Visita Iglesia in Pampanga.
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Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.