Our wake up call was 4 am, i woke up at 3:30, not that i wanted/intended to but because i can feel the cold moist on my feet, damn! whoever's the last person to come inside the tent last night must be out of his mind to just half-closed it. medyo nabasa tuloy yung medyas ko.
And since i am fully awaked already, papayag ba akong ako lang ang gising? hehehe i made big movements inside the tent that woke up my groupmates, and since i am the only one wearing a watch that time, i told them it's 4:30 already, ayun, ambilis nilang bumangon hehehe. i am so bad. :)
The four of us were the first to come out, and with the noise we made, others followed suit ("ang aga-aga pa ah", "wala pang 4, ano ba?", "saan pwedeng umihi?", etc...). We just re-heat our breakfast since we already cooked them the previous night, we also packed our lunch for the day since it will be more convenient. The coffee that was piping hot a minute ago also needs re-heating, ambilis lumamig!
In between sips of coffee, i started dismantling the flysheet, then the tent, set aside our things for repacking, and have to do all of the above in the dark with only our headlamps as the source of light (the buthane-powered lamps are being used in the "kitchen"). We agreed beforehand to have a heavy breakfast, and those that will not eat two cups of rice will be forced, joke lang. :) We ate our breakfast of danggit, tomatoes, hotdog and leftover adobo, more re-heating of coffee and more laughters. After which, kanya-kanya muna kami and pack, unpack, pack, unpack, pack were the next scenes. Our loads were lighter this time, and the empty containers were all stuffed inside the bag cover, they look bulky but not heavy. :) We almost forget the bag of garbage so I just slip it also inside the bag cover, i'll share it with them later on (remember: pack in, pack out).
6 am, everyone's ready, and after our prayer, we started the assault. This is it!
The moment we passed the hanging bridge crossing the Eddet River, it will be assault after assault after assault.
The wind is blowing cold but i am sweating like the sun is up, it was like a never-ending zigzag road and on every turn, one has to stop to catch one's breath, walang nagmamadali because this is not a race, but we also have to keep a good pacing, not very fast but not leisurely, too (and we need to smile in the picture hehehe).
The established trail was steep, with nothing to hold on to except for some grass, the tall pine trees are on each side but they're a bit far and strangely not on the trail, save for some. The steep trail did not stop me from admiring the awesome view, it is not everyday you get to see and experience this.
I am not sure if it was mostly 50, 60 or 70 degrees, but the trail was steep, did i say it's steep?
In one of our stops, we caught the tail of the other mountaineering group who left the campsite one hour earlier than us, and it was here that our local guide told us that our pacing was fast, very fast actually, and we're among the fastest he had in his long years of being a guide! cool! now we can smile at something. hehe.
Our "take five" are really take five, as we only allot only five minutes to ten minutes maximum of rest. And we climb and climb and climb again. It was really steep, and a heavy bag can pull you down with one wrong step so careful, be very careful.
And as you go higher, the view's more and more breathtaking.
We made one major rest (around 20 minutes) at the Marlboro Country (not it's official name, mountaineers called it such as the view, in a way, has some similarity with the cigarette commercial's view, whatever). And who are we to say no to another photo opportunity?
Oh, the cellphone signal never fails pala, so all the time, i was texting and was able to call lyn on this stop.
After the marlboro country, it's another steep climb, and this time a bit slippery as we are nearing the mossy forest (dyan-dyan-dyarann). The forest was eerie, it feels like we're going to Mordor with the Hobbits, trees were covered with moss and some insects were, well, "different." I don't know what's wrong, but i never have a good picture taken inside this windless but cold and a bit wet forest (wet forest, hehehe).
We didn't stop until we reach the clearing where we'll have our lunch, and there we found the other mountaineering groups having theirs, we shared the space, enjoyed our lunch (i need more rice, and begged the others to give me some more hehehe) and the view was, wow! Welcome to earth!
This is also the last water source so we took the opportunity (and the unlimited water supply) to clean ourselves and load on our drinking and cooking water, which means, our loads will again be heavy. We need to do this as the next water source will only available the next day on our way down.
So for the day's final assault before we reach the saddle, my load was heavier by three liters of water, and this part, i think, was the most exhausting! We enter again the mossy forest, and man, the weight of my bag slows me down! nakakapagod! di lang yata hingal kalabaw, hingal elepante na ako! hehehe.
But seriously, this was the toughest part, i think. With a heavy load, a never-ending assault, an eerie surrounding, a tired body and with the thought that you're near, one needs more than water and trail food, and this is where one's determination is most needed. So in every 10-15 steps i made, a 20 second rest is needed, and almost everyone in the group do that, and still, we caught the other mountaineers/lunchmates who went ahead 30 minutes earlier than us!
And finally, we're out of the forest, and we can feel the cold wind in the open. ahhh.
"Malapit na tayo", we were told, "mga tatlong akyat na lang."
HA??? O.K. and there, out in the grassland, with a few trees and a very foggy environment, we rested and wait for the rest of our group. Had there been a clearing, the view from here is surely spectacular. There were a few glimpse of some of what it has to offer but these were immediately covered by clouds/fog. And from where i am seated, i can see that the mossy forest is eerier with clouds covering some of the trees, the leaves looked very dark from here. Me mga engkanto kaya dun? hehe.
As we saw the tail group emerging from the forest, we made our final push for the last three hills and as we reached the last one, it was now downhill, and to the left was the summit. OH.MY.GOD!!!!
Exhausted, we made it to the saddle before 3 pm. Though foggy, the summit of Mt. Pulag was visible and it was enchanting! The mountain was covered in grass and from the saddle, it looks very smooth and the trail in the middle was a graceful addition. A couple of boulders somehow put some ruggedness on its bald-like appearance. The view from the saddle was worth all the sweat. Astig!
We set camp here and enjoyed the fast-dropping temperature, the view, the mountain that changes color from green to yellow (because of the setting sun). We also hoped that it will not rain as the wind, we observed, was somehow stronger (little did we know that typhoon Kabayan is coming).
The night was supposedly our induction night but it was very cold so the induction rites will be done the next day at the summit.
We just had a few hours of socials (the only exposed part of my body were my eyes and my nose, and i have three layers of clothing including two jackets and two pants, hehehe), and i retired before 10 pm for our wake up call of 3 am.
As the night goes deeper, the temperature's dropping further and the wind is blowing wilder, stronger... will there be rains? makakatulog ba kami?
TO BE CONCLUDED...