Friday, November 09, 2007

Mt. Pulag: a test of character

The Akiki trail.

"Treacherous," that's how the DENR facilitator described the trail. We were forewarned way before the climb that it's gonna be hard, tiring and all other adjectives that describe exhausting. And all Pulag veterans in our group agreed and they assured us that it will be, on the least, a whole day assault, all the way, meaning get your knees, and your back, and your body ready.

Was I afraid? No, because I mentally and physically prepared for this. Perhaps I was a bit nervous, but it was excitement that drove my stomach nuts days before our climb. I even wonder why i didn't have any dreams about it, nananaginip kasi ako kapag sobra kong iniisip ang isang bagay. Oh well.

November 1. While a lot of people are in the cemetery, we choose to be in the Victory liner terminal for our 11 pm trip to Baguio. We arrived very early (yeah, like 9 pm?), and with nothing else to do, we tried everyone's bag and my oh my, mine is among the heaviest! They joked that i bought with me the entire house, i told them "No, only half of it." They asked if I can carry its weight all the way to the summit, i replied "yeah, because I will still be unloading in Baguio and will distribute some of its contents to my groupmates because our groceries and fruits and tent and groundsheet plus my personal things and lots of trail foods are all in it! I am not a superhero, you know hehehe." kaya naman pala, they chorused. :)

oh, i also have two 2 liters of water, which by the way, is wrong, as there would be enough water sources on our way to the saddle, ewan ko ba naman, OA kasi ako pagdating sa tubig. And add another liter for my trail water. I have five liters in my bag, that explains why it's heavy. Oh, don't worry, afternoon the next day before the start of our trek, i already consumed three liters so the weight is not that much. I am not a superhero, you know, only always superthirsty. :D

We arrived in chilly Baguio in one piece, some of us (including me) unpacked our bags and distribute the goods to others (so our loads will be lighter hehe). The supposedly one hour break before we push for Kabayan, Benguet was stretched to three long hours because of "some inefficiency" with coordination between the person in-charged to contact the jeep we hire and the jeep owner himself. Boredom makes the group consider going to Sagada instead, but the kontrabida in me told them "No way, it's Pulag or Pulag, ganun lang." joke lang daw, hehehe.
when boredom sets in
Finally, the jeep came. I thought the jeep runs very slow (paakyat kaya?) so i just sleep and only woke up in one stop-over to pee and buy chicharon with siling nilagyan ng sukang puti! weee. i didn't sleep after that. We passed by Ambuklao Dam and spared a few minutes taking pictures.

We had our lunch on some eatery and we have to eat fast as we need to be in camp 1 in Eddet river before it gets dark. As it maybe the last store, the "provisions" for the next two nights were bought from here (one box of gin to be exact, in other words, di na naman ako iinom nito).

At around 1 pm, we're already in DENR, reserved some Pulag t-shirts, watched the 16-minute video and undergone a very brief briefing (the facilitator summarized everything as she points out that we need to be in the Akiki jump off before 3 pm, otherwise, hello darkness). She emphasized the need to respect the mountain and the environment in general as well as the water source as thousands of people, even us, are dependent on it.

A few more minutes on a Sagada-like highway - dusty, snakelike, narrow yet with a panoramic view of a very tranquil surrounding - we finally stopped at the Akiki Jump off point.

Silence.
"Eto na." I told myself twitching with a nervous smile. And i unload once more, i gave away pears as trail food (they're a good trail food only heavier compared to jelly ace) and i put some on the side pockets of my trekking pants for easy access, tucked my beltbag on, put my arm warmers, secure my camera and drank more water for an even lighter load. Oh, erased that last part, as I was handed down a plastic full of vegetables, "Your share of the load" I was told. sigh. :)

Before we can start with the trek, we need to register once more and the registration house is up there, one steep climb from the jump off. I don't know if it was just for five minutes or ten minutes but when I reached the house, I am sweating, them too. hehehe.

whew, warm up pa lang pala yun. but when i looked around, wow.
I joined the lead group, and I found out that one of our two guides was the same guide they had the last time they scaled Mt. Pulag. He has a lot of stories and never runs out of patience even if we continually ask him "Are we there yet?" hehehe.

the summit's covered by clouds
The trek we took that afternoon was just an easy one, as there was only a few assault and as we come nearer Camp 1 in Eddet river, it was mostly downhill, pwede pa nga raw tumakbo. :) The view of mountain ranges was amazing, it's as if pine trees were arranged to look like green cottons on an otherwise brown mountains. galing.

And a few more minutes, campers are already visible below, me mga nauna na palang ibang grupo sa amin and the campsite was full of activities: cooking, setting up of tents, etc.

And this where we will spend our first night, with a cold breeze and under the stars with the moon above...

TO BE CONTINUED...

23 comments:

Abaniko said...

Buti ka pa, physically and mentally prepared for the climb via the killer Akiki trail. Me, physically and mentally prepared for photography and not for the all-day assault. Our veteran mountaineer in the group rated Akiki as 10, Tawangan as 8 and Ambangeg as 2. And I was only prepared for the Ambangeg level of difficulty. Sheee! Pero first story installment pa lang, you sound solved na ah. The Pulag climb must have been a very memorable experience for you. :)

Ferdz said...

Naks naman superman! hahaha. Pero it's wise to pack things as light as possible thus the distribution of weight. Nakakatuwa yung mga pictures. Yung una parang napaka cinematic na me susugurin.

Your pictures really made me miss the mountain a lot. at umpisa pa lang yan.

snglguy said...

Teka, kala ko ba mahigit isangdaan kayo, bakit konti lang ang nasa litrato? :-D

jho said...

ganda ng view!

Belle said...

Zherwin, what did you do to get ready for this treacherous climb? did you walk uphill everyday or hop on an inclined treadmill prior to this trip?

and what is the grade of the steepest hill? did anyone of you get lightheaded since the atmosphere is thinner from 9,000 plus elevation?

oh my, the photos are awesome and i know the best pictures are yet to come. can't wait.

Sidney said...

Looks like a nice climb.
I guess I am too old for that kind of adventures. Looking at your pictures gives me the feel of being on the road with you guys.

zherwin said...

pulag was, of course, memorable pero nakulangan pa rin ako dahil nga di tayo nabigyan ng clearing, pero pwede namang bumalik ;)

i think, you can also do akiki, nasa pacing lang ng lakad yan.

zherwin said...

ferdz, i was OA when it comes to water thus the weight pero nagawan ko naman ng paraan so parang cotton candy na lang yung laman ng bag ko hehe.

zherwin said...

sngl, yung ibang grupo na nag-open climb ang more or less isandaan, kami sariling akyat ito ng grupo namin kaya kami-kami lang. :)

zherwin said...

jho, yes!

zherwin said...

belle, prior to this, we did some minor climbs and we have our regular 3days-a-week endurance run, we started at 5km all the way to 10km. our initial runs were in fort bonifacio and then we moved to ultra-pasig area (where are a lot of uphill-downhill roads). we're supposed to do stairs (with a heavy pack) but due to time constraint di namin nagawa.

and in addition to the run, i also give up riding the tricycle and walk as much as i can.

fortunately, no one suffered altitude sickness. :)

zherwin said...

sidney, everyone can enjoy this, including you. :)

carlotta said...

ako'y napa "awwww" sa larawan nung buwan. =)

grabe ang ganda naman jan sa pulag! pero di ko alam kung magagawa ko ang umakyat dun, packing pa lang ng gamit eh siguradong napakabigat na nun. =)

Abaniko said...

Akiki? Eh sa Tawangan lang na may porter pa ako, halos mamatay-matay na ako eh. Hanggang Ambangeg lang ako. I'm not THAT ambitious. Hehe.

dessa girl said...

always love your shots! keep on taking nice pictures for your blog!!! =)

zherwin said...

carlotta, me madali namang pwedeng daanan, masokista lang kami hehehe. :)

zherwin said...

abaniko, babalik ako dun kasama ang iba kong tropa, at sa ambangeg lang kami dadaan para walang pressure. :)

zherwin said...

thanks dessa girl. :)

intsik said...

ZHERWINNNN!!!!!!!!!!!

Kaiinggit ito! hehehehehe amazing pictures at as usual, very nice account of ur climb! hehehehehe

Abaniko said...

Tentatively, kelan ang balik nyo?

Somebody's inviting me to Mt. Isarog second week of December. Parang mahirap yata doon ah. Have you climbed this mountain na ba?

zherwin said...

intsik, salamat. :)

zherwin said...

abaniko, hindi ko pa naaakyat ang isarog. december sana kami babalik pero busy month na ito so malamang january or february na next year.

nikita said...

hi, do u know anyone whom we can join or who would like to join us sa pulag? we're planning to climb last weekend of oct e kso 3 lang kme...

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