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Mt. Pulag National Park, Benguet: Mother’s Day Climb

I switched stifling yawns and suppressing chuckles whilst straddled on the bench of our hired pink jeep (Yep you heard me, pink!). A more sluggish hubby donning tightish jeans was seated on the jeep’s roof, the only one from our gang of eight who did so. The thought of him climbing Mt. Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak, later that day in them jeans sent me to a constant snicker fit.


Postcard-worthy snapshot by the RoadWorthyMan.

You see, just twenty-two hours earlier aboard a Baguio-bound bus, he decided to join the climb which my mountaineering pal Christine organized months prior as my welcome-back-home shindig. Thanks to Baguio’s ukay stores, we were able to buy him a cheap down jacket and long sleeved top. We purchased a pair of trekking shoes too, which luckily was on sale. Hubby refused to shell out more bills for new pants however, thus his biker-meets-hiker getup.


Now didn’t I tell you it’s pink? Hubby still beaming, midway the bumpy ride.

Our jeep just left the DENR office (where we attended a quick briefing about Mount Pulag National Park) and was literally bouncing its way on ridiculously rough road to the jump-off point, Badabak Ranger Station. Occasionally we did stops to haul another jeep following us, loaded with even more passengers. And occasionally I yelled “I don’t want to be a single mom!” outside the window which the hubby took as cue to hop off the roof. He began feeling terrified anyway when his camera panned through a backdrop consisting of a cliff just below his dangling feet.


Badabak Ranger Station, before things got dirrrty. Photo from Izah’s cam, taken by our guide Ditas.

The usual one hour drive from the DENR office to the ranger station took almost two. We were all bushed when we stepped out of the jeep. I immediately felt a familiar light-headedness, caused by the thin air. Prolly by lack of sleep too. Our motley crew that was composed of me, the hubby, Christine, Olay, Izah and boyf Joseph (Who baked kickass choco chip cookies for us!), Marky and Erick groggily gobbled our takeaway lunch at the ranger station’s front porch before pushing on.

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Female porters made the hike look easy, breezy. Made me look like a weakling too. Pfft.

The impending downpour pumped up our supposedly “chillax” pace (Ambangeg trail may be the easiest way to Mt. Pulag’s peak, but it sure ain’t something I’d call “chillax”!). We didn’t want to exhaust ourselves more than necessary, but we certainly didn’t want to pitch our tent under the rain. I huffed and puffed my way to Camp 2, and during our breaks I longed for a porter but a better part of me said “Heck no!”. For the last two hundred meters, hubby sprinted to the camping area to start pitching the tent. He left me to my thoughts. The others were far behind and I trekked alone.

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Post speed-pitching. Pre debate about where the tent door must face (This is why we haven’t seriously considered buying a house yet.).

In that solitude, my adventure flame was reignited. This flame died for the nth time months ago, which coincided with that burnt-out after effect only a round-the-world trip with a toddler could induce. With a sudden surge of renewed energy, I hiked with ease the last few meters of gradual ascent to Camp 2, where Marky and the hubby were already pitching tents. Or at least, trying to. Both required extra hands, non-frozen ones, dexterous enough to work them poles and pegs.

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Breaking dawn.

Those hands arrived almost half an hour after. And our overnight climber’s commune was setup in just fifteen minutes. Before the rain poured, we were able to quickly cook dinner. Dinner at 3:00 PM. “Lights out” (More aptly called “when brains conked”) followed at 4. The dreaded, infamous frigorific climate enveloped the camp just before twilight.

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En route to Mt. Pulag’s highest peak.

At 2:30 AM the next day, one by one we emerged from our respective tents. Every step was a battle. I couldn’t feel my fingers. I couldn’t feel my nose. Despite all that, hubby’s jeans still made me chuckle. And everyone’s Mother’s Day greeting left a smile on my numb face (Was I really smiling?). After a light brekkie, we hiked the final one-hour leg to the peak. One hour of trudging on mud and in near-total darkness. Halfway the trek, Erick played the most awesome scoring for that morn, Lovely Day. “Then I look at you (Mt. Pulag), and the world’s alright with me. Just one look at you and I know it’s gonna be a lovely day…”, that is of course until we did the equally challenging descent.

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This backpacker mum still got it, we survived Mt. Pulag!

Atop Mt. Pulag’s Peak 1 I held the hubby’s hand. Throughout the trip, it was the time I felt most thrilled that he’s with us. My second Mother’s Day was even more insane than the first one that involved caressing a Burmese Python. This mum’s definitely not the kind who hits the spa on special occasion (Unless someone else pays for it. And my hubby’s not the type who does.). I still got that oomph. Why did I ever doubt myself?

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I am but a speck.

Though the sea of clouds was a no show, I remained a happy camper. Summitting Luzon’s highest peak in itself is a feat I will proudly share with our daughter Luna in the future (With priceless photos of her baba hiking in jeans to back up my story). On the way back to our camp, Luna’s giggles echoed in my head (A.K.A. becoming delusional.). I couldn’t wait to be reunited with her in Baguio later that day. Ugh, I’m such a mum.

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Gay Emami
When not backpacking, she teaches her daughter sight words and belly dancing (even if she's not good at it). She's currently eating her way around some hippie town in Australia. She loves talking about herself in the third person.

44 thoughts on “Mt. Pulag National Park, Benguet: Mother’s Day Climb

  1. Love reading this gay. hala nawalan na ng pangalan si joseph. lol.

    hope i can write mine as well. haha. dami ding kwento. nag-away pa kami ni J. lol

  2. awesomeness!! good job on reaching the summit. despite wala yung sea of clouds mukhang maganda pa rin naman yung weather that morning. wanna climb that mountain too.

  3. Hi Gaye,

    Nice post, beautifully written. At ang ganda ng mga pics, I love the last 4 photos, parang NZ ang setting :). Alam mo manggugubat ako pero nakakahiya mang aminin Peak 2 pa lang naakyat ko sa Mt Makiling hehe. I hope I could climb more mountains in the future.

    Regards,
    Mafey

  4. pink jeep, pink jacket! I love pink! would love to conquer mt pulag! Photo #1 is beautiful! Makes me think what’s the breaking dawn pic pero super cute mo sa hot pink na Jacket! :)

  5. super extra special mother´s day treat. I love how you celebrate special occasions Gay: inexpensive, yet super fun and unique. keep travelling!

  6. Love the jeep! Pink and yellow. Been wanting to climb this mountain since 2009..its almost 3 years na pala.haha Di ko rin ma-view ung breaking dawn photo.:)

  7. Was amused at your hubby sticking to jeans while on the trek – he must have expected Ambangeg trail to be a mere walk on the park (which I honestly felt was not strenuous yes!). Never mind not seeing the sea of clouds, at least, you didn’t have a big crowd with you up there in the summit.

  8. Hi Pinay Travel Junkie … Great Blog and naalala ko tuloy ang unang climb ko sa Mt. Pulag way back 1996 (yes it was late 90’s) nahahalata ng edad ko 😉 but still i can’t forget the beautiful scene kahet saan ka tumingen maganda ang view. Superb Photos 😉

  9. “Couldn’t feel my fingers, couldn’t feel my nose” made me smile while remembering that it was exactly how I felt back then, but reaching the summit and watching that much awaited sunrise is all worth the pains!

  10. Hello! indeed a great adventure. seeing your photos give me the inspiration to save money haha and being able to climb mt. Pulag and do mountaineering activity. I wish I can go there someday.

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