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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mt. Pulag via Akiki-Ambangeg Trail » Odyssey to the Playground of the Gods

A Man holding the sun at Mt. Pulag Peak in Benguet
Then I asked myself, “If a flicker of magical happiness is what I gained after trekking some mountains, what will I experience if I climb some more, if I climb higher?”

So I push on. I got addicted because climbing mountains brought me unknown perceptions and whole new understandings I could not, nor could have known on my everyday mundane life. The bible talks about mountains all the time, as do spiritual teachers and mystics making it a symbolism to the inner worlds – and I’m glad I feel that spiritual pull. I can’t explain it but it is there, tugging at the heartstrings of my consciousness. 
Mountaineers climbing the Akiki killer trail of Mt. Pulag in Benguet
Higher and higher: Initial part of the Akiki Trail after passing the Eddet River 
And on to the killer trail of Mt. Pulag, I took another trek, another slip, another stumble, another slide, but yet, another reconviction to move on, to climb higher and higher and stay strong. 

View of the clouds at the Montane mossy forest of Mt. Pulag
Glimpse of the far-flung view of the mountains from the mossy forest
It was a 3-day odyssey; of continuos ascend to Mt. Pulag, on to the playground of the gods.  This is my sixth mountain, and my first major climb, and the challenging experience reminded me that the road to heaven is truly not easy. This rather interesting biblical thought dawned on me while trekking the hard Akiki-all-assault-trail.

Summiteers enjoying the view at the Mt. Pulag peak
Group picture at Mt. Pulag Summit
Souvenir group picture at the peak together with mountaineers from Emerson
Upon conquering the biting cold and other physical challenges along the trail, we finally witnessed the famed Mt. Pulag sunrise above clouds! Momentarily stunned by bright rays of the rising sun,  illuminating the immaculate lazy-rolling cotton clouds, I just sat there on the romantic slopes – there’s so much beauty everywhere, the splendour of the moment dazzled me it makes me want to cry, but for some reason I fight it.

Falling in love at the mountains at Mt. Pulag Benguet
Famous Sunrise with sea of clouds at the peak of Mt. Pulag in Benguet
Breathtaking view of the sunrise rising beneath the sea of clouds

“Ahh! so grand….if only I could stay here,” I sighed.

Two lovers romantically enjoying the peak of Mt. pulag with sunrise
The view is so romantic you can't help but fall in love
Dawn at the Mt. Pulag with its skyline
Mt. Pulag skyline
This is one of those rare moments when I experience what I call personal silence – when my compulsively chattering mind takes a pause, when I find myself away from the chaos of life, away from the long list of social duties, away from my corporate life, from that gnawing sense of emptiness and disappointment I’m fighting almost everyday. This is one of those high moments of life where I happily find myself propelled beyond the confines of the mundane and ordinary. Experiencing this personal silence is one of the reasons why I climb – and I find it addictive.

Panoramic view of the sunrise at the Peak of Mt. Pulag

It is a snail’s pace this climb. However, with every small step and an inch of elevation gained, we were greeted by whole new different worlds – the Marlboro Country, montane forests, the grassland, the mossy forest. Each was a whole new panorama, a whole new consciousness.

Mt. Pulag National Park and the Akiki “killer” trail

General Facts: The Mt. Pulag National Park covers approximately 11, 500 hectares in the Central Cordillera Mountains of Northern Luzon. The rugged terrain of the park comprises seven mountain peaks above 2000 m elevation, including Mt. Pulag (also sometimes called Pulog) (2922 m), Mt. Tabeyoc (also called Tabeyo) (2819 m), Mt. Akiki (2760 m), and Mt. Panotoan (2650 m). It lies within five municipalities and three provinces, viz., Bokod, Buguias, and Kabayan in Benguet Province. The vast area of the park has elevations ranging from 1100 m to 2922 m alt., a largely mountainous landscape of pine forests, upper montane (mossy) forests, grasslands, a few small lakes, and vegetable gardens and residential areas.   

It is the third highest mountain in the Philippines, next to Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-Dulang

Guide map of the Akiki trail going up Mt. Pulag
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE: Mt. Pulag Akki Trail Guide Map
There are four trekking routes up the summit – from Ambangeg: the Babadak and Akiki; Ballay-Tawangan trails from Benguet; and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya. The Akiki trail, which named after a high-pitched bird call, is widely known as the “killer trail” because of its steep slopes.  

Despite its reputation as a difficult trail, we still took the Akiki-Ambangeg traverse because according to our trail master, this trail is distinctly scenic and more challenging. True enough, the trail brought us breathtaking rugged pine-tree-covered slopes, stunning forest ecosystems, brilliant rhododendrons and astonishing ridges and gullies covered by amazing flora. 

__________________
This is only the first part of this post
Please also read Part 2 to 5:
    » Eddet River » Refreshing Stop on Your Way to Mt. Pulag
    » En Route to the Marlboro Country of Benguet
    » Chasing Magic at the Enchanting Mossy Forest of Mt. Pulag
    » Grasping For Heaven » Through the Freezing Montane Shrubland and  Up to The Peak of Mt. Pulag


RELATED STORIES: 
Mountaineering, Trekking, Hiking Escapades





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About the Blogger

Yodi Insigne
Yodi de Veas Insigne is one of those delusional sorts who imagines himself a useful contributor to the greater blogosphere (Well, that's what he's trying to accomplish).

He started blogging for three reasons:

1. He always felt he has something important to say,
2. Books can make him cry,
3. He want to sleep at night.

He is a certified bookworm, travel junkie, shutterbug, movie freak, Mangyan freethinker who sleeps a lot and think a lot. He got a little vice, which is black coffee and cashew nuts. He got colorblindness on yellow and green - and he freaking loves it!

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