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Chasing Magic at the Enchanted Mossy Forest of Mt. Pulag

Huge pine tree against blue sky at Mt. Pulag

Low-level clouds driven by chilly winds greeted us upon entering what seems to be a moss-covered labyrinth. The early part of this new realm meanders through tropical evergreen forest with stunted trees but - as we are walking beneath it – they seemed like giant bonsais. We passed through eerie-looking trees with wrinkled leaves and gnarled moss-covered branches that clumped and crossed together making the trail a bit darker and the skies invisible. It’s like a dwarfed fortress.
Akiki trail passing the upper montane mossy forest going to Mt. Pulag
Akiki trail passing the upper montane "mossy forest" going to the summit of Mt. Pulag
High winds, steep terrain, altitude and probably a bit of magic keep the trees small. They only grow about three to ten meters. Almost all of them are beautifully twisted and gnarled looking much like the place where magical dwarfs dwell in a fairytale. It’s a vast world of miniature vegetation and montane creatures that thrive nowhere else but in this magical world.
Thick moss clinging on tree branches at the Mossy Forest
The trail under the thick moss draping tree trunks 
Venturing further, the moss becomes thicker. It drapes tree trunks, infusing them with different shades of green. Meanwhile, vines, occasional wild orchids and fascinating flowers hanging from branches and protruding from the ground gave me instant energy boost. Temperature keeps on dropping and playful rains is more frequent, hence we brisked up the trek.
Leaves of wild fern curled up.
Refreshing scenes of wild vegetation characterizes the upper montane forest. 
Colorful formations of wild lichens on a rock
Curio items along the trail include colored rocks and lichen formations
A bit exhausted and cold from continuos walking over constant mist, we reached the middle part of the mossy forest. This part of Mt. Pulag is where I am tempted to trek at a leisurely pace – stopping to inspect an egg-shaped rock, noticing the weird looking leaves of a weird looking plant, inspecting abstract lichen formation on a boulder, touching soft moss on a tree, play with an alien-looking insect – before I suddenly realized we still have a long way to go and walking here after dark is deadly.
View of the surrounding mountain at the Mossy forest of Mt. Pulag
Breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and sea of clouds at the upper part of the mossy forest 
As the trail approaches the grassland - which is yet another amazing world going up Mt. Pulag - I had a glimpse of the far-flung views of the mountains through a break in the trees. I saw various mountain peaks rising from the clouds like giant conquerors. We are above clouds! This adds up to my determination to reach Mt. Pulag’s peak. 

But then, I realize that our hike is far from over because we still have to cross the freezing grassland.


Related articles on this blog: 
Mountaineering, Trekking, Hiking Escapades

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