5/5/12

Camp 2

2600+ meters above sea level @ Camp 2

"OK ka lang Mang Andy?", I asked as I passed by this gray-haired 60-something gentleman on the popular Ambangeg Trail to Mt. Pulag.  He's standing on the side of the narrow path, catching his breath, his weight bearing on a single trekking pole. A vacationing grandfather from the US, Mang Andy shots back at me, "I feel great!". While our group led by Miguel (Yabag Mountaineering) met only the previous evening, we felt a bond already. "I just couldn't take my wife here with me. Papatayin nya ako (She'll kill me)", he laughs later at camp.

 Mang Andy refills his water bottle 

That camp of course is Camp 2, our designated pit stop before summit assault the next day. It takes 3 hours to reach Camp 2 from the Ranger Station in Babadak. While we ate lunch at the trail head, Miguel arranged for porters to help those in our group who didn't want to be burdened with their bags. I chose to walk with my backpack since the Ambangeg trail is on gentler slopes and the path is well-trodden. If only it was available, I was actually hoping to hike the more challenging Akiki Trail. Perhaps another time?


As the elevation is already higher at the Ranger Station, we felt invigorated by the fresh mountain air. We began the hike by walking up on a dirt road with one side going down steeply to show sections of mountains that have served stomachs well - this is vegetable heaven, after all. I won't be surprised if those vegetables end up in the kitchens of Baguio or Manila. The roads may be rotten in this part of the world but boy do they have the freshest vegetables!



Past a ridge, we entered the mossy forest, quite a change from the more predominant pine trees in lower elevations. It was nice to be in the shade since sun rays are still ferocious even if it's deceptively cool on the mountains. We got into Camp 1 where a small open hut beckoned us for a bit of rest while waiting for others in our group to catch up. Many other trekkers stopped here too (although no camping is allowed except for emergencies). From this point, we already had a clear view of Mt. Pulag's summit.

Grassland above treeline

Our group continued hiking, each one with a different pace. Oftentimes, I find myself in a bottleneck of slow folks walking the same narrow path on this busy weekend.  It was not even Holy Week yet - when the trail gets a whole lot busier! But I don't want to complain now. (I'm told there's a cap to the number of hiking permits issued by the DENR - might as well trek on a weekday). For as long as everyone is a responsible hiker, I'm happy to see more Pinoys enjoying the outdoors.

Jump!
Shadow
Sunset

Blessed with a perfect summer weather, we all reached Camp 2  past 4 p.m. with plenty of daylight left. After pitching our tents (I bought the same one I used in Mt. Apo 4 years ago), one would think I'd just hit the sack after a really long trip that began in El Nido the previous day. I walked around the campsite, beautifully situated on a distinctive grassland which pretty much defines Mt. Pulag's summit - still an hour away from here. Carlita, a German backpacker in our group, was already itching to hit the summit right that moment. We all turned our energies to jump shots instead.

As the sun was setting down and clouds rolled in at nearby peaks, I sat on the grass barefoot and happy. It's starting to get really cold. Perfect time for a hot soup (and a shot of whisky). I'm glad someone's cooking dinner.

12 comments:

  1. Kinalibutan ako sa ganda (no kidding) ng photos mo ( esp the 5th & 6th). " Sa Pinas lang ito, dapat ko itong marating soon." - note to myself.

    My tito just got back from the US, pagsasabong ang binalikan nya. Ito din nasabi nya sa akin after magsabong - I feel great. I admire Mang Andy, makes me wish that I'll still have that strength when I reached his age.

    Standing loud claps. Great photos and fun...that jump shot...oh! And that shadow shot, GENIUS!!! :)

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    1. These were the views na ang tagal tagal ko nang inasam asam so I was so happy to finally make it there. I urge you to go there habang malakas pa ang tuhod :)
      I can understand why your Tito misses sabong since bawal ito sa US.
      Thanks Rizalenio!

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  2. Bravo to that Mang Andy at 64! Some people of his age usually live in despair and regret but this man, based on your story, still knows how to live life happily!

    Meeting interesting people and being inspired by them are 2 beautiful things about traveling.

    Your photos, as usual are refreshing!

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    1. I really salute men of his age staying as active as they can be. Mang Andy was just one of them I met who's now a new friend to me. We're hoping to meet up again for hikes in the future!

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  3. My Dream Mountain! Ang ganda talaga and I'm speechless! Soon soon soon, I'll do my jumpshot too.

    And same here, Mang Andy is great and I hope to be like him when I grow old. Living my life to the fullest!

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    1. Stop dreaming, start hiking na. Hahaha! I know, I've waited long enough to go there but I tell you, it's really worth it - Ambangeg trail is very suitable for beginners. Would love to hit Akiki trail one day.

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  4. Any water source and toilet facility at your campsite?

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    1. Bert, that picture of Mang Andy up top is the closest water source in Camp 2. And yes, there's a latrine for those calls of nature :)

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  5. Christine7:54:00 AM

    Wow, many thanks for your blog! Since we are from germany and heard about a friend of mine that El Nido was great we will go there coming august. Though frightened of the small bombings we will still go since we were amazed by your shared experiences and pictures. A zillion thumbs up! I can't wait for august to come, and I don't care if it's rainy season, it will still be great =)

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    1. Germans are everywhere :) I met a couple of Germans while in El Nido. On this hike to Mt. Pulag, a solo German backpacker was with our group. Hope the weather cooperates on your trip!

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  6. parang very exciting yang climbing. one has to be prepared physically for such arduous task. i enjoyed watching your pictures as you relate your experiences.

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    1. Thanks! It's just a pain in the neck carrying a DSLR while hiking. I'm going to buy a waist pack.

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