|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|
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|
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.