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Mt. Pulag: A journey to the clouds

Photos by RP Ocampo and Pern Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - The trek to the top of Luzon's highest peak is a long and arduous one. One can't help but imagine that scene in “The Fellowship of the Ring” wherein Frodo and company were proceeding through the Caradhras Pass on their way to Mt. Doom.

No, there were no heavy snowfall, gusty winds or orcs along the way, but below 8-degree weather, heavy forest mist and a tough trail instead when we went there on Saturday, January 19. These can be quite challenging for first-time hikers.

Night-time, most especially, can be a true test of grit with the cold reaching near-freezing levels. Make sure you bring along enough warm clothing.

The journey, however, is more than rewarding.

Take time out to experience the rich flora. It's like entering an entirely new realm as the sight of wide open slopes give in to that of closely-huddled trees, ferns of different shapes, and other rich vegetation.

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A giant rainbow even greeted us as we reached the campsite. The scene was breath-taking. The heavens were filled with a cacophony of stars as we woke up at 3 am to bravely make that trek towards the summit to catch the sunrise. It was awe-inspiring.

Alas, even a most courageous heart is no match for the elements when one is not properly-geared. Our shoes easily gave up as we were halfway through our trek towards Mt. Pulag's peak. Another sound advice: bring a sturdy pair of shoes that can be subjected to mud, stones and hours of heavy walking.

For those who've reached Mt. Pulag's peak, meanwhile, the reward, as they say, was "heavenly." And they're being literal about it.

At 2,922 meters above sea level, after all, reaching Mt. Pulag's peak is like reaching the heavens. They have photos of the clouds behind them to prove it.

Warm clothing and sturdy shoes aside, though, one can never match the company of people with happy dispositions when taking on such a tough adventure. Bring lots of them when you make that journey to the clouds.

Planning a trip to Mt. Pulag or other hiking destinations in the Philippines? Check out our Places page for the best hotel and accommodation deals.

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