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The other day, a group of friends made an offer to one of our RocketNews24 reporters, inviting him to go mountain climbing with them in the Philippines. Worried about his physical ability to actually complete the journey, he tried to make excuses about needing to water his cactus. But, when told that there would be real-life girls present, he decided to take one for the team and accompany the group on their mountain trek. After all, it would have been bad form to leave a lady unattended!

That was before he found out that they would be climbing Mt. Pulag, the second highest peak in the Philippines. It measures in at just over 9,586 feet tall! On second thought, that cactus did look really thirsty….

Before taking a trip up the mountainside, special permission is required. Mt. Pulag is a national park, so hikers wishing to visit the area must follow the procedures put in place by the park’s management office. Namely, a guide and a driver are required to ensure a smooth climb up the mountain. It’s also possible to hire a carrier to take ones bags to the summit.

The road leading from the management office to the mountain’s trailhead was incredibly rough. There were multiple occasions where the Jeep full of climbers got stuck. Fully aware that the Jeep was their only means of escaping this place, the passengers had to get out and push. This muddied their clothes and led our reporter to wonder why exactly he thought this trip would be a good idea.

But getting to the start of the trail was just the prelude. The real hike had yet to start! Departing from a small village at the base, the only way to get to the summit was to walk, and so our merry band of travelers took off upon the scenic path. The road itself seemed endless and was in rather poor condition, not to mention that the group’s gear weighed them all down, and their throats started to grow dry with thirst.

Our reporter was just about ready to raise a white flag when the guide recommended setting up camp for the night. The suggestion was made just as the group passed through the center of a large clearing, and our RocketNews24 representative was at first unsure about setting up tents in the middle of nowhere with nothing but strong winds for company. Trust the guide to know best, though; he’d prepared absolutely everything the group would need to be warm and comfy.

The next day, in the total darkness that comes before dawn, our group of hikers departed from camp and continued up the mountain. They moved with desperate urgency through the bone-chilling cold. Thankfully, they reached the summit at just the right time, and in the moments that followed it all started to become clear to our reporter why people would bother coming so far, not to mention why he’d been invited.

Of course! They were there to watch the sunrise from the summit. They trudged upwards along that difficult trail for that singular purpose, and their timing could not have been better. The sun broke beautifully above a sea of soft clouds, a sight that deeply moved the heart of even our weary writer. “I’m glad that I went along,” he now says, looking back. “This was the reward that comes with a passion for climbing.”

I wonder how long before we can hear his report from the Philippines tallest mountain!

Photos: Edgar Zarate Kawig / Jerome Ross Lacbayan / RL Photography
Location: Mt. Pulag

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▼ This picture is of the setting sun the day before climbing to the summit.

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▼ These pictures are of the friendly guide and driver who helped us during our climb.

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▼ These pictures come from Ambuklao Dam on the Agno River, which runs near Mt. Pulag.

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▼ Further from the mountain there is a cave of human skeletons. It’s said that somewhere between 500 to 1,000 years ago tribal people stacked these skulls to create a place where they could quarantine off people who were infected with the plague.

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▼ Another short distance from Mt. Pulag is a natural spring of boiling mud.

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▼ These children living at the foot of the mountain are the perfect picture of innocence.

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Lastly, we would like to show our deepest appreciations for our guide, our driver, and our photographer for helping us all along this journey. Thank you.