Doing the hike was only half the drama of the Mt. Pulag (the 3rd highest mountain in The Philippines) experience, the nightmare of getting there was challenging enough. Attempting to head across Manila at half six on a Friday evening is not the most fun thing to do. It took nearly three and a half hours and took one van, two buses and a taxi. It was my first experience of the EDSA highway, the busiest in the Philippines.
That got us to the place where we would take a six-hour coach trip through the night to get to Baguio City, in which we were told to shut the curtains so we would be less conspicuous to bandits. When we arrived we had another four-hour drive up to our base camp, up a long and winding road with some stops along the way – including a breakfast with spectacular view that it was too early to remember to photograph ans some sulphurous geysers – and an orientation which was less than entertaining.
Our group arrived utterly exhausted and after a bit of a walk and food, it was finally off to bed for a few hours. There had been a lot of talk about extreme cold so we wrapped up and started walking at 1:30am in order to beat the sunrise which happens around 5:30. For a hardy European fresh out of a British Spring, the 12 degrees was just a fresh morning for me and I promptly delayered much to the surprise of my fellow hikers.
The paths we took followed the contours of the mountains gradually rising making the altitude easy to handle. We spent our time walking through wooded areas – that looked like brocoli in the light of day for a good part of the hike before coming to grasslands and then struggling up some steep and slippery grass hills as we rushed to beat the sunrise.
We made it in time and expectantly and breathlessly waited. There was an excited air of anticipation and quite a festive mood owing to the weather being perfectly clear for us, with the added bonus of a lightning storm on the horizon which looked majestic.
Breathing in the crisp morning air, we gazing across the Sea of Clouds, it was an awe-inspiring sight and then what he had come to see, happened. The silent sun rose silently and majestically and a cheer rose as we watched the fiery ball’s rapid rise and shared a moment that will stay with all of us for as long as our memories remain.