Monday, September 19

Mt. Pulag on a Sky Run

Different Trails of Mt. Pulag
Mt. Pulag, 2922MASL, the highest point in Luzon, and the third highest peak in the country. The mountain is situated on the borders of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. It can be climbed through several routes via Ambangeg, Akiki, Tawangan and Ambaguio.

I've been to Mt. Pulag five times, and I climbed several routes of the mountain.  I experienced the worst  weather, but I also experience the best of it. The easiest trail that I 'd taken is via Ambangeg and this is on a two day full pack climb. 

The Mt. Pulag Skyrunning Team
On this trip I am with the team of athletes from the Philippine Skyrunning  Association who are training for a major race in Mt. Kinabalu.  The group of 13  runners plus 1 guide that became the sweeper took the Akiki Ambangeg ,  a normal 3 day trek trail.  But this trip is a different one because the group will do the the route in 1 day  carrying only  food,  water provision and cold weather gear, all packed in a hydration pack. The least gear one can bring the better. Carrying a light pack would be a big help running through the slopes of the mountain.

On the Streets of Kabayan, raining.
This may be a run with so minimal load but it makes no difference trudging the slopes of Akiki, mossy forest up to the summit on a full pack. I may be carrying the very least that I can but the fast pace chasing the lead pack makes things challenging, my heart beats faster as I move one foot forward catching my breath as I can feel the thinning air as we go higher on our elevation. And this day up in the mountain is just really cold.

Hoping to see the Museum of  Kabayan
The group traveled to Baguio Friday night, since the travel takes longer than the usual trip, our leader decided to change itinerary, day one served as our travel time and rest day. It was a relax day, register at DENR, settle at the Lodge in Kabayan, replenish supply for the run and buy food for the three meal that we will have. On DENR yet it was already raining, and it never stopped until the evening. We spend the whole afternoon going around the streets of Kabayan on a rainy day. After our dinner we settle in our room and early to bed for an early rise the following day.

That's me crossing Eddet River at 6:00am
Day 2 is the day, wake up 3:00am, change, get ready and proceed to the jump off  through a patrol car of the town. It was still dark and cold but it  did not rain. It's going to be a good day. We meet our guide, Mang Pepito at Akiki Ranger Station, we explained to him that this is going to be a run not a trek may be not to all of us but to most of us. At first he took the lead especially that it was still dark, until few minutes later,  our Baguio Boys take the lead on the trail. Manong Pepito is now on the mid pack right in front of me, I've been wanting to go ahead of him but he never allowed me. I just take my pace slowly until we reached the first waiting shed. On our way down the next runner after me is nowhere to find not even their head lamp. Jules asked Manong Pepito to go back and wait for them.

A pose at Eddet River
We proceed with our run while Manong Pepitio waited fr them, since then he is already on the tail end as sweeper and we see each other on each compression stops. The trail after the waiting shed is mostly descend, Jules take the lead, I just follow her until after an hour we reach the bridge at the Eddet River, our first compression.  The river is so full of life, the water is just flowing on it's fullest. Take some pictures while waiting for the others, hydrate and eat energy food.

After several minutes we proceed with the run now the start of the unending ascent on the famous killer trail of Akiki. Truly it's a killer trail, it's unending going up, I may not be in full pack but it doesn't make any difference, I am grasping my breath as I move forward trying catch up the runners in front of me. We rested at helipad but because the lead had been there several minutes already, they had to proceed which I followed as well. The slope is still a continuation of the killer trail, it is a never ending going up, the next compression is at the Marlboro, time to replenish water as well. I did not, I have full load of water.

At Mossy Forest
 After several minutes we proceed to the mossy forest. The slope is a bit gradual  ascend now but it was here that I feel like I need to slow a bit, despite the trail food that I've been munching along the trail I still feel an empty stomach, I wanted to eat solid food. At some point I was just trekking alone, and at times I think could this be the right trail, especially when I saw one junction trail. Nonetheless I continue walking until Ambo was just behind me, a sign of life, at the compression on the small clearing in between the mossy forest Ambo go with the rest of the lead pack while I stay with the mid pack with Jules and Carlo. My strategy on the uphill slopes, 3 fast strides and 3 super slow walk, stretching my legs a bit and slowing my breath. I am not really to sure if what I am doing is just right, but I find this effective.

On our way to the Saddle Campsite
Since then I just took an easy pace, my energy is starting to go down. I know I had to replenish food for there is still one more ascend I need to do before the saddle, and I was just taking it slowly while Jules is at my back. She did not go ahead of me as well. As we are done with the fourth and final peak before going down to the saddle all the lead pack are just there, sitting on the grassland, the wind is just blowing from different directions. It's really cold. I settle in one place, put on my thermal long sleeve and eat my pack lunch.

A pose at the summit of Mt. Pulag
After more than 30 minutes, the tail end did not arrive yet, we decided to proceed to the saddle hoping that the campers will have a some hot coffee for everybody. True enough they offered not just coffee but also hot and chilly soup. That was a great help. After several minutes when the last person arrived we proceed to the summit, had some rest, photo opt to the max and proceed down. Going down the slopes of the grassland is just really rewarding, I super love the view aside from the fact the its going down.

After camp one is a forest line again, there are some uphill part but just minor, pass by some hikers on their way to the ranger station as well,  we continue on until we reach the dirt road of Ambangeg, since it's flat, it was just really a steady pace for me, I can't run any faster anymore. We reached the ranger station of Babadak feeling accomplished being able to do the run in 8 hours with rest stops on around 16 kilometer distance with almost 1000 meters elevation gain.

My TNF Chucky Rocky shoes
Some parts of my Chucky Rocky shoes are now starting to fall apart not good to look at, I know the sole will survive until the end of the trail, and I know I just need to put some glue on it, it will still be a good shoes for my next trail run. 

The run is so fulfilling, what I used to climb for 3 days now we did it in 8 hours. Not easy but it's possible. I thank the leadership of Mia, for arranging every aspect of the trip, she made things easier for all of us. I also thank the rest of the team, it was never  a boring run having everybody around, in fact it was a run full of laughter and fun.  Looking forward to the next skyrun with all of you guys.

I also thank PSA for organizing runs like this which they open not just to their members but to one like me aspiring to become a member as well. You made possible the unthinkable and not doable before. What used to be done in 2 to 3 days, we do it in just a matter of hours.

What's in my hydration pack which I hope I will survive if something will happen to me:
Nice job inspirations
1.8 Liters of Water
500ML Gatorade
Pack Lunch
Head Lamp
Personal Knife
Trail Food
Tissue/Wet Ones
TNF Gore-tex Jacket
Lightweight Rain Coat
Identification Card
Arm Sleeves (which eventually I wear it)
Thermal Long Sleeves 
On our way down to Ambangeg

What I am wearing:
Nike leggings
Nike Tank Top
TNF Short sleeve dry fit T-shirt
Arm Sleeves
TNF Thermal Long Sleeves
TNF Socks
Chucky Rocky Shoes
Nat Geo Buff

13 Runners
Stayed at Kabayan Coop Lodge- P200.00 per head per night
My Total Personal Expenses for this trip:
P2, 628.00

As I have been doing for several months now, this trail run is again one of my training for a major expedition that I will be doing this coming December. I may not be carrying a heavy load as I traverse the slopes of  Mt. Pulag, the cold temperature and the elevation gain can be a good simulation on my actual climb. I just hope that all the physical activities that I had been doing since January will be enough  for me to endure the grueling extreme cold temperature and weather up in the mountain. 

Thanks to Jules Picato, Charina Javier and Zean Villongco for some of the pictures posted and on the album.

Pictures: Pulag on a Skyrun

1 comment:

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