Sunrises always give me ecstatic feelings, like the one I woke up to on the third day of our hike. The sunrise gave us hope that we could see the famous sea of clouds from the summit of Mt Pulag. We thanked the locals for the warm accommodation.
The locals kept taunting us about “maliliit na aswang.” They were referring to limatik.
The guides told us that there are four peaks prior to the vicinity of Mt Pulag. But they never mentioned river crossings. I almost got injured from keeping myself dry while doing rock-hopping in one of the river crossings. I did not notice that the rock was loosely anchored. So when I stepped on it, it flipped my left foot that made me run like a bull ready to attack a matador.
We reached the first peak, Halong, with some of us already struggling. We shared loads. I offered myself to carry one whole bag, which was really easier said than done.
And limatik bites were not helping. I got two on my lower legs.
We originally planned to eat after the third peak but due to exhaustion, we took our lunch before the second peak, Al-al.
Rain started to pour and before reaching the third peak, Gatmoan, I was already looking like soaked in water. Before I knew it, I already had seven limatik bites on my scruff.
I lost Cris on my desire to cope up with the leading pack. I literally ran, as if there was something invisible running after me. Where is the lead pack? Why are they so far? Come on, Garfield, are we there yet? All funny things that I could reminisce have flashed in my mind to introduce the end of everything like in disaster and tragic movies.
The rain temporarily stopped when we reached the Junior Pulag, where you could see a glimpse of the majestic Mt Pulag.
I tried to remember the trails from my first Mt Pulag experience in 2005. But everything was so fuzzy. All that came in my mind were those in pictures I had. The grassland, domineered by Yushania niitakayamensis, seemed so endless. That after a mound of them came another one, which was gladly introduced by thick fogs and cold wind. The drizzle was inconsiderate.
As the natural lights went out, I began to wonder where Cris was. I left my trail buddy. In my mind, I was hoping that he’s fine. I had to hold on to the lead pack, or else I would be left in the middle of nowhere, because of my impaired vision. I found out the following morning that he camped out for the night with another member of the group near the summit.
Photo credits: Abyan Backpackers.