Here I go hiking again.
I know I’ve said that hiking is not for me and I believe it still isn’t. But to Itogon, Benguet I went during the Chinese New Year long weekend to get some Heidi-of-the-Alps feels by climbing up Mt. Ulap. (I still don’t get why the tagalog version says that Heidi is the “anak pawis nang kabundukan” – someone explain to me what that phrase even means. Bakit anak-pawis?)
Ulap literally means cloud, so on our way there, there were talks of how maybe we’d get a glimpse of a sea of clouds (haven’t seen it before personally.) We’ve read that there’s a specific season for it and we knew we wouldn’t get to the peak until later in the afternoon so our expectations weren’t that high.
I guess we were lucky though as as we stopped by the famous Gungal Rock (see photo below) to have lunch and wait for our turn, we caught a sea of clouds forming at the distance until it actually reached and engulfed us. I tasted and touched a cloud for the first time, I’m so happy! (ps. it tastes like dust. yes, i really put my tongue out to get a taste once the clouds reached us. don’t judge me.)
Mt. Ulap is rated 3/9 in terms of difficulty which means it’s beginner-friendly and there’s a clear, easy to follow trail. The cold weather is also a plus. However, don’t forget to still prep. Exercise your muscles maybe a week prior to the climb. Get some sleep. Wear comfy clothes and shoes. Bring trail food. Drink vitamins and paracetamol after to avoid the common cold caused by drastic temperature changes while hiking. Gatorade (or any energy drink) was our best friend.
And don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
I had this flawed logic thinking I wouldn’t need to apply much sunblock since it’s a cold place, especially at the peak. Only later, while nursing a sunburn, did I learn that it doesn’t matter if it’s chilly. The higher you are (ie. mountain), the closer you are to the sun which means UV rays are stronger. Hence, a chilly hike can get you worse burns than laying on the beach on a warm day. (Like I said, I’m not much of a hiker.)
Overall, Mt. Ulap really is both majestic and newbie-friendly. There are also stop overs where you can buy food and refresh your energy (if I remember correctly, there were three stops duting the trek). It took us about ten hours to complete the 9km trek but these photos can’t even capture how worth it that was. It was serious Twilight and Heidi-of-the-Alps vibes!
This whole experience won’t take a full day and it’s just an hour away from Baguio city so if you have more time, it’d be great to have a Baguio side-trip which we also did since we had the whole weekend.
DIYs are great since you won’t have to wait for anyone, but in this case since our group doesn’t have time to plan and contact whoever we need to contact, we opt to join a tour instead.
The Wander Kingdom offered a P2,300 all in package (check them out on Facebook!). Aside from Mt. Ulap, part of the tour package included:
- Mines View Park (we went to the night market on the first night)
- Bencab Museum(After breakfast of DAY 2)
- Camp John Hay (Lunchtime DAY 2)
- The Diplomat Hotel (After lunch DAY 2)
- Good Shepherd for pasalubong before heading home (Because uber jam is life and it’s the cheapest if you buy it directly here: P210/small bottle which isn’t so smal at all)
If you wanna go DIY-style though so you can explore on your own pace and liking, here’s how you can get to Mt. Ulap:
- Get on a bus going to Baguio from Cubao. (Regular bus is P460 while deluxe costs P750)
- Then, ride a jeep going to Brgy. Ampucao (P50)It takes about 5-6 hours to get there from Manila.
- Mt. Ulap’s registration fee is P100. A guide is also required (P400).
There’s sufficient parking space and even phone reception high up the mountain (post those pics real time).
Now that you’ve read this, I hope you experience it for yourself. The photos on social media can’t even begin to reflect how beautiful Mt. Ulap is in real life. As I always say, these escapes remind us that there’s so much more to our daily trivial worries and routines so don’t settle with simply planning your trip, go do it!
Make some memories. Keep growing.
(PS. Some photos are taken by Deserie Mendoza, Marinelli Partoza, Wendy Ama, Cecel Lopez, and Jazzel Parao.)