Mount Pulag via Akiki Trail
The Heartbreak Trail
Why am I here? Why am I doing this to myself? I could be at home comfortably reading my books and not driving my heart to death right now.
Those are the questions and thoughts that were bouncing all over my head while I was ascending the 1000-feet vertical assault of the Akiki trail known as the killer or heartbreak trail. Even the promise of a nomination for membership for Boulder Monsters (an outdoor activities club), if I finish the climb valiantly, is NOT motivating me at that point. Then Rach, my sister at heart and climb buddy, stopped to have a breather (we weren’t talking to each other for the fear of accidentally breathing our lungs off while climbing) and said: “That. That’s the reason why I’m climbing my way up this trail right now.” As she pointed to the majestic picture only nature can provide.
But I know you’re not browsing through this blog to read my woes. So you may be asking yourself, what is this girl’s deal? Why can’t she just take the Ambangeg trail if she would like to see the Mt Pulag summit and not whine about it? Now, for the people who are not really familiar with the different trails leading to Mount Pulag Summit, let me discuss them briefly: Ambangeg trail is the easy trail (3/9 difficulty level) and the most commonly taken by the park visitors. Akiki and Tawangan trails (6/9 difficulty level) are the more difficult ones and usually take 3 days and 2 nights to traverse. And then there’s the Ambaguio trail which is the longest trail (7/9 difficulty level), the jump off being in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Here’s a comparison of the Ambangeg and Akiki Trails visually:
You can also read more about arranging a climb, DENR Visitors’ Center fees, Mountaineering Etiquette and gear checklist HERE.
DENR – Protected Area Office (PAO)
P 100.00 (USD 2.15) – Registration Fee
P 50.00 (USD 1.10) – Camping Fee
P 30.00 (USD 0.65) – Cultural Fee
Additional Fees at the Akiki Ranger Station
P 50.00 (USD 1.04) – Municipal Fee
P 1,800 (USD 37.36) – guide fee for 1 to 7 climbers (Akiki-Ambangeg climb), P100 (USD 2.08) per extra person
P l,500 (USD 31.13) – porter fee for 15 kg , P100 (USD 2.08) per excess kg
THE AKIKI TRAIL ITINERARY
2200 ETD GOING TO BAGUIO
0400 ETA Baguio City
0500 Chartered jeep to Kabayan, Benguet
0800 Breakfast along the way
0900 ETA at DENR-PAO for Briefing/Orientation and Registration.
1000 Chartered jeep to Akiki Rangers Station
1200 ETA Akiki Rangers’ Station. LUNCH. Arrange for Guides and Porters.
1330 Start of trek to Eddet River
1700 ETA Eddet River (pitch tent/set-up camp)
1730 Prepare Dinner (socials)
2000 PM Lights Out
0400 Wake up call. Prepare breakfast.
0600 Break camp. Leave No Trace.
0630 Start trek to Marlboro country
1000 Have early lunch at Marlboro country (water source)
1200 Commence trek to Mossy Forest
1400 Grassland (2600 MASL)
1600 Saddle campsite (Camp 3); set up camp.
1700 Dinner. Socials
2000 Lights off, minimize noise.
0430 Wake up call. Prepare light breakfast.
0530 Trek to Summit.
0600 Mt. Pulag Summit.
0700 Heavy Breakfast. Break Camp. Leave No Trace.
0800 ETD Start descent to Babadak Ranger Station.
1100 ETA Babadak Ranger Station. (Refresh and bathe) .
1230 ETD back to DENR-PAO.
1400 ETA DENR-PAO (log out), ETD to Baguio City
1700 ETA Baguio City
When I Thought It Was Insurmountable
It may be the same mountain. It may be the same destination as when I took the easier trail, but I will not be able to get the same realization. Looking at all the majesty of the place from where we were at that point? Not everyone gets to see it. I realized that THAT was the reason why I did it. Not everyone will have the gumption or inclination to do it. Not everyone were gifted with the health to be able to physically do it. Not everyone will have the feeling of elation and wonder of viewing everything that I’ve seen from the top of the mountains because they won’t even shed an iota of their energy by thinking of climbing it in the first place. And while climbing that vertical assault, it gave me that sense of realization and reminder that I was just a speck on the grand scheme of things. That the world is a much bigger place. That the world is such a vast space yet it does not have any for my pettiness and small-mindedness. That sometimes, I become so blinded by the most inconsequential things in life that I often forget that I am but a part of a much bigger world. Those thoughts gave me the heart to do the climb.
So yes, that’s why I climb mountains every start of the year. A bitter cleansing, if you may. To find a better perspective in life, to refocus my energy and think about the better side of life and living.