Going to Baguio is a challenge if you purchase your bus ticket on the day of your departure, instead I booked mine two days ahead and was able to secure a 1:00am trip, good enough since I was scheduled to end my work around 9:00pm.
I have been in and out of Baguio and mastered the art of ignoring the long trip, sleep all the way. Typically, when hiking to Pulag either Ambangeg or Akiki, a rented jeep from Baguio to DENR is prearranged however in my case a regular commute was a challenge. Oh by the way, I was doing this traverse alone (but with guide of course)
1. It will be my second time in Pulag, the first time was on the same trail so I was already aware how dreadful the tail will be. Going to the gym was a big help.
2. Contacted DENR for permit. I got lucky that I was able to contact Kuya Roy of Ambangeg-DENR and was advised to go directly to Akiki Jumpoff since I wil be doing a solo traverse. He gave me Kuya Geronimo's number, Akiki Forest Ranger, for assistance.
I waited for 3 hours before the driver decided to start the engine and headed to Kabayan. What I like about traveling alone is that locals tends to be curious on the idea of traveling alone and chat with you without hesitation.
One of the passengers, who was very kind, asked me about my intentions on the area. She works at Kabayan Museum and guided me where my stop was. She even woke me up when we reached the area.
Traveling to Akiki-Jumpoff (Barao, Tojakap) will eat around 3hours to 3 1/2 hours with stop over for lunch at the famous Jangjang's eatery.
After registration, Kuya Geronimo and I chatted for few minutes. We discussed the trail using the map posted on the wall then left for me to take some rest. I was glad that Kuya Geronimo agreed to let me stay at the center overnight, instead of renting a hostel at the town proper which is 1KM away.
It was an advantage for me since my guide and I agreed that we will start the hike at 3:00AM. Aside from that, I did not spent any hostel fee. One disadvantage though, there were no "carenderias" around. Luckily, the store just below the center happily cooked pancit canton for me which serves as my dinner that night.
My Guide also slept at the center while I slept at the sofa made of bamboo. Nothing fancy though, an option I took over hostel while trying to be budget-wise backpacker.
What I admired about my guide was that he was equipped, he has his own cookset. Prepared his own meal for breakfast the next day while I was preparing my own stuff. We started 30 minutes earlier than what was agreed upon. It was cold and drizzling at that time. Our pace was a bit faster, good enough to produce body heat to fight the cold temperature.
The trail going to Eddet river, the slope covered with pine trees now has metal bars. It took us an hour to reach Camp 1, the campsite near the Eddet River. Took our first take 5, before crossing the hanging bridge.
We reached Camp 2 when the Sun was already shining. That trail was really a challenge, compared the pain I went through the last time, this time was a bit less maybe because I was carrying a day pack. 1 liter of water, 1 liter of Minute Maid and 2 pairs of clothes.
By the time we reached the eCamp site, we had our first 15mins break. My guide took his breakfast while I was munching M&Ms. I dismiss eating heavy breakfast or lunch during hikes because my body is having a hard time digesting food when I am too tired.
Mossy forest trail was long and I never thought of that. I got excited by the time we reached the Grassland. Hooray! I am almost there.
Junior Pulag was visible from a distant. I took some moment to take some pictures of Pulag summit from this side. From a far, Saddle camp can be seen too. It was empty... It was beautiful.
Another 30 - 45 minutes assault from Saddle Camp to Summit. Their was a group descending by the time I reached the summit. I did not stay long at the summit, my aim was just to reach it.
Ambangeng trail was less crowded that time. Ambangeg campsite was quiet, few hikers where already preparing to camp out. My guide and I ran few times, bypassing few hikers along the trail.
After this hike, I could attest that Akiki trail is will maintained and that the DENR team on this side managed to preserved its beauty. Trash was no where to be found, Camp huts are available while water sources were properly installed. Pulag was at its best maybe because their were no Fiesta on the summit or traffic and muddy trail.
From Forest ranger, there were several rest rooms for bathing then I hired a habal habal and around 30 mins I found myself at the highway and waited for a van going to Baguio.
For 7 hours, I was able to enjoy the beauty for both trail. Surreal, a picture-perfect site.
03:19 AM Manenchen Burial Cave
03:43 AM Camp 1
03:45 AM Eddet River
04:41 AM Helipad
05:35 AM Camp 2, Marlboro Country
06:07 AM Entrance to Mossy Forest
06:36 AM eCampsite (very quick Bfast)
07:17 AM Exit Mossy Forest, Grassland
07:52 AM Saddle
08:15 AM Summit (Quick Photo)
08:20 AM Decent, Run til Forest Ranger
10:30 AM Forest Ranger Stn. END.
Cab - Victory Terminal to Slaughterhouse 60.00
Guide Fee 1800.00
Green/Cultural Fee 80.00
Entrance/Camping Fee 150.00
Habal habal - Ranger to Highway 250.00
Van to Baguio 140.00
Bus to Manila 445.00
Grand Total : P 3,580.00
DENR - Superintendent
Note: Contact her via text message indicating Date of Climb, Entry Trail, Exit Trail, Team Leader/groups name, number of participants and wait for her confirmation if request is approve
DENR - Ambangeg
DENR - Forest Ranger Akiki Trail