Rolling grasslands high above the clouds at 2,922 meters above sea, sea of clouds if you are lucky, glorious morning light breaking through the horizon, undulating layers of mountain ranges that stretches as far as you can see, and someone special by your side. One can't help but be emotional in a scene like this. Even the hardiest of the lot fall down on their knees and make life-changing decisions. "Will you marry me" was uttered several times that morning.
Its really no surprise that Mt. Pulag is on everyone's bucket list. Well maybe not everyone, but anyone who ever wanted to know what the lyrics of "Morning has Broken" really mean will climb Mt. Pulag at least once in his or her lifetime.
The beauty is not immediately evident during the hike to the summit, for the hike usually starts 2 hours before the sunrise if you camped by Camp 2. By 2 AM the campsites are alive, smell of coffee wafted around. Soon you'll see a trail of headlamps snaking to the peak, the "assault" has began. You pick your trekking pole and join the march, or in my case: pick up the tripod, a couple of lens, and my camera. No room for trekking pole, I only got two hands :).
Its not until morning twilight that the splendor of the grassland unfolds before you. From then on you will not mind the cold or headache due to the altitude. There's so much beauty around you that whatever happened right before that particular minute simply became insignificant. The difficulty of the hike, the rain and mud the day before, the lack of sleep, all of it simply does not matter anymore.
Folks at the peak erupted in cheers just in time as sun broke through the clouds. Marriage proposals were made, group hugs and countless "selfies" done, and now its time to head back. For some folks, the excitement is still there, for you are going to see the trail you trudge on a couple of hours ago. Even the veterans of Pulag, who have trekked to the peak numerous times already, swear they will never get tired of the grassland scenery.
But alas, Pulag's beauty is also its curse. How do you preserve it and at the same time allow it to be enjoyed by everyone? Its a difficult balance to strike.
Already there are evidences that the trails cannot handle the volume of trekkers. In some sections you'll see the trail branching out into multiple parallel single tracks. From afar these looks like scars on the grassland. There is also an ongoing effort to widen some sections and lay it with rocks. Soon you'll see a distinguishable "yellow brick road" all the way to the peak.
See more photos of Mt Pulag in Lantaw's Facebook page