I choose to be bitten by Limatiks if it means saving Tawangan Trail!
I’ve climbed Mount Pulag several times and I have been blessed with great weather (and not so great weather). Whatever Apo Pulag throws at me, I enjoyed every bit of all those climbs. Climbing Mount Pulag via Tawangan was another great adventure despite its Limatik infested trails. The sceneries and views were a breath of fresh air to my mind and spirit.
SMB Mountaiineers Tawangan team (a.k.a. Team Tawangan 13) left Manila on the 14th of November via Victory Liner Bus bound to Baguio City. Upon reaching Baguio City the next morning, we headed straight to the DENR Office in Ambangeg but along the way we stopped for breakfast at Ate Gina’s new store and visited Ambuclao Dam. As usual at the DENR office we had our short briefing and seminar and we also found out that we were the only team taking the Tawangan Trail.
We reached Lake Tabeyo just past noon (great jeepney driving from our driver clap clap clap) and we had to eat something so we ate our packed lunches while waiting for our Motorcycle rides to Tawangan Proper. There was an ongoing road repair so our jeep was only able to bring us to Lake Tabeyo. We waited for more than 2 hours but still it was very rewarding for we were able to absorb much of the scenery in Lake Tabeyo.
Around 5:30 PM we reached Tawangan Proper safe and sound (the motorcycle ride was really exciting but I won’t mind not experiencing it again hehehe. I own a motorcycle shop but I hate riding a motorcycle as the passenger!!!) We took our time to prepare and eat dinner, coordinate with our guide and porters, and make last minute preparations before we called it a night.
We had our wake-up call around 4:30 AM the next day. We made sure that everything was in order before we started our trek. Around 6:30 AM we started our trek towards Mount Pulag. The weather was fair so we were pretty excited and serious in our goal to reach the grasslands around 3:00 PM. After an hour of trekking the Limatiks greeted us!!! Good thing our pace was not affected (not much hehehe) and we did our best to look after each other for any Limatiks that might have clung to us. The trail was challenging and what made it more challenging was that we got to climb steep high trails and then we had to go down again. It was a bit frustrating at first but when the legs got the hang of it, it was all good. It was a long up and down trek.
Around noon we made it to the peak of Pupulag and we were greeted by very beautiful scenery. To our right we could see the grasslands of Mount Pulag. We ate our packed lunch, took time to rest and absorb the beautiful surroundings. Around 1:30 PM we continued our trek and I was pretty confident that we will reach the grasslands around 3:00 PM. Even the porters agreed when I told them we could make it by then.
Around 2:50 PM we reached the grasslands!!! I was happy to see the grasslands (again) and the porters congratulated me for my somewhat accurate eerrrrrr prediction hahaha. Well I told them I’ve been with the team for quite a long time and I know their strengths and weaknesses, therefore most of the time I can accurately predict the time we can reach a goal 🙂 Imagine 10 years of climbing!!! Experience really makes a difference.
Enough of the boasting hahaha………….. we had to trek for another 1 to 2.5 hours to reach Camp 3. I went ahead since I felt my shoulders aching (sign of getting old). Seems carrying a heavy pack is one thing that experience does not cure at all. Lucky for those in our team who had porters!!! I should consider getting a porter in my next major climb I told myself. Some of our team members climbed the summit by mistake but it was a blessing for them since they witnessed the sunset and sea of clouds.
Around 5:30 PM everyone was already at Camp 3. We were the second team to arrive ( a couple who took the Akiki Trail was already there). The temperature was already at 11 degrees centigrade but lucky us there was no rainshower!
The next day we climbed the summit (minus Sir Rhian and Mam April who had a fever) and we were blessed with an impressive formation of sea-of-clouds!!! Yooohoooo!!! From afar I could see Mount Amuyao. It gave me the chills! Thoughts of doing my THIRD TRAVERSE IN AMUYAO in January 2014 got me all fired up!!!
Everything was great in this adventure. Being with a team with great people makes it even a more worthwhile experience. The rewards at the summit is incomparable!!!
To highlight something I want to share with you, what I already shared in Facebook, about a discussion with our guide when we were trekking to Babadac (read below):
Our very friendly guide (we were chatting in Ilocano) from Tawangan told me that the locals, guide association and DENR plan to clear up the Tawangan trail so that no one will be bitten by limatiks and more people will climb Mt. Pulag using the Tawangan Trail. In response I honestly told him that they should not do that. Climbers are just visitors. The Limatiks have been there all the time. If people want to Climb Mt. Pulag via Tawangan then they should respect the limatiks and every plant, animal, etc. in that trail. Climbers should enjoy what the Tawangan trail brings to them as it is. I told our guide and porters please let your guide association be the one to foster the protection of Tawangan trail as it is. Let the DENR and locals know what I told you.
I hope we can share this message to everyone so that when (you or) they climb Mount Pulag via Tawangan (you or) they can echo what TRUE MOUNTAINEERS really want. We want the preservation of our mountains, the trails, the flora(e) and fauna(e), and the indigenous animal species residing there.
To end what I started in this blog I’d like to say that “I choose to be bitten by Limatiks if it means saving Tawangan Trail!”
Congratulations to Mike,Jann, Rhian, Mark, AC, Joanne, Dottie, April, Deewee, Iyah. Shermain and Che for completing another major climb in your bucket list. ‘Till our next adventure 🙂
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