It’s been a while since #teamharthart went hiking. Perhaps the last time we hiked together as a group was more than 2 years ago. It’s about time we stretched our leg muscles!
This time, we chose to climb Mt. Ulap located in Itogon, Benguet. Mt. Ulap is only 40 minutes away from Baguio city, perfect if you want to buy pasalubongs after your hike.
Unlike most mountains, walk-ins are not really encouraged. You have to register first online because they have a limit on how many guests can visit per day. Click link here to register.
We arrived at around 5 a.m. at Brgy. Ampucao. Many hikers were already lined up to get registered. I love the fact that the registration is being done not just for the log books but also to control the number of hikers in a day. Only 500 hikers are allowed per day. This is to prevent mountain degradation from heavy foot traffic.
Though we we’re all registered at around 5:30 a.m., we didn’t start the hike until 8 a.m. As per the management, day hikers are the ones to start the trek first since they are majority of the population of the hikers who visit Mt. Ulap. We didn’t mind the few hours wait really as it gave us the opportunity to grab breakfast and explore the beautiful barangay of Ampucao.
Energized by our big breakfast, we were all excited to start our trek. At the same time, it was the first time for most of us to go hiking in Benguet. The weather was perfect. The air was cool which was very pleasant. You won’t need to wear a jacket during the hike as you would still be sweating but the cold breeze would quickly dry off your sweat. Along the way, you would see people selling trekking poles made from wood. I think it costs 25 php. If you can manage it, don’t buy the said poles. More likely than not, the wood used to make them came from the eco trail itself. I really enjoyed the trail going to the first peak Ambanao Paoay. The grassy slopes and the pine forest really takes away tiredness. I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful scenery. Though the trail was increasingly sloping, the great view made the hike very pleasant.
The 2nd peak is the Gungal Rock. There was a long queue when we arrived at the 2nd peak. Mostly day hikers. That’s why overnight hikers are encouraged to start the trek later than the day hikers to avoid heavy traffic in this peak. We waited more than 30 minutes to get a photo opportunity. Take note that picture taking is time limited to ensure the flow of traffic.
We arrived at our camp site after about 4 hours of trekking. It was time for us to set up camp and have lunch prepared. Jon, Roldan, and Louie was in charge of cooking lunch. We make it a point that in every trip that we do, we assign chores for each member of the group. Other members of the team took the down time as opportunity to explore the campsite and the surrounding areas. After lunch time, we decided to take freshen up, relax, and take a nap. We woke up around 5 p.m. which gave us enough time for golden hour. Our friend/photographer Joray of Happy Shooters accompanied joined us on this trip and he really did an outstanding job.
After sunset, we felt that the temperature dropped considerably. It also rained for a couple of hours which made it even colder. When the rain stopped, we regrouped and laid our tarps on the wet ground. Socials was fun especially since our guide was not the shy type.
We woke up early the next day, had a quick breakfast, and broke camp. We piled all our things in one place and headed for peak 3 which wasn’t too far away from the camp site. Peak 3 offers a 360 view of the mountain ranges that surrounds the area. Mt. Pulag and other mountains in Benguet are visible from the peak.
With our things packed, we started our decent but before pressing on, we made a quick stop at one of the stores near the campsite (a.k.a. 7/11) and bought some souvenirs. The store even sold passion fruit which was very delicious. The decent was hard on the knees due to the steepness of the trail. You really have to watch your footing otherwise you might get into an accident. The scenery was still beautiful but it’s hard to focus on it since you really need to mind each step that you take. Though the decent was harder, it only took around 2hours to complete the traverse. We ended up in a different barangay. Be sure to consider this especially if you brought a private transportation to Benguet.
Our Mt. Ulap trip was an overall success. Aside from a couple of hours rain, we experience during the night time, everything else was just perfect. From the wonderful scenery, to the friends accompanying each step of the way, this trip is definitely one for the books.
GIDEON (VAN RENTAL) – 0995 342 1769
JERAMEL MT ULAP GUIDE – 0910 252 4234
PHOTOS: HAPPY SHOOTER