Akiki – the killer trail they call it, it’s intimidating and even downright dangerous, and I must’ve been insane because I really wanted to try this crazy trail that I even put myself to prepare for it for months with pre-climbs, jogs and a bit of calisthenics; I even had internal monologues that would last up to an hour at most days to convince myself that Akiki is a piece of cake. I was prepared for it, I built myself for it and every inch of me was ready to face it. That after months of waiting I’m finally gonna tackle the Akiki Trail!
But, as it always has been, fate has a different kind of humor, as the event was canceled in the last minute due to Tropical Storm “Jolina”; yeah, I know, it was really a letdown, and what made it even worse was that we were already on our way to Baguio City by the time it was announced cancelled. The entire province of Benguet was placed under storm signal number two, which prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close all mountains, within the province, for Climbing and all related activities.
We were already in Baguio City and needless to say, we needed to change our plans – drastically change it. The original plan was that we would spend our first day in Baguio City, and then we would spend the second, third and fourth day on the infamous Akiki trail going to Mt. Pulag Summit down to Ambangeg and then back to Baguio City, the fifth day would be spent buying “pasalubongs” and then home bound.
And since the event was cancelled, We haven’t really quite figured it out what to do with our “unwelcomed” free time, and since again our flight back home (Cebu) was still four days away, we decided to extend our stay in Baguio City, which turned out to be a very good idea; we got the chance to roam about the summer capital, we tasted every food we can put our hands on, we went to the strawberry farm and rented local costumes, we did “ukay-ukay” at Harrison Road Night Market, we visited the Favelas of La Trinidad and, lastly, we mined unique experiences at Mines View Park – it was spontaneous and what a day it was!
And did I mentioned where we booked our stay? We were very lucky to have been accommodated at the Commission on Election (Comelec) Commissioner’s Rest House for only 200 pesos per head per night, the House was complete with everything we needed, it was tidy and well maintained. To add more spice to it, the Location was perfect, it was center to everything in Baguio city. it was more than what we paid for – a real bargain.
Although, the province was under storm signal number 2, the weather wasn’t really that bad, it was raining, alright, but it was just mild to moderate and strong winds was rarely felt; with those conditions we thought that maybe, just maybe, the DENR would open back Mt. Pulag. We did keep our hopes up, prayed to every supernatural being to intervene with the weather , and harvested every bit of positive ions to feed our optimistic urge to climb… and low and behold, on our second night in Baguio City, we received a call from an officer of the DENR that Mt. Pulag is now open back for climbers. It was like the brightest news we ever heard our entire lives, our group was ecstatic, excited, and electrified by such good news. But there was a catch, Akiki was still close, only the Ambangeg Trail was open, nevertheless, it was still a fantastic news and we grabbed the opportunity to climb Mt.Pulag!.
The following morning, we couldn’t hide the smiles on our faces, that despite the odds we are finally on our way to Mt. Pulag. It was already dark when we reached our homestay in Ambangeg near the Ranger station, we prepared and ate our dinner and then slept for about 3 hours, since we need to start our climb by midnight if we ever want to catch the sunrise on top of the summit. Midnight came fast and we obviously lack sleep, but tiredness was compensated by adrenaline rush, our feet was itching to trek. We were expecting a bad weather coz the tropical storm is still inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) but, oddly enough, everything was calm, the sky was clear as crystal and it wasn’t as cold as we feared. The trek went very smoothly and we reached the summit just minutes before the sunrise.
We stood there waiting thrilled to see the sunrise. And then, without a moments notice, a speck of light broke the silence of darkness beyond the horizon, its rays rising up like fingers changing the blackness of the sky to that of a firefly’s luminescent orange. Slowly the speck turned into a burning ball, its light dancing on top of what seems like fallen white feathers of a million angels – it was the Sea of Clouds! And my eyes were fixated to it, it was beautiful beyond words, beyond any human emotion, it was something my soul was yearning to see.
And the allure did not stop there, the light of the sun also exposed the gorgeous landscape of the mountain, it was like an island haven above the sky – a playground of the gods.
A revisit, yes, its my second time in Mt. Pulag and let just say that the first visit wasn’t as successful; there was no clearing then (you can read about my first visit
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