Last December, I conquered Mt. Ulap my second hiking experienced together with my colleagues after Mt. Batolusong in Rizal. Our vehicle departs from our pick-up point in Buendia, Makati at 10:30pm and arrived at the jump-off point at Barangay Ampucao Itogon, Benguet around 5:30am. We took some coffee and do some stretching after the long drive. There are few stores in the area selling some hiking paraphernalia like bonnets, bags and we bought the wooden trekking pole or “tungkod”.
The registration area manned by the local barangay officials of Brgy. Ampucao which served as the entry point. All hikers shall register their name first before hiking. A local guide was assigned to every group of hikers. The local guide assigned to our group gave us a short orientation regarding the peak and the do’s and don’t while trekking. And ending the orientation with a short prayer for everyone’s safety. We were divided into two groups, we have Ate Sophia as our guide and Kuya Darryl as the sweeper, the last person in charge in the trail.
We learned that Mt. Ulap’s eco-trail consist of the following:
(Ambanaw Paoay) 1st Peak 1.788MASL/3.6KM
(Gungal) 2nd Peak 1.814MASL/5.4KM
(Mt. Ulap) The Summit 1.846MASL/6.4KM
Entry Point Brgy. Ampucao, Itogon
Exit Point Brgy St. Fe Itogon
Depending on your pace Mt. Ulap can be finished or completed for about 4-6 hours according to our guide and it is a 9KM walk. We started walking through the ascending road that serves as our warm up. After a few minutes of walking from the jump-off, we saw breathtaking views from the entry point called Tomtombek. Before we started the trail they have this area where everyone must take the obligatory picture taking because of the breathtaking views. They have some traditional Igorot costume that can be used during the picture taking. After taking your pictures don’t forget your donations.
The first part is an ascended trail and steep but because of the cold breezy air of the mountain, you will not feel tired. We reached the first view deck. We had our breakfast in that area, take some pictures before continuing the walk. There are some wooden gates that you will cross, according to our guide, it is made because of the cows roaming around the mountain. You will be amazed by the beautiful slopes of vast grassland without you knowing you are entering a campsite leading to the first peak “Ambanaw Paoay” you will see the breathtaking views of the Cordillera mountains. We had again our obligatory photo ops and took rest before another long walk under the heat of the sun.
Most part of the path is rocky be sure to take some care while trekking.
When we arrived at the Gungal Rock area, we have to wait for our turn because of the long queue of hikers waiting for their turn at the famous Gungal Rock. I guessed most of the hikers who have been in this area will agree Gungal Rock was the most photographed spot in Mt. Ulap. Gungal Rock was slanted so you have to be careful. We enjoyed the spot even under the heat of the sun. Our guide served as our photographer gave us our moments in this famous rock.
We continued walking to reach the summit. The feeling is awesome when we reached Mt. Ulap.
Another picture taking, group picture, solo, picture with other hikers.
We started to descend from the summit, I thought it will be the easiest part but no because there are paths that will use your strength as it becomes steeper.
There is a store about 30 minutes or less walked after the summit. We ordered Pancit Canton and a Coke Litro finally, we had our lunch.
After regaining our strengths, we move on to the last kilometers of walking. You have to be very careful on your steps it may slip you. I never thought that I was far behind my colleagues but instead of waiting for them I continued. I passed small bridged and villages I just continued though I’m a little bit afraid if I am in the right trail until I heard a group of people laughing and shouting made me relieve.
When I got into the final bridge and heard vehicle noise it really made me happy because I am near the exit point at around 1615H and first to reached Brgy. Sta.Fe among my colleagues.
I can say Mt Ulap has brought me into another level of hiking experienced to get into a much higher mountain climbing activities.
What would be the next?