Mt. Pulag, Benguet | 3rd Highest mountain in the Philippines

If you are a regular climber or hiker here in the Philippines, one of the ultimate goals is to experience trekking at Mt. Pulag. The peak of this mountain is so popular that even beginners have heard of it. Since I started climbing last October of 2017, that goal grew on me too that I was so up for it that if any of my friends would have the schedule to climb it, I have to make sure to tag along.

Michael at Mt. Pulag, Benguet
Mt. Pulag, Benguet

What makes Mt. Pulag popular? The temperature up there. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, most Filipinos only experience extreme natural cold weather in other countries like Japan, Korea, and the US. Only a few spots here in the Philippines got "it" and one of them is Baguio City (which you need to pass by in order to reach Mt. Pulag). Well, it doesn't snow in Baguio nor in Mt. Pulag but during cold seasons like from December to February, frost can be seen in plants and small areas of water. I would like to see it first-hand. I just cannot imagine that there is a place in the Philippines (which is like an oven for me - just exaggerating though) can be as cold as that.

Not that long, my badminton friends got an October 2018 hike schedule. It's not the "perfect" season to go up there but since I don't know when will be the next possible one (if there will be), "Let's just do this". We have our group named "Day hike", since we are all employed people, we usually need to go to work the following day after any activities we do, but for this one, we have allotted 2 days and 1 night [starting from going there early morning of day 1 until reaching back to manila on the second night which is not included in the count]. 

Dayhike members to Mt. Pulag
Dayhike members without Patrick

One of the big hindrances most people face on its pre-climbing requirements is the medical certificate. I actually don't know if there is any other mountain here in the country that requires it too but we did get ourselves each. Authorities there had previous experiences, hikers that needed medical attention because they cannot withstand the cold weather thus requiring the "Fit to Climb" certificate on all climbers after that.

So we started our adventure by meeting up at Cubao, Quezon City with our climb coordinator Ken who also rented the van for us. There were 12 or 13 of us inside with Kuya Eus, Ate Laura, Eric, Van, Maggie, and Luis. We took the Marcos Highway route since Kennon road was closed at that time. If I am not mistaken, some landslide(s) happened due to the bad weather they recently had there. There was I think even a typhoon that passed by the area before our trip. I still remember this because the driver's skills were pretty awesome! Let's just say that he has been doing it for quite a while now. There were edges near the jump-off station that was nerve-wracking, one miscalculation can lead our van to fall on a number of steep and narrow areas we need to go through.

Eric at Ambuklao Dam
Eric at Ambuklao Dam

But before that, we dropped by a dam to break the long ride. It was time for us to stretch our legs and move a bit since we were sitting for hours already. By the time we got off the van, we were surprised by the cold weather. Most of us were not ready for it yet that we were shivering while walking. As far as I can remember, we were all wearing thin clothes at that time which I don't know why (lol). But moving on, the view there was good. It was refreshing to be in a high place, with mountains around, a body of water present, flock of birds flying, fog moving on the side, all at the same time with the cold weather. We are indeed away from the city. I felt like breathing a cleaner air that purifies my lungs replacing the polluted city air inside me. I know you know this feeling too so no more explanations needed hehe. If hindi ka maka relate, try mo umuwi ng probinsya o kaya naman lumayo sa syudad, para maiba naman. Ganun!

Hanging bridge at Ambuklao, Bokod
Jang Jang Hanging bridge at Ambuklao, Bokod

we had our breakfast at "Jang Jang Eatery". It was filled with the other hikers too that a long line was already present even before we can order food. Ken recommended that place and the group was hungry so it's like having no choice at all but to wait it up. The bad news is that when it was our turn to order, some of the dishes were already sold-out. The group ended up eating anything that was still available while I decided to eat junk food, yes, for breakfast (lol). The hanging bridge was just located at the back of it so we pursued on checking out the area. I found the place super nice, worthy of Instagram photos because it had wide-open spaces and some interesting combinations of nature. The hanging bridge looks very low from afar but when we were traversing it already, we were like "wait, its reaaaally high!" Haha! What makes it scarier were the big gaps in between the steps.. Your phone can literally fit right in there and it was a long walk to the other side of it.

Below the Ambuklao bridge - wasteland
Below the Ambuklao bridge

The view below was just as beautiful as from the top in its own way. It was artistically dramatic that you can capture different moments there depending on how you wanted it to be. You can capture the water flowing on the drylands, take a picture of the bridge connecting the mountains, seize the moment of the sun rising from the scenic horizon, or this wasteland-like "photography art" we did there. So much potential, really. I felt like we can already end the day with the photos we had there Haha! I actually forgot that I only ate junk food for breakfast. It was that good.

So after here, we continued our journey and had a stop in one of the areas on the way to check our medical certificates. We will be submitting them once we arrive at the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) office where all the orientations happen.

But even before that, we had a surprising detour to Daclan sulfur spring. Well, surprising in a way that before the trip they just told us that there will be some detours on the way.. It was not my first time seeing sulfur in action but viewing it organically (haha!) or raw in nature (if this translation helps) makes me value it more. It is like boiling mud-ish water.. And it literally smells man-fart that ate eggs for breakfast. What magnifies the whole thing was its size. It is quite scary in person thinking of the possibilities that may happen like randomly bursting while we were there or accidentally someone falling in the pit (Semi-brutal lol), I wonder how deep was it though. By the way, this is just the biggest pit in the area, the whole thing was huge. There were many pits scattered around boiling and dripping sulfur on the ground.

Daclan sulfur spring
Daclan sulfur spring

Not that far from there is where the office of the DENR is located. It is where all hikers are oriented to the do's and don'ts on climbing Mt, Pulag. Don't worry, it is but far enough from the sulfur spring's odor to not reach your nostrils. The orientation was short but since the room was limited, it happened batch per batch. Mt. Pulag has a number of peaks so groups will be assigned to take different routes to avoid crowding a specific area at the same time. Your group can still decide to go to the other peaks as long as you follow first the initial route at the given time. So after a number of waiting games and a grueling road trip.. we arrived at our home-stay area which is commonly called the "Ranger Station". It is where all the camping sites are located thus being set as the jump-off area.

Babadak Ranger Station
Babadak Ranger Station

We were blessed actually to have home-stays already that was included in our package said Luis as a few months back, there was still none of them available thus forcing them to camp literally.

The place was awesome, it was "Baguio feels" but with so much more offering. All natives there had rosy cheeks, there were many fields there filled with crops, the weather was colder especially at night time, and what struck me was the fact that we were in a village-like area which had a view that we were actually over some of the clouds already. AND! We haven't even started hiking yet. Man, how high can we still go once we reach the peak.. how cool is that? So excitement started building up for tomorrow's venture.

Locals at the Ranger station
Store owner with her baby below our home-stay

Aside from settling down at our home-stay and got our things ready for tomorrow's hike, we also got the spare time to walk around the station. It was an opportunity for us to familiarize the area if anything happens especially for emergencies. But there is one thing that I am really thankful for, and that is having this convenient store located just below our rooms. Come on, you just have to appreciate that. The store owner even had a super cute baby that we flocked with every time we pass by trying to win who will get his/her attention (Van, do you still remember the name? Haha - comment down below).

Knowing our early hike tomorrow, we ended day 1 sleeping after our early dinner. By the way, they serve unlimited rice there (was it brown or red? Eric, comment down below lol) which was super awesome. They know how to take care of the hiker eh?

So as day 2 begins, as usual, the group is on time (I am really impressed with how professional the group is haha!) as we set to start climbing Mt. Pulag. Goals! Eric recorded the temperature which is at 64 Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius.

Start of Mt. Pulag hike at Babadak Ranger Station
Start of Mt. Pulag hike at Babadak Ranger Station

As we go through the starting trail, I just can't help but look at the sky. It was my first time seeing so many (as in a lot) clear stars up there. It came to a point that I nearly slipped one time because I was not looking on the trail. I even shared this thought to Eric and Kuya Eus that if we only have the camera that can get this view? I think the picture will go viral (I am dead serious about this).

Stated from the orientation, hiking Mt. Pulag has 3 layers of surroundings.. The first or base layer is the pine forest which is the common view there, the Second layer is the mossy forest where the trees are now starting to be covered with moss (getting higher further up from the base camp), and lastly the grassland, which is the topmost layer, if you cannot see trees around you anymore you are nearing the peaks. So with these basic details, at least it gives you an idea of how further you already are.

Trekking at Mt. Pulag
Ranger's house near the lowest peak

Don't forget to bring your lights as you will be trekking in the dark. I remember bringing a small flashlight here running out of battery, good thing I am with some ever-ready friends hiking with me like Kuya Eus having a spare flashlight and Maggie who serves as the group's lady refrigerator.

The hike is really long so be ready with your stamina and don't skip leg day if you are working out. Though considered as a beginner's hike, make sure to be ready mentally as well. I suggest you bring friends who push you enough to get things done so you can encourage one another to finish it. To be honest, I got a hard time reaching the summit of Mt. Pulag even though I had previous climbs already but credits to our group who had no excuses or whatsoever to not reach the top. Haven't heard a single complain, or maybe I just can't remember? Haha!

Tower site at Mt. Pulag
Sipping coffee, tower site at Mt. Pulag

One of my favorite spots there is where the photo above was taken, the tower site. There is a tower behind me hence where the name came from. This location is the best-suggested place if the sea of clouds is present. In here also as from what I experienced was the coldest temperature we got which is 52 Fahrenheit or 11 degrees Celsius. It was really cold. I think it was even lower because the wind was blowing non-stop. I took my jacket and gloves off to take photos using my phone but not that long I needed to suit it all up again because my hands were getting frozen.

At this point, I already considered our trip successful because now I do believe that such a cold place can really be located within the borders of the Philippines. Haha! At this point also, I was ready to go back if the majority decides it. But not our group (yes naman!).

Trekking to Mt. Pulag's summit
Kuya Eus & Ate Laura Trekking to Mt. Pulag's summit

We continued to trail the grasslands and it took almost another hour from here to reach the summit. "Near yet so Far". This is literally a perfect description for this part of the trek. There will be some areas where you can already see the highest point but you will be tricked by how close it looks. In reality, you still need to go around like 3 more hills before you reach the foot of the final stretch. And from its foot, a steep upward climb is still waiting before you reach the Mt. Pulag signage. That specific part is where my breath nearly left me haha!

Do take note that when you reach the grassland part, not a single tree can be seen and the temperature starts to go high. So you will be like going into a fight naked under the scorching sun and have no choice but to either move further or go back after going through a freezing area. You will be asking yourself, "Why are we doing this again?". So after a few fights, brawls, and some dramas (just kidding), we conquered Mt. Pulag by reaching its summit! Congratulations guys!!! Woohooo!! Ticking it off the bucket list. We can stop hiking now and stop continue fooling ourselves on climbing again Haha!

Dayhike group conquering Mt. Pulag - Highest Peak (Summit)
Dayhike group conquering Mt. Pulag - Highest Peak (Summit)

But in climbing life, after hardship is another even harder whatever ship it is lol. Going down and trailing back to the jump-off point. But before we did, what a time to have an opportunity to be up-close in person with some clouds that got near us while on the summit.

Clouds near the summit of Mt. Pulag
Vanessa staring at the clouds near the summit of Mt. Pulag

More amazing shots can be seen in the video below so make sure to play it. So as we climb down the mountain, we made sure to get photos of the great spots we skipped earlier in the morning since it was still dark. One of those is the mossy forest which is the photo below.

Still amazed by it since most of the movies I like have mossy forest scenes in them like "The Lord of the Rings", "Anaconda", and lets put "Jurassic Park" in there haha! Seeing places such as these which are perfect for movie sets put an extra dart in the heart and makes me appreciate them more. Well, it is all God 's creation so "Ikaw na talaga Lord!

Mossy forest on our way  from Mt. Pulag summit
Eric at mossy forest from Mt. Pulag summit

And as the usual conversations that we have on going down a mountain, can you guess what the topic is? Of course, you do, FOOD! Well, if you read the first part of this blog post, you know that we won't have any issues regarding that.

Cutting the story short, it was an ULTRA relief getting back to our home-stay alive with both legs attached to our bodies! That there were no casualties or even any minor incident that happened. The whole journey sailed smoothly, great job to everyone. And as we bid our farewell to our home-stay and Mt. Pulag, we asked each other "Ano? Babalik pa?" I will hang those questions and let you guys guess if we wanted it still? One thing is for sure though, that we were grateful for this opportunity.



Here is the video of our Mt. Pulag adventure
Mt. Pulag | 3rd Highest mountain in... x
Mt. Pulag | 3rd Highest mountain in the Philippines | Michael's Hut
If you cannot see the video above, click HERE for it



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Mt. Pulag, Benguet | 3rd Highest mountain in the Philippines Mt. Pulag, Benguet | 3rd Highest mountain in the Philippines Reviewed by Michael on February 28, 2019 Rating: 5

136 comments:

  1. This is such a cool experience! thank you for sharing this, I'm glad the experience went smoothly!

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  2. Thanks for sharing such a good thinking, piece of writing is pleasant,
    thats why i have read it entirely

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  3. Woah! Beautiful pictures and an amazing hike! I love the outdoors, but my hikes usually last less than an hour. I can't even imagine a 2 day trip. Right now it's 31 (F) and we've got a snow day, so I'm dreaming of beautiful spring weather again.

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    1. Wow. Got a picture in my head. Thanks for sharing

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  4. Looks like a great hike! Will keep it in mind the next time I go to the Philippines.

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  5. Hikes are always such adventures! That view looks breathtaking!

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  6. looks super exciting! Hiking is so fun, I love it and miss it. I should have a hike anytime soon. Your trip is super inspiring

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  7. I am not much of a hiker or really an outdoors person at all, but this is beautiful and really does look like a great time!

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  8. this will surely be added to my bucket list, such a nice place to visit.

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  9. What a view!!! I loved your picture at Daclan sulfur spring!! So beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Seeing Vanessa looking out over the clouds like that is a majestic shot. I used to dream about touching the clouds as a kid, and I see that a trip like this can make that come through.

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  11. Wow! What an adventure! And those pictures are so cool. Thanks for sharing :-)

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  12. Thanks for sharing this great adventure! You picture are wonderful, I would love to visit there!

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  13. Beautiful!!!! Wow, you are certainly made of hard-core, Michael. A climb that serious isn't to be taken lightly, eeh...

    Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Such incredible views from this place. I would love to visit someday with the kids.

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  15. omg this is awesome! Reminded me when i trekked in Nepal to the Everest base camp. Amazing experience.

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  16. What a hike! I would do it just for the views. I'd be tired and cursing, but I'd be determined. I love your photos!

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  17. Thanks for sharing your amazing story of hiking. There looks so beautiful and clear sky. Also, your pictures are really good.

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  18. Oh wow. Thanks for putting all this together. It seems to have been quite the experience for you

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  19. Congratulations for reaching the peak of the mountain. What an amazing experience! I love hiking too but I need to get back in shape before attempting such a climb.

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    1. Climbing will help you get back in shape ;D

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  20. It's been so long since I went on a hike, But wow. Looks like you had a great time. Love the pictures!

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  21. My husband and I have always talked about hiking a mountain and then pushing ourselves and climbing something Machu Picchu. We shall see, its good to set high goals right?

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  22. How spectacularly beautiful! This is definitely getting added to my bucket list!

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  23. Wow! What an experience this must have been. If you require a medical certificate, this must be a serious climb. Love the picture above the clouds. Wonderful!!

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    1. Just for the cold really since we are not that used to that

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  24. Wow! These are some amazing pictures. I'm always shocked at how gorgeous the Philippines are!

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  25. Oh wow what an amazing place to climb, I bet it was such a thrilling getting to go so high! What an experience.

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  26. It looks like a truly wonderful place to visit! I love all this sea of clouds, as it's such a magical and certainly not a usual view! Hope to travel there one day! :)

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  27. Absolutely beautiful photographs. I would love to hike up high peaks but my breathing isn't good enough!

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  28. Wow such a wonderful experience! It's definitely impressive. I don't know if I can make it though hahah Thanks for sharing.

    Xo
    Candace
    Http://www.thebeautybeau.com

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  29. this sounds like such an amazing experience! what fun it must have been and those views look incredible.

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  30. What a gorgeous trip! I miss hiking a lot. Such great shots!

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  31. What an an amazing experience it must have been for you. It was probably all worth it just for the amazing views.

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  32. This place looks beautiful..loved that bridge. thanks for sharing

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  33. What beautiful photos! This looks like an amazing place to visit - its just absolutely stunning!

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  34. What a wonderful experience it must have been! It sure sounds like an amazing place to go. Thanks for sharing

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  35. OMG! These are epic shots. I want to visit this amazing mountain. I bet you all had the best time ever!

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  36. You had such an amazing experience. I would love to visit this place

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  37. Such a beautiful place, your pictures are amazing! I've always wanted to visit the Philippines.

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  38. What absolutely stunning views! A sea of clouds, indeed. I need to add this to my growing travel bucket list!

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  39. This article encourage me to visit this country. It looks like you had fun a lot. Great pictures btw.

    Irene.

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  40. Such a wonderful place to take a wonderful hiking. It’s so really nice destination to spend with my friends.

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  41. What a fun and great experience you had.The place is such a great spot for hikers.
    This is truly a bucket lists material.

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  42. This is such an amazing mountain to hike and see those clouds. It's so mesmerizing and an incredible experience for life.

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  43. Beautiful pictures and what a adventures trip! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  44. I've been in Benguet last year but I have never given a chance to see that mountain. Mt. Pulag is really a wonderful mountain to visit and giving a chance to see those amazing views is really a great experience to everyone.

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  45. WoW ! I find such cloudy high peak places heaven. I had never been to Philippines. Those photos are beautiful especially the mist and clouds one.

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  46. Hiking is always fun. I always looking for such places to visit. Will love to visit this place. Thanks for sharing your experience

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  47. What an amazing experience. I have never done anything like this before. Hiking is definitely on my list for this year.

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  48. What an amazing adventure, thank you for sharing!! I'm definitely not much of a climber, but the idea of being above the clouds like that, maybe even catching a sunrise, so so so compelling!! Maybe one day I'll give it a try...

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  49. It's so awesome that you got to be above the clouds! My husband and I love to hike, but we've never climbed a mountain before. It's something I'd love to do. When it finally reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, here, it's going to feel like summer. We've been at 30 and below for a while now.

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  50. Se manifique moments captured. Great views and vibes. what an amazing achievement!

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  51. I absolutely love to hike or climb wherever I travel to. It would be amazing to be able to hike there!

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  52. Your pictures made me miss home...Been a while since the last time I visited Philippines.

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  53. Now that's on MY bucket list! What an amazing place. All those clouds right by you. So breathtaking!

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  54. I love going hiking, but I've only ever done it in the US. This post is inspiring to go hiking in other countries where I can experience the unique landscape and culture.

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  55. This place looks so amazing! Your pictures really seem to capture the beauty of this place as well.

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  56. What a cool place and adventure! I love the hanging bridge!

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  57. I love your post. Everything sounds amazing and the same time adventorous. Great photos too! Good job.

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  58. Wow, I didn't know about Mt Pulag Benguet beforehand. I learn a lot!

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  59. The pictures are stunning. I just cannot stop admiring the beauty of this place. Loved your post

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  60. I am not much of a hiker so I can't imagine going on a climb so high, but this looks awesome.

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  61. The scenery is so beautiful, and I am sure that it was fun to do it with a group. Great photos, too!!

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  62. Looks like an awesome hike but given that I live in Northern Ontario, Canada I wont be travelling to the Philippines to experience the cold. Lol Cool video too.

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  63. This looks like an amazing adventure! I have never been to the Philippines! Definitely on my list!

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  64. Wow well done, this looks awesome. I don't think I could manage a hike like that!

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  65. I really love and enjoying hiking! Seeing the view is the most wonderful moment that I love. Nice experience!

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  66. O wow I’m so happy that you got to experince something so beautiful and thrilling! I’ve never been hiking or camping but I want to start have new adventures with nature!

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  67. I've never been here, but I definitely want to go in the future :) thanks for a comprehensive guide and lots of information x

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  68. Wow you can literally touch a cloud. This world is so beautiful and its amazing these mountains are in the Phillipines to experience!

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