We were a weird bunch; a Hispanic couple from the US, a hiking enthusiast with her towering Australian beau, a happy-go-lucky guy, a girl who loves going on weekend trips, a blonde entrepreneur who shares a striking resemblance with Beyonce, a couple in their mid 20s, a girl who went on the trip thinking that we were just going to the beach, and I who came with a tent heavier than me. We were not the next Survivors castaways (although I’m pretty sure we are capable of creating enough drama to last a full season), we were just a silly group of travelers who wanted to go camping at Mt. Gulugud’s Baboy. But the experience could have passed off as a Survivor challenge because it was tough. You think I’m referring to the climbing part? Nope, I mean the camping part.
You know those plans that started small and ended up in a completely different way? That’s how this trip came about. It was a late Christmas party celebration turned into a weekend trip. I took it upon myself to arrange it all because I’m a control freak like that (Nah, I just like organizing things in general, parties, get-togethers, travels, etc.). I successfully talked some of my friends into it including newfound friends, Gloria and Diego of Cafe con Leche Abroad.
No seriously, I won these gears from looloo, except the Gobi Gear roll, which I won from another giveaway. You read it right, I won all these. You see, I was on a winning streak last year. Would you believe I won 7 raffles/contests? Hell yeah I did! So the Coleman 4-person tent, the Northface backpack, and that sleeping bag are part of my winnings from looloo because my review of Kalayaan Twin Falls was picked for the Travel Review category.
Anyway, back to regular programming, January 15, at around 10AM, the crew assembled at McDonalds, Taft-Buendia, a.k.a. that McDonalds branch beside the bus stations. Of course, to wish that everyone would be on time is like wishing the unicorns were true, so we weren’t able to start the trip until around 12:00 noon. We took a bus going to Bauan diversion, bus fare goes for PHP 125.
From Bauan Diversion there are two options to get to Philpan or the jump-off point:
- Jeep then tricycle
- Rent the jeep
If you are a big group like us, I suggest you take option number 2. The jeep drivers themselves would offer their service to you, so don’t hesitate to negotiate a fair deal. In our case, we didn’t get the jeep all to ourselves, meaning there were other passengers on board. But there were so many of us, we practically occupied the entire jeep. The driver drove us all the way to Philpan and we only paid PHP 100 (USD 2.01) per person; I say that’s not a bad deal at all.
It took us an hour and a half to get to Philpan because of the heavy traffic. Somewhere along the road, the jeep stopped and I realized we reached our destination. One side of the road is lined with houses. We spotted a table where the mountaineer’s registration is; a log book lay opened on top of it. We wrote our names and paid PHP 35 (USD 0.70) each for the registration/eco fee.
The fun part of traveling with a group is that you’re not alone with the hustle, you get to joke with someone, you have other people to take your picture, there’s someone to help you carry your things, you also get free food because your companions tend to share theirs. The not-so-fun part is the delay, there is always someone you have to wait for, someone who is missing, someone who is late. As I mentioned earlier, our assembly time was 10 a.m. but we didn’t leave until 12:00 p.m. Even before we begin the trek, there’s been some cause of delay. We reached the jump-off point at 3:35 p.m. but we didn’t start climbing until 4:17 p.m.
The climb began on a 10 to 15 minute walk on a paved road. We no longer asked for a guide because the trail is fairly easy and the path is established. When I said easy I meant the trail is not too steep, but it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t feel the strain on your legs, or it wouldn’t get your heart racing. We weren’t even on it for more than 10 minutes but we were already gasping for breath. I figured it was either we were physically out-of-shape or we just had an extra hard time due to our camping gears.
Soon we reached the point where the dirt trail begins. The sun was already getting ready to call it a day so we tried our best to climb fast.
Actually, not really. This is the first time I climbed a mountain where I had the most number of rests. It was a series of climbing, hyperventilating, drinking water, and stopping every chance we got. Now repeat that 10 times until fade. In my assessment though, Mt. Gulugud Baboy is the easiest climb that I’ve had so far. The trail is not as steep as that in Batad, the path is wide, and the soil is dry, there’s even fresh air to breathe unlike the almost windless Mt. Mabilog. Sure it was slippery in some parts, especially when there’s some loose soil, otherwise, it was not complicated compared with the mountains I have thus far, conquered. [Read: The Trek to Batad, Ifugao]
Since we loved stopping for breaths, I had the time to truly appreciate the view.
Finally, we reached the Mt. Gulugud peak, but the hustle was far from over. From there we had to continue our way to the Pinagbanderahan peak where we were going to set camp.
Up on Pinagbanderan, we were enveloped by a thick fog and greeted by a strong wind. As soon as everyone reached the peak, I encouraged them to set up the tents while there’s still light.
It was my first time to use my tent and I had no idea how to pitch it. As the others were busy pitching their own, I stood there shaking from the biting cold. The wind was too strong, everyone struggled to get the task done. Eventually, Jerny, JB, and Michael came over to give me a hand. Pretty soon, my tent is up and ready. Despite the coldness, it was warm inside my tent. I silently thanked the heavens and looloo for blessing me with this shelter. I shared my tent with Caresse.
Now for the fun part, dinner! Jerny brought a stove so we were able to cook some noodles. We didn’t have a cooking set, we just borrowed the pot from Ate Lisa, the woman who takes care of the registration down the mountain. We didn’t bring a spatula, so we used some twigs that we found in the area to stir the noodles with.
We huddled together, sat in a circle to cover the stove so the wind wouldn’t kill the fire. We lived in instant noodles, crackers, canned tuna, and mallows. Yes, mallows! This ain’t no camping without mallows. And where did we burn them mallows? In the fire of the stove!
It was rather uncomfortable because the wind was blowing so hard, I was freezing the entire time. But it is without the question, one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.
I kept waking up to the sound of my tent being whipped by the howling wind. Somewhere in the middle of the night, I heard Caresse asking if it was raining because she could feel water mist on her face. I buried myself deeper inside my sleeping bag and answered,
“No, I don’t think it’s raining; it’s the fog.”
And I had those fragments of dreams I couldn’t control. In between dreams and reality, I almost believed there a was storm. I kept telling myself that the view in the morning would be worth it. Then I woke up to a chilly morning to the sound of Silver’s wake-up call. I forced myself up, unzipped the tent, and went outside. I was right, the view was worth it.
Even in the morning, the wind was blowing hard. We found some of our food, even our garbage, scattered about. My first thought is that the wind might have blown them off, but I heard some of my friends saying that the dogs might have gotten to them. I’m not so sure if the dogs could go all the way up there though when the wind is too intense, but yeah, who knows?
We were no longer alone at the peak; I spotted some early hikers busy taking pictures. I busied myself doing the same thing because the view is just amazing.
At 7:30, we started our way down. The time we spent for descent was of course, shorter than the time we spent for the climb. Nevertheless, I found it more challenging because during the ascent, JB carried my tent for me. When we climbed down I had to carry it all by myself. My tent was so heavy and the downward slope was so slippery it slowed my pace. I even scraped my knee when I lost my footing and skidded down the path.
I’ve already explained my aversion for scaling mountains so you’re probably wondering why I organized a climb when I could have just taken us to the beach — well I did get us to the beach on the same trip, click here for the story — but you see this is not just an ordinary climb where you climb, pretend you’re trying to find yourself (although god knows why you keep losing yourself), take selfies in the summit, then go back to the civilization like you’re suddenly better than everyone else. This trip is more than that; here you climb, pretend you’re trying to find yourself, take selfies in the summit, camp overnight, then next morning take some more selfies before you go back to the civilization. [Read: Conquering Mt. Mabilog]
Kidding aside, this trip involved camping and some of the most wonderful people I know, two factors that made a whole load of difference in my attitude toward the climb. I can go as far as saying that this is my most enjoyable mountain-climbing experience. Still, as the title of this post says, it’s quite challenging to camp at Mt. Gulugud Baboy because of the wind. Still, if you bring a sturdy tent and a group of fun and reliable people, camping there is very possible.
My first camping experience was crazy fun and I can’t wait to use my tent again on another camping trip. What about you, have you ever tried camping?
You may view or download my itinerary for Mt. Gulugud Baboy and Sumbrero Islands trip by clicking the image below ↓ .