“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
Not all of us can travel to different places for pleasure, to go hiking with friends or family, or even the opportunity to explore the city you live in. However, we can make a plan ahead of time or put on our bucket list the places we want to travel, the mountains we want to explore and the chance to discover the natural beauty that surrounds us.
I am so excited to be able to share my most recent hiking experience. It was a lovely day for a day hike to Mt. Ulap which is located at Ampucao, Itogon Benguet. Mt. Ulap is known as a Sea of Clouds because of its foggy surroundings. The first time I had been there the mountain was entirely covered with a haze. We carefully inched our way through the fog, and we tried to ascend the hill.
On this second journey up the mountain, and I had hoped that I would be able to walk without tiptoeing through the fog.
I needed to wear my jacket, with my high cut rubber shoes and my long red paired socks, since Mt. Ulap is known for its freezing temperatures. It felt great to wear comfortable clothes for the upcoming hike.
I got up early and arrived at Brgy at 5:30 in the morning. Early arrival to Ampucao is necessary so you can register and also secure a guide. Precisely at 6 AM, we started pushing on to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun. The first hour of our trek was a cold one.
I brought my flashlight with me just in case our hike took us into the latter part of the evening. ―this is the first thing I put in my bag before anything else. When it comes to a day hike, I usually just pack as light as possible to prevent difficulty with too much weight while walking.
I felt grateful because the pathway had been cleared, there was no fog today, and although a cold wind was blowing every once in awhile, we still managed and kept moving at a decent pace.
There were 180 people hiking on the mountain that day, and our team consisted of 30 people. It was a busy day hike, and at times we needed to give way to others who were descending.
Eventually, I had pulled ahead of my teammates. I found these little white mushrooms which only grow on cow patties! They are called psilocybe cubensis or commonly known as magic mushrooms/shrooms―from what I’ve read in a few articles, these mushrooms have been used since prehistoric times. Many cultures have used them in their religious rites, and ceremonies. In much of the world, possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin is illegal. Click here for the legal status of these mushrooms.
Cow patties provide nutrients for the mushrooms. This also coincides with my small vegetable garden that surrounds my house―I never use insecticides or any other sort of chemicals on the vegetables. Everything I grow is organic like these mushrooms in the wild.
Furthermore, I have become addicted to these mini wild strawberries that appear along the hiking trail. I picked many of the ripe berries and ate them right from the branches. They taste much like a strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing, a little bit sour but absolutely amazing. They are an awful lot of the ones that you can buy in a grocery store.
After about an hour, I reached the first peak of the mountain which is Ambanaw Paway. I walked 3.6 km to this summit, but it seems that I was walking for a lot longer than that because the trail had a see-saw effect! It seemed like I was going up and down over and over again. The view from this peak was very fascinating, and I could see the wide expanses of the whole mountain.
Meanwhile, as I continued walking, I felt incredibly dismayed because some people who hike on the mountain seem to think that it is okay to deface the environment around the mountain by throwing their garbage anywhere on the ground. It was very disappointing. Furthermore, I saw some wet tissue, candy wrappers, and other items under stones―I think to myself, …”are they serious putting this crap on the ground, it belongs in the garbage!”
Many times the organizers, guides and also the barangay officials remind hikers that we should put our rubbish in our pocket or bring a trash bag. Unfortunately, no one is listening, and they don’t seem to care about how it affects nature.
We finally reached the Gungal Rock Peak―the famous rock of Mt. Ulap. You’ll be amazed by its formation and how the foundation keeps it from falling over. It was freezing, and my body was starting to get a little bit numb. We had to wait in line to take a few pictures of the rock and ourselves too. I looked for space where there are huge rocks to cover me from the cold wind.
I felt down, depressed when it was our turn to take pictures because the fog had just rolled in. The picture turned out blurry, and it seemed like I just had an ID picture with the white background. Urgghh!!
We continued walking after taking a few photos at the rock until we reached the 3rd peak of the mountain. At last, we reached the last peak of the summit. Even though it’s my second time here, I still want to come back again and again.
A worthwhile and fulfilling trek!
See you next trekking Pinays!