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Mt. Pulag: The Laid-back and the Killer

Backpacking with a Book

Should human conquer the mountain or should they wish for the mountain to possess them? Sherpas went up and down ten times in some cases, without glory, without claim of ownership, and there were those said it was sacred and shouldn’t be sullied at all.―Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

Dune-like Mountains

We opted to linger on Baguio and experienced the Death Road ride, explored Mt. Timbak, visited the centuries-old mummies, so we could not possibly join the other group journeying the killer trail—Akiki, which necessitates longer time.

"Here comes the sun. Dododo. Here comes the sun."

Those who opted to trail Ambangeg were often asked why they chose the relatively easy route. Perhaps we should ponder on the reason we climb, the reason we travel, the reason we walk.

We always wait.

Although we climb as a group, we have selfish, personal reasons for climbing. For others, perhaps it is more daring to experience the coniferous Akiki, to scale a challenging trail, to test one’s strength .

When the seaclouds went missing, the river would do. 😉

For others it is exhilarating to climb with a bigger number, to laugh and enjoy one another’s company. Yet  there are times calling for silence. There are those who prefer silence to listen to nature’s true character, to journey not just with the body but with the mind, to entertain, accept, reject thoughts, to revel in the sheer pleasure of thinking, of walking.

It reminds one of Kobo Abe's "The Woman in the Dunes"

I was selfish. Setting one’s pace is a choice, and Ambangeg is the apt trail to linger on, to look upward and see how the branches coil themselves into grotesque forms, which reminds one of  the Crooked House in Poland—a random online read. It’s the trail design for serious talks with the guide, to know the place from the guide’s eye.

The Crooked Branches

*** I wasn’t being unjust to myself. Ambangeg is Ambangeg, Akiki is Akiki. They are two unique identities. And I desire to experience both. Killer Akiki can’t be scaled without the existence of the laid-back Ambangeg. We need both to differentiate each other—that’s the reason of their being. 🙂

Although we journeyed different trails, we shared the same end: the peak. Isn’t it sweet?

for the complete travel essay, click here

For more photos, click here.

Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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6 Comments

  1. I have a copy of that book but I never had the chance to read it. Maybe this week.

    We were suppose to go to Mt. Pulag when Bal and me had the Northern Luzon trip, but we weren’t able to squeeze all the places in the six day trip. It’s giving us a lot more reason to go back to Sagada and stay there for at least six days, well, that includes the grueling 12hr bus drive.

  2. […] Mt. Pulag, Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines […]

  3. trip says:

    te jo, mangadto mog balik sa mt.pulag ug mt. timbak? ganahan ko makakita og mummies. – – glenn

  4. […] Sammy, a Samsung ES10 | Mt. Pulag, Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines […]

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