Luzon, Mountains, Nature, Philippines

Mt. Ulap in Itogon, Benguet: Dayhike and Traverse

 

It’s just normal for me to experience heavy breathing while hiking. With my weight and all, some people couldn’t even believe that I climb mountains.  🙂

But this time was different. My breathing has this tiny whistling sound. A fellow hiker and friend asked me if I have asthma. I said none, because that’s the truth.

But then I was compelled to tell them that I’d just recently recovered from flu a few days back. I was actually on sick leave for days from work, and I didn’t have any idea how my bosses would react that the following weekend, they would see my photos climbing a mountain in Benguet. Haha!

I contemplated of backing out just to rest, but I eventually decided to go for it.

Because if there is one thing that climbing mountains has instilled on me, it’s perseverance and grit. When you hike your body aches at its worst. You get so exhausted that you sometimes think of giving up. But all you need is a few minutes of rest, and the trek goes on.

I honestly felt that my lungs were weaker that time, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable, because Mt. Ulap is just stunningly beautiful.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

 

Trek to the top of Mt. Ulap

After about 5 hours of travel from Manila, we arrived at the barangay hall of Ampucao to register and pay for the environmental fee. For those who will do a DIY to Mt.Ulap, this is a just 40 minute travel by jeepney from Baguio. But since I joined the awesome S&B Adventure, we traveled straight to Ampucao.

The start of the hike was the most difficult for me as the trail was steep until going up to the ridgeline. This is where I experienced the worst case of SOB or shortness of breath. Haha! Good thing the place was surrounded by pines with cool relaxing air. There, I also witnessed and adored the scenic views of the mountains of Cordillera.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
the dog. 🙂
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
the flowers

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mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Andrama? haha!
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Pine trees

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mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

More hikes and assaults until we reached Mt. Ulap’s first peak or what they call Abanao Paoay peak.

It turns out that Mt. Ulap is actually a series of peaks until reaching the highest point which is about 1846 MASL (meters above sea level). But damn, the first peak was so beautiful, it was enough to make my day.

Looking at the vast rolling hills and slopes, I got even more excited of what the summit looks like.

 

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Bogart ? is that you?  hahaha!

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mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

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After the first peak, the next part of the hike was actually easier as the trail was more relaxed filled with grassland hills and slopes. This is the part where I really enjoyed the most. The sceneries were just amazing, it was so beautiful that I was beginning to let go of exhaustion that the first phase of the climb has caused me.

I was also beginning to ask our guide how far we were to the iconic Gungal Rock of Mt. Ulap. You know that popular photo op among mountaineers, that rock that looks like floating in the air with the stunning views of cloud and mountains. He answered that it was still a long way to go.

True enough, it was still like a never ending hike of going up and down on rolling hills.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

I was already hungry by the time we reached the Gungal rock. Looking at it for the first time was surreal. While waiting for our turn for photo, I decided to have lunch first together with friends and fellow climbers.

Then the time to have some photo of the iconic rock has come. The height and the inclined rock can sometimes scare the hell out of you. But I just put in my mind that I’ve actually waited for this moment to happen, so it was time for the adventurous side to turn on.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Gungal Rock
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
That’s me! LOL! Credit: Son Martillan / S&B Adventure

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

Pic mula sa taas. photo by Alvin Tumlos

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Nalula na pabalik. Kaya gumapang nalang. hahaha! Thanks sa pivture Alvin Tumlos
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Group Photo by Son Martillan / S&B Adventure

It was still a couple of peaks until we finally reached the summit. After hours of hiking, it was fun to finally lie down on a grassy summit with cool air and being touched by clouds.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Summit.
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Nice solo pic, diba? hehe Photo by Son Martillan / S&B Adventure

 

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
CLOUDS 🙂 Photo by Son Martillan / S&B Adventure
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Nakakapagod kaya. Try niyong umakyat ng bundok. Hahaha! Photo by Son Martiilan / S&B Adventure

The descent from summit and traverse to Sta. Fe was another trail of steep terrain with pine trees. It was so steep that I started to feel pain on my knees. Is that a sign of aging? Probably. Haha!

I just didn’t expect that going down was a bit difficult.

But once we reached Sta. Fe, we stopped to a store to buy some food and drinks. Then going further, we passed through some cemented path ways, and the exciting hanging bridge.

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse

mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Galing ng shot ni Alvin Tumlos!
mt. ulap itogon benguet dayhike traverse
Hanging bridge

I’ve been wanting to climb Mt. Ulap for so long, so even though I was dead tired after the hike, the satisfaction was priceless.

Despite the body ache and all, I am still going to climb more.

Because the truth is, in times of doubt and hesitation, the mountains always give me this feeling that I can do more, that I am more. Reminding me not to limit myself, because once I reach the summit I instantly have this tremendous feeling of strength that can do great things.

 

Note: We did a sidetrip to Baguio in the afternoon after hike, explored the city and had dinner at Good Taste Restaurant.

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Note: Thanks to S&B Adventure for this awesome hike. 

How to get to Mt Ulap

Public Transport –  There are buses from Pasay or Cubao going to Baguio City. Fare is about 450 one way.  Once you arrived at the bus terminal, ride a jeep going to Centra Mall. Then ride another jeep going to Phillex Mines. The drop off point is the Ampucao Elementary School.

Van and Group Hike – There are group hikes being offered by organizers and mountaineers going to Mt. Ulap. Check out those Travel Related Group Pages like DIY Philippines etc.  Better to also rent a van for your group then do a DIY.

 

My Ulap Fees and Budget

  • Bus Manila-Baguio Round Trip – about 900 Php
  • Jeep to Central Mall – 8 pesos one way, so 16 Php
  • Jeep to Ampucao – 70 Php
  • Registration Fee – 50 Php
  • Guide Fee – 600 Php for Day Hike (1000 Php for overnight)
  • Camping Site Fee – 800 Php                 
  • Estimated Budget Dayhike1500 Php per pax is enough with Baguio Sidetrip and dinner

 

Mt. Ulap Dayhike Itinerary

12:30 AM – Departure from Manila
6:00 AM – Arrival in Ampucao (register)
7:00 AM – Start of Hike
9:30 AM – Gungal Rocks
12:00 Noon – Summit
3:00PM – Arrival in Sta. Fe (traverse)
4:00 PM – Sidetrip in Baguio
4:30 PM – early dinner in Baguio
5:30 PM – Buy Pasalubong
6:00 PM – Back to Manila
11:00 PM – Arrival in Manila

Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail Contact and Difficulty

Difficulty according to Pinoy Mountaineer:  3/9 with Trail Class 1-3
Contact: Brgy. Ampucao Tourism – 0998-9589549 (also from Pinoy Mountaineer)
Elevation / Height : 1846 MASL
with  Grassland and Pine ridges, Sea of Clouds and cool temperature

 

Mt. Ulap Map

 

Mt Ulap Weather

For updates about the weather in Mt. Ulap, check this out – Itogon, Benguet Weather

 

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