Here I go hiking again.
I know I’ve said that hiking is not for me and I believe it still isn’t. But to Itogon, Benguet I went during the Chinese New Year long weekend to get some Heidi-of-the-Alps feels by climbing up Mt. Ulap. (I still don’t get why the tagalog version says that Heidi is the “anak pawis nang kabundukan” – someone explain to me what that phrase even means. Bakit anak-pawis?)
Ulap literally means cloud, so on our way there, there were talks of how maybe we’d get a glimpse of a sea of clouds (haven’t seen it before personally.) We’ve read that there’s a specific season for it and we knew we wouldn’t get to the peak until later in the afternoon so our expectations weren’t that high.
I guess we were lucky though as as we stopped by the famous Gungal Rock (see photo below) to have lunch and wait for our turn, we caught a sea of clouds forming at the distance until it actually reached and engulfed us. I tasted and touched a cloud for the first time, I’m so happy! (ps. it tastes like dust. yes, i really put my tongue out to get a taste once the clouds reached us. don’t judge me.)
Mt. Ulap is rated 3/9 in terms of difficulty which means it’s beginner-friendly and there’s a clear, easy to follow trail. The cold weather is also a plus. However, don’t forget to still prep. Exercise your muscles maybe a week prior to the climb. Get some sleep. Wear comfy clothes and shoes. Bring trail food. Drink vitamins and paracetamol after to avoid the common cold caused by drastic temperature changes while hiking. Gatorade (or any energy drink) was our best friend. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
I had this flawed logic thinking I wouldn’t need to apply much sunblock since it’s a cold place, especially at the peak. Only later, while nursing a sunburn, did I learn that it doesn’t matter if it’s chilly. The higher you are (ie. mountain), the closer you are to the sun which means UV rays are stronger. Hence, a chilly hike can get you worse burns than laying on the beach on a warm day. (Like I said, I’m not much of a hiker.)