One of the easiest hike in the Cordilleras is Mt. Ulap. It can be a day trip traverse from Barangay Ampucao, Itogon to Sta. Fe, Itogon . However I suggest that you experience both daytrip and overnight.
Since I am a Baguio resident, I am one of the first to hike the eco-trail. Back then, the trail was unestablished and the burial caves were open for viewing. To preserve its mummies and other artefacts, they are now off limits to hikers.
From Baguio City, take a jeep heading to Samoyao. There are Samoyao or Philex jeepneys parked across Baguio Patriotic School/SSS building/Caltex gas station downtown. Fare is 50 Php/head. Some jeep can take you directly to the barangay hall or covered court which is the registration area. Travel time is more or less 40 minutes from Baguio City.
Entrance fee is 100 Php per head while guide fee is 800 Php for a group of 8-10 persons.
A camping fee of 500 Php must be settled at the jump-off point.
Rent of tent is 200 Php good for 4 persons but I strongly suggest that you bring your own tent because these rented tents are publicly used. Having your own tent is a great long-term-invested for hygiene and comfort purposes. Also, they are beach tent without wind breakers and flysheet protection for rain or extreme cold. Bear in mind that the temperature in any mountain drops depending on the season. It can be unpredictably cold from the evening to dawn and extremely hot in the afternoon or the other way around. The stores at the campsite have the same tents rented out for 100 Php but not guaranteed especially during peak days.
If you are not picky with food, boiled eggs, chips and cup noodles are available at the mountain stores. You can also heat up some food or brew coffee with a cooking fee. In my case, I always bring marinated meat, hotdogs, pre-cooked meals and lots of coffee to enjoy the camp and fellowship.
TIP: Ziplocks are so useful for campers. You may create a trail mix of nuts, chips, chocolates and so on. I also use it for marinated meat and freeze it so it still stays fresh by the time I reach the summit. Bring your camp essentials like cookset, toiletries and warmers. Bonefire is permitted at Mt. Ulap designated campsites. It is still best to visit the place on off peak like weekdays. It can get noisy and crowded on weekends and holidays. If you are easily cold like me, grab an insulator at the nearest ACE hardware. You won’t be hassled carrying it since it is lightweight and serves a number of functions in survival. The grassland and campsite are moist; that should keep you dry.
BEWARE: Cows are agressive during night time. You might be terrified seeing a cow’s head on your tent vestibule or hear them eating your food especially chips! Avoid leaving anything edible outdoors and seal your salty food properly. Trust me, I’ve experienced chasing a runaway cow over a ziplock of boiled eggs and meat. According to the locals, they are fed salt for fluid retention. Avoid any form of contact with them and keep your tents CLOSED. They loiter all night long.
GUNGAL ROCK is similar to The Lion King’s bed rock where Simba was raised and hailed. It is considered the highlight of the hike as hiker queue for hours just to have a photo. If you are blessed with a great weather, you can get a heavenly shot just like this.
Hiking the ridge, you will see Philex Mines, its dam, Sto. Thomas, Mt.Ugo and so on. Mt. Ulap can be trekked for 4-6 hours depending on your pacing. It is undoubtedly the mini Mt. Ugo and a resemblance of Mt. Pulag due to the abundance of engulfing clouds. There are 7 peaks in the stretch of 8 kilometers. Find the best spots for summit-like-photos.
Here are other fascinating shots for photo junkies.
GUIDE: I have climbed this mountain several times mostly as my sweet escape. Try requesting for Mr. Lito Danao. He is an old funny man who is patient and kind. Contact him ahead of time so he can meet u at the registration site. Here is his number: +639397706070.
For an afterhike shower, there are available comfort rooms for 10 Php per head. There is a nearby store owned by Ms. Rona Camti. You may reach her at +639283964581 and rent her pick up truck to head back to Samoyao. Don’t risk your luck finding a jeep because most of them are full from Philex mines. You can also dine in their canteen or ask them to prepare “PINIKPIKAN” a cordilleran dish at a special cost of course. After returning the rented tents, wait for jeepneys going to Baguio for 50 Php/head.
Don’t rush into any summit. Play along the way and feel the beauty of God’s creations. I have been to so many mountains and what I learned is to enjoy every fascinating spot. Take photos and reminisce when you are back to the stressful work and look forward to your next adventure.
If you like my tent, contact Mr. Terry Villas for customized tents and other camping needs. Here are his numbers: +639194607150/+639165931910
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“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir