Author: Sir Kevin Jason Sarfati Manuel
Photos by: sir kevin Jason Sarfati Manuel
Napulauan is a mountain i’ve always been curious about ever since mountaineers have mentioned it with gentle reverence — and now i think i know why.
from the get-go, monumental rice terraces question your existence with an unshakable presence that speaks of the almost super-human nature of the people who carved them with the barest of tools.
then the ascent starts, and never ends. unforgiving.
it’s almost easy to compare napulauan with pulag’s akiki trail. but to do that is a mistake. in fact, i now believe that comparing mountains and trails is an insult. each mountain is unique, and poses its own challenges.
napulauan’s forest is the most pristine i’ve ever walked through. you need to experience it first-hand to know just how clean and amazing it is. this is partly due to the minimal number of climbers that dare to take on napulauan. sir cj had said that of the three times he has summit napulauan, there has not been a single time that they were with another group on the trail.
following a two-day itinerary, we made haste and were barely able to get to the summit-camp before dark. and getting there demanded strength from within that only comes with dire needs.
the night first brought frigid winds that seeped to the bone. we were incredibly thankful that the rain only fell after we had set-up camp and ate dinner. but when it did fall, the rain was so immense that our tent would have been flooded if not for the tarp that covered part of the ground up-slope.
morning greeted us with a clearing that we never could deserve. an all-around view of the cordillera regions and its majestic mountains. it’s times like this that make me feel good to have been born and raised in baguio — a son of the northern mountains that cannot bear the cold anymore.
the morning sun helped us dry most of the rain from our gear. and we needed all the help we could get to negotiate the trail down to hapao.
the forest trails were incredibly narrow and fraught with obstacles that made progress a hard-earned matter. thankfully, my girlfriend is even tougher than i am. and there is nothing more awesome than having a girlfriend that could totally surpass you on the trails.
adding to the difficulty was the slipperiness. i cannot count how many times i nearly fell on my ass. patience was an essential quality that was needed.
the trail was dotted with purple orchids that held their own against the deep-green background of moss. we even spotted a very colorful land-crab.
after some time of trying to keep up with the people in front of me, we reached the ride terraces of hapao that signaled the end of the trail.
unfortunately, the trail had been fashioned to become stair-like. it really took its toll on my knees. in fact, my body has not hurt this bad for a long time. the pain is a reminder how frail our bodies really are. discounting the obvious flu, of course.
the trip back to banaue was made inconvenient due to the numerous land-slides that needed clearing by way of heavy equipment. good thing we made it back in time for our bus.
many thanks for sir cj and the team that allowed us to join their amazing climb.
photos were taken using a fujifilm xp200.