Mt. Ulap – is located at Itogon, Benguet with a difficulty of 3/9 spanning around 8 kilometers. It is known for its stunning views, pine ridges and grasslands. It is very popular nowadays because of the cold weather around December to February. But hey! Before you make plans conquering Mt. Ulap be sure to prepare yourself with jaw dropping views and yes, The Sea of Crowd.
Last January 15, 2017 a huge pile of people in the register area of Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail greeted us and when I say HUGE it means around 300 people. Take note, we came as early as 4 am. Immediately, I notice the vans and cars all over the place. Since it’s just my second time to do hiking I’m still clueless about the crowd during hike especially weekends. But I know, it is not normal tho. Even when using the comfort room at the registration area the queuing is so long you can finish one episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
But the view is really worth it. The smell of pine trees, mountains, and fellow hikers. Just kiddin’. It took us 4 hours to reach the Gungal Rock. And EXPECT THE LONG LINES. We are the 23rd group in the waiting list and another twist is that the clearing is so unpredictable. Sometimes, you can see the view but most of the times it is foggy or cloudy. And luckily, we experienced the second one.
After 1 hour of waiting, we continued our walk. Another 2 hours and we reached the 3rd summit of Mt. Ulap! (1846 mAsl, 6.5 km). It was really a good hike because of the cold weather. The sun is not burning us and I saved a lot of water because of that.
But honestly, what really bothers me is that the number of people are getting way too big than the usual population. It is good that many people are acknowledging the beauty of hiking but I noticed some people are too loud, others are carrying portable speakers while trekking. I really want to have time with the nature and feel the beauty of the place but because of loud noises its hard to achieve that goal.
Some people are not aware of the basic etiquette while hiking. I really hope that the head of Mt. Ulap Eco Trail will make sure to control the crowd because in my experience, there are so many people that day and we ran out of local guides. Local guides are important during trekking because they will remind you what to do and what is not during the trek. Luckily, we have Kuya Son(our event organizer) as our guide, he is really knowledgeable in Mt. Ulap because of how many times he went there.
Lastly, I just want to leave a quote here about mountaineering from Goodreads.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir,
Maybe the reason why huge number of people are doing hiking. It is because they are all stress out and they want to find a place that is so unique and calming. Everybody wants to escape reality for a while. But we should not forget to respect the nature, locals, and other hikers.
Edit: Yesterday (January 31, 2017) , it was confirmed that local government will regulate the number of hikers per day.
Hungry for more,