Thinking Out Cloud at Mount Ulap (+ 2-Day Trip Itinerary to Benguet)

“Wherever you go, be the soul of that place…” - Rumi

I always tell my friends that Rumi must be meant to be born ahead of us and figured everything out so we don't have to find words for our life realizations.

If you want to take a break from the chaos of life and enjoy the relaxing view of mountains while reflecting on the depth and serenity of the present, Mount Ulap is the place to go!

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by dozens of mountain climbers, travel enthusiasts, and a bunch of broken hearts who want to shout their lungs out in the sea of clouds. The vehicles were entering and leaving the area like ants heading on opposite directions. And the climbers, full of hopes and excitements, were stranded in the legion of adventure-seekers waiting for their turn to get lost in the long walk closer to the clouds. 

We arrived at 9 am, and we were able to register at 2 pm – that’s how costly purpose finding is.  So we burned the 5 hours chitchatting about each other’s lives, talking about what we could have been doing had we not held ourselves under the cleaves of capitalism, of taking experiences on the side and selfies on the front.

For this trip, I personally came up with 8 #truthbombs about mountain climbing:

8 Facts About Mountain Climbing

1) You shouldn't find purpose in mountains, but you might be able to reflect on one!

I came across many people who ridicule traveling by saying that travelers are escapists of their fucked up realities. The truth is, life couldn't get any sexier than seeing the other side of it. For me, traveling is a privilege, but comes with it is the responsibility to learn, explore, respect, have fun and to simply break free. 

Sure, mountain climbing, and just like any other travel activity, isn't the answer to everything. I don't think people climb for the purpose of escaping their realities. But pursuing mountains give to certain extent that peace of mind when everything seems to be running so fast and you can't dance to the fast beat of life.

2) The mountain is your unexpected runway.

I joined this trip without any clear idea of how cold our destination could get.  I just grabbed my bag and even brought with me all of my gadgets. It was a knee-jerk decision to jump in when I realized that I won't be doing anything over the weekend. And upon arriving in the meet-up place, my friends were a bit surprised that I showed up. Good news welcomed me: there's one climber who backed out, which means there's one slot remaining for me.

Lesson: Arrange your trip and inform the organizers. 

.... and because I don't have any idea how cold Mount Ulap could get, my clothes were just overnight clothes in the metro. Some of our companions were even asking if I'm really part of the climbing group, since I'm not wearing any typical mountain clothes. But the mountain became a runway and everything turned out in a good way.

3) Resource-sharing (e.g. food, tent, gears, etc.) is the ultimate test of friendship.

Have you ever realized that wherever you go, it isn't always about the destination, but it's always about who you're with. Whatever you do, wherever you are, if you're not in a state of appreciation and your mind is juggling thoughts from nowhere, you won't be at peace in appreciating the beauty of your destination.

So always, always... think about who you're traveling with. Do you share the same values? Are you comfortable sharing some resources to your friends? Be the companion that you yourself would want to have, and your trip will be lighter and more enjoyable a hundred fold.

4) 90% of the climbers are there for the pictures, 10% are there for the experience.

Our walk towards the summit was a bit slowed down by other travelers who would want their photos taken almost every 10 steps forward. But it's not annoying, and like what I've said, it's about the journey. I'm happy to know people are more appreciative of what nature has to offer, including the beautiful scenery in the background. And if you can't fight against it, learn to dance with it. So we took a lot of photos too!

5) You will sometimes think that this trek will not end forever. And you will start asking why you went there in the 1st place.

6) Once you reach the summit, you’re pretty much convinced that this is worth it...

UNTIL…. It finally dawns to you that you still have to walk your way down from that summit. Why don’t we have ziplines from mountain summits to the base camp anyway?

But this view is worth it right?

7) You will gain new friends after this trip.

One of the most rewarding parts of traveling is getting to know other people who share the passion and love for travel. It spikes me up whenever I encounter someone who has an amazing thirst for life, and what it has to offer. The world could never be more singular, linear and monotonous than it is to just live in our comfort zones.

And as I fondly share, yes, your body is a temple, but I choose to make mine an amusement park. Life is too short to take life seriously. So let's explore beaches, chase sunsets, climb mountains, swim in waterfalls, and many other things.

8) You will thank the inventor of powerbank, without having the nuts to know who he is. Who is he by the way?

If you want to know more about the history of powerbank, here's the link: https://bit.ly/2rqRGNu

Always make time for trip preparation. On my case, I wasn't able to prepare for this trip because this is just a random decision to hop in. For me, my non-negotiables are laptop, phones, chargers, powerbank, and other tech-related stuff that will ensure I am connected to my clients all the time. Since I'm on an on-call arrangement with all my clients, I barely travel to areas with low to zero internet connectivity.

PRO-TIP: Identify your travel non-negotiables (could be things-to-bring, values, etc.) and stick with them.

So those are some of my realizations in this trip. 

For those who are interested, here is our two-day itinerary organized by Jerah Neil Insuya Lagrimas.


Two-Day Trip Itinerary (Mt. Ulap - Ampucao to Sta. Fe Ridge, Itogon, Benguet)

Entry point: Brgy. Ampucao, Itogon

Exit point: Brgy. Sta. Fe, Itogon
LLA: 16.2904 N, 120.6312 E, 1846 MASL (Mt. Ulap)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-3 hours
Specs: Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3,
Features: Grassland and pine ridges, scenic views of the Cordilleras, burial caves

Damage rate: P2,500.00


*Guide fee
* Camping fee
* meal (day 1 dinner day 2 breakfast)
* drinks and pulutan

* Other Camping gear


-Rain Jacket/ Waterproof Jacket
- Thermal Gloves
- Trekking Pants (Quick Dry), Trekking Shorts
-  Trekking Shoes, Light Sandals or Slipper 
-Fleece Jacket/ Wind Stopper Jacket
-Base Layer
-Poncho (Just in case Umulan) -Bonnet/ Head Wear
-Extra Socks
-Plastic/ Garbage Bag (for Water proofing)
-Mess Kit (Plate, Spork)
-Flashlight or Head Lamp
-Extra Batteries
-Toiletries (Tissue, Wet Wipes, etc)
-Trail Water
-Trail Food
-Sleeping Bag
-Earth pad 
-First Aid Kit

Note: 50% down payment to secure your slot.
BPI Savings account


Two-Day Trip Itinerary (Mt. Ulap - Ampucao to Sta. Fe Ridge, Itogon, Benguet)

Day 1 

2am Assembly Cubao Farmers, Jollibee along EDSA

3am ETD to Baguio City
7am ETA Sison Resto snack
9am ETD going to Ampucao for Brgy. registration / lunch
10am Start trek
12pm lunch sa trail
1pm Gungol Rock, Photo Opportunities
3pm Set up camp
5pm Prepare Dinner
7pm Dinner, socials
10pm Lights off

Day 2

5 am Sunrise Viewing 
7am Breakfast
9am Descend
11am ETD Sta. Fe exit point, washed up
1pm Lunch at Hiker's Den
2pm ETD going back to Baguio
3pm ETA Baguio, free time 
6pm ETD going to Manila
12mn ETA Manila Cubao drop off point


Connect with our team, The Traveler's Lifestyle, and we can help you organize your trip.


Twitter: @GabrielBillones
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#benguet #mountainclimbing #travel #philippines #explorephmountains mountulap

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