Hi everyone! A month ago, I was invited to do a complete traverse of Mt. Purgatory which passes through six different mountains. To be honest, this did not spark my interest at first because the mountains involved in the traverse do not offer great views as opposed to other Cordillera mountains (this initial assumption is based from all the photos I see online and my friends’ testimonies).
However, my friends also told me about how challenging trail is and this coupled with the fact that the traverse is part of my bucket list made me more excited to experience it firsthand.
Traverse Mountains: Mt. Mangagew, Mt. Pack (2290MASL), Mt. Purgatory (2080MASL), Mt. Bakian, Mt. Tangbaw, Mt. Komkompol (2329MASL)
Location: Bokod, Benguet
Trek to the 6th mountain: 10 hours
The climb was indeed a challenge in so many levels and this made completing it much more fulfilling. Read on below for the summary of our Purgatory story.
The next two tables show the group’s transportation details and cost-breakdown:
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||FARE||TOTAL PER PERSON (14 pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Bus||Cubao||Baguio||Php 450||Php 450||5hrs 30min|
|Rented Jeep||Baguio||Bokod, Benguet||Php 6,500||Php 465||1hr 40min|
|TOTAL||Php 915||7hrs 10min|
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||FARE||TOTAL PER PERSON (14 pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Rented Jeep||Bokod, Benguet||Baguio||–||–||1hr 45min|
|Bus||Baguio||Pasay||Php 455||Php 455||6hrs|
|TOTAL||Php 455||7hrs 45min|
|DESCRIPTION||AMOUNT||TOTAL PER PERSON (14pax)|
|Guide Fee (1:7, per day = Php500)||Php 2,000||Php 143|
|Home Stay (Mt. Tangbaw)||Php 700||Php 50|
|Registration Fee||Php 100||Php 100|
|Food Sharing, Groceries, Miscellaneous||Php 6,300||Php 450|
Contact person and number for the guides: John Buasan, Representative of Mt. Purgatory Guides (0948-359-8070)
SAFE BUDGET: Php2,600 – Php3,000
Our bus was scheduled to leave at 11:00PM and everyone arrived at least thirty minutes before the time of departure except for one member who happened to oversleep. Fortunately, he was able to arrive at exactly 10:59PM thereby securing his reserved seat. Lol.
I do not remember much about the travel except for the fact that I was asleep for almost the whole duration of the ride. Typical.
At around 4:30AM, we arrived at the bus terminal in Baguio City. I was already bracing myself for the cold temperature but as soon as I got off the bus, I was surprised that it was not as cold as I expected. After getting our bags, we went straight to our chartered jeep which was just parked across the terminal.
Because it was still early, everyone tried to sleep while on transit. However, because the way going to Benguet was mostly zigzagged and the road, really bumpy, some kept hitting their heads (me included) while the others kept feeling their stomachs turn. After about two hours, we got off at People’s Taste Restaurant in Bokod, Benguet where we ate our heavy breakfast before proceeding to the jump-off point.
When we got to the jump-off point, we saw several groups who were also scheduled to do the traverse. After doing our final preparations, we met with our two, female guides, ate Annalyn and ate Dominga and listened to a short orientation.
7 Leave No Trace Principles (As stated in the photo above, word for word)
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and Camp on durable surface
- Dispose waste properly. Trash and litter primarily distract from the naturalness of an area
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archeological artifacts and other objects as found to allow others to experience the sense of discovery
- Minimize use and impact of Fire. Firewood selection, gathering and use of fire tending are critical to minimizing its impact in the environment
- Respect the wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
After saying our prayers, we began with Mt. Purgatory-Mangisi Traverse.
Mountain 1 of 6: Mt. Mangagew
The trail was so straightforward, beginning in steep assaults that made everyone catch their breaths immediately. And because there were only minimal flat surfaces, we stopped over to rest at every waiting shed (technically, there were only two. Lol.)
We arrived at the first mountain after an hour and ten minutes. There was not much to see but the houses around and the mountain marker. We were just quick to take photos because we still had four more mountains to go to for the day.
Mountain 2 of 6: Mt. Pack
Because there are a lot of communities along the trail, it was evident for us to encounter a lot of adorable kids who were also kind enough to greet us as we passed by.
According to ate Pak (this is ate Annalyn who we decided to call ate Pak because she always says ‘Pak’ after taking a photo. Lol. Cute, right?), the second mountain is relatively far from the first one and we would have to eat lunch somewhere along the trail. And so, when we arrived at Duacan after two hours, we settled down for lunch alongside other groups as well.
Ahh, resuming our trek after a long rest was difficult because our bags and eyes felt heavier. Zzz. Good thing that the trail; although steep, was not as tiring because of the cool breeze that we felt due to the presence of abundant pine trees. After this part of the trail, we entered the first mossy forest. I got a bit nervous during this part because the trail was muddy and moist and I feared for the presence of leeches. Ate Pak; however, assured us that there are none in any of the six mountains.
Continuing one step at a time, we finally arrived at Mt. Pack. From here, different mountain ranges can be seen including those in the Nueva Vizcaya region and the nearby Mt. Pulag. The group just snapped a couple of photos before proceeding to the third mountain which is said to be just about 3kms away from Mt. Pack.
Mountain 3 of 6: Mt. Purgatory
This was probably the longest 3kms of my life by far. We had to pass through a seemingly long stretch of mossy forest. It was still early (around 2:30PM), but for some reason, fog enveloped the trail making it look eerily enchanting. We talked about how this was the perfect setting for horror/thriller movies and talking about it made us move quicker.
Somewhere along the trail I, unfortunately, stepped on a moving rock which made me slip and (mildly) twist my ankle. I did not feel any pain at first but as we continued trekking, I found it harder and harder to put weight on my foot. It was a good thing that I was part of the sweeper team because I did not have to worry about keeping up with the pace of those in front.
After about an hour and twenty minutes, we finally arrived at Mt. Purgatory (and to think that was just 3kms??? I beg to differ. Lol.). On a clear day, hikers can see the view of the Cordillera mountain range from here but during our hike, the mountains were mostly covered in fog.
[Note: The reason why the mountain is called ”Purgatory” might probably be because of the cold temperature and the eerily beautiful trail that hikers need to pass to get here]
Mountain 4 of 6: Mt. Bakian
Passing through yet another mossy forest was not as bad because everyone took their time taking photos along the trail. Added bonus was the fact that there were no signs of leeches anywhere.
[Trivia: The reason why wood (used in trails for steps/bridges) can still survive in high altitudes is because of the presence of Sulfur Dioxide – according to our Environmentalist hikemate]
I sighed in relief as we got out of the mossy forest. Continuing straight, we arrived at Mt. Bakian where we saw a bunch of huts around and some hikers with tents set up. This mountain serves as one of the campsites of the whole traverse and the huts can apparently be rented too.
Mountain 5 of 6: Mt. Tangbaw
Finally en route to our last mountain for the day! By this time, I was already exhausted coming from my mild ankle situation. This was also when I finally decided to use my trekking pole. During this time as well, the sweeper team got divided into two with four of us in front and another four at the back. And somewhere along the way, we got a bit lost so initially, we decided to wait for the other four to catch up. One of us jokingly shouted “Help!” and surprisingly, someone came to our aid after a couple of minutes. This local pointed us to the right way going to Mt. Tangbaw so we got up, thanked her and resumed our trek. Lol we were not expecting that at all.
The last part going to the fifth mountain was a steep assault and I had to endure this despite my aching ankle. I was just being powered by my sheer will to get to the campsite, to be honest. When we got to Mt. Tangbaw, we proceeded to our pre-rented home-stay which was just in front of the water source and beside the bathroom. Great location, right?
The house we stayed in is divided into two floors. The girls stayed upstairs while the boys, downstairs. As the girls settled down, the boys prepared dinner. Yaay! We had Adobo (courtesy of Jervine) and Sinigang (courtesy of Rayford) and rice (courtesy of Arnel) for dinner.
This was the major climb where I had the most comfortable sleep! It was cold but not too cold that I had to wear a lot of layers.
It was around 5:30AM when we got up to prepare for the trek to the 6th mountain. And because we were going back to the campsite before completely descending, we decided to leave our full packs and just bring our assault packs.
Mountain 6 of 6: Mt. Komkompol
The first part of the trail is open which enabled us to see a great view of the Cordillera mountains and the sea of clouds surrounding them. We took our time with photo ops before proceeding to the next part of the trail, that’s right, another mossy forest.
This time, it was easier to trek and manoeuvre around the trees because we only had ourselves and our assault packs to worry about. Surprisingly though, we still had to catch our breaths every now and then because of the steep trail (and probably because we still have not eaten breakfast. Lol.)
After about an hour, we reached the view point of Mt. Komkompol and immediately, the guys gave one of our hikemates a surprise birthday treat. Sweet! Happy birthday, Bless!
Personally, among the six mountains, I like this best because of the mountain views it gave us. This was also the mountain where we stayed longest because everyone kept taking photos.
Descending this mountain was a breeze since it was mostly downhill. During descent, we encountered a lot of hikers who were just ascending. It was a good thing that we started early because the view point is not as spacious.
As soon as we got back to our home-stay, we ate our breakfast: salted red egg, sopas, and some leftover from last night. Thank you to the boys for taking such good care of the girls!
After everyone was done repacking their bags, we bade farewell to the locals and started with our descent.
The first part of the trail was my favorite because it was surrounded by abundant pine trees which made the atmosphere really relaxing. Moreover, this was the kind of trail where hikers would enjoy running. And so running we did. Fortunately, my ankle was not hurting anymore and my hikemate lent me his knee support so I was able to join in on the fun of running down the mountain.
The second part was more taxing because aside from the fact that there were no more pine trees around, the trail was open thereby exposing us to the heat of the sun. Furthermore, it was the slippery kind of trail made up of tiny rocks and loose soil so everyone had to be extra careful.
The last part was the most tiring (and the most annoying lol) because aside from the fact that the road was a steep incline, it was also cemented making it more difficult for us to descend and ascend. Also, because there was a construction ongoing, our rented jeepney cannot go to the supposed “pick-up point” so we had to walk a kilometer more to where it was parked.
Everyone has already descended around 1:00PM. After we have settled down inside the jeepney, we congratulated each other for a successful climb while on transit to Bokod Municipal Hall to log-out. This was also where our two guides bade farewell. Goodbye and thank you ate Dominga and ate Pak, I mean ate Annalyn!
And finally, we went back to People’s Taste Restaurant (where we had our breakfast on the first day) to eat lunch and take that glorious and refreshing bath before heading back to Baguio.
Strolling Around Baguio
We got back to Baguio around 5:15PM. Since our return ticket back to Manila was scheduled at 8:30PM, we still had a couple of more hours to spare. We first left our bags at the bus terminal and went to Session Road to eat dinner. After that, we went to the market to buy pasalubong. It was my first time to go to and see Baguio’s (wet) market where we found all sorts of goodies ranging from the usual strawberries, ube jam and peanut brittle to fresh and cheap fruits and vegetables to even the famous coffee beans. I actually bought 1/4kg of Sagada coffee beans for my family which I still have yet to try.
It was around 8:00PM when we boarded the bus back to Manila. I was asleep for almost the entire trip back (because you know me, I like to sleep lol). And so that completes the story of another Cordillera climb with the team.
Really thrilled that I was able to complete another major hike after three months! I would like to extend my gratitude to the following people for this great and fun climb would not be possible without them:
Rayford. Thank you for inviting me, for cooking the yummy sinigang and sopas and for all the entertaining stories you told me during the trek!
Robin. Thanks for checking up on me every now and then and for all the funny insults along the trail.
Jervine. Thank you for lending me your knee support and for making sure I was still okay after that minor ankle sprain and for the yummy adobo!
Bless. Happy birthday! Thank you for staying with me throughout most of the trek!
Bianca. Thank you for being part of the sweeper team (aka berks) eventually and for being patient with all the photo ops I wanted along the trail.
Ian. Thank you for all the stories you shared along the mossy forests!
Arnel. Thank you for being the life of the group and for cooking the rice!
And to my new friends, Tintin, Donjie, Leo, Jo, Ran and Chris. Thank you for the great company and for sharing your trail food!
Tips and Observations
- Most parts of the mossy forests have stair-like pathways made up of logs which can hurt your feet eventually
- There are several water sources along the trail. Refill your containers accordingly.
- The trail will be purely assaults until Mt. Pack and rolling (mix of assaults, flat surfaces and downward sloping terrains) until Mt. Komkompol
- Hikers can opt to get either a hut (Mt. Bakian) or home-stay (Mt. Tangbaw) if they do not want to bring tents. However, they need to reserve this prior to their hike-proper.
- A lot of habal-habal are present along the trail and hikers can opt to ride this to the campsite and back.
- Have proper training before doing any major climbs.
- Network signal is present in most parts of the trail
Below is a really beautiful video summary of our Mt. Purgatory-Mangisi Traverse which will make anyone want to do the traverse. This is courtesy of Jervine:
11:00PM – ETD Victory Liner Cubao Terminal
4:30AM – ETA Baguio City
5:40AM – ETD Baguio going to Bokod, Benguet
7:20AM – ETA Bokod, Benguet. Eat breakfast.
8:30AM – ETA jump-off point. Do final preparations.
9:00AM – Start trek
10:10AM – ETA Mt. Mangagew
12:15PM – ETA Duacan. Eat lunch.
1:00PM – Resume trek
2:00PM – ETA Mt. Pack
3:30PM – ETA Mt. Purgatory. Rest.
4:00PM – Resume trek
5:10PM – ETA Mt. Bakian
5:40PM – ETA Mt. Tangbaw. Rest. Socials.
5:30AM – Wake-up call
6:30AM – Start trek
7:30AM – ETA Mt. Komkompol
8:30AM – Start descent back to campsite
9:15AM – ETA campsite. Eat breakfast and pack up.
10:45AM – Start descent
12:45PM – ETA pick up point
1:30PM – ETA Bokod Municipal Hall. Log out.
2:00PM – Eat lunch and take a bath
3:30PM – ETD Bokod, Benguet
5:15PM – ETA Baguio City
8:20PM – ETD Baguio City
2:30AM – ETA Manila
Things to Bring
- Jackets (fleece, thermal, windstopper)
- Bonnet/Head Wear
- Extra socks
- Layers and change of clothes
- Emergency Blanket
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste
- Tissue, wet wipes
- Sun block
- Plastic bags (for trash, dirty clothes, gadgets and to be used as mats)
- Medicine (Paracetamol, Loperamide, Ibuprofen, Loratidine, Phenylpropanolamine HCl/decongestants, etc.)
- Trail Food (biscuits, chips, candies, chocolates, etc)
- Water (at least 2L)
- Lunch, dinner and breakfast food (talk to your group about the arrangement)
- Bag Rain Cover
- Baby Oil
- Salt (to prevent muscle cramps/spasms)
- Trekking Pole
- Earth Pad
- Mess Kit (Plate, Spoon, Fork, Cup)
My friends were right when they said the six mountains do not really offer stunning views. However, what made this worthwhile was the trail itself which consisted of enchanting mossy forests and abundant pine trees among others. Moreover, it did not rain all throughout our hike as well so we were able to fully appreciate what the mountains had to offer on a clear and sunny day.
Glad to have ticked this traverse off my bucket list! Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe all throughout the hike!
Hope to see you on the trails!