Jumpoff: Japas, Bokod, Benguet
Exit: Ekip, Bokod, Benguet
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days / 9-11 Hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, mossy forests, Views of Mt. Pulag, Mt. Ugo, Mt. Salingsing, Mt. Timbak, Mt. Ulap
Perhaps one of the most exciting mountains to visit in the Codillera region is Mt. Purgatory. What made the hike more interesting is the idea of traversing through six peaks that comprise of several mountain ranges.
Sandwiched between Mt. Ugo and Mt. Pulag, this northern mountaineering gem contributes to the beauty of the region. With it’s “living trails”, cool mossy forests, and spectacular views, I can say that Mt. Purgatory is one of the Philippine hiking destinations that is worth going back to.
Day 1: Japas Jumpoff to Mt. Mangagew
We arrived at the jumpoff at 8am. Our guide gave us a short briefing about the trails and what to expect along the way. He also pointed out the essentials such as resting spots and water sources.
We were expected to reach the Mt. Tangbaw camp site (seond to the last peak in our itinerary) at late afternoon. With our hiking gear and food supplies being carried by a porter, we started to trek along the pine-forested trails.
One thing that I like about Mt. Purgatory is the resting spots that are almost everywhere. The hike is quite long, like that of Mt. Pulag’s Akiki trail minus the technical parts, and you get to enjoy the views even more because you have plenty of time to recuperate.
Another reason why we had fun along the long hike was because of our guide. He was very informative and eager to tell stories as we moved along. What made it more hilarious was how he took photos of us. He shouts “1… 2… PAK!” every time he clicked the shutter, making us look happier in the pictures. This made us decide to all him Kuya Pak.
We have also noticed that Mt. Purgatory has several small communities along its path. A neighborhood of a few dozens of families reside all over the mountain range and they have an almost complete access to different livelihood and structures such as schools, stores, and churches.
We reached the first peak after about an hour. In spite the altitude, Mt. Mangagew appears to be a resting spot with a marker in it instead of a summit. Several houses were also all over. We continued the hike along the “living trails” towards the second mountain.
Hike to Mt. Pack
The views never ceased to amaze us as the pathway unfolded several features. Rice terraces, ranges of green slopes, and tree-riddled mountains. We also noticed that there are power lines for the locals and an irrigation for water supply. I couldn’t believe they have managed to install such infrastructure in this high place.
What I like about the locals are how friendly they are. They greet you with big smiles as you pass by them.
We have noticed that the trail was getting steeper as we moved forward. The sun’s heat was also taking a toll on us making us stop and take a rest several times.
The trails at this point lacked shade from the sun but it made up for its stunning views of Benguet. Mt. Purgatory has a lot to offer when it comes to breathtaking viewpoints. The mountain never failed to amaze us since we started at the jumpoff until we reached this point.
Mossy Forest to Mt. Pack
We continued the trek as the trails got more dense. There were several times when we had to brush off grasses and bushes just to get through. We then found our way to the first mossy forest before reaching Mt. Pack summit.
The environment got a bit cooler as we were enveloped by trees and green mosses that hung from the branches,. The trail was also well-structured. Several wood were laid out as steps and the soil wasn’t too muddy. It was an enjoyable hike and it was a good break from the sun’s scorching heat from moments ago.
We have reached the summit of Mt. Pack after midday. I think Mt. Pack is the most interesting peak among the ranges of Mt. Purgatory because it lies in the border of Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya. There is no borderline on the ground but there is a marker that indicates the boundary of the two provinces.
It’s amazing to think that you’re standing on two places at once while you’re on top of a mountain.
Second Mossy Forest to Mt. Purgatory
We continued the traverse going through another mossy forest which I found a bit longer compared to the first one. The sun was up again which permeated through the trees but the cool atmosphere helped a lot in conserving our energies.
After several hikes and rests, we made it to the top of Mt. Purgatory by mid afternoon.
To Mt. Bakian
The group left the summit of Mt. Purgatory after a few minutes. The cloudy weather was a contrast to the heat of the morning sun as we continued to Mt. Bakian.
We were literally enveloped by thick clouds and since it was almost late afternoon, the weather got a bit colder. I decided to take advantage of this and moved a little bit faster in order for us not to get caught by the dark.
We quickly made it to the marker of Mt. Bakian. This part of the mountain range is almost similar to Mt. Managew because there are several houses lined up. We took another rest in front of one of the stores while some of my friends asked for a cup of hot coffee.
Mt. Tangbaw Campsite/Bunker Houses
We have reached the campsite at around 5pm. It was dark and foggy when we arrived so we decided to prepare dinner and settle down.
Our guide lead us to a bunker complete with a makeshift fireplace, kitchen utensils, and wood for fire. Je, our organizer and a good friend was nice enough to bring a couple of shrimps, vegetables and beef for a sumptuous dinner. Before we knew it, he was busy cooking bulalo and spicy shrimp for the group. Legend!
Stuffed, we prepared for bed time at around 9pm. What made the place colder was the sudden rain that night. I found a comfortable spot beside the fire place to warm me up and sleep soundly.
Day 2: Ascend to Mt. Komkompol
Unlike the other peaks that we crossed the day before, we have to take a different trail in order to reach Mt. Komkompol. We left our things and headed straight to the summit and decided to have breakfast upon our return to the bunker.
We reached the final summit from the bunker in about 40 minutes. Aside from a view of Mt. Pack on the opposite side, Mt. Komkompol also has its fair share of interesting vistas. The mountainous Codillera ranges and even an amazing view of Mt. Pulag’s summit facing Ambangeg trail can be seen from the top.
Descend to Barangay Ekip
We went back to the camp site to have breakfast and get our things to continue our hike. Just when I thought the wonders of Mt. Purgatory was over, we were surprised to see more of what it had to offer as we made the descent.
After a leisurely walk along the pine forests, we noticed that the trail got steeper which challenged our knees and toes. We made sure to be more careful with our steps at this point.
We were surprised to see more of Benguet’s beauty as we went farther. The weather was excellent which made the views look like it came from a Windows wallpaper. It was just breathtaking to see such a magnificent sight as we concluded our trek.
After several photo ops and a long and winding hike going down the straight, paved path to barangay Ekip, we made our way to our last stop where we waited for our transportation and cleaned ourselves up before heading back to Manila.
Mt. Purgatory is the type of hiking destination where you might dismiss the idea of visiting when you’re in the city, but will make you fall in love with the place once you get a chance to traverse its trails.
I like the way it unfolds its natural wonders as you move along, especially for a first timer who does not have any idea of what to expect yet. Another fact is that it may be a long hike but it is not as difficult compared to other Codillera mountains.
With its long and less technical trails, and features that is truly breathtaking, Mt. Purgatory is one northern hot spot that is worth visiting.
- Mt. Pack: 2,290 MASL
- Mt. Purgatory: 2,080 MASL
- Mt. Komkompol: 2,329 MASL
- “Mt. Purgatory” was coined by an american logger named Durham Hale Bennet. He compared the hike’s difficulty and atmosphere to that of being in Purgatory.
- Mt. Pack is named after William Pack. He was the governor of Benguet back in 1901.
- 10pm: Assembly area (Greenfield EDSA Shaw Blvd.)
- 11pm: Etd to Baguio
- 1st stop over: Sison, Pangasinan
- 4am: Eta Baguio town proper
- 6am: Eta Bokod junction – breakfast
- 8am: Japas jump off
- 8:30am: Start hike
- 9:30am: Mt. Mangagew
- 11:30am: Mt. Pack
- 3:30pm: Mt. Purgatory
- 4:30: Mt. Bakian
- 5:30pm: Mt. Tangbaw – Campsite
- 7pm: Dinner
- 5am: Wake-up call
- 5:30am: Ascend to Mt. Kokompol
- 7am: descend to campsite
- 8am: Breakfast
- 9am: Start descent
- 1pm: ETA Brgy. Ekip
- 2:30pm: Bokod Junction – Late lunch
- 5pm: Baguio city proper
- 6pm: ETD to Manila
- 12mn: ETA EDSA Shaw Blvd.
- Registration/Environmental fee 100php
- Guide fee 500php/day (1 guide/7pax)
- Porter fee P500php/day
- Bunker house 500php/night (10 pax) + 50php for every exceeding pax.
- Bokod Tourism Office: 09104125816 / 09074466444