Thursday, February 1, 2007

This is the forest primeval...

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
--(from Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
BAGUIO CITY'S PANAGBENGA annual flower festival is in full swing not far from where I am blogging this on Session Road where a large concentration of Internet Cafes and game rooms offer high quality connections than can be had for as lil as P10/hour). My trek to Mount Pulag starts in just a few hours when we leave for Ambangeg at the foot of the tallest peak of Luzon Island (9950 ft above sea level). Parts of this mountain, which is in a well-protected and expertly maintained national park (kudos to Ranger Miring Tamiray and her dedicated co-workers for this!) are truly primeval with trees as wide around as anything I saw in Yosemite's Old Sequoia Grove (California). Though not as tall as other mountains I've hiked, I don't think any are as enchanting. Rare among Philippine peaks, Pulag (sometimes spelled Pulog), features four distinct ecological zones not found on most others. First, there is the lowland type of forest common everywhere in the Archipelago dominated by shrubs and smaller trees. Second, between about 2500 feet and 7500 feet elevation one encounters the Benguet pine zone such as many tourists are familiar with around Baguio City and throughout the Cordillera region. Third, above 7500 feet one encounters what is called the Enchanted Forest where the green pines give way to a mossy oak forest full of gold and purple and maroon and the deeper shades of veridian. Here there is rich diversity of flora and fauna, including the famed Cloud Rat (a dog sized rodent which I've luckily only encountered stuffed!). Flowers, mushrooms, ferns, and shrubs flourish with indescribable beauty and profusion in an Eden-like setting that the local Kankanaey and Ibalois peoples consider to be the physical location of heaven. Finally, above 9200 feet elevation, the trees disappear and the broad, wide open prairie of an Alpine Grassland seems to go on forever all the way to the edge of space, extending all the way up to the peak of the mountain.

Before its famed and sought after sunrise, where an orange sea of clouds is to be seen far BELOW the ecstatic observers, there are the STARS, millions of them, peering down on us who would come closer to them as we would to God--with awe and reverence.

6 comments:

Marcus Aurelius said...

If you take pix of the Ifuago make sure you agree to a deal and get it in writing first!

When we there in JA of '06 we agreed to use & pay for their hats for some photos. They jumped into the photo uninvited and then demanded $. Negotiations ensued and a deal was struck.

Amadeo said...

Dean:

When you are done with all this, knowing your love of the mountains please consider a similar trip to the heights of Mt. Kitanglad and its range in Bukidnon.

Very little is known about it so maybe a little visit from you could spark some lively interest and attention to it.

We can see and feel its majestic presence from where our little farm is, forever foreboding but still inviting.

Bukidnon should rival the cool temperatures up there in that mountain province you are in.

Good luck and happy hunting, Hiawatha.

Marcus Aurelius said...

A little more serious commentary about my trip to Baguio. Mornings were absolutely glorious! The sun would shine brightly and the air was a touch cool (being the outside temp of where I am at now is -17°C +1°F) but not really. With the sun it was downright pleasant.

However, the afternoon would bring clouds, fog, and drizzly rain. That wasn't so nice.

Rizalist said...

We measured -2 degrees Fahrenheit Friday evening at Camp 2. On the peak the next morning it was definitely lower than that but we forgot the thermometer in the dark, coz trekkers now are prohibited from camping there and must get up at 4am for a night hike to the Final Assault. Hehe, I was the oldest summiteer among the 40 or so people on the mountain that day. (Although I noticed a seven year old girl making it up there too!). The moon was gorgeously full though, so we didn't even have to use our headlamps along the trail to the top. The sunrise was not as beautiful as I've seen it in the past because of an overcast sky, but the silence was golden...

the jester-in-exile said...

glad you had a great time, djb.

though i must say (as a born-and-bred non-cordilleran kafagway native) i miss the days when my hometown was exactly that: a small town, unsullied by henry sy, et al.

clifftracker said...

i've been to that place and happy to sa y. Its a grandeur place being on top of the summit. Pictures at http://www.cliffinthecity.com

Thanks!