Mount Komkompol, Philippines
Prominence: 0 m, 0 ft
Elevation: 2329 meters, 7641 feet
Approx. Isolation: 10.39 km, 6.45 mi
|Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)||16° 30' 16'' N, 120° 53' 15'' E|
16.504372, 120.887502 (Dec Deg)
|State/Province||Cagayan Valley (II)|
|County/Second Level Region||Nueva Vizcaya|
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|Nestled between two of the major Cordillera mountains – Mt. Pulag and Mt. Ugo – are the lesser-known but very beautiful peaks of Bokod, Benguet. In the past year, the municipality of Bokod with various hikers joined together to establish a trail going through these peaks, forming what is now called the ‘Mt. Purgatory Traverse’. This article is based on my hike up the mountain from December 28-29, 2012.|
Doubtless, it is the evocative power of its name, Purgatory, that arouses curiosity and ultimately draws hikers to see what this hiking trail has to offer. Mt. Pack, one of the, if not the highest peak in the trail, is the one that mapmakers highlight, and perhaps Mt. Komkompol, being of the same height as Pack. However, it seems to be the locals’ wish for the whole trail to be labelled the ‘Mt. Purgatory Traverse’ and so we will adopt this naming, with the caveat that we wish for the whole trail to be seen as a circuit rather than a single-peak traverse, similar to the versions of the Kibungan Circuit.
The first part of the Mt. Purgatory Traverse involves an eight-kilometer hike from the Japas jump-off to the summit of Mt. Pack, 2290 MASL. The trail features pine forests and mountain roads that, had they been established enough, would have enabled jeepneys to pass through. It is very much reminiscent of the early parts of the Amgbangeg Trail, or Mt. Ugo. After 5 kilometers, the trail will transition into mossy forest, and become a bit steep though well-established throughout.
From Mt. Pack, it takes 2.5 kilometers to reach the peak or viewpoint called ‘Mt. Purgatory’. It used to be a relay station during the American period; and it was the Americans assigned there who found the cold, forbidding weather to be akin to ‘being in purgatory’, leading to the christening of the peak as such. However, it did not seen to be a distinct mountain from Mt. Pack. Near Mt. Purgatory, the village of Mangisi has a campsite where hikers on a three-day itinerary usually stay.From Mt. Purgatory, the trail goes on through the mossy forest, which at times seem endless but whose beauty is enthralling enough to sustain your interest and keep going. Finally, you will reach Aponan junction, which has a waiting shed, and if you head left, the Bakian Elementary School is very near, and this for its part is the traditional campsite for a two-day hike.
Past Bakian, the alternation of pine and mossy forests continue, and in the former, clearings and viewpoints offer the opportunity to glimpse at some of Benguet’s prominent peaks: Mt. Sto. Tomas (W), Mt. Timbak (NW), the looming presence of Mt. Pulag (N), and southeast to Pulag, Mt. Salingsing (NE), a possible bridge between Purgatory and Pulag in what would be a fantastic traverse.
Eventually, the hiker will reach Mt. Komkompol, the final peak in the range. There are actually two other named ‘mountains’ or ‘peaks’ in the maps issued by the municipality but they are more of viewpoints rather than actual or distinct mountains.
From Komkompol, the trail is mostly pine trees. Amazingly, the trail is well-established throughout the entire ‘traverse’. However, the final 4-5 kilometers requires you to walk through a rough road that is almost (but not quite) accessible to jeepneys. At the end, the jeepney will take you back to Bokod proper, and then back to Baguio City.
In all, because of its beautiful pine forests typical of the Cordilleras and an unusually long stretch of mossy forest unusual for the other treks in the area, the Mt. Purgatory Traverse is a highly-recommended trek in Benguet, and paves the way for possible, future long distance connection to and from Ugo and Pulag.
© Pinoy Mountaineer
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