I think I lack a bit of sleep for today’s hike. That’s what my body’s telling me so far while inside this AC-ed bus. Even if I hit the sack early last night. Or maybe this feeling of being winded is the result of not sitting at the nook and gobbling any breakfast before hitting the road. I just had coffee, or did I? Oh well these days I am kind of treating myself to be the morning person that I can be. This is in preparation of my future day job if ever I effin get my shit together the soonest possible time.
Cousin A and I are seatmates for this bus ride. I know stories will consume us and our decision to save some energy will never happen. Unless one of us really shuts up. I think I would do it by the time this bus hits the expressway.
I will really need that silence to woo me to save my energy.
It’s past 9 AM. We are nearing the Grand Terminal where we will get off and look for the jeepney that will take us to our jump off point. I can hear my stomach rambling. I’m hungry and the heat of the weekend sun is just another to bear while waiting for the jeep to be filled with passengers. We are supposed to be on the road already by this time since we get off the bus but unfortunately there are confusions that we encounter between a rude group of hikers and the jeep we first rode. Anyhow, we got settled and soon we are on our way. Another hour of commute before reaching the jump off point.
I hurriedly look for the toilet to comfort myself upon getting off the jeep. After easing myself out I let my eyes take it all in. The blue sea as far as my eyes can see. Its waters glisten with the shafts of the sun hitting on the surface. It’s few minutes after 11 AM already and the need to apply sunscreen is a must before taking the trek to the foot of the mountain. Obviously this is so late for an early morning hike. Our skin will definitely be toasted in few minutes time. Now, that’s an exaggeration on my end. But really I can feel my skin burning within a few minutes standing outside the hut.
As we walk the pavement leading to the jump off point, with its angled elevation, I tell myself to keep going and expect for the worse. I just caught this mountaineering bug last year and my baptism of fire was made possible by my cousin A of course. She was my inspiration the moment I saw her photos through Facebook summit-ing a mountain area somewhere in the northern region. I envied her. So I really reached out to her with me in mind to ask her how did she do that.
And again as I put it, the rest is a story, I mean history.
Going back to my trek, I breathe deeply to fill my lungs and try to taste the air. Yes, I would do it to every travel that I make, for every new place that I’ve been to. It is part of my taking it all in moment. And then I close my eyes. I am with nature again. Green. Breezy. Warm.
Our pacing is normal as it is. We are four heads in total and the other two are first timers. It is a new experience for them, to climb a mountain. Cousin A labeled this to be a fun climb since based from the reviews that we read online about this mountain. It is rated as easy and definitely a plus for beginners. The heat of the sun is taking its toll on me. I can feel the heat creeping into my brain even with a headgear as we near the entrance to the start of our ascent.
I can hear my breath in staccato. We would pause for a break while each of us catch up with the pacing. The whole stretch of the mountain up to its summit measures 525 meters above sea level. That’s definitely a lot of power legs endurance.
And so it began. Our ascent. It does not look fun at all but I need to conquer this. Once at the top it is a revelation.
While I trudge this challenge, I am telling myself to keep it together. I want to clear my head and just focus on this hike itself. To fuel me with strength, confidence, trust and safety. Doubts begin to form in my head every time I can hear my breath as I push my self up. Doubts that I may break down and discontinue this experience. I retreat to the fact that my cousin and I never made a conditioning exercise, at least we could have stretch our legs a day before this climb to gauge our cardio and endurance.
I can feel the toll of its absence with every step that I push forward.
And the heat of the sun adds up to my state. I need some sugar rush. I need some sugar rush to keep my energy or else I am not going to make it at the summit or even reach the base camp. Skipping breakfast is also taking its vengeance on me. I am thirsty too. I think I can finish the whole liter in just one gulp. Straight up! Straight up! My throat and mouth are waiting for it but I let my self calm down and resist the temptation or else I may not have enough hydration to keep me sane on the ascent.
This pit stop of ours under this shady group of trees brings me to a trance. I take my camera out. Take this photo and it reminded me of The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know but I like how its branches arched in every direction though I can’t fully appreciate its crown, what I have in mind is this is a better place. Should I carry on or spend the day out here? As I take its photo, my hand is shaking. I wiggle it a bit but it didn’t help. I know I am lacking of something inside me. I am lacking of fuel. It is a normal bodily reaction. I set it aside and think of finishing this climb.
It has been a year since my last hike. I gained weight and I know it is not helping me in anyway to ease pressure on my knees and feet. My bag weighs about 3 kilos. Inside of it are fresh clothes for changing after this hike, liter of water, a loaf of bread, a pack of jello and my journal. My side pants pockets contain my wallet, IDs and digital camera.
I continue to push and every time we would meet people coming down the trail they’ll say, “You’re almost there. Keep safe.”, I know I can do this. This is the only time that this cloud of doubts bothered me. Maybe because I know how well I am today but my body just is so winded the result of my sedentary living.
Finally I am here. I made it.
I sit under the shade of this lonely tree. I hydrate my self slowly and just take it all in. I take out my pack of jello, chew and swallow every piece after piece of it. We took the liberty to take photos as much as we can. They even had their selfies taken. I’m not a fan. I like the landscape but my heart is broken seeing the vast open greenery. Trees are absent. Some stand on the side but at the top there’s none. So the battle for the immunity against the sun is again up for grabs.
Reliving the moment when laying on the grass and making fun of the clouds are something endearing and marvelous to do but what good it bring when you’re missing a shade from a tree. Green. Trees. Please. Grasses won’t suffice. Peace.