I thought I can hike

One of my faith goals this year is to climb at least 10 mountains. That’s roughly one every 5 weeks. I had seven summits under my belt in less than two years (granted most of them were minor climbs HAHAHA) and thought that I already had enough experience. Neither a serious mountaineer nor a beginner. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right?

Nope. Who was I kidding? Who did I think I was to not take this hobby seriously? To live a sedentary lifestyle for months, not get any sleep the night before (aside from a 30 minute nap in the van en route to Tanay, Rizal) and expect to conquer a mountain ~*easily*~? My first climb this year put me in my place. Or better yet, God humbled me through Mt. Daraitan. Despite that, our adventure was still full of grace.

From Starmall in Shaw, we rode a van to Tanay, Rizal. The travel time was about two hours. Even before you reach the terminal, there will be a lot of tricycle drivers  offering chartered rides to Brgy. Daraitan. We were shocked when we first heard that the fare was 500 pesos. But we were too tired to haggle so we gave in. Later on, we realized the price was understandable given that it was more than an hour and 30 minutes of  bumpy and chilly ride. There was even a point where the road was too steep the driver put his weight on one side of the motorbike and it felt like we were riding a roller coaster.

After arriving, we registered at the barangay hall where we met Juvy and Kuya MJ who joined us to save up on the guide fee. One of the best things about going places is meeting new people. You won’t be comfortable with everyone, others you know you won’t be friends with within the first 5 minutes of talking to them, and there are some you hope to never see again but once in a while, you hit the jackpot and it’s worth the gamble. 🙂

If there’s one tip I can give anyone planning to visit, it’s to go during weekdays. According to Kuya Danilo, our guide, the number of visitors reach as high as 1,000 during weekends. The week before, they even stopped accepting tourists because there were no more registered guides and the density of humans along the trail was too high. Meanwhile, we were five of only 50+ on a Wednesday.

Five minutes into the hike, I was catching my breath. We haven’t even left the concrete road and I was already thinking of quitting because my legs were showing early signs of cramping. 10 minutes in, I almost passed out because the cramps went all out and I literally couldn’t breathe. Good thing Kuya Danilo knew what to do and Kuya MJ had bananas and salt. I used to climb 11 flights of stairs everyday. But the sedentary lifestyle and my regained extra weight took their toll on me. Add that to the fact that the trail was straightforward and steep it makes majority of Pulag’s Ambangeg a walk in the park. Some parts of had 60-degree elevations and you only have minimal rests in between. In addition, the roots you thank for for anchoring your steps are the same roots you curse for the pain in your soles every step of the way down.

I honestly don’t know how I survived. But that’s the beauty of climbing mountains for me, most of the time I have no idea how I am able to finish in one piece and with minor bruises especially when I look back at the moments when I feel like giving up (and I always feel like giving up in the beginning haha). Some might say it’s survival instinct or peer pressure, the you-really-have-no-choice reasoning. Maybe. But for me, it’s grace ❤ (listening to my favorite hiking playlist in full volume also helped — the loud songs of Franco).

There was a slight drizzle when we arrived but thank God it stopped! I was panicking inside imagining the mud and the hardships I’d have to go through. I was praying for this not to turn into another Tarak Ridge (the first time is still my most traumatic hike to date) and God heeded my call. Granted I slipped hard on my butt my companions claimed they felt the earth shake but I think it’s more surprising if I finished unscathed.

Just like what I already said, that day was full of grace and favor. From the kind tricycle driver to the hard-boiled eggs Juvy gave us (who goes on a day hike without bringing packed lunch? Us, apparently) to our guide who took amazing pictures without us telling him to to the wonderful weather to the fellowship we had during our descent, and of course, our safe return. I have nothing but gratitude 🙂DCIM104GOPROG3477880.DSCF4514DSCF4560DSCF4543DCIM104GOPROGOPR7911.

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Malayo pa ba tayo?

When we arrived at the summit there was no clearing but we decided not to leave until our eyes are filled so we waited for an hour.DSCF4579And slowly, the fog dissipated 🙂DSCF4650DSCF4768The beautiful Tinipak River, subject of countless Instagram posts. Hehe! I was actually convicted to visit this place ASAP because it was the shooting location of Victory’s promotional(?) video for the Dare to Believe series.

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It’s better during the rainy season because of higher water levels but you can’t make me climb muddy trails voluntarily.
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Need to lose those layers…

IMG_3237Us having the whole cave to ourselves. This place scared me more than the one I visited in Sagada because it was so slippery and as you may have inferred, I’m afraid of falling ktnxbye.DSCF4732The water was really clean we couldn’t wait to have a dip. Never mind the cold temperature because it’s very welcome to soothe our tired and sore bodies. And once we were in, we didn’t want to leave. I realized I’m a river more than a beach kind of person because (1) rivers flow and (2) there’s no sand.DSCF4738

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One of Kuya Danilo’s candid shots. I think we were talking about our next hike here, hope it pushes through. 🙂

DSCF4754It would be better if, from the cold waters, we go straight to our beds to sleep. But that’s not how life works. We first had to climb stairs, walk pretty far, and start the long way home (involving an hour and a half tricycle ride through pitch black highways, another hour in a biyaheng langit jeepney plus a taxi ride to our little place in the metro). Not complaining though.DSCF4760But first, we had to replenish all the calories we burned haha! Not sure if it’s the hunger speaking but the Carinderia near the barangay hall served better Batangas lomi than all the ones I had in Batangas. Go figure.DSCF4783We only spent a day together and haven’t seen each other since but it felt like we were long time friends 🙂

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Groupfie with our guide, Kuya Danilo, and newfound friends Juvy and Kuya MJ 🙂

Dear Pilipinas, ang ganda mo po 🙂

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