The mountain is calling and I must go – Unknown Author.
This statement made me came up with a decision of at least make my daydreaming into reality. My heart is closed to nature as I was raised near to them.
I was just a high school (senior level) when I start visualizing about it. “Magandang Gabi Bayan” that time featured the UP Mountaineers and from that very moment, I felt inside me of certain things that I’ll be doing the same in the future.
Sometimes June 2013, I was invited by a friend together with my boyfriend to go on hiking for the first time. Our target mountain is Mt. Batulao.
Jump-off point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault
Features: Open trails, rolling slopes, scenic views of Batangas
This mountain is good for the beginner hiker like me or shall I say like us. This is a 12 peak and as statistics note, 60-70 degree assaults most of the times.
As I compose this blog, I am staring a look at our pictures. I would like to remember every single piece of emotions that I have those days. I decided to come up with this article not because of letting you guys know the itinerary, map, and costing. I actually forgot those things at all.
The reason behind why I wanted to do this is because I desire to make you guys feel how it really was to be at the top of the mountain FOR THE FIRST TIME while a strong typhoon (Gorio) is striking you in the middle of the night.
The Philippine weather bureau PAGASA released an advisory at exactly 11:00 AM on June 29, 2013, stating that Typhoon Gorio was estimated at 30 kilometers southeast of Catbalogan, Samar as of 10:00 a.m.
12:00nn, we were all out from the office and expected to meet each other that the terminal somewhere in EDSA. The weather in Manila has been just fine. One of our co-hiker was already at the Jump off point waiting for us. According to him,the weather in Nasugbu, Batangas at that point is just good for the hike.
I wasn’t prepared for the whole thing I must confess. Driven by the passion and yearning or should I sound “calling” , I decided to push it on. We were on the bus, heading off to Evercrest, the news flashing from the television on board captivate my attention. Batangas is now under signal No. 1.
But of course, we really don’t mind at all. The traffic was so heavy reason why we reached Nasugbu late in the afternoon. We immediately prepare everything. We geared up.
We hired two tricycle going to the Jump Off point. As we reach the place, my heart beat started to pump a little bit faster. This is it. No more turning back.
We started everything with a prayer of surrender and plea for protection. And then we underway to introduce ourselves one by one. It’s cute! I’ve got to meet some new friends. We were lucky and confident enough that we will do it with two professional hikers with us. We were taught by the basic hiker’s principle “Take nothing but pictures. Leave noting but the footprint. Kill nothing but time.”
I almost forgot to tell that we will be doing Night Trekking on our first mountaineering experience.
As we started our hike, drizzle also starts to fall. The trail is muddy and slippery as expected. I was not properly dressed, no proper footwear, but I must say psychologically prepared. Along the way, other hikers started to come down. Some decided not to stay at the campsite because of the weather. It was cool! Strangers saying “Ingat po”, “Good Luck po”, “Magandang Hapon po” and other simple things. Well, I guess that’s one of many values that a traveler should learn, especially in this kind of place that everybody were nobody.
We were not even in the mid of our journey when I decided to remove my shoes and walk barefooted so as with the other hiker’s. It’s getting darker. And the rain started to shower. I have to wear my raincoat cost only P1.00. Yes, for real. I bought many anyway.
It’s strenuous, to do walking and assaults nonstop at the middle of the cold , wet dark night. But I don’t mind. I saw, the different peaks from 1-12 and finally , we reached the camp site. It’s about 09:00pm. We divided the group into two. The first one , assigned in cooking our dinner. The other group set up the tents.
Social time , we chat, we laugh and we share stories while eating our dinner. We made it short because the rain is starting to fall a little bit harder.
10:00pm- Public storm warning signal no. 2 (winds of 61-100 kph) has been raised over the following areas: Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Bataan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Mindoro Provinces including Lubang Island, Romblon Marinduque, Quezon Province, Camarines Provinces, Albay and Burias Island.
But of course, we only realized that the day after.
Signing – Off .
We tried, really, really hard to fall as sleep.
It’s 11:00pm. But we can’t hide it any longer.We can’t help but feel nervous.The wind started to blow as forcefully as it can be. I am telling you, signal number 2 at the top of the mountain is five times stronger than the ground level. At the back of my mind, I am panicking already. I just tried to compose myself so I can act and respond accordingly. The wind is whistling.
Packed up! Packed up! Packed up! I hear the organizer shouting.My nerve gets into my brain. It seems that for a second, I feel lost and numb. Oh my God, where do we gonna go now? Our tent almost flew out because of the airstream. The rain is heavy pouring and its 12 midnight.
Adrenaline rush makes my hand moving. I gathered all my things, separate the wet from the dry and immediately leave the campsite.
What’s next? Can you survive this one? Are we gonna die now? Having our disposable raincoat and umbrella on, silently our heart were praying.
The tarp that we used as a shed was not even waterproof. But in the midst of the storm, some of us started cooking soup. We will be needing that for the next few hours to survive the freezing temperature aside from the fact that we were all damp.
We tried to joke and share some funny stories to avoid ourselves being down into panic and nervousness.
It was a very long 6 hours. There were points that I feel helpless, sleepy and cold. We see nothing but darkness. Hear nothing but the roaring storm and heavy rain. We have nothing but hope.
But I tried so hard not to make it a big deal. I have to survive this one. I‘ll be waiting until the morning time.
And at last after extended hours, the light started to glimpse, and yes “we were all alive”. Thank you, God, we were alive.
We started to fix things out. We will be moving down. We decided not to reach the summit because of the unstable weather condition.
When the wind subsided, we go on walking and trekking again. This time, it’s not dark. We found out that all the while we were walking on the cliff of the edges. The trail was slippery, small in width and we were surrounded by the grassland.
For the first timer like me, this quite unsafe. Typhoon Gorio is still within the Philippine Area of responsibilities by that time.
My knees were sore, my head was aching and my entire body is shouting out in pain.
We see only a few hikers coming up that period because of the situation. At last, we touch the ground.
Thank you God, we’re alive. We go about fixing, cleaning our dirty damp body. After that we go out for a good meal. It happens to have a “Paluto Carenderia” near the area”.
While eating, we in full swing on sharing our stories, emotions and suppressed feelings about the experiences. It’s easy now to discuss everything because we we’re in the safe zone now.
After our dainty meal, in spite of a very long 24 hours that we’ve gone through, we still continue to our side trip. We visited Calle Ruega.
All and all, the experience was great and meaningful to me, not just because this is my first time to do it and that it was kinda dangerous but also it because it implies many things about life.
I learned about nature. I must not underestimate mountain. I must be properly geared up when I do it again and surely, I will. Safety first is the basic principle. And above all, this will only be the beginning. From that day on, I embraced the longing to live more substantially. This fulfillment that you can acquire after passing through a huge challenge is more rewarding. We may not want it, the situation that I went through, but the moment that you were there you’ll realize that you’re somehow glad. Not everyone was entitled to that once in a lifetime involvement.
I will forever treasure that. I will always look back to that day to when I experience the mountain through its most dangerous circumstance. I will always tell my grand -grandchildren how it feels and how courageous I am.
Nevertheless, I am pleased I went for that climb even when I knew that there was a typhoon and a good chance that I might die. It was a memorable experience and a great reminder of how weak and defenseless we all are among the mountains.
Photography by : I. Sañez