“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” Greg Child
When the airstream calls, I know that somewhere in the mountains, it will found the answers that you were looking for. The wrench of the distance overcomes the inertia of motivation …And you just have to go.
The invitation for a climb received a month before it actually materialized. I’ll be with some friends and previous group mates that I’ve traveled with before. It will go to be a good one for sure.
Mt. Arayat via North Peak (Back Trail)
Mt. Arayat is a volcano located on the island of Luzon with no recorded historical eruption. Originally famous for the tales of fairies and other mystical creatures that supposedly inhabit its forests, Mt. Arayat is now one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Central Luzon region.
Entry point: Brgy. Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga
LLA: 15.2067N, 120.7441E, 1030+ MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 5 hours (NP)
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4 (10kms)
Features: Tropical forest, scenic views of Central Luzon (www.pinotmountaineer.com)
July 30, 2016- 04:00am, our meet-up point is at Mcdonald in Buendia. Equipped with love and passion, I am now again gambled by so countless thoughts of survival. It was 05:00am when we left. Estimated time of travel going to the jump off point will be 2 hours.
Around 07:30am when we reached Municipality of Magalang. We parked for a while. We have to buy all basic needs and ingredient we’ll need for our menu that we will be cooking up there. Imagine, we will be carrying fresh meats and vegetables for dinner. I am so excited for the feast.
After an hour, we started the road trip again. 09:30 when we finally found ourselves at the jump-off. We fixed our stuff, used the last best restroom that we could ever utilize and then distribute the loads and waters for general consumption.
Roughly 09:45am, we began the activity by a prayer. And since we’re mixed group, we do a brief introduction of ourselves.
After a while, we do basic stretching.
We officially marked the beginning of the trek.
The journey to the registration area (DENR Office) reminding us that this will not going to be easy. Our organizer processes the registration and to his surprised , tour guide is now also obligatory for this mountain. We pay P20 per head fee and additional P1400 cost for two (2) guides who will accompany us going up.
For a second, I tried to persuade myself that it will be alright.
The gradual assault has been started. The trail is quite good for a warm up walked. My heart is now pumping a little faster. Each chamber of its muscle started to work harder and harder.
We agreed to rest every 30 minutes.
The Sari-sari Store
The last store that we may perhaps ever have at this place will be this one. And since I was trying to be as cautious as possible in terms of water usage, I decided to buy 500 ml sizes. It cost me P30.
Some ate boiled eggs and banana, other bought biscuits. The organizer signal that we will have to carry on. I gave a deep breath and a big sigh for that. I was really praying so hard that I’ll be able to get over it out of harm. I have an almost 10 kilograms of stuff in my back and that challenging me a lot.
As we go upper, the assault on no occasion stops. It only varied in degree and intensity. Never on the entire times had that I feel flat-footed on a surface.
My nape and the upper back were almost numb. Gasping my breath and racing with my heartbeats, I hurry up.
What’s good about pushing yourself in a fast pace walk was that it will allow you to advance and rest longer while waiting for the others to come. But of course, this will require you so much persistence. It will demand endurance and athleticism .Mental conditioning is also a big factor. The long way is tolerable but the weights in my back is not. I have to put so much patience on this.
A voice from one of fellow hiker said ,“We will get even on more stepper trails as we go on.”
My mind works no good on absorbing more threatening facts about this unforgiving mountain so I just had to remain focused.
As the mosquitos really significant in numbers, we use all forms of repellents and weapons that we have to draw them away from us. Well, this is their place and we’re the intruders this time so I better bears with them, the mosquitos I mean.
The way become at its approximately 60-90 degrees in a long range.
I am complaining inside me. It was almost 2 hours and there was nothing but sweat and endless motion. At last, we will be having a long rest and a quick lunch.
By the way, the places where we stop were the only location with water supply in this area.
That was the quickest 30 minutes ever because of the truth that we will vigor again with the tiring assault.
The moment after was just a walking dead feeling nothing but the courage that this will end very soon?
The track comprises of Rockies and forested paths. Mostly cogon grasses so it’s better to wear long sleeves clothing. The footwear must also be heavy duty because this may turn very slippery when rain pours.
I wanted to write what I really felt that moment, but nothing comes out in my pen. I couldn’t describe it any better.
But after two and a half additional long hours (total of almost 5 straight hours), we finally saw the tower, sign that we already reached our destination.
They say life isn’t getting easier. Just like climbing the mountain, the higher and the longer the journey the harder it could become. The only difference is that during the process, it makes us even stronger.
It is important to remember that the summit can be very cold. Good thing that I brought my sweatshirt with me and someone lent me her spare leggings.
The campsite is also a helipad so it offers good flat exterior. It was quite grassy when we arrived, evidence that less might be occupying this place for camping compared to other mountains.
We begin to set-up tents and prepare to cook for dinner.
There was no water supply but at the Kubo near the camp site there is electricity. This was beside the PNP Camp, who’s guarding the communication tower located near the campsite.
An hour later, the dinner is ready. Thank God for the dainty menus prepared by our fellows.
We proceeded to a short and meaningful social gathering at the middle of the campsite where the fog is covering us. Never mind the misty surrounding; we chilled out after all this is everybody’s favorite part. To find new friends, sharing your own version of suffering, laughing with each other’s funny lines, and a great feeling of fulfillment that makes us who we aim to become as a person. A hiker by heart.
09:30pm, Lights Off
From our tent, I clearly hear several buddies snorting badly, that’s the only noise echoing around.
And there was story untold about that night, that I will surely write in different form someday.
Hazy morning Mt. Arayat, we’re up around 07:00am. No rain overnight despite of typhoon inside Philippine Area of Responsibility.
We decided to break camp early so we can descend before the rain poured onto that place.
Around 08:30am, all were set.
Equally and even demanding, we have to go down on the rigid trail .Twice, I encountered surrendering knees on my descend couple of months ago when I climbed Mt. Daraitan and Mt. Malasimbo . I hope this time not.
The path is wet and slippery. I had to walk slowly as it felt like I’m going to fall forward.
Crazy things running into my head that moment. I asked myself again, why am I doing this?
Asleep, hiking with none among being care about aside from finishing it alive, I keep on moving.
And at the middle of the journey, the rain showered seriously. As cold water touches my skin, my nerve senses that I’m alive and yes, I am.
And we drop our final step on the ground.
Thank you, God. It’s all for You.
We rinse ourselves at PSAU (P100 per head entrance fee). We enjoyed the freezing cold water.
It’s between 04:00pm to 5:00pm when we leave Pampanga.
Along the way, I process myself reflection about the activity. I always chooses to deal with an uncomfortable thing.Independently. I, from time to time thought that I am far beyond femininity . But on top of it, I also appreciate being different. I go for my own diversity and I certainly love it. That’s when I began creating my own genre as a woman.
The mountain will always be a part of the missing piece that will complete me and no matter what, I believed that as far as I can walk, I will continue to soar one .
This is me. And this is my story.