When my officemates asked me to join their Pico de Loro climb, I immediately agreed. I didn’t even think of my physical unfitness (???) and my inexperience in climbing mountains. I think my mountain climbing adventures back in high school do not count. I was so excited to join the Pico de Loro climb. What I didn’t know was that it would be the scariest thing I’d ever do in my life. I’m still not sure whether I want to do it again. I don’t know. Maybe once every ten years.
We did a lot of preparation for our climb. Des was the leader of the group since she has been to Pico de Loro a couple of times (and she calls it her backyard!) and she’s the most experienced. Do not ask who’s the least experienced. Anyway, we held a couple of meetings and planned everything! But the planning still didn’t prepare me from the hardship I would go through.
The day of the PIco climb (May 26!) came, and I arrived late at our meeting place. Hehehe. But I was only 15 minutes late, okay! We agreed to meet at the 7-Eleven near the bus terminal for Tanza, Cavite. The bus ride took about an hour or so. But it wasn’t boring since we talked a lot and I was talking on the phone. I actually planned to sleep since I barely got any the previous night.
We didn’t go straight to Ternatte (where Pico is), though. We had to go first to Des’s house in Cavite to eat lunch. Heh. (For some reason, it’s so hard for me to narrate everything that happened that day! This will take forever…) Once we arrived, I was forever awestruck at Ate Des’s mansion. It was BIG! It has a basketball court! It has three kitchens! Hehehe. Before eating, Des told the people who hadn’t pitched a tent before to practice. So that’s me, Jinky and Eunise. I didn’t know pitching a tent isn’t that difficult? Well, we practiced on a marble floor so maybe it was easy that time!
After eating lunch, Ate Karen and I went to the nearest Puregold to buy some more things for the climb. We waited for the rest of the gang over there since the bus to Tanza would also pass that way. We went on another bus ride that took about 45 minutes. From the bus terminal, we had to ride a tricycle to get to the DENR for registration. Apparently, it’s mandatory to register first when planning to go up a mountain.
Before starting our hike, we had some warm-up first. Hehehehe.
We were told that there were so many people hiking and camping that day. I panicked a little because I didn’t really want so many people to see me struggling. We hadn’t even started but I was also feeling the burden of my heave baggage.
And so one of the hardest challenges I’ll ever face began. Ate Karen, Jinky, Eunise and I were virgin climbers, and Kimpee climbed once already. We put a lot of faith and trust on our team leader, Des, and she didn’t fail us. It’s thanks to her that I’m still alive now. Haha!
One of my worries that day was keeping quiet. We were told not to make much noise, and I was afraid that my talkative self wouldn’t be able to stop talking. But 10 minutes in, I was already heaving and only small talks occurred. I was actually quite shocked when Des told us that we had only walked for only 10 minutes. It felt so long already! But that 10 minutes was just a small percent from the 4 hours we’d walk that day.
There were so many things that happened that day that I’ll just summarize it this way:
- 30 minutes into the trek, I slipped butt first! Kimpee slipped, too, since he grabbed my bag to prevent me from slipping. But we both slipped. It hurt but they told me that having a big butt is an advantage. So thank heavens for a big behind. Also, I’m sorry Kimpee. Hehehe.
- Ate Des lead the group and she told me to always walk behind her. But I kept on falling behind because I was so effin’ slow. For some reason, I felt so spoiled that day! Sure, they made fun of me every 5 minutes but they also helped me out a lot. Thank you dear friends. Huhuhu. Thank you, especially to Ate Des and Kimpee, for waiting for me and for helping me not die.
- When we reached the first base, the biggest misfortune happened! My shoes were falling apart! Huhu. The soles were separating from the rest of the shoes. I was wearing a 6-year-old pair and I knew it would fail me. It did and it was my mistake to not buy a new one when I knew that my old pair wouldn’t be able to handle it. I couldn’t go back and get an extra pair. I couldn’t continue walking at that state. So what I did was to use my arm bands to wrap around my shoes and hope that I’d somehow not slip. And amazingly, my shoes lasted throughout the entire climb! And my friends couldn’t stop laughing whenever they see my improvised shoes.
- I learned that when mountain climbing, being friendly to other climbers is necessary. I ended up hiding from them, though, since I was too embarrassed of my shoes. But I did greet some of them but it was so awkward! I’m socially awkward and I find it weird to greet strangers and all. But I had to do it so I did. But I couldn’t look them in the eyes, though.
- The latter half of the climb was definitely the hardest. A couple of times I wanted to give up but of course I didn’t. I knew that giving up meant being an annoyance haha! But really, we were already half-way, I couldn’t just give up. Also, giving up means being stuck in the mountain. Giving up means going back and that’s just as hard! They were also very considerate and rushing each other didn’t occur at all. I think we were all pretty decent first-time climbers! Ate Des said her head didn’t hurt at all. Hehe.
I was so ready to collapse when we were near the base camp. The bag was getting heavier with each passing second, and I was really near the point of crying. Every step caused so much back pain and my legs were shaking. Every step was so difficult that when we finally reached the camp, I just wanted to crawl. But I didn’t because there were so many people and I wanted to save the little dignity I had left. There were about a hundred people there so yeah, it was a bit crowded.
The view was stunning and I can definitely say it was worth it! Despite being the grossest we had ever been, we still took some photos. It was also the only time I’d have the energy to take photos! I brought my camera but I was too busy trying not to break my neck to bother taking photos. But once we were in the base camp, I took as many photos as I could. But it really wasn’t that many. Haha! And it was the only time I took photos. Heh.
Des and Kimpee looked around for a free space where we could pitch our tents. The place was packed, as I already said, so it difficult to find one. And we did find one but it’s on a slope! It wasn’t slanted that much but we still ended up rolling downwards. We had a little difficulty pitching the tents, too, since it was getting dark. It was… challenging. Everything that day was challenging.
After pitching our tents, I just wanted to sleep! I was so tired! It was the tiredest (is this a word) I’ve ever been but I still couldn’t sleep! We had to cook our dinner first. Before we planned our Pico climb, I thought we’d end up eating canned goods. But Des would have none of that and convinced us to cook good food. And I’m glad we agreed with her!
We cooked roasted chicken (sosyal!) and mashed potato. The chicken was amazing but the potatoes were glorious. It was the best mashed potato I ever had. Or maybe I was just so hungry. No, it was really sooooo good I ended up scraping the pan. What? It was that good, okay!
After dinner, Kimpee, Ate Karen and I went back near the cliff since that’s where the cellphone signal’s the strongest. Hehe. They told me to put up my own call center because I was talking on the phone all the time. Well, I had to call mommy, daddy, and Alex, you see. And yes, I had to talk to mommy then I had to talk to daddy. I am loved, okay! Then Haszelle kept calling that day, too, for some reason.
When the three of us went back to our tents, Des, Jinky and Eunise were about to sleep already. So Kimpee, Ate Karen and I went to our tent and tried to sleep. But we couldn’t! HUHUHU. Other campers were so loud since some of them were drinking. It was quite late already and I was tired and I just wanted to sleep. But the other campers were making it so difficult. But I did manage to get some sleep. At around 1AM, someone opened our tent and it was Ate Ninay! But I was too sleepy and groggy that I didn’t even greet her. Haha.
We woke up early next day to climb the summit! Yes, our climbing wasn’t over yet. We planned to start climbing at around 5AM but it was still too dark and only Ate Des and Kimpee were awake. Hehe. But we did wake up at around 5:30AM and prepare our breakfast. We had tuna, bread and some instant noodles. It was a filling breakfast, indeed.
We left our bags in the tent when we climbed the summit. We only had water and our camera with us. I didn’t know how I carried my big camera, but I did anyway. Also, Des lent me her shoes! She went barefoot which was pretty amazing.
The climb up the summit was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was even scarier than falling in love. HAHAHA. Cheesiness aside, I was really so scared. The first part was so steep! Probably 75-degree angle? Imbento! We had to grab on desperately to the rocks and I didn’t know how to do that since I was also holding a water bottle. Good thing Kimpee was carrying a little backpack and carried our water bottles for us.
The second part was even scarier! It was just a slope with grass and there’s nothing much you could hold on to. Slipping might lead to death (but I may be exaggerating). But we were really so far up that I could no longer see the bottom. And the fact that I could see nothing else but clouds and clouds made me so nervous. Huhuhu I was so nervous that I literally crawled my way up the summit. I was afraid to stand up because my knees were shaking a bit. I doubted they could support me at all.
Once I reached the summit, I immediately sat on the ground and just breathe. Before taking in everything around me, I said a little prayer for being alive. I had never appreciated being alive as much as that moment. I had a pounding heart and I had a sore body. I appreciated the pain because they were proofs that I weren’t dead. So I decided that when I’m depressed and feeling suicidal, it’s probably time to climb a mountain again. It would definitely make me value life a bit more and make me realize how amazing it is to be alive.
When I could finally stand up, that’s when I realized how amazing the summit is. It definitely felt as if we were on top of the world. We could see everything! Well, not really since there were rain clouds! Haha. But it was really so foggy that we couldn’t see that far. But we did see the other peak. Des told me that we’d be climbing that, too, and I almost cried. It was far steeper than the summit we climbed. I didn’t think I could do it. I was so willing to just stay there and wait for them to come back. Then she and Jinky laughed which meant that I was fooled. I wonder how they’d react if I really cried. Haha.
Then we had to go back down and it was just as difficult. Ate Ninay and Kimpee helped me out a lot on this part. We had to go down the same way, meaning, we had to go down the grassy slope again! I was sitting down while going down. I tried to stand up but I really couldn’t. I felt like the biggest wimp but hey, at least I survived. The steep, rocky half was easier this time! But still, I ended up being the last one to reach the bottom. Haha.
Once we went back to the base camp, we immediately wrapped up. We only had a water break then we started disassembling the tent. I was so excited to go home! But I was dead tired, too, so I don’t know. I was already so dirty but I had no more shorts or shirts with me so I had no choice but to go home that way. I had to give back Des’s shoes and go back to my customized shoes. Kimpee gave me his arm bands since mine were already ruined. The soles were completely separated from the body at that time so I didn’t know if it would last. But it did! Yay.
We were carrying lighter packs but that didn’t make the trip down the mountain any easier. Sure, going down was easier but there were parts when had to climb! I was really struggling at that point. There were moments when I thought I could no longer do it and the only thing that motivated me to go on was shame. I couldn’t disappoint my teammates. I couldn’t be a liability to them! We were all suffering, anyway, and it’s not like I was the only first-timer. They struggled, too, but they kept on going. I had no excuse for quitting.
But sometimes, I really had to rest because I could barely take a step. Talking was getting so tedious that the only time I talked was to say that we should rest a bit. Ate Karen, Jinky and Eunise were leading, and Kimpee and Des waited for me. They were tired, too, but I was the weakest. Huhuhu. But they didn’t rush me and just let me rest whenever I had to. I am forever grateful.
When we finally glimpsed the paved highway, I couldn’t help but shout for joy. Just a few more leg stretches and we’re done! I wanted to cry. When we reached the bottom, I wanted to kiss the ground but I didn’t. I was dirty enough. Haha.
We went back to DENR to freshen up a bit. We didn’t take a bath, though, and decided to do it back at Des’s house. I had to say goodbye to my shoes! I had trouble throwing it away! It’s six years old! It’s old enough to attend grade school!
After freshening up a bit, we took a tricycle ride to the bus station. We bought buko ice drops and happily rode the bus. We were dirty but we were happy. Everything hurt but we were just glad to have done something we’d never done before. But we were also in agreement that we’d never do it again. Except Des.
We stayed awhile at our team leader’s mansion. Took a bath, ate fruits, slept a little, rolled around in her bed. I actually didn’t want to leave. I just wanted to stay there and sleep! But we had to leave. Huhu. That’s why when we were riding the bus on the way home, I fell asleep on my seatmate’s shoulder. My seatmate who happened to be a stranger. Good thing Eunise saved me from further embarrassment.
It’s the most memorable trip ever, in a good and bad way. Almost two weeks after the trip, I no longer have any bitterness. I can no longer say that I will never climb again. I am actually considering it, but some mountain that’s easier to climb. There are so many things I learned and so many things I tried for the first time.
Here’s the summary in bullet points because I’m lazy.
- Sleeping in the woods
- Climbing a mountain
- Standing on top of a mountain (!!!)
- Cooking in the woods
- Pitching a tent
- I’m not ready to die!
- I love life.
- I realize that the thought of the future, getting married and having kids is a good motivation to survive.
- I’m not an outdoor-type of person.
- I’ve been internet-dependent far too long already.
- That photography is just really a hobby. I was standing on top of the world and I was too busy surviving to care. If II was a serious photographer, I would have grabbed that chance and snapped away.
So, am I going to climb another mountain? Well, not anytime soon but I’m willing to consider it. Also, an easier to climb mountain is more ideal. Still, this is quite a memorable trip. I will always remember the hardships but it only cause so much laughter now. At least I have something fun (and painful) to look back on!