I finally did it! And it was incredible! Funny thing I was looking all over the internet for mountaineering groups to join when there’s actually one in the hospital where I’m working. Ha! Boom!
Anyway like I said, I finally did it! Yey!
It was a lovely Saturday.
I woke up at 4 am because I was told to be at the meeting place by 5:30 in the morning and thankfully, really thankfully, I read Ma’am Rose’s text message saying that we’ll be meeting at 11 am instead. I wanted to be ready for my first climb and 3 hours of sleep doesn’t really define “being ready.”
It’s Dean and Sam’s fault. Why are they awesome? 😀 Nevertheless, I got to sleep for a sufficient amount of hours.
So we, my nurse buddy and I, were invited by senior nurse Ma’am Rose and Sir Pio to join their climb in Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas. It’s actually the second time I was invited by them for a climb (first in Gulugod Baboy).
I was hesitant at first because my work buddy isn’t going with me. And my parents didn’t really give me permission when I told my mother I want to climb. Those are the same reasons why I didn’t go with them the first time they invited me. But anyway, I did join them this time. And I don’t have regrets. By the way, my parents already gave in and allowed me finally for a little hiking experience.
Based on what I’ve been told and what I found out thanks to the internet, Mt. Maculot is a famous mountain for day hike activities. The Mt. Maculot trail is also one of the highly recommended hikes for beginners, since it was only an easy and a minor climb.
The six of us nurses met up in Alabang together with two members of the mountaineering group. Sir Pio however wasn’t able to come with us because of more important matters. We also have other companions but they climbed the mountains earlier during the day and now they are waiting for us up there in the mountain campsite. One of them is also a nurse and this climb is also her first time. All in all, there are seven of us nurses from the hospital.
We rode a bus going to Batangas then we rode a jeepney going to Cuenca market where we bought food. After enjoying a little merienda there, we rode a tricycle going to the base of the mountain.
But just when we’re ready to begin the actual legwork, rain sadly began to fall. And the rain was no joke. It was heavily pouring! We sheltered ourselves for a while under the kindness of one storeowner there where we took the time to arrange our things and protect them from getting wet.
When the weather calmed down a bit, we left the store and proceeded. But we had to stop in another store because it started raining heavily once again. Good thing it was a pancit lomi and miki-bihon house so we somehow got to find comfort through their thick lomi noodle soup, which by the way seemed bottomless. The wait for the ‘short-order’ lomi, however, is too long. It turns out Ate was actually cooking it from scratch. Ate is really kind and she made our little stay in her store warm and friendly.
While waiting there as the rain continued to pour, I got to meet some of our other mountaineer companions who climbed the mountain earlier. They climbed down to get water because the water up there wasn’t clean enough for drinking. Maybe it’s because of the rain. That’s why some of them went down for water and met with us.
It was my first time to meet all those mountaineers and the feeling was awesome because as we all waited, they shared stories and it was really nice to hear them. The feeling of the brotherly bond that the mountaineers share is so pleasant. And it was nice to somehow be a part of it.
The rain finally stopped, we all gathered around, said a prayer to God and then started the trail up again.
We arrived at the campsite just before the night gets dark.
We enjoyed the night with pleasant conversations and good food up there. We drank some, ate a lot, talked a lot, and then slept late in our tents.
We woke up early the next morning for our trip towards the famous part of the mountain, the Rockies.
I got to enjoy every bit of adventure this ‘Rockies’ had shown to me.
We climbed down late Sunday morning and we spent lunch time and the whole afternoon in the Maculot View Resort. And after those tiring hiking and climbing, swimming in the pool has never been so satisfying.
These are the things I love the most about the hiking experience:
1. Warm Greetings!
So basically, every person that we meet along the trail, although wet with sweat with legs overworked, is all-smiles. And every one of us greeted each other ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ and ‘good afternoon’ and ‘keep safe’.
It was just lovely meeting strangers who are doing the same thing that you do, having the same amount of sweat that you have, feeling the same sensations that you feel, as you try your best not to slide down from the slippery slopes of land and rocks… while at the same time greeting them happily with a big smile because you’re all doing a wonderful activity.
2. The Feel of the Physical Earth
Another thing that I love the most is the way I got to touch and feel the actual earth, something that I haven’t done since I was a kid playing with soil, leaves, insects, etc at the back of our house many years ago.
Hikers have to face lots of assaults along the trail of Mt. Maculot and as I faced them, I got to really hold on to the trunks of trees, the roots, the branches, the soil, the rocks, and all their dampness and sliminess and muddiness just so I wouldn’t fall off or slide down.
And it was glorious. I was silently enjoying the trail because of that. Haha!
3. The Sweat!
Who doesn’t like the feel of fats burning? I sure do. I’m not sure if those fats really got burned though.
But it was amazing how my shirt had gotten so soaked with sweat and how the drops of sweat trickled down my face and fell into the ground as I put every effort making the right steps along the trail. I especially felt it when we’re going down the mountains already. The good part is that we’re sweating not because of a hot and bright sunshine (since there was none at all) but purely because of all the physical activity.
4. The Companions
Like in every other things happening in life, what can make an experience memorable is the people you’re with. The mountaineers are kind and they really took care of us. And they are funny!
Among all the fellow nurses I’m with during the climb, none is actually someone I regularly talk to at work (because we’re basically in different areas). But within the two exciting days that I’ve been with them, I got to know them and openly enjoy the outgoingness and friendliness of their company. We talked about what we do and other fun and crazy things.
The conversations all of us shared are entertaining and it was fun laughing around while we enjoy the night up in the mountain and while we take the trail.
5. Life and its Lessons
The part of the trail that I enjoyed the most is the Rockies. There’s this rocky-grassy ridge ending to a cliff which I learned is the main attraction of Mt. Maculot.
Along the trail, we all saw a 360 degrees view of the Taal Lake. It was foggy then so I wasn’t able to clearly see the Taal Volcano. Nonetheless, the view was breathtaking.
Going down the Rockies is a challenge for a beginner. I was uncertain to continue climbing the rocks towards the edge of the cliff thinking it was dangerous. But all of them did it and they were fine so I did it too and it wasn’t really that scary at all.
In fact it was magnificent.
This climbing experience made me so much more aware of all the life around me, the nature, the insects, the trees, the people, and my own life as well. Mountain climbing or hiking is a dangerous activity and with one wrong step, your precious life can end and you can do nothing about it. But when you observe safety and follow the more experienced guide, you gain nothing but only all the wonderful things the nature offers to you.
Then again, we have to be responsible. You can go up in the mountain, delve into the wonder of nature, and enjoy all its beauty, but you should take your trash with you when you go down. God created these beautiful things for us and He holds us responsible for taking care of it.
~photos courtesy of sir mike, roxanne, and ms. tata