Can you remember the time you first climbed a mountain? I recall visiting my grandfather at Mambucal with my family. Me and my sisters were allowed to climb the seventh falls and it was a piece of cake for me. There are seven falls in Mambucal resort and it takes about 20-45 minutes to get to the seventh falls, depending on your pace. The track is well-defined but some parts are really steep. I was excited, as a little girl, to climb the mountain and to get to see the falls. I can remember our uncles looking after us as we eagerly climbed the mountain. I enjoyed every moment of it. I can still remember how my orange slippers fell off my feet and I had to grab it immediately before the current washed it away and I bumped by knees on a rock, I got a bruise but it didn’t discourage me at all. I was that excited little girl and I knew from the beginning that I would continue to love the water and mother nature itself. When we got to the seventh falls, I experienced my first nature high. The water seemed to have its scent which was attracting me and I had to take a dip. Ofcourse, papa was looking after us because it was deep. We were advised to stay near the rocks. I can remember the coldness of the water. That was my first nature high.
March 2016. It’s been two consecutive years now that I’ve been visiting my sister in Manila during summer. This is my little escape from my studies and life in Bacolod City, the province where we grew up. I am taking up law and as a law student, studying for three straight hours already feels like I’ve missed my monthsaries and important events in my life and of the lives of the people closest to me. It feels like swimming in texts and words. Yes, I don’t know if other law students feel the same way. As much as possible, I want my vacations to be vacations. When I’m in Manila, it gives me a sense of freedom. I also get to meet my closest College friends again and ofcourse, I get to bond with my younger, adventurous sister whom I think is my adventure partner, being a fellow-scorpion and a November baby. One of the highlights of my summer is our hiking at Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet. I wasn’t prepared for such a hike. In fact, I refused the offer of my classmate to climb Mt. Mandalagan in Bacolod City because I learned that it is a four-hour hike and it has a difficult trail. I knew I couldn’t do it. I went on a journey with my sister to Baguio City with the intent of climbing Mt. Ulap but I didn’t do any reading about it as I relied on her knowledge that it is a beginner’s trail. Her friend, who was supposed to accompany her to the hike, backed out. Therefore, after assessing our financial capacities and without even considering my physical preparedness, we were already on a bus bound to Baguio City. I was also undergoing a break-up that time, or should I say I was in such a very confusing and challenging stage of my relationship so I wanted to do things that would get my mind off of all the doubts that were in my head. True enough, as we were climbing Mt. Ulap, I focused more on just climbing and enjoying the hike, a little bit on counting the hours and motivating myself that I could finish the hike.
The commencement of the hike was already very challenging for me and I already wanted to tell Charisse (my sister) that I’ll just wait here. I wanted to ask our guide, Miriam, if they could just pretty please come back for me as I knew I couldn’t do it. But I shut my mouth and I tried to breathe, I thought of the money that we also payed for the hike and of course, the experience. I continued, taking deep breaths and adjusting my pace according to my body, we had a lot of rest periods as our bags were really heavy (yes, we had our backpacks on as we were going to stay in Baguio overnight), but gratefully, we reached the first peak. The view from the first-picking was enough! We took some pictures and carried on. Reaching the second peak was more challenging than the first one, I started to feel my backpack dragging me and my body was starting to feel tired. I was already walking with very small steps and Miriam and Charisse were several feet away from me. They didn’t mind and I didn’t mind catching up either because I knew that what I was doing was the right choice if I didn’t want to pass out. haha. I had a heart condition when I was young. I also have a history of asthma (it’s no longer recurring since I decided to be more activee with physical activities). I knew I had to pace myself accordingly if I wanted to finish the hike. Finally, we we reached the second peak and we had some snacks. After a couple of minutes, we got back on track and halfway to the summit, Charisse and I took a rest and we were discerning whether we should pursue going up the summit or taking the short cut as the next few steps that we were about to take would entail a “No turning back”. We chose to traverse the mountain. Climb up the peak, then spend another two hours descending. We made up our minds because we both agreed that we will surely regret it if we left without reaching the summit. Char said, “What are we? Quitters?” haha. So we went and when Miriam finally pointed where the summit was and we realized it was only about fifty meters away, with all our strength, we climbed the track faster and we got there! We reached the summit. I was high with so much happiness in my heart because it was a milestone for me. I once told myself that I couldn’t perform strenuous activities because I am asthmatic. But there I was, at the peak of Mt. Ulap which was 1,846 masl. I’d love to create more milestones in my life in this beautiful earth! This is how you get high through self-effort and without the use of any drug 🙂
The first peak
At the second peak