With the world in utter chaos today due to COVID-19, we are reminded of our mortality — our vulnerability despite having played like gods over other creatures. As death threatens to knock on our doorsteps, we realize the value of living.
To live, not merely exist. But have we made the most of life?
From a number of plot twists to finally reaching Mt. Kalatungan, our three-day climb culminated with a traverse hike to Mt. Wiji.
Mt. Wiji stands at the height of 2819.78 meters above sea level and is located at the southern part of Kalatungan Mountain Range. The mountain is named after the first Japanese who made it into the peak, but locals refer to it as Mt. Lumpanag or Makaupao.
The early morning wind greeted us with a chill and by the time we sipped our coffees, we were wearing layers of clothes and jackets to counter the very cold temperature. We were supposed to start the ascend at 8 am based on our initial itinerary, but Kuya Babu and the guides suggested that we start early for us to witness the sunrise and [probably] the sea of clouds. So there, in the darkness of the dawn, we started our trek.
It was 5 am when streaks of light started painting the sky with shades of pinks and purples. Although Mt. Wiji is less than a kilometer away from Bamboo Camp, the trail going to the peak is very steep. But despite our huffs, pants and coughs, the gorgeous view made it a whole lot easier.
We didn’t mind our aching muscles or joints. We didn’t mind our heavy loads. We didn’t even mind when our knees and chin almost touch with every step. We were just thankful for a blessed day.
Most people like things wet but definitely not during a hike in the mountains. From slippery trails to soggy socks, getting wet might just not be one’s idea of fun. And while keeping up-to-date with the weather forecast has proven advantageous, nature has its own playful tricks.
But before we admit defeat and put on our sulky faces, there are actually many ways to face the cold spells coolly. It just requires a little extra precaution. As they say, staying dry is easier than drying out.
1. Before ticking off you gear list, take care of its carrier — that is you and your backpack. Take time to do research (bahala’g masuko si Cynthia Villar) on how to protect yourself and your backpack from rain cheaply and quickly.
Make sure you have your rain cover. If you do not have waterproof jackets and pants, you can always opt for the cheaper rain poncho.
The classic story of the phoenix is that of resilience and hope. For centuries, this mythical bird became a symbolic reminder of people who has risen from the ashes. Those who bounced back up after their world came crashing down. Those who built themselves after falling apart.
Most of us talk about the phoenix but rarely of the flame. Just as how in life we see more of the outcome and less of the process. That is why this entry is not just about standing above the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. It is about zooming in to the beauty of the disaster we found during our 42-kilometer hike.
We are all familiar with its irregular crevices, multiple galleries, entrances, exits and shafts. Its fossil passages are adorned with various stalactites and stalagmites. It’s dark and it’s cold. It’s eerie with its chambers full of secrets awaiting to be unraveled — or not.
Yes, you got it right. I’m referring to the morphology of caves.
Personally, I have not gone to many caves in the country. My up-close encounter would only include Hito-og Cave in Matalom, Hinangdanan Cave in Bohol, Titip Cave in Cebu, and Bontoc Caves in Hindang. The latter, I would say, is the most interesting by far.
A month before our Mt. Talinis climb, I went to Negros Oriental to celebrate a special day. I was supposed to feel a year older — a year wiser — but coming into this strange place awakened the childlike excitement in me.
Where to go? What to do?
I do not have a good sense of direction and James did not have a strict itinerary. In the end, we only relied our sense of wonder and wander. But guess what? It was all that we needed.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
No man could better say this than Ernest Hemingway, one of 20th century’s literary giants. At a young age, we were taught to ride a bike, to pedal away without a care in the world, to bask under the heat of the sun, and to come home with skins glistening with sweat. But as the years pass, our priorities change. We no longer have the luxury of time to relive simple childhood joys. Life, in its most pragmatic way, has pushed us to channel our energy in surviving. But are we living?
Do you prefer hiking with a specific group of people or do you like seeing new faces? At its core, mountain climbing is not just about reaching the top. Most often, what matters most are the experiences and memories we shared along the trail. And admit it, when you look at those instagrammable photos, your mind travels back to the conversations, big or small. Those candid laughter, comfortable jokes and banters, little slips, unguarded expressions, and many more.
This is why WHO you go in the mountains with counts. Friends or strangers, each has its pros and cons that can make or break the success of any climb.
Not long ago, Team Buwad (James, An Jurvel, Shandy and I) headed north to visit some of its waterfalls. This time, James took us to what he called the LIGID trail, a moniker for the hike starting from Licos Peak in Danao, traversing to Mulao River in Compostela, and exiting in Lanigid Hill in Liloan. Along with us are Shiela and Bryan.