02 Jun It’s the Climb: Tales of the Hiking Virgin
I am deathly afraid of heights.
I want to start this by stating facts. I don’t like dirt and it’s not just because it causes one to be dirty but because it reminds me of how I tried to plant a bamboo when I was about seven and it died immediately the next day. I also happen to not have a good relationship with bugs, plants, and the sun to which I am allergic to. All of these elements were combined into one super activity called hiking. And I, my good reader friend, went hiking. I was really skeptic about it but my best friend Yla, good friend that she is, dragged me along because her boyfriend can’t go with her. I thought to myself, “at least I’m not third-wheeling this time.” And I actually thought that third-wheeling was the worst part.
We started the day at 2:30 in the morning. Falling asleep at 12:30AM didn’t help me much. I wore my one-piece swimsuit underneath and wore my shirt and workout pants. I was not sure what to wear so I wore something comfortable. AJ, the organizer of the climb, and his friends picked us up at Mcdo Southwoods and drove on to what I believe is the farthest point on Earth which happened to be Anilao, Batangas.
When we got there, we stretched a little bit so our elderly joints can loosen up. We started our hike with a 20-minute walk up a paved road at the foot of the mountain. I started with an excited shriek as we started walking and was cursing like a Somali sailor by the third minute. I love squats with weights but this one was different. Gravity was being mean and my huge rack and jelly bums didn’t help me.
We had two stops during the 20 minute walk. I vividly remember this because when we were going down, they looked like the beacon of hope for struggling first-time climbers like me. The first stop had buko juice, halo-halo, and ice candies for sale. I went in for the buko juice and chugged it to my organ’s delight. At the next stop were the stairs that started the climb. Saying that I was so anxious I was sweating like a whore in church was a big understatement.
The steps were lined with bamboo. It was about 20 steps before it started the really steep and rocky part of the “uphill battle” as Miley Cyrus would call it. I actually thought that climbing a mountain would entail hours of walking. It didn’t pass my puny head that it would include climbing. My acrophobia replaced my joints and bones with jello.
When it came to going up, the steps were so steep, it was almost vertical. I had to cling on to dear life to be able to go up. At first, Yla had to pull me up at every step and AJ had to stay behind me at all times to make sure I don’t fall into my death. We went on like this for a solid 20 minutes.
We had to take stops because I was really out of breath and I could feel my weak lungs collapsing. Fortunately, there were first-time climbers in the group as well who were taking as much rests as I was. We stayed together as a pack and trailed behind the rest of the group who went on with their fast feet.
There was a moment when I thought we already reached the top and then I look over and saw the rest of the group going up a higher part of the mountain and I swear, I almost threw Yla off the fucking cliff. I thought then, I never felt so tired in my life. I seriously thought at one point, I’ll have to give up because my legs wouldn’t go up on their own anymore. But apparently God has a different plan on how I should die so after eating a failed hard-boiled egg from Yla, I took a sip of my water and went up, finished the climb.
I was the last one to get to the top. I don’t know if it was just me but I didn’t feel as grand as I imagined I would be when I got there. I was just really glad that I made it to the top so I can rest my aching joints. We rested, ate some food to replenish the 10 billion carbs we burned going up, met a white dog who ate my sandwich, and then started the trek down.
The trek down was a whole lot easier but a lot trickier too. It was hard to place your foot on a flat part of the earth on a mountain so I slipped thrice. The first one, it looked like I tried to imitate James Brown because my leg got twisted up behind me and I banged up my elbows. The second and third one, I banged my already banged up elbow which resulted to bruises. I also have multiple hand and butt cuts. Yes. BUTT CUTS. There were a lot of times when I had to sit and drag my ass so I can go down the steep stairs without falling on my face.
When we reached the ground, I had a new found appreciation for a flat, well-paved road. I almost dry humped the road with gladness. But we went straight to this lomi house to eat lunch and to quickly freshen up. I couldn’t eat due to overexertion so I just stared at everyone while they ate with gusto. After all the fuss, we changed into our swimsuits, got into a boat, and braved the waves.
We chose a lesser known island that we started calling Oscar island because it was still unnamed and our boatman was called Oscar. It was this pristine beach that had its shore filled with seashells and sand. We played in the island for a bit and washed off the grime and dirt of hiking. After about an hour or so, we headed back to the main island to get a quick shower.
Needless to say, I am very proud of this climb. I will never have my first time climbing again and thanks to Yla and AJ, this was a very memorable one. Just when I thought I couldn’t, I did. I was surrounded by very supportive and helpful people. The strangers we met going up the mountain as we were descending were so nice, some of them every offered to help me get down and held my hand and all.
It was not so bad. For someone who hates nature as much as I do, this made me hate it less. Not totally but a lot less. Would I do this again? Maybe not anytime soon but yes, I would some other time in the distant future. As a friend would say, “Ang ganda ko ay pangbeach lang.” Would I recommend this for my burnt out friends? Definitely. It revitalized me in a way no energy drink or yoga or meditation could. It feels like I left my worries at Mount Gulugud Baboy.