Sitting on a huge, uneven rock halfway up Mount Arayat, while my eyes feasted on a spectacular view, the internal debate I’ve always had about the choice of where my ideal place to live will be was going through my mind again. Is it on a mountain top or is it by the beach. It’s like there were two separate teams inside my head, vying for the championship title.
Team Mountain has the view from the top, how things look different from a vantage point, how one can almost touch the clouds. The fresh mountain air. The sounds from trees and other living creatures. Team Beach on the other hand has lying on the sand, hearing the sound the waves make when they hit the shore, watching the sun rise then set, feeling the cool sea breeze. Both offer priceless sensory overload in their own distinct way.
I’ve been to several beaches and it was one of my goals this year to try and climb a mountain. Like an normal person today, I posted this goal on Facebook. That status quickly became a chat box, friends sharing their suggestions some even offering to come with me. (Thanks guys!) February 8, was the day I was finally able to turn this goal into an adventure.
I try to approach each new adventure with a positive mindset. There is always that possibility that things will not go as planned and I make sure that it will not ruin the adventure for me. That was how I managed to still be smiling and excited for the trip even after waiting for an hour and finding out that the driver of our rented jeep was not able to wake up early and we will be riding a tricycle all the way to our destination instead. Hey, at least we’re not walking and our new ride was less expensive.
The level of my excitement shot up even more once we reached the the base of the mountain. That was it, I really will be doing it! We started walking, along the way we passed by life size statutes depicting the stations of the cross. I think this part is called Bundok Banal, I could only imagine the crowd of people who visit this place during the Holy Week. We passed by a DENR outpost where we submitted a signed waiver, which by the way I just signed but did not read since it was prepared by the people I was with. That’s how much I trusted them. It could also be because I was just too lazy to read it.
Before, I had wanted to climb a mountain with the help of an elevator. I wanted to avoid the effort of the actual climb thinking I am not capable doing it. This adventure changed that. I found myself enjoying the effort of the climb. Kaya ko naman pala eh! You really will never know if you can do something, until you actually do it.
There was so much to see, I was so absorbed with exploring and appreciating what I was seeing that there were moments that I forgot that I had companions. During our climb, I was half expecting to get even just a glimpse of monkeys or birds, but I did not see or even hear any. The only creatures I saw were two bugs in the process of procreating and ants industriously working their butts off. Kuya Jun, our guide said before there used to be a good number of labuyo (wild chickens) and monkeys in Arayat, but due to hunting they’ve either gone into hiding or are just plain gone.
The path we took up the mountain was marked with yellow paint, mostly painted on rocks. It was obvious that this was the path people took to reach the summit, which was our original plan. We would pause every so often to drink, eat, catch our breathes and take pictures. Until finally we reached the spot our guide called the White Rock. This is where we will be eating our lunch. It was also the spot where we decided to reschedule our goal to reach the summit.
I found the rock I was sitting on after lunch. It afforded me a bird’s eye view of the land below. It felt really good to just sit there where everything seems so near yet so far. It was like you can touch it all at the same time. In some ways we do. Every trash that is thrown carelessly touches it in a negative way. On our way up I saw the amount of trash people leave behind and it saddened me. We are used to city living where someone will always be there to clean after us. It’s different here, no one will be there to clean after us. It wouldn’t really hurt if we bring down with us the trash that we brought up.
It is often said that it’s hard to get to the top. This is true, both literally and figuratively. However on our way down, I realized that going down is twice as hard. We had to carefully watch each step we took since one wrong step can send us sliding down the rocky terrain. I enjoyed this process though, thinking of it as strategy game, planning each step before I make it, each one taking me closer to my goal. This can also be likened to the way we choose to work our way up in our lives. Always respect the people you pass by during your ascent and not treat them as mere stepping stones to reach your goal. Remember, they will most likely be the same persons you will meet on your descent.
Although we were not able to reach the summit, I still consider this a personal achievement. Not bad for a first try if you ask me. This trip definitely won Team Mountain major points. I am still undecided though and that’s awesome, I still have more adventures coming to help me decide whether it’s Team Beach or Team Mountain.
Shout out to Kuliat Mountaineers, Kuya Jun and The Legendaries for making this adventure possible. Big thanks guys!
more adventures coming..