Mountains and Beyond

Braving Batulao, My Mother Mountain

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At the summit of Batulao, my mother mountain.

Last January, the wind was cold when we reached the Evercrest golf course in Nasugbo, Batangas. It was an exciting day for it was the very first time I would attempt to climb a mountain. It was a little past 6 AM, we decided to grab a meal on one of the carinderia just along the highway, which was a good idea since the mountain trails ahead would later on drain our energies (or at least mine).

My friends goofing around before the hike.
My friends goofing around before the hike.

We did a lot of internet research, read a lot of blogs before giving the plan a go. A lot of them were saying that this mountain is good for beginners like us. So we were a little confident about ourselves. Or maybe, it was just me. I was so wrong. Since no one in the group has ever been to this mountain, we hired a guide. There’s an option for us to walk all the way from the highway to the mountain., but there are tricycles available to take us there. We all decided it’s better to take the ride so we can have more energy for whatever the mountain has in store for us. It was quite a ride since the roads are not asphalted, it was like the moon, there are many craters. Deep random ones! After several minutes, we reached a small community at the foot of the mountain, we decided to do the traverse from the new trail to the old, and the real adventure began!

I noticed, horses are their mode of transportation.
I noticed, horses are their mode of transportation.
Start of hike.
Start of hike. We can already see the beautiful mountain at this point!

The view was breathtaking, and we were not even halfway to the summit! I was breathless too, literally. It was a challenge indeed. We kept on asking the guide if we’re near the summit yet, and we haven’t walked an hour yet! šŸ˜€ It was a pretty sight though, vegetable patches are all over the area. We were lucky it’s not summer, some of the blogs I read mentioned that the mountain can look very bare and brown during the hot season. That January, it was lush and green all around!

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Batulao Peaks as seen from the trails.
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First rest: The girls have never been so happy to see a bench to sit on!

First thing to remember in hiking, make sure you have lots of water! It’s not cool to risk being dehydrated while climbing. Good thing though, there is a store along the way which sells buko juice, softdrinks, and halo halo!

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All smiles while resting!
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Yes, I can’t get enough of that view!

It was not that hot but I can already feel fatigue taking over. The trails are bare with trees, we only passed one short covered area, and then we were again exposed to the sun. One thing I admire about this mountain though is that it allows you to see a beautiful view wherever you look. It was like saying to me, “Come on, see that? You can do it!”. And I needed all the encouragement to be honest since my leg was cramping big time! We met other hikers greeting us along the the way. There were also trail runners, yes, that’s right. They run on the trails! Tough, tough people.

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My favorite shot of them all. šŸ™‚
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We passed this makeshift bridge just before reaching the campsite. Too bad there’s no water.

When we reached the campsite, we were welcomed by the campers with “Good Morning!” “Kain Tayo” and big smiles. I then decided, mountaineers are nice people. There were a lot of tents, and people roaming around. It must be fun doing an overnight camp. It’s on my bucket list now!

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At the campsite/registration area.
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Up and up we go.

It was a memorable hike. Not just because it’s my first but because it challenged me, mentally and physically. The summit assault was very difficult for me, there wad a point where I almost can’t move up. I had to sit for almost an hour, delaying my two other companions since, thankfully, they did not left me alone. I was sitting there, one wrong move and I’m off to the ravines below. The wind was pretty strong, dust was all over my sweaty face. The view where I was sitting was perfect but in my condition, I forgot to take a picture. Many hikers passed by and most of them asked how I was. It was embarrassing, but they were all nice. Some even offered me chocolates. Some stopped to massage my legs. I almost cried, both for the pain and their kindness. I was a mess.

My guy companions, Bruce and Jayson (the chinitos in the pictures), were very helpful. When we were about to climb the vertical rock with just a rope to hold on to, Bruce tied me (which is now funny when i think about it!) to a rope so he can sort of drag me up. Jayson offered to carry my backpack for me. I was terrible that day.

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Leg cramps!

But at last, we reached the summit! All the struggle was worth it!

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At the summit at last! I looked so harassed!
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Summit view!

The descent was equally challenging. There were a lot of steep edges, there’s a part where we were between a wall of rock and a free fall. Has it been raining, we’ll be all muddy, because most of us chose to slide down than risk falling.

1504949_10202940901271880_1335758729_nBy 4PM, we were done with the descent. One lady welcomed us to her house so we can clean up, for free. I have learned a lot during this hike. I have learned that strangers are potential friends, they will help you, there will always be someone helping you .Ā I have learned that I have the coolest friends. I have learned that people are nicer when they are in commune with nature. I have learned that no matter how difficult it is, if you pushed yourself enough, you can. I have learned that though I have reached its peak, it was the mountain which conquered me. I have learned that our country is beautiful in many ways. And I’m extra proud for having witnessed one of it. Thank you, Batulao.

Cheers to a beautiful life, Zai.

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