What’s the best way to celebrate your anniversary? Go to Tagaytay and chill? Go on a roadtrip to anywhere? Go by the beach and enjoy the sun and sea? We had several plans, actually. It was the first time that we thought of celebrating that day. Five years is an achievement after all! But when my boyfriend told me about an event to climb Mt Arayat, all the thoughts of comfort and relaxation evaporated in my excitement. Nothing can be more perfect than climbing a mountain together!
So we joined this Facebook event of climbing the dormant volcano in central Luzon. It happened to be a many firsts for me:
1) My first climb of the year.
2) Me and my BFs first climb together.
3) My first time to climb above 1000MASL (I’m always a rookie!).
4) My first time to climb without my BBs (my group of friends who I always hike with).
5) My first time to join an event.
6) My first time to meet the people I’m climbing with.
As early as 4AM, most of the group were already at the Genesis Bus terminal in Cubao. It was still dark when we arrived at SM Pampanga. It was really cold!
We then hired a jeepney to take us to the jump off, which is the famous stations of the cross.
It was a few minutes walk until we reached the registration area. We hired one guide, said a short prayer for guidance, introduced ourselves, and then proceeded with our adventure.
It felt as if we were walking a lifetime before we reached this Kubo. I am not ashamed to admit I had a hard time keeping up with the group’s energy.
We rested every now and then, some are way ahead of us anyway, so I took it slow (haha).
The boulders of rocks were getting more frequent as we near the summit.
There is a camp at the summit manned by police. We even met two of them as we were climbing. They are guarding the Smart tower which is situated at the peak of the mountain. We logged our names again and had our lunch at the summit.
It was supposedly a traverse day hike to the other two peaks. But I decided not to go because I can feel that my legs was about to give up already. I was very disappointed at myself. They were nice enough to encourage and persuade me but I don’t want to be a cause of delay.
We stayed for a couple more minutes at the peak to take in the view.
By 1 PM, we started our descent. It was just the two of us and we were worried to be still inside the forest by sundown so we tried to walk a little faster. Along the way, we met 3 more men in uniform with their scary rifles. They were nice, asking us similar sets of questions. At least I felt safe knowing the place was secured.
We got a little lost. The yellow markers on the stones were really hard to see because it’s not facing our way. We were going downhill when we noticed the stems and the leaves were thick and there’s no trail! We spent a few minutes going around when we finally figured we had to go up. I’ve never been so relieved seeing a painted yellow arrow.
A little past 5, we were already at the registration area where the baranggay captain was expecting us. Apparently, the police have sent him a message that we have decided to not do the traverse and will be heading down. They were so accommodating and helpful, even fetching a tricycle to take us to the jeepney terminal going to SM Pampanga.
It was a really challenging feat. When I was a child, I was just reading about Mt Arayat, and now I have at last reached its summit. I was challenged physically, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, I was with my favorite person. It was a good thing we decided to climb instead of spending our anniversary somewhere else. Sharing the experience of doing what we both enjoy is just what we needed.
Each climb, I learn something new. The mountains are changing me, one steep assault at a time. And it’s always a pleasure to be witnessing God’s greatness at every peak I manage to reach.
Cheers to a beautiful life, Zai.