Monday, January 28, 2008


This weekend Joie and I will be trekking to the summit of Mt. Pulag. This will be a challenging climb, because I will be leading two jeepneyloads of trekkers, more than two thirds of them Pulag first-timers. The challenge really is in keeping up with the itinerary, since having 32 climbers of various levels of fitness will definitely stretch out the group along the Ranger Station route. My guesstimate is a 1.5-hour difference between the first to arrive and the tail. I hope I don't get cranky from all the pasaway people who would insist on walking 5 minutes and resting 10.

I wonder if some of the rookie climbers know what they're facing. The route itself is easy - about 4 or 5 kilometers of slight uphill trails, 3 1/2 hours, that only those who have zero exercise or who have overloaded their backpacks should find it strenuous. The hard part is upon reaching the campsite and the evening fog creeps in. Misery inflicts itself in many forms at Pulag, mine appears as a migraine that never goes away, a runny nose, and swollen fingers that ache. Soon the discomfort becomes too hard to ignore and all you want to do is curl up inside your sleeping and hope the clothes you're wearing are enough to keep you warm. Hypothermia becomes a real possibility, specially for those who did not bring the right clothes.

Oftentimes at Pulag, I would complain loudly, "Bakit nga ba tayo nandito?" There I was, tired and numb and shivering, water dripping down my nose, trying to justify why I chose to give up the warm urban pleasures of Manila. But then I know the answer.

following photos by la villareal

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