Clinging for Dear Life. Literally.

Yes, I’ve heard about that saying about “…hanging on for dear life” — apparently I didn’t counted on doing it last weekend. For Real.

Being the newly re-booted KamikazeeGirl 2.0 that is yours truly — the one who has been transformed to be a serious health buff, far from the Doritos-munching, remote-control wielding, Coca Cola-guzzling bitch that I am — has decided to sign up for the fitness group’s first-ever mountain climbing activity. The mountain, rated medium level in difficulty, is a favorite among Filipino mountain climbing enthusiasts. Technically, newbie climbers (like MOI) are encouraged to begin with a mountain that is more beginner-friendly. But no, my fitness group had other things in mind.

An hour into climb, I started questioning my sanity, i.e. “WHY DID I EVER SIGN-UP TO THIS?” and the more pressing and appropriate, ‘WHAT THE EFF WAS I THINKING???”

The beautiful view made up for it

The beautiful view made up for it

The irony of me scaling a 664 feet above sea level behemoth is not lost on yours truly. Me, the girl who gets herself hurt even while sitting in bed or walking near an electric fan, has decided to trust Mother Nature with her clumsy, aging body. True enough, I have come to develop very close and intimate relationships with the numerous thorns, sharp rocks and protruding tree branches along the way. Our routine would be like this:

Me: Wow! Nice view….(moves closer to inspect a tree/plant/whatever — knee connects with a protruding rock/tree branch)
Rock/Tree: There yah gow!
Me: Ow! Ow! khidhvinsdkdl@!!!!! (various unprintables)

P

My view while lying in the forest floor

My view while lying in the forest floor

Nearing my second hour, I am ready to call it quits and come crawling back to the jump off point. But I kept thinking that I have come all the way for nothing if I start to chicken out now. Plus, the idea of going back alone in the midst of a densely-packed forest is not exactly my cup of tea. Plus, I watched two seasons of The Walking Dead (Sophia running off the forest alone, hello?), kinda made up for a pretty insane and active imagination. For times I can feel my knees giving in, I grit my teeth and shoulder on. So, I was particularly thankful for five-minute breaks, majority of which I spend with my back on the damp forest floor, just looking at the trees and the thin sliver of sky peeping through the leaves. That part was heaven πŸ™‚

After what prolly seemed like eternity, we reached the entrance to the summit.

This way to the Summit!

This way to the Summit!

At first, I was afraid to try and scale the Summit. Especially after hearing that there would be no trees in there to serve as guide and that the sand making up the mountain is slippery. In my head, I kept thinking how much of a wuss I am and that it will be pretty embarrassing and painful should I tumble down the mountain. It jut doesn’t make up for a very pretty sight.

But something in me just kinda kicked in. I was there already, why not make a go to the very end and get it over with?

That brilliant decision made me discover the word, “hanging on for dear life.” Let me tell you two things: it was an almost 45 degree incline and your nearest safety insurance are the clumps of grass dotting the mountain floor. The sand was slippery and I can feel earth giving out to my weight. I was clinging for dear life and I was trying to kick and kick, hoping to find a solid earth where I can leverage my weight. Good thing one of our guides saw my predicament and literally snatched my hand and drag me all the way up where I saw…

…beauty.

Parrot's Beak

Parrot’s Beak

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The view on top was simply amazing.

After going through all that, it was simply worth it. An endless stretch of blue ocean in front of you, tiny green islands and hawks flying below you, circling the forest canopy. It was the exact moment that I learned to understand what the mountaineering guys usually say about “the view on top simply worth any pain.” It was so beautiful that I felt a certain swell of pride for my country.

Whatever good vibes I was feeling was dissipated by the fact that after climbing, we eventually had to go down. Imagine repeating the same process (the hanging on for dear life, the constant falling over and the various grim thoughts of free falling) all over again. It was nerve wracking. I pretty much frayed the threads of my hiking shorts as I pushed my way down the mountain.

To add further excitement to our adventure, my group (ten beginner climbers) was stuck with the rapidly approaching sunset and had to navigate the mountain going down with just the moon and three wonky flashlights lighting our path. The guide told us to keep our hands to our sides, not to touch anything – lest a snake had decided to wrap itself on the protruding branches.

I kept to myself and resorted to looking at the road ahead of me. I was simply petrified for words — for the snakes, for the fact that it was already pitch dark and we are still in the midst of the freaking forest and lastly, I was petrified of the fact that I listened to the silly ghost stories when I was still young. The only consolation was whenever I look up, I see a blanket of stars shining brightly like diamonds — looking so near and within arms reach.

It was simply too beautiful for words.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t think I’ll climb another mountain again — I think this climb will be my first and last. The important thing for me is being able to cross an item off my bucket list and being able to prove to myself that I can do it. It was a scary climb, but the experience was worth the frayed nerves.

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