Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mountain | Of Godly Rays And Rain That Never Came

MOUNTAIN | Of Godly Rays And Rain That Never Came
Inspired By Trekking Mt Gulogod Baboy

Its my romance to the mountain, of the trails in open fields, in high blade grass, in cows poo everywhere, of kids running up and down the slope, of idle houses serving as rest stops, of coconuts and tamarinds, of citrus bushes and scavenging wild guava fruits, of the humid and then the cold air fanning me, fanning us. There was not a moment to reflect when you are running out of breath. Dark clouds looming ahead of us, and I fear for rain to come down, when all I have is a cheap summer tent I just bought. This mountain, these hills, a trail used one too often.

Surely it would have been more easier had I chose to leave my 40 liter pack and trek on light as was what I'm used to do being a self proclaimed back packer. I can't help it, I was too excited to climb my first mountain. It was well worth it, coming here, not knowing what to expect, not anticipating what to see. And my companions, some of the most bubbliest hard core adventurer from Sykes Outdoor had been here a lot of times. Nice to be with people who knows their way around, I can be lost in my own introspection.

A Climb For A Cause
While for me, this was the first climb after a very long time, for the seasoned organisers it was another. Finding a reason for a weekend getaway is hard to come by. A guilt free travel can easily ease everything. So on this trip, part of the expenses that we are to pay will be collated and donated to a fellow Sykes Employee Mark Howie. While the cause is not as dramatic as some others were, it still feels good knowing that I can help out, even to someone I don't know. Mark is a Sykes Employee from Newtown, PA. Father of 4 at 38 years old, he suffered a massive heart attack that left him in a critical condition with machines keeping him alive. I personally don't know him, but remembering how my own father suffered a massive heart attack when I was in college, and how we struggled to make ends  meet. It was a difficult time for me and my family who had known our father as our financial resource. While my Dad survived the ordeal and still lives to this day being a central figure in our family. I can only imagine the struggle that the family of Mark Howie is going through right now. So with a glad heart, I didn't have to think twice.

For more info about this cause, visit this link: Support Mark Howie

The Hike
Fortunately, for participants like me. I only need to bring myself to our meet up place. Struggling with finding a tent, I decided to buy the cheapest one I could find. It bade well considering that the peaks of Mt Gulogod Baboy is almost like an island marooned on most sides by water. The drive to Anilao, Mabini Batangas, to the jump off point for hiking which is the Philpan Dive Resort was smooth for a weekend. We didn't hiked up immediately to avoid the extreme sun exposure, it still is mid afternoon after all. So it's best to time the arrival in the summit to be around late afternoon, perhaps on the golden hour for photography. The way up to the mountain was tedious, with tall blade grass grazing my exposed arms. The views of the surrounding sea was amazing. Made good for every pit stop, with rain clouds gathering. Before we even reached the camp site, we were already welcomed by cool breeze and spectacular ocean views. We pitched our tents, cooked our dinner meals after the light of the sun winked us goodbye for a cold windy night. It's nice know that there is a community living near the mountain peaks, we were able to fetch waters like Jack and Jill, this though was coming down the hill. It was fun, knowing that there are people living near us. The place feels desolate and otherworldly, where in the pitch darkness, resident dogs came sniffing and scavenging, where the cold air blows yet the night sky cleared and partied for the stars. Nothing compares to being with people who have great dispositions. The night didn't leave us feeling destitute, as we talk over dinner of what brought us here, of what we do for living, of things that makes us happy. With a full stomach, we shared laughter's.

I brought a heavy pack, that is a harsh realization as I make my assent. Yet it was all worth it, of all the places I've explored, it would either have glorious Sunrise's or Sunset's. What sets this place apart is that it has both, adorned with grassy peaks, with sensuous slopes and ridges, and surrounded in most corners by the sea. Mt Gulogod Baboy is one of those mountains that meet the ocean. Just in time when we reached one of the three summits, we pitched our tents while facing the changing hues of the Western Sky. The looming clouds covering most of the dying light, it was such a reward to see rays of sunlight breaking through the gloom, my so called godly rays or sometimes hope rays was jaw dropping from our vantage view. I just love capturing rays of light in my photography, it is inspiring, eternal and all the more glorious that I don't get tired looking at it as I do when I need to bolster my self esteem.

Break Camp
In the wee hours of the morning, there was a temperature drop. Though I'm glad my tent didn't gave out from all that wind power and fog that blanketed us. I couldn't move inside the tent, least I touch the cold flimsy fabric of the tent. It was all I could do, lying in fetal position, my thick jacket and the comforter on my back. I was even more worried for my camera, the heavy DSLR that I invested a lot on has been my constant travel buddy, surely I'd be devastated if it would give out as well. But as the break of dawn draws near, and the wet open fields opened up to the lightening sky. It became a dawn of a beautiful mornings, a new beginning for me, that from now on, I wouldn't look at mountains as something to conquer, but as something to be married to, whence we care for it's welfare and all the outdoor aesthetics that it offers. We took on our assault to the summit, walking on slippery trails, waiting for the sun to greet us from the eastern horizon.

So much had been written about Mt Gulogod Baboy, from traveling poets and outdoor crazed lovers. Of people like us, wanting an escape from the concrete urban jungles of Manila. Corporate junkies who are used to witnessing Sunset's from the glass walls of tower offices. It was a lovely change of scenery, feeling the velvet cold wind making love to our exposed skins. My heart was jumping forward, yet I feel serenity in my soul, a perfect amalgamation. The rain never came, only the kiss of early Batangas morning lying face up in the lightening sky. It was romantic, it was beautiful. I was in the company of strangers with kindred spirits, and in these plains, we shared adventures sought by a lifelong journey. Not one so young or too old for a dose of the outdoor experience, of being one with nature and at home in the Earth.

It's certain that people easily find inspiration from nature, that for once in our busy lives, we look at things and see not the potential but the aesthetic value it presents. This little trek we did in the middle of February is somewhat of a milestone for me. It brought back memories of my childhood, in summer vacations with relatives that live in the mountains, of feeling the earth beneath my feet, of the cold fresh air that enlightens a burdened soul. This experience brought back my sense of community, and for once, I never worried about uploading a photo in my instagram account, or that my Android phone can't catch a 3G signal, or that my amphibious camera finally gave out on me. It was a blessing perhaps, talking to people united in the utmost desire for adventure.

I can only thank, and thank, and you know who you are. For once again, I found myself new travel buddies, new found friends in this adventure. Thank You!

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. Look at the amazing pictures you captured, its like shots from Nat Geo for me. I'm actually a beach person, but this one makes me think of visiting trekking-worthy places here in my place.

  2. I have yet to trek Mt. Gulugud Baboy but it is on my short list. I have trekked a handful of mountains already and the sights are definitely awe inspiring.

  3. wow i would love to do that as well its been a long time since i've camped with friends. only in beaches around australia where we sleep in a caravan.. xx

  4. It's glad that your hike went for a cause even if it were a stranger. I'm sure the feeling that you'd helped someone while trekking the mountain was satisfying plus the view from the top is always great.

  5. Fantastic views.... I tried to climb once but it wasn't for me. I had difficulty going down.

  6. Fascinating photos, The place is a haven for Nature seekers.

  7. Helping others by doing what you love is a nice experience.
    Pictures are Amazing! :)

  8. i can just imagine the feeling when you reached the reminds me of my experience years back when i and my friends climbed mount Apo in north prayers for mr Howie, hope he recovers fast.Yahweh bless

  9. I really love rays of the sun shots especially if the weather and the clouds are beaming. I wish I can go on a hike and see this magnificence.

  10. Haven't participated in a climb-for-a-cause, but I can imagine how fulfilling that must be. I miss this mountain!

  11. Hi Gaye (Pinay Travel Junkie)..
    I appreciate you dropping by!
    Unfortunately, I just received a sad news that Mark had already passed.

  12. I've never hiked up a mountain before. It surely looks fun, but tiring as well. Lovely photos!


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