I woke up early in the morning to the chilling breeze and rain showers of Brgy.Lake Duminagat. I had a good night sleep and was well rested for the summit assault. The coffee smell is tempting, so I sipped around 2 cups of instant coffee while preparing for our breakfast. Breakfast is always something to look forward to in the mountains. The smell of dried fish, chorizo, and adobo is gastronomically glorious. After we had breakfast I changed into my climbing “gear”-basically a dri fit, trek shorts with leg warmers, arm bands, bush hat , water container , camera in my handy pouch. Shiela gave me a biscuit for baon. Ka sweet ni mam. I later found out I’d be doing the summit assault alone in my group, since most of my climbing buddies scaled this peak in the past. So I scouted for another buddy around the camp who’s going to scale the peak like me and go with him/her. It’s my first time in this place and I won’t risk my life further by going there up alone.
From the advise and warning of my buddies who has scaled this peak before, the trail is established but is muddy, loose and technically difficult. On their pace it took them 3-4 hours to make a complete summit assault and back to the base camp. But since this time there are many climber doing the summit assault, I would expect a “traffic jam” along the way.
Taking these advises into consideration, I head out to the forest line near the foot of the peak with Donnie and company. There I first encountered the traffic jam. The trail is as sustained 45-60 degree assault up, passing mostly on loose mud and root parts. Often, I’d crawl on all four extremities, with no visible end in sight but guided only by trail signs. It’s a typical tropical rain forest, with moss hanging on to huge trees. The trail is actually passing through a narrow snakelike ridge going to Malindang’s North Peak. Not only once did I had a scare of those sudden drop zones that are totally invisible because of fog. Its good the organizers put trail signs along the way. I climbed on a faster pace now, since the cold breeze is killing me. Sometimes I noticed I’m all alone trekking up, with the person ahead and below me nowhere in sight. I’d usually rest or climb faster to get a secure visibility. Or the music man ahead of me. I feel lighter hearing music while crawling on fours. I thanked this climber for bringing one. I never left his music out of my earshot since then.
After about close to two hours of “crawling” up,I heard muffled voices just ahead of me. There are no visible clearing to see but I can see a few climbers already resting there. When I saw the marker, I knew then this is the peak. So, eto na yun? True to its reputation, Malindang’s highest peak is unlike any other peak in that it doesn’t have that huge clearing and viewing deck like the other more popular peaks. There are only trees and more trees to see. The peak will just actually hold two tents max. There’s a viewing tree near the back most portion of the peak, but you have to climb an overhanging tree jutting out a cliff. There’s no way I’m climbing that anyway. I left no time wasted and had my pictures taken, with other mountaineers. I also ate that biscuit baon I have.
It was beginning to drizzle and the chilling cold came in. So i decide I got to go down fast now that I scaled the peak. Since this is a traverse assault, the trail down would be different but allegedly easier. I looked for another batch going down and went with them. The trail personality is almost the same as my way up- the inclination, the soft muddy soil, the ridges, root parts and the trail signs. This time however, you cannot crawl down, or hold to some root parts as they were mostly destroyed by now. The rain made the mud slippery that it should, and often I have to muster enough courage and jump over a ledge, slide down a muddy trail, or hold on to thorny plant stems. I don’t remember getting scratches from branches or leaves, but my arm cuts showed otherwise. I was concentrating getting my heavy arse down. After about an hour and a half, we reached another marker and clearing leading to the farm lands near Brgy.lake Duminagat. It was another “salamat” moments for me. I knew I was nearing the base camp and survived the peak assault. Thank God.
Joan took pictures of my dirty climbing apparel as a remembrance when I reached our tent. (I will later find out this will be the last time I will see those apparel again. It has been my climbing apparel since I first scaled mountains and peaks. The memories with it are far more valuable than the apparel itself. Thus it was very dear to me.) I then took a bath and rinsed those dirty clothes, and hanged them on the clothesline near our tent. That was the last time I saw those clothes.
My buddies are already rounding up shots when I arrived. I’m pretty sure they had ample time playing poker and sharing jokes, warming up their butts while waiting for me.They’ve been waiting for me to have our lunch (I didn’t brought the cook set by the way, but they are just so concerned with me I guess.) Lunch we all ate until we drop laughing jokes. Slowly, other climbers trickled in from the peak. Mario and Wino who I earlier met in the peak, came down and ate with our group for awhile. Then came Victor, the famous ‘tor for his uncanny jokes and ‘jugjug” song. We all had that boisterous laugh on this and in fact suffered an LSS for this. There were others who passed by and shared our food and shot. others stopped by to hear what the raucous is all about.
By dinner time everyone is all good and happy. The party atmosphere never waned. You simply couldn’t imagine professionals and adults enjoying this way. Jokes and laughter seem endlessly overflowing, and stories abound. You get to meet people of different personalities. The one thing common I noticed among mountaineers is their preponderance for jokes and laughter that you could never find any dull moment with them. I was more of a lurker here, listening to their stories and getting awed by their experiences. Sometimes,the best climb you have in your life happen because of the people you are with and not necessarily the peak. While we see mountaineers as all the same,easy going, type of people, with in this group personalities do exist. And just like any other group of people, gems do exist and they are worth valuing.
With those thoughts in my mind, I dozed off.