I dream of my climbing apparels I left hanged in the clothesline beside our tent. When I woke up, they were the first thing I looked for. “It’s gone. My memorable climbing dri fit and trekking pants are gone” I muttered to myself. And so are Onin’s trekking shorts and cologne. What?Cologne? What a freaking robber!Smart enough, the robber just hid Onin’s backpack in our neighbor’s sala. My other crappy climbing gears (armbands, warmers, bush hat etc) were spared by this “shopper”. In the midst of our partying last night or probably when we all were comatose from fatigue, someone sneaked in on us and went satisfying his lust for someone else things. Ma karma ka din…
That event notwithstanding, we went on (merrily) with our usual itinerary for the day. We’d be descending to Lake Duminagat en route to our way back to Brgy Mansawan and then back home to the city. Joan and Shiela will be heading back directly to Dipolog and catch a boat ride to Iloilo. After photo ops, and swimming in the lake, we will be heading straight to the jump off area and then wait for the dump trucks to fetch us again and bring us to the city.
We ate merrily our breakfast. Singing a bastardized song by Black Eyed Peas “I’ve got the feeling” while kidding around of what happened in the recent nights. We laughed at our idiosyncrasies and what not.
“I’ve got the feeling. Tonight naa ko’y ma jerjer, that tonight naa koy majug-jug! Wohooooooo!”
Singing this, packing up our stuff and gears seem a little less difficult by the way! Then we took all those crazy pictures we can have in Brgy Lake Duminagat, our base camp. I will be missing this base camp somehow- the old school, the new school porch, the astounding sight of Malindang’s forest line, and this crater itself. The two nights I have here with good old and new friends alike is irreplaceable. It would take a long time for me to go back here and climb Mt. Malindang’s North Peak again. So we so many pictures of ourselves there.
After sending off Joan and Shiela on a back trail towards Brgy. Mansawan, our group started an uphill push again towards Lake Duminagat, another crater lake. I wouldn’t describe the uphill trek as easy, noting the steep sustained slope. I have to stop several times to take a breath! Some 500meters up we then get to a plateau with established trails towards the lake.After 15 minutes or so of hiking we already hear voices of fellow mountaineers. The astounding sight that met my eyes is grandiose! Lake Maughan suddenly flashed in my mind in comparison. The sprawling crater lake is a heaven for photo ops. And for swimming, if you can withstand the cold waters. Onin and some of my friends couldn’t resist the urge and plunged in for the swim. I just sat on the lake edge and took photos of their antics. The water is all clear and chilling cold. On its great expanse, a cold breeze is also sweeping its surface, making it difficult for the “entertainment boat’ to find its way back to the lake edge. You can see logs submerged in the lake near the banks. I wonder who brought them there and how.
After that lengthy swim and photo ops our group decided to take our lunch somewhere near a water source en route to Brgy Mansawan. We started to hike downhill in double pace. It was a forest line mostly with an established easy trail. Until we hit the edge of that plain and then we go to another open, bushes only, 50 degree downhill hike. From that vantage point you can already see the vast plains and valleys of Malindang Ranges. The tiny houses in the distant also gave us an idea we are on the edge of civilization already. After about another hour of trekking, passing through a small community and vegetable land, we hit a stream of water and we camped near the bridge for our lunch.
It was akin to a picnic, laying down a ground sheet and putting on a pot luck of edibles. I’ve gotten used to Aileth’s fruit and vegetable salad desserts. Somehow I discovered I like this type of edible in the mountains. Thanks Aileth!
And then there are these tiny blood sucking creatures called leech belonging to family hirudinae. I caught not one but three leeches feasting on my blood on my foot! The big whack, splat spilled my blood all over. Yuck!
It was all 2 hours of open trail, rolling hills trek from there to Brgy Mansawan. That trail merged path with the trail we used in going up to Brgy Lake Duminagat. To get more adrenaline kicks, Onin started his jokes on Pau and Mac, the two bursting in laughter and walking even faster. I’ve never seen the three walk so fast and laughing.
It was past three when we reached Brgy Mansawan with its booming betamax movie house loud speaker. Our group took a break there, drank some coke and then went on hiking again to where the dump truck would fetch us. That’s some 30-45 minutes of walk again under a scorching sun, a highway and dust. This is the area where the dump truck couldn’t pass through the road.
Three dump trucks with mountaineers already are waiting there. We were met by (our soon to be gracious host), Candy S and Alex who went with drivers to fetch Pau and Mac.Then the long wait began. There are 80 more hikers behind us, and the drivers where instructed to wait for all before leaving in convoy. Since it would be near impossible to do that, someone asked if one or two of the trucks could leave early and head on to the beach holding area, where the post climb socials are held. We were lucky two drivers were permitted to go ahead so we transferred to those trucks. Our driver seem to be edgy and quirky at times, stopping one time to eat in one fiesta house while all of us where standing in the back of the truck grating our teeth in angst. The guy needed some ego trip I think.
It was already 8 pm when we reached the socials area. Jingle bells beach is owned by Marimax, this event’s host. It is located on the beach side of Oroquieta City, a good 20 minutes ride from the city’s heart. Dirty and white from dust, I was looking forward to a shower after we alighted the trucks. Enroute to our tent area, I saw the fire trucks loading water to an open dark bathing tub. The cold air chilled my thoughts of taking bath there. I then pitched tent once we got to our camp area, alighted our stuff, ate our dinner and pondered where to take a bath. I was inkling to get a lodging area, but when Joan came another idea came.
That’s when we were suddenly brought back to our soon to be hosts, Candy S and Alex. Thickening my face and tagging along with my buddies, we went to their place, gave courtesies to our host’s parents, took a bath there, changed and then went back to the socials area. I found out Candy and Alex parents very likable, typical of those hospitable, caring bisaya family. I made a few exchanging chats with their mom and I felt I was never a stranger to this house. That’s how good they are on taking care of their gate crashers! (Thanks Candy, Alex)
When we went back to the socials area, it was already filled with party goers and loud music. The chill is nowhere to be seen. Tani Wenceslao, allegedly looking for me inside my vacant tent, is already there. Again we exchanged thoughts about events like these, about the soon to be federation of mountaineers, to almost anything. I can only listen in awe to his ideas and experience, where my idealism pales in comparison. His “aggressive” behavior notwithstanding, I think we, no matter how different our ideas are with this guy, we the younger generations of mountaineers are so lucky to have him as one of our beacons,
When reggae music began, the crowd rose to its feet. Victor, “that puckin weed”, ‘Tor is taking over the mic to raise the roof. This guy, who just a night ago rocked our ‘lounge” tent with his antics and jokes, is on the mic to perk up everyone. The crowd slowly collapse towards the beachfront stage around the thumping drums and gongs of reggae music. Time to get wasted!
Actually I am more of a lurker to this type of parties. While I enjoy the music, the crowd, the friends, sometimes the booze, I am very much contented with just chilling it out or relaxing in a corner. I also grew unaccustomed to colored booze. Perhaps I’m not getting younger anymore. It’s enough for me to have a good talk with friends reminiscing climbs and events like this, of knowing people and friends. I get to observe people a lot also, of understanding personalities and pondering bliss. Like I said, I’m not getting any younger. When you begin to think instead of party in event like this, you sure are not getting younger.
The last thing I remembered, I slumped faced first on our host’s couch where our group slept. Uh, well, so much for that white booze.