May 11, 2015

Beyond the Sea of Clouds

benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking



Yup. I clearly recall that moment when I felt my world crumble as I was standing at the foot of the final assault towards the summit and saw the warm toned gradient illuminating our surroundings. The path that was made evident by the flickering headlights looked like stringing constellations or an army of luminous ants marching towards their queen. Everything made more sense. 

I stood there in a mind game deciding whether I should take a leap of faith and risk my life to see that coveted sunrise or if I should just listen to my body and know that it's had enough. I mean, the view from down there can't be so bad right? Wrong. 

In the whole 4 hours of trekking, what stood between me and the most gorgeous sunrise I would have ever seen and will ever see in the whole of my existence, was about 50 meters of inclined hell. Why give up now? I gathered all my energy, woke the yogini in me, took a deep breath and pushed until I was standing on level ground. And the moment my ass kissed the freezing patch of grass to catch the much awaited sunrise, the pain of last 4 hours completely vanished and I was at peace. 


That was when I realized that no matter what motivated me to get up there, one thing was clear: The mind is stronger than the body.


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekkingbenguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking photo 10999969_10205481723095382_542167545172079700_o_zpsxmejva1h.jpg


My very first hike was just a few months ago somewhere in Rodriguez, Rizal and I remember  being quite fond of it. It was a different kind of high, but it was brief. It was nothing compared to what we experienced a couple of weeks ago in the mountain province. This one is a different story. More than experiencing the pain and pleasure of climbing the highest peak in Luzon, it taught me things about myself and others that the mesmerizing sea of clouds just became a huge fat consolation. 


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking



on appreciating the past

Mount Pulag is one of the easiest hikes mainly because of the distinct trail. There is very little chance of you getting lost unless you're really stubborn. But do you realize how difficult and laborious it must've been to create this embedded path? I took a class in Urban planning and there we studied the mapping of roads and how people get from one place to another. It's rigorous. It goes way beyond the science of slopes and soil mechanics. You wouldn't really think of it but do you realize that without the efforts of people in the past, we would not come to enjoy that effortless trail. People who have lived before us have found ways to make our lives comfortable and it's a privilege to be reaping the benefits.


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking


on enjoying the silence

As much as I am a fan of music, the long journey towards the peak is better appreciated  when done in stillness. Leave your favorite playlists behind. Listen to what nature is whispering to your ears and enjoy how your body responds to the change in the temperature. Listen to your racing heart beat. Listen to the nearing steps of a stranger rushing behind you. Respect the environment's natural state. We're just passers by and we shouldn't disrupt the natural orchestration of nature's elements. 


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking

on self-doubt and limitations

Don't ever tell yourself that you can't do something. This is what I realized on my last ascent, as I descriptively narrated above. When you're climbing mountain, you realize that things are always farther than they are, things are aways harder than they look. But don't let that break you one bit. 


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking

on the bare necessities

When you're so far away from the comforts of home, that's when you realize what really matters. A 4-hour trek is no joke and it would be advisable to bring only what you really need. Less is more. Bring things that are compact. Don't bring things that will only weigh you down (If you know what I mean. Haha). Conquering a mountain with nothing but yourself is exhilirating and fulfilling.


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking

on judging others

You can never really assume someone's ability to climb a mountain plainly through their build and experience. As I had mentioned in my previous post (My First Peak) I was already having difficulty during the first 15 minutes. There were times when I was over confident and times when I was on the verge of giving up. You can never be fit or too prepared. You can have the most expensive gear but you can't have the heart and stamina of that 13-yr old porter who's climbing in her sandals and jeans. 



benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking


on taking risks

You're trekking in the dark. You can barely see anything. You're walking on a skimpy little path that has one end leading to a mossy forest with God knows what and the other leading to a plunging death. You learn how to trust people and yourself. The stillness of the environment had my eyes set on my feet, looking straight ahead. It was terrifying but my  drive was rewarding sunrise at the peak. I have never gone camping prior to this and I was so scared. But in the end, it only proved that there was a little cowgirl in me and realized that it was not as bad as I thought. If you don't take risks, you won't learn. 


benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking
benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking
benguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekkingbenguet, camping, hiking, kabayan, moutn pulag, national park, mountaineering, nueva vizcaya, sea of clouds, trekking

Most people have a fear of climbing mountains. Why shouldn't they? Everything about it is painfully intimidating. There's the recurring fear of getting lost, of not being physically fit, etc. It took many years of planning and procrastination before it finally pushed through because I was afraid of a hell of a lot of things. But then I realized that if you keep thinking about so many things and you allow it to consume you then you'll never have the strength to do anything. 

I learned that you should never have any assumptions about something because you can never rely on someone else's opinion. There are a whole lot of factors that shape ones ability to climb a mountain and I learned it all on this trip. Spending time with nature and taking a step back allows your mind to be clear of the distractions that you have gotten so accustomed to. Sometimes, getting out there and getting detached is what we really need to get the answers we've been looking for.



Photos © Andrei Mercader & Clara Poblador