Friday, April 29, 2005

Humbled by Pico de Loro

My very first pair of mountaineer’s shoes lies dusty, dirty, worn out and smelly by my bedroom door. Yet here I am looking at them lovingly and longing to wear them again. I suppose I have to wash them first, though. And wait until the screaming pain in my arms and legs quiet down, and the two bruises on my left knee stop being nasty.

Yes I climbed my first mountain, Pico de Loro in Ternate Cavite on April 23, 2005 and descended the next day. The happy bunch I was with were Bebert, Amy, Arnel, Avic, Joy, Mac, Mae, Mitzie, Pat, Pukoy, Rev, Sef, and Tony of Baddicts, and our amazing guides Andoy, Abba, Richard and Edgar of Habagat. The group I fondly call Akyat BabaHeights Gang and never will forget. The people who made me laugh and kept me brave. I feared I wouldn’t make it but thank God I and the whole group did. I happily sit here at home with a renewed appreciation for my bed and bathroom!

Despite my uncanny resemblance to the sorry state of my shoes, I was glad to receive from Mother Nature a huge, colorful bouquet of night pleasures that Saturday up on the camp site. A delicious, healthy, fat-free feast of rice, pork chops, pork adobo and chicharon disappeared in an instant. Us girls marveled at the dirt in our fingernails, and the wonder of rubbing alcohol, baby wipes and mouthwash (our campsite was waterless). The boys eventually ran out of precious water to mix with Tang and GSM Blue and retreated to their tents. Snores of varying, amusing pitches soon replaced their noisy banter. As I lay wide awake in Amy’s tent with the girls, trying to stop myself from sliding down (our camp site was anything but flat), there was nothing else but the sound of birds and insects, the lovely breeze, and the full moon beaming beautifully. Plus, of course my smelly self.

Come early morning, I fixed up my backpack and was delighted to find 2 more liters of scarce, precious water, a pack of cookies, and yes, more pieces of Chocnut. There were, however, other stuff in my pack I wasn’t happy about. Things that weighed me down and hurt my shoulders. Things I should have left behind, disposed of, given away, buried, forgotten. I thought they were essential but in the end they weren’t. I thought I couldn’t live without them but in reality they were unnecessary.

I never thought the mountain could be such a wise teacher. It turns out she brims with so much wisdom and beauty. I look forward to going back and to bonding with my favorite shoe of all time!