Friday, July 26, 2013

Dayhike Haywire: I Shouldn't Be Alive Experience

Reading back on my blog post about my first climb:
180 by Mount Maculot. I guess mountaineers will find the saying "Do not change the mountains, let the mountains change you." such a cliche but it is exactly what Mt. Maculot did to me. It challenged me, it dared my limits and most importantly, it humbled me. 

If Mt. Maculot gave me a 180, Pico de Loro gave me a roller coaster ride.  It took me to my highest highs and my lowest lows. This is an experience I would, and should, never forget.

As far as I could remember, it all started when I felt like someone is following us. I somehow saw a light of a cellphone at the corner of my eye and I thought that someone hidden in the woods is planning on capturing us and making us the main characters in an award winning suspense thriller movie. 
At that moment I asked my friend if someone back home knows where he is, he said no. This got me a little worried because no one knows I am at Pico de Loro either. We have one friend that we invited to go with us but we told her that this trip wouldn't push through because she is not able to join us. I ignored that feeling and we continued traversing the trail. After all, we already passed by the base station and we are an hour away from safety, or so we thought. We talked and talked and talked until the time we realized that we are not seeing trail marks anymore. We saw a couple of hints that we are on the wrong direction such as a water buffalo that is blocking the way and is staring at us, but we ignored it.

The major mistake that we made is that we continued on our way just because the trail is easy, we thought it will lead us to somewhere. It didn't, it just led us to an endless walk. After an hour of walking we realized that we are in deep trouble. It is 7PM and it is getting dark. We have not eaten the whole day, there is no cellphone reception, the rain is pouring heavily, we are wet, and we have no tent or flashlight. Our only source of light is our Nokia phones. My phone is low on battery and did not last long, it was a good thing that his phone is full on battery and was able to lead us through.
We decided to go back instead of continuing on a path that we did not know. Our goal is to at least reach the base camp and ask for help. 

At this point, I could not believe the situation I am in. I thought these things only happen in Discovery Channel. My love and devotion for Bear Gryllis and Man vs Wild did not help me at all.

Pitch black forest, heavy rain, no food, no rescue, no hope.

I only have myself to blame. I do not intend to let myself be defeated by the situation so I gathered all the courage and pushed myself to keep walking even if reaching the base camp is uncertain. 

We walked and walked and walked and we finally saw a sign of hope. A Pico de Loro signage with an arrow pointing to the direction of the base camp saved our lives. On this same area we saw another sign pointing to the direction of the jump off. The weird thing is that we did not saw these signs earlier.

The initial plan of going to the base camp to ask for help was ditched and we decided to take the trail that points to the DENR office. It was already 8PM so you could just imagine how dark it already is. The signs that we saw are not enough to be happy yet. We still have an hour of trek in the dark trail and we could only wish that all goes well from that point.

The rain did not stop pouring, instead it rained heavier. We took that as a sign that we are really going down the mountain. Even in the dark and with just a bleak source of light, we tried to look for as many trail marks along the way as possible to ensure that we are not getting ourselves in deeper trouble.

By 9PM we reached the jump off point which initially looked like a river. There are no street lights so I doubted it for a few seconds until I finally set foot on the highway of Magnetic Hill. 

There are no words to describe the feeling of reaching the jump off. It was up there with the feeling of passing the board exam. 

We walked to the DENR office and the bad luck ended. There was a kind-hearted couple in the DENR office who also came from Pico de Loro and they are about to leave. We caught them right in time. We briefly told them our story and they offered to take us to the jeepney station going to Zapote.

I got home at 12AM as a different person with a better perspective on life.

I earned precious lessons about hiking/mountain climbing through this experience.

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

1. Hiking/Mountain Climbing is not a walk in the park, it could cost you your life.
2. Focus on the trail and be vigilant. The mountain could either be your best friend or your worst enemy.
3. When in doubt, go back.
4. Always make sure that someone back home knows where you are and what your itinerary is.
5. Waterproof yourself.
6. Hiking essentials: Headlamp and whistle.
7. What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.

P.S. I would like to thank my friend and hiking buddy for staying strong and optimistic. I wouldn't have gone out alive without you. Salamat! Naks! Ang korni pag sa personal sasabihin kaya dito na lang. :)

Until my next summit, I am ready for another roller coaster ride :)

The Pico de Loro Series:
Dayhike Haywire: Mt. Palay-Palay/Pico de Loro The Ascent
Dayhike Haywire: Mt. Palay-Palay/Pico de Loro The Descent
Dayhike Haywire: I Shouldn't Be Alive Experience

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