My Best Mountain View So Far
I woke up in the middle of the night hearing only two palpable sounds apart from my heartbeat: one was emanating from the powerful winds that incessantly strike our tent; and the second was coming from one of the tents around us where a man’s bothersome snore made me feel the gravity of what I was going through. I was chilling. I knew it wasn’t just brought by the 6 degrees Celsius temperature at Mt. Pulag Camp 2 since before leaving Manila that day I was already feeling under the weather.
The temperature was freezing. I was sleeping inside a tent. I was somewhere on top of the mountain. And the fact that I was sick with swollen gums wasn’t a good mix. But no matter how bad the situation was, I had to stay conscious until I successfully reach the summit of my very first Cordillera mountain the next day.
I always believe that when your body is weak, you have to make your mind stronger to create a balance. It was something I had to tell myself over and over. Then a nine-year-old boy with his mom who joined our group filled my thoughts. For someone as young as him with fewer complaints, what was it to complain about? The boy who acquires the braveness of a man helped me fuel my drive. So I quickly grabbed a paracetamol and two capsules of 500mg pain reliever inside my bag to get some relief because the layer of clothing covering my entire body and the thin nylon shielding us from the cold weren’t enough to keep me warm. From midnight until three in the morning, consciousness visited me consistently.
To while away the time of my consciousness, I had to keep in mind that Mt. Pulag is part of my long list of dream destinations that’s why I still pushed through with this climb regardless of my sickness. I knew most dreams are elusive. In my case, it wasn’t just elusive, it was literally high. Reaching a dream requires investment for us to reap the reward after. To realize this dream, I invested time, patience, and strength. Considering the challenges I was going through, was it worth the investment?
At 3 a.m. the following morning, familiar voices calling my name resonated outside. My friends Dane and Agnes were telling the group to prepare for our final ascend to the summit of one of the most favorite mountains of mountaineers — and those who aspire to be.
Other campers who huddled in one corner were cursing the coldness of the night that passed while sipping a cup or even cups of coffee. I grabbed a cup too and consumed it in just a couple of seconds. Coffee tasted even better when temperature is too low.
After our endless cursing few minutes past 4 a.m., we started to climb again. The whole place was foggy and still concealed by darkness but a herd of humans was all geared up in reaching the highest part of the mountain.
The wind blew harder as it clashed with my remaining energy while we were approaching the summit. I moved quicker to secure the best spot on the top. When the ascend was finally over — just like other spectators waiting for the sunrise — I took a rest and patiently waited while preparing my camera to capture what was perceived to be the most amazing show on earth. Then slowly, the sun began to peek.
With hundreds of people around me, I stood in the middle steadfastly. Although many of them started to recite their litany of praises for the unfolding scene before us, I heard no voices and I’ve seen no movements. It seemed to me that everybody was quiet. Everything in motion became motionless.
I was marvelously held in captive by the sun stretching its horizons over the mountains that split the clouds. And when the sunlight spread all throughout the summit of Mt. Pulag, it revealed what people call heaven in the Philippines: the sea of clouds. Although it was hard for me to believe that a masterpiece such that could exist, the scene was real. Reality was awesome!
My body suddenly became callous of the cold. All physical discomforts I experienced the night before didn’t matter anymore for the joy to see the view that was served before me was overwhelming.
We stayed at the summit for more than an hour before descending. I was still on high and ecstatic as I traced my way back. Mt. Pulag in the morning was like a meadow adorned by grasses trimmed at its perfect shape.
We were back at our campsite for breakfast and to prepare for another 3-hour trek to the ranger station. According to some mountaineers who have been there several times, we were fortunate beings for witnessing such impeccable view because not all first-time climbers were given the same chance.
While fixing my things, I saw the nine-year-old boy giggly telling his mom with pronounced fascination how wonderful his experience was. It wasn’t only me who harvested joy after all. Those who climbed the same day got the return of their investment. As for me, it was bigger than what I expected.