Why People Climb Mountains: Asking Questions at Mt. Lubog’s Summit

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I haven’t been writing lately because my mind’s a mess.

Everything’s going by so fast and there are days when it feels like I’m functioning properly but am also only waiting for the next emotional breakdown.

I’m busy, tired, confused, handling situations that I feel are way too difficult for my level of emotional maturity to handle, and quite frankly, I need a freakin’ nap.

Thankfully,misery loves company, and the gang hasn’t been having the best few weeks too.

(Hurrah, we’re miserable together! #Squadgoals)

So one Friday night, after being worn out and finally having had enough, the gang sealed the deal.

At 4 am Saturday morning, we will, nay, we must climb Mt. Lubog in Rizal – the first
hike we’ve ever attempted – and we won’t stop until we see the sea of clouds
that the local tourism had been promising.

It was a battle cry. A rebellion at the bullshit we’ve been going through lately.

With that in mind, and the thought of touching the clouds, I just had to go.

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Now, there’s so much to say about the climb but I can only list it down by
incorporating the things the experience has taught me. Frankly because, I’ve been looking desperately for some sort of clarity when I decided to climb that mountain.

So here goes, my first climb, an attempt to talk to you, Universe, at Mt. Lubog’s
rocky summit. What I’ve come to know:

1. You’re not as weak as you believe yourself to be.

You
may feel like you can’t do it because you’ve never done it before and the
thought of what you have to do scares you. But you can. You’ll be surprised at
what you can live through.

Just
like what my man, John Green, once said:

“I’m not saying that everything is survivable. Just that
everything except the last thing is.”

And
you’ve lived up to this very moment.

You’re
still alive.

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2. Fear is constant but it shouldn’t stop you.

When
I got back and everyone was like “How’d your hiking go?” I would always answer
with “I feared for my life.”

Because
I did.

Right
from the very beginning with that habal-habal
ride of doom that brought us up the slippery mountain (Kids, a simple piece
of advice before I forget: don’t go hiking after it had rained overnight.) to
the actual slippery rocks, up to the summit that could easily send you
stumbling off to oblivion, it was death-defying.

I
was so scared, I was calm. It’s a peculiar feeling, really.

But
we started it already, and we weren’t going to leave without a fight.

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3. You have no choice but to keep on going.

“Why the hell did we do this?”

“I miss the beach.”

“The reviews said this was a mountain
for beginners?!”

“God, I miss the city. When I get back,
I’d check into a luxurious hotel.”

“I’ve had enough with nature for a
while.”

Yep,
we are a bunch of whiners. General Luna would not be proud.

We wanted
to stop and call it quits probably since the moment we actually had to use our
legs to climb.

But
it felt like we didn’t have a choice, especially when we’ve gone too far up.
There’s nothing we can do but continue, even if we’ve lost sight of why we were
there in the first place. (I kept thinking ‘sea of clouds, sea of clouds’ but
lost the motivation midway.)

However,
going back was sure defeat. And that wasn’t an option.

And just like what my other man, Paulo Coelho
once said:

“When you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving
forward.”

And
that’s what we all did. One small, careful, step at a time.

4. Friends make tough times bearable.

Not
gonna say much about this because my friends have huge egos as it is already.

But
I was actually thinking of going through the experience alone. It was a good
thing they were clingy, or else I wouldn’t have made it because it wouldn’t have
been very funny.

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5. You’re gonna slip but you’re gonna get there eventually.

Will
it hurt? Yes.

Will
it bruise? Yes.

Will
it kill you? Probably. But if it doesn’t, then you better keep moving.

6. Tired? Rest.

Ahh,
it’s so nice to rest, I tell you.

Take
your time, you’ll get there. Better get there alive and fully-functioning.

To
do that, you need to rest.

Drink
lots of liquid, eat a biscuit, listen to music, etc.

Rest
is important when climbing a mountain and, I’ve come to learn, in most things
in life.

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7.Listen to the experienced.

We
seriously wouldn’t have made it without our habal-habal
driver’s awesome extreme-sports-like motorcycle driving.

(By the way, we’ve all proven that a
Yamaha motorcycle can get through any terrain just fine.)

And
of course, we would’ve been lost – literally- without our guide up the mountain
who jumped through rocks gracefully and made it seem annoyingly easy.

These
two men are awesome. Along with the villagers who gave us cassava cake and
water for free– talk about hospitality at its finest in the great wilderness.

8. It’s beautiful up there. But it’s also pretty nice climbing down and in between.

‘Nuff
said on that.

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9. Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and find a walking stick.

Didn’t bring the first two and regretted it. Wouldn’t have survived without that walking stick
though – it’s a must. Non-negotiable.

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10. There’s always gonna be another mountain.

(Cue: Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana era.)

Yes,
it’s very cliché because it’s true.

After
the peak, we didn’t know we had to climb another little mountain to get to this
beautiful, Mexican-novella style, lagoon (there were horses taking a swim!). We
were bummed but did it anyway and it was worth it.

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Also,
I can’t say I’ve been better lately. Everything’s still pretty unstable and I
honestly have no clue what I want to do next with my life. But I’m coming to
terms with the fact that that’s okay.

There’s always going to be another mountain.
You gotta conquer it one step at a time and you shouldn’t miss the view on your way
up or whichever direction you’re going because like what I’ve said in number 8,
it’s just as beautiful.

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11. Start early.

We
left Manila at 4am and started the climb probably round 5:30am, but we missed
the sea of clouds at the summit!

Yep,
I didn’t get to see the very reason I got myself to do this in the first place.

We
were able to see a glimpse of it while we were on our way up.

But
we didn’t get to experience it at its best.

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However, I don’t seem to be sulking. Because the most important thing this trip has
taught me is that…

12. My worries are so very, very trivial.

The
world is a big beautiful place.

And
the things I get too caught up with are so little in comparison.

There’s
more to life than you’re job, that crappy relationship, or money.

Take
a deep breath and enjoy the sights.

Rest
then keep going.

I have a feeling, Universe, that this is why people climb mountains.
And someday, we will touch the clouds too.

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With great wonder,
-N

PS. We only spent approximately P800.00 for this whole
experience – including transpo, food, and registration. It’s a very
budget-friendly hike, and is totally worth it for some peace of mind.

Let me know your hiking stories too in the comments!