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

Dear Universe, 

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.

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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 in the comments!

 

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