I am never the sporty type. I don’t get to stretch and use my body the way others do.
I tried playing volleyball back in gradeschool only to prove myself I was a total shame in that field so I stopped right then and there and never tried another sport, except for those needed in my Physical Education subjects. Up to this day, the only physical activity I am into is walking, and walking I do as part of going to places and back home, and whenever I have to think hard.
But when Des, a friend and former co-writer, chatted me on Gtalk inviting me and two of our other friends, Mao and Champy, to join her and her friends in their upcoming minor climb at a mountain called Mt Daguldol, I got really interested and accepted the invitation. It might be a crazy idea for someone like me who isn’t exactly in shape, but I was up for an adventure and something new, so I thought, why not try it for experience.
The Mountain, the Neophytes, and the Adventure
Established by the UP Mountaineers as a hiking spot in the 90s, Mt Daguldol is a small mountain range located in San Juan, Batangas.
The adventure started not from mountain itself but from the 30-minute trek at the Laiya Beach, a nice beginning if you love the seashore and the sunrise, if you’re there very early in the morning. So we walked on the sand, which either entered our shoes or sunk them, saw other people taking photos and having fun at the beach, then passed by the rocks, then more sand, until there it was, the mountain to climb.
Mt Daguldol has a difficulty level of 3/9, but although they say that numbers are precise, the hike wasn’t as easy as was claimed. And I am not saying it just because I’m new to the activity. Des and her friends aren’t part of any mountaineering groups but they’ve been climbing mountains as a hobby since 2006, and they sure had a hard time with this, too.
We were a group of around 20 and were divided into subgroups, and ours was at the tail. We only had an hour of sleep before the big day that’s why the climb was extra tiring. So we took the time and stopped for some rest every time we felt like it, and which made the usual five-hour challenge to the summit longer. But just like what Tito Fred, the eldest in the group, said, we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves too much by rushing to the top, we should just take it easy to save more energy. And so that’s what we did.
I was actually quite cool about it at first, Champy was even joking me that I walked like I was on a runway and was wearing high heels. But come our first real rest at the first waiting shed, after we all stood up and started hiking again, the sides of my vision went dark and I had to ask our little company to stop again because I was feeling nauseous. Champy gave me a candy, but instead of making me feel okay, I found my breakfast on the ground after a few moments, and I didn’t allow anything else, except for some gelatin and softdrinks, in my tummy the whole day. I was afraid to puke again and it was one of the things I hate, so it was better to be safe. The humiliating scene made me much better, though, and my effortless stride on the runway continued.
I think everyone in our group would agree that aside from the peak, it were the resting areas that we were all waiting for. They were the oases in a desert of trees, grasses, rocks, and soils. Among them is Mang Lizardo’s where Halo-halo and Mountain Dew are sold. Since I was already exhausted and I was taking care of my tummy, I didn’t order a Halo-halo, but it would have been refreshing if I got to taste it.
What I learned about this day event is that hiking is really a test of endurance. There were a lot of times when I thought of throwing in the white flag along with my treasured pride, because I couldn’t do it anymore, and just go down and wait for them to come back. But it was proving myself I’m not a wimp that kept me going. ‘Cause I’m not. I am not the type to give up easily, so I persevered, though the back of my mind was pleading me to do otherwise. That’s the spirit.
Then at last, we reached the summit. The vast area is covered with green grasses, is windy, and perfect for picnics and even overnight stays if one would wish to. Being there was the time when we all felt all our efforts paid off. Too bad we left our lunches in one of the resting areas, that’s why we had to cut our blissful relaxation and proceed in going back.
From our experiences in stairs, we learned that it’s easier going down than up. But with Mt Daguldol’s case, it was the other way around. With every step I made on our way down, all my weight would go to the foot that made the move, and with repetition, it became quite unbearable, and so we had to stop more often. Tito Fred said it was because I was wearing sneakers, not rubbing shoes. He said that the latter have cushion at the sole, thus, it isn’t so painful when the shoes hit the ground. So a friendly reminder to you, dear reader, if you’re going hiking for the first time: Rubber shoes, not sneakers. Again, rubber shoes, not sneakers.
For me, the best part in all of this, aside from reaching Mt Daguldol’s peak, was the next day when I woke up anticipating the tell-tale aches all over my body, especially in the legs, but I didn’t feel any. I even asked my sister’s boyfriend if it was possible to feel the pain the day after next, but my brother just interjected and teased me that maybe I was born for the mountains, and they both laughed and sang Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.
It was when I realized that all the walking I love doing actually made me fit for such physical activity. Good thing I was unconsciously trained for this. hehe
My first hike was tiring and frustrating in the process, but looking back… Hey! I’m very proud to announce that I survived my first hike at Mt Daguldol!
Will I do it again? Well, I guess so. My door’s open for invitations. 🙂
All photos by Champy Cachola–who didn’t get tired of taking all our hiking pictures–unless otherwise stated.