Showing posts with label Hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hiking. Show all posts

 If there is one positive influence I have on Jan, it has got to be this.

L-R: Border peak, crater, Kidapawan peak

This is his second time to summit the Philippines' highest mountain. His first climb without me (yep, partially bummed because I couldn't go) and probably his worst hiking experience by far—with plans almost scrapped, major major delays, torrential downpour, and becoming a guide for the first time in an unfamiliar trail real quick because he's the only experienced mountaineer in the group. 
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I think scaling mountains on our anniversary is an unspoken thing. It's never in our intention to hike every anniversary, but it happens all the time.

I guess, part of it is the need to pause from climbing the corporate ladder and have a breather. Another part is simply because we have always been in constant search for adventure and we love doing offbeat things together.

So for our third anniversary, Jan and I conquered El Nido's highest, the Taraw Cliff.

Taraw Cliff, El Nido


I would say we are truly blessed that we don't have to go too far to experience one of the world's greatest wonders. I am so grateful to have experienced El Nido first hand (and with the one I love). And to see such magnificence from a bird's eye view made us so alive. However, getting there is quite an ordeal (as what I've heard from a first-time climber).
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Hanggang saan aabot ang bente pesos mo?

Sa Mt. Capistrano po.

Standing just around 600+ mASL, Mt. Capistrano has become a favorite hiking destination for newbies and seasoned hikers alike.

The unique rock formations at the summit urged me to climb this mountain even though I was advised not to do any hikes until my knee is fully healed. But then, you're talking to Sarah. When has Sarah ever listened? #WagGayahin


We originally planned to hike at 6AM. But since we wanted to catch the sunrise and be able to go to other places in Bukidnon, we decided to start trekking at 4AM (even without headlamps). Thankfully, our phones can also function as flashlights - which we were actually very reluctant to use just so we can still have enough battery to take photos with it when we reach the summit. Haha. Again #WagGayahin.

The trek starts with a cemented stairs, which will lead to steeper trails with ropes to assist the hiker. The hike was actually pretty easy. Although, I would imagine it to be difficult when it gets muddy during rainy days. And even more so that we didn't even wear proper hiking outfits.
We didn't have pictures during the ascent since it was still dark. Most of our pictures were taken during the descent.

You will know you are nearing summit when rock formations begin to appear.

We made it to the summit after an hour and a half of trekking. We were the first ones to reach the summit. So we really got to enjoy the mountain all to ourselves. We had a plenty of time to rest before the sun came out showing us the majestic mountain ranges that surround us. It was beautiful and breathtaking.

The only ugly thing about Mt. Capistrano is the vandalism. Since it is only a leisure hike and entrance fee is really low (Php 20), it's no surprise that anyone - even those who are not aware of the principles of Leave No Trace - can climb there and do whatever the hell they want. I hope the LGU does something about this before it's too late. Require all hikers to have an orientation first before the climb, perhaps? But I do appreciate their efforts in keeping it clean as a clean-up drive was happening when we were there.
Vandalism at the rocks behind me :(
Anyway, despite that, we still enjoyed the beauty Mt. Capistrano offered. Since we got there about an hour earlier than the others, we took the liberty to take photos while the summit is not yet jam-packed with people. We ate our breakfasts, had little socials, and decided to go down when people started to flock and get loud.

With Mark (his first climb) and Ismael

How do I actually go across the other rock without falling? Natakot. Kaya nagselfie na lang.
Of course, an obligatory couple shot. Haha
We almost got lost on our way down since we couldn't recognize or should I say, we haven't actually seen the trail we have passed through going up. One trail leads to our jump-off point and the other leads to another barangay. Good thing there were mountain rangers who pointed us the right way when we already started going down the wrong trail. I wonder saan kami pupulutin after kung nagpatuloy kami.

The descent was supposed to be easy but my knee was killing me. It took us a little more than an hour to descend not because I was slowing down but because there was already an influx of people going up and the trails are really narrow. Di na kami nilubayan ng traffic. Pati sa bundok meron din po.

A view of the rice fields will make you stop and get awed with it from time to time.


Nevertheless, it was a great hike. Even though it didn't start out well (I'll never do another night trek without headlamp ever again) and did not end really well (the knee was hurting so badly), it feels great knowing I have influenced another person to start and keep hiking the mountains. We definitely had a good time.

Mt. Capistrano, located at Malaybalay, Bukidnon, is an easy hike. It's just a short trek with little technical features in between assaults. It's a good starter mountain for newbies and a perfect hiking destination for those want to train regularly for the next major hike. I wish Davao had something the same (as if I can still do another hike). Geez, my knee is already pleading mercy. So I might take a 2 or 3-month long hiatus or even more before I conquer another mountain. This time, I will strictly enforce this to myself kasi baka tuluyan na akong malumpo.

Side trip at Over View Bukidnon
DavaoeƱo pride.


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There must be a hundred blogs written about Kitanglad-Dulangdulang traverse already. And I will be using that as a lame excuse not to write another one.

I have to admit, I really don't know how to write a story anymore. While remnants of pain from the knee injury I got there still linger to remind me that it was not an easy climb, I do not know how to put into detail everything that happened during that climb. After all, it has almost been a month. So if you're here to know about our itinerary, how much time we've spent on the trails, yadda yadda... I am sorry but I will fail you at that.

But if you're interested how our K2D climb went, hop in. I can best summarize it into 3 words: Difficult. Exhausting. Rewarding.
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I just came from the longest, most strenuous, and most painful climb I ever had. I know what I am capable of and I thought that the Mount Kitanglad- Mount Dulang-dulang (dubbed as K2D) traverse wouldn't be any trouble for a relatively fit person like me. I do a lot of hikes and have even gone as far as doing pretty badass buwis-buhay ones. I know K2D is going to be hard, but not demotivating, spirit-crushing hard.

I underestimated that climb.

For three weeks, I was idle. I stopped training Muay Thai and went binge-watching over the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series (don't ask). I did no body conditioning, no carbo-protein loading, no training or whatsoever prior to this climb. End result? I went home with a knee injury and a vow never to do another climb.

You see, as rewarding and breathtaking those hiking photos you see on Facebook may seem, truth is, hiking is a serious business and IT ISN'T ALWAYS FUN. What's so fun about heavy packs, thin air, dehydration, freezing temperature, and leg cramps anyway?
Mount Apo Peak
Any experiened mountaineer will be quick to point out that this image, however awesome and breath-taking it looks, does not take into account the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, and pain that come with it.

I have been hiking since 2006, but I won't and will never claim to be a seasoned hiker nor an outdoor expert. But I have a pretty good list of experience enough for me to think that a K2D traverse - pegged by some as one of the top 5 most challenging hikes in the Philippines - wouldn't be all that bad.

But I was wrong.

This K2D traverse kicked my ass real hard. At one point, I wanted to cry. I wanted to quit. I wanted to stay right there in the middle of the trail and not move and by some magic just teleport to my bed. I know I am partly to be blamed for not being fit enough. But then, believe it or not, I can go on a multi-day hike in Mt. Apo even without proper training and still go to work the next day (hindi sa nagmamayabang but I've done this a few times before).

The trail in between Mount Kitanglad and Mount Dulang-dulang is notorious, dangerous, and not for the weak. Seriously, with all those almost 90-degree walls that require both upper and lower body strength, I am thankful that my Muay Thai coach gave me those push-ups and squats that I dread so much or else I would have never moved further when every single cell of my muscles screamed murder.

I would say mountaineers are masochists. A lot of people, including myself, don't understand why we find pleasure in pain and discomfort in the wild and why we do this over and over again. Perhaps, a photo at the summit will make a good Facebook profile picture and that's enough to motivate us to keep climbing. Okay, I'm just kidding (but I meant half of it).

The truth is, no matter how exhausting and painful a hike can be, we will not remember the pain, we will regrow that dead toenail, or we will forget what it's like to grasp for thin air. But the memory of how we got through an arduous and daunting hike, the company, the breath-taking views, and the freedom we get when scaling a mountain grow beyond and will live with us forever.

There's so much more than conquering the great outdoors. There is too much to experience on the trails. We become a different person each time we go down from the mountains. We become appreciative, respectful, practical, humbled, and environmentally responsible. In short, we become a better version of ourselves. Heeding the mountain's call has taught me a lot of things and one of them is to live life slowly. And I guess, that's what's keeping us to come back for more.

Even though I swore that there is no way I am going to do another hike again after that K2D climb, here I am - with sore shoulders, can barely walk, and grieving on a dead toenail - on the lookout for the next mountain to conquer. I have always loved hiking the mountains and I guess, quitting isn't part of it. #SusukaPeroHindiSusuko
Mount Kitanglad Summit

Please stay tuned for our detailed K2D post. :)
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"Sabi ninyo, minor climb lang?! Umuwi akong lumpo. Minor ha." - A remark I've heard from a few people I met during our recent climb.

How exactly would you define a minor climb?

Even though I started hiking way back 2006, I don't consider myself a seasoned hiker.  I've had years of hiatus so it's no surprise that up until now, I do not know how to distinguish a major from a minor climb. I get a lot of answers from different mountaineers. But I usually take into consideration height and trail difficulty. And I know most people think that way. Kaya kapag sinabing "minor climb", ibig sabihin madali lang. Pabebe. Ideal for beginners.

But I think I got it all wrong.

Ugis Peak, located in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat is not known to many mountaineers. So when I was invited for a fun, minor climb at Ugis Peak, I googled for information but much to my dismay the results didn't give me the answers that I needed except that it rises 930 ft above sea level (I couldn't even verify the source because it seems higher than that). I was empty-handed on what to expect and how difficult the trail would be. In short, the mountain was unknown, unspoiled, and underestimated.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat
Ugis Peak as seen from the deck where I'm standing on
Knowing it is just a minor climb, I assumed it is a minor climb. We even tried convincing our friends who are new to hiking to join us. "Sige na. Madali lang naman. Minor climb nga eh. Dayhike lang." Although it was a little disappointing that they backed out, a little part of me was glad they did. I didn't know the trek was not advisable for newbies at all. Not that I'm saying it's impossible, but it is difficult.

The Assault
It was raining when we started to ascend at 1pm. And it took us around 2-3 hours to reach the deck. Trekking via Manirub River would have been more exciting since we have to do some river trekking and go up the waterfall with just a rope. However, the weather didn't permit us, so we took the easier trail. The side of the trails were mostly covered with greens. You have to be wary of your surroundings because some trails are too narrow with cliffs that are hidden by the lush flora. Few poison ivies were spotted along the trail too (which actually makes it fascinating). It was an easy climb.
Got drenched by the rain.
Going from the deck to the peak gets a little exciting. The slope going down is steep and slippery. A rope may be necessary for support since slipping is not an option here or you will find yourself rolling down the cliff. Narrow ridges start and it gets narrower as you assault the peak.

The Knife Edge
We're wet and we were welcomed by cold winds. We really couldn't tell if we're shivering from the cold or from the fear that we were trying to conquer. I couldn't describe the feeling while I was treading Ugis Peak's knife edge. I was thrilled, scared, nervous, and at the same time, I felt so alive.

Here's a short video of the highlight of the climb. I'd say, buwis-buhay would be an understatement.


The Descent
The ascent was pretty easy.  The knife edge was scary. One wrong move and you're out. I thought we have already gone through the most difficult and survived. But that isn't the case. The descent was far more difficult than expected. We took another trail with steeper slopes, small streams, and wet rocks that made it longer for us to descend. It was almost night time when we made it back to the jump off. Most of our injuries happened going down. I don't remember the number of times I slipped. I had always exercised precaution because the trail can be tricky but even with a proper footwear and good footing, I was not spared. Maybe it would have been different if we hiked on a sunny day. But no matter, I can say that this has got to be the most technical climb I have experienced to date.

Perhaps the not-so-established trails in Ugis made trekking difficult. Add to that the bad weather that made the trails even more slippery. You need skills for rappelling. So if you're planning to climb there, whether you go river trekking or take the "normal" route, it is a must to have with you a 30-50 foot rope. Otherwise, if you're not Spiderman or a local guide, then you won't be going anywhere. You must know good footwork too (proper placing of the foot because you will be doing a little 90-degree rock climbing). And of course, you won't be able to risk going up (and down) if you don't bring a lot of guts.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat

Sadly, those are the only details I can give you. We didn't have a lot of pictures because 1.) I probably might be the worst blogger you'll ever meet because I'm too lazy to take photos, 2.) I always find myself clinging on roots, vines, branches, grasses, and whatnot for dear life, so a snapshot is less likely to happen, and 3.) I was living the moment. Charaught!
But we had a shoefie after the hike! Is this enough to show you how much trouble we got ourselves into? Haha :D
But at least, you now have an idea on what to expect there. I might sound a little exaggerated here, but that is how I truly experienced it and I am not sugarcoating anything. Everybody knows that I am a daredevil, pero nanlambot ang tuhod ko dito. I would leave the difficulty and safety up to you because I believe it varies from one person to another. But one thing is for sure, you cannot be reckless no matter how skilled and experienced you are.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat
Knife edge.

And finally, just like any other climbs, I wouldn't go down the mountain without gaining something. Friends, lessons learned, experience, and a greater thirst for more adventure. And if there's one thing that I should always keep in mind when it comes to hiking, major or minor climb, it really does not matter because one should never ever underestimate a mountain.


Til the next adventure. :)





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I won't make this long. In fact, I am just going to copy what I have said on Facebook. I don't really feel like writing anything as I am going through something quite devastating. But I owe this blog a lot of posts already. So if my thoughts do not come out nice (or do not come out at all), please pardon me. The fire that is devouring more than 300 hectares of Mt. Apo National Park feels like a stake being driven into my heart. And the bigger and further the fire goes, the deeper the wound gets. I might sound a little too overreacting but this is how I truly feel.

Today is the sixth day Mt. Apo is engulfed in fire. It pains me to know a place I've always considered home turn into ashes. And what hurts more is when I have seen it with my very eyes. I hate a lot of things this moment. I hate the irresponsibility that caused the damage. I hate how inept, inutile, and insensitive our national government is when it comes to matters like this. And I hate being weak and frail for I cannot do anything but watch helplessly from the sidelines and pray to the Almighty for a heavy downpour. If only I can do something more, other than just disseminating information and offering monetary help, then I might feel a little better.

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A few days ago, I came home from a bittersweet climb. Unfortunate things do happen, I just didn't expect it to be this horrible and depressing.

I am posting this because I want to share with you Mt. Apo in its full magnificence and glory - which I never thought would be the last we'll ever see.
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Brrr.

We were about 2,800 meters above sea level - that's just a hundred meters more to summit, maybe a few miles left to trek. I was clearly unfazed by the terrain. I was already told it was an easy trek. But still, for weeks, Jan and I conditioned our bodies for this. And it did pay off for it was definitely a walk in the park with a few uphills and steep climbs that did not seem to bother me. I never found myself catching my breath. And I could go on without taking little breaks. BUT I had to will myself to endure the cold that's never in Davao nor in any place that I've been to. Not even in Mount Apo. I have never shivered like this in Mount Apo. I had on me three layers of jacket and I can still feel the cold pierce my bones.

But the thought of those photos of every blogger who posted a perfect photo of Mount Pulag's summit was enough to propel me to go on. I know that's not what climbing is all about. But you see, we traveled more than a thousand miles from Davao and had to file a 2-day leave (without pay) for this. Judging from our time and financial resources, this is a climb that I might only do once. So a foggy view at the peak is the last thing I would want. Whatever we see up there, I sincerely hoped it was worth it.

It was still dark when when we reached the summit. The sky was illuminated by stars but it wasn't enough for me to see whatever's below us. It was just a vast and limitless horizon colored in pitch black. It didn't rain that night and the weather was perfect - which I thought was a good thing. But I was told it's not a guarantee we will see what we were here for. The weather in the mountains are an unpredictable lot - they can go from the most picture perfect sunny weather to the most unforgiving terrible conditions in a matter of seconds. If you're lucky, you'll marvel at the wondrous view of the playground of the gods. If not, well, let's just say it's the journey that really matters.

I kept my hopes up while setting my expectations low. I don't even know how's that possible. But I was in between feeling okay lang kung foggy and okay na okay kung cloudy moment. Unsure of what's stored for us, all I can do was collapse onto the shrubs, sleep, and wait.

Then streaks of yellow light started coming out from afar. The sun's rays were peeking and I can already see the endless and breathtaking view of the sea of clouds. Perfect! It was even more beautiful than I have imagined.

I was still shivering. I started to feel my thigh muscles becoming sore. Air was definitely thin and I was already drawing deep breaths. But whatever it was that I felt that moment, EVERYTHING WAS ALL WORTH IT.
Sea of Clouds Mount Pulag


Surreal.

If I have to use one word to describe Mount Pulag, it would have to be surreal.

I was standing 2,922 meters above sea level - on one of the Philippine's majestic peaks. And right in front of me, what I was witnessing was God painting the sky with the most beautiful colors and how He magically transformed the dark to light with shades of orange in between. I locked my eyes intently on to the beauty and I was trying to comprehend how close I was to the clouds for I could not believe that I am having such a humbling experience. Anyone standing there can definitely agree that they are truly in the presence of one of God's most amazing wonders.
Sea of Clouds Mount Pulag
Sea of Clouds Mount Pulag
Sea of Clouds Mount Pulag

To say that this is the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen is an understatement.

I don't think I could ever describe how I've actually seen it. It was like Mount Pulag was saying: Screw grammar, your superlatives just don't work here.

Most beautifulest very bestest sunrise, perhaps? Still not enough.
Sunrise at Mount Pulag
But more than just being awestruck in awesomeness, scaling a mountain and the freedom I get from it is what I consider home, my happy place. And much more that I have spent it with people who matter to me.
at Mount Pulag National Park
I could not think of any other person to have shared such magical moment with, than this man.
Plus the experience of building friendships across the nation with people who were total strangers to me is something I will always be thankful for. More than just the picturesque view, it's the company that I was with that made this hike very memorable.
at Mount Pulag National Park
Hello, from the Davao peeps! ;)
Mount Pulag Summit
We never knew these people before the climb.
Mount Pulag Summit
New found friends. Thank you, Jalaman's Adventure! :)
It's been a week since I was there and that moment in Mount Pulag still lingers to me. It's definitely something I will forever cherish. I am grateful to have experience such moment, to witness such beauty, and to have found awesome new friends for it made me realize how truly blessed I am. Life is indeed good. So smile!
Mount Pulag National Park

Lunch at the trail. Boodle fight with an emergency blanket? Why not?
The mossy forest

Sa uulitin Mount Pulag!

You may also want to read:  Mt. Pulag: The Playground of the Gods Part 1
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Mount Pulag
How do I even begin this post? I have already spent 10 minutes just staring at the blinking cursor of this blank page and the rest of 50 minutes were spent just looking at all our pictures in Mt. Pulag (for the nth time).

I'm still lost for words.

With this beauty, who wouldn't?


Well, first of all, I would like to thank Jan. Just a few months ago, he surprised me with a flight itinerary from Davao to Manila. Plus pogi points agad. Siyempre, I would finally be able to conquer Luzon's highest peak, not to mention, on a Valentine's Day. How's that for a gift? Better than all your bouquets, chocolates, teddy bears, and cheesy cards combined. Haha. ♥
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Last Saturday, Jan, Bretch, and I trekked General Santos City's hidden gem - the barely touched Amsikong Falls. 

The road going there isn't easy. There's not even a road to begin with. Of all my travel adventures, riding a habal-habal is the very least of the things I enjoyed. Heck, I never really liked it at all. I just have a high tolerance for heat, dusts, and leg cramps. And that was it. But believe me when I say I enjoyed this ride. This rough and rocky ride.
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To celebrate a year of dating and loving, Jan and I decided to climb Mt. Puting Bato - Samal Island's highest peak. Just so you know, Mt. Puting Bato is only 1,755 ft above sea level. It's not that high but this is where I was able to put into heart what other experienced mountaineers always remind me: Never underestimate a mountain.

Now let me tell you about a misadventure that took place on the first day of May that could've cost our lives. Okay, I am just exaggerating. But yes, it could have, if we aren't really prepared and smart enough to outwit trouble.

Our plan was to hike Mt. Puting Bato via Tayapoc trail because basing from our research, it is only a 30-minute hike but steeper compared to Guilon trail which is a 2-hour easy ascent. We, of course, chose the shorter trail to save time as we still have other places to go to.

We started hiking at 1:30pm and reached the peak by 2pm. Just in time. But when we got there, it is not the same Puting Bato that I have climbed about ten years ago. It looks totally different. But the view that was set before us is just the same. Beautiful. Breathtaking. And the feeling of freedom that comes from scaling heights, I think, is the the only thing that doesn't change over time.
Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island 

Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island
We had the mountain all to ourselves. While everyone was hitting the beach, we spent our time getting awed by the view around us. And the very highlight of this hike were the eagles soaring near us. We saw not just one, but three! It's not something you see everyday. Not in Davao, to say the least.
Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island
Eagles. Pardon the quality. This is the best my humble phone can give.
By 3:30pm, we started to descend and decided to take the Guilon trail instead since it's nearer our next destination, which is Hagimit Waterfalls. And since we were able to descend a 5-hour climb at Mt. Parker in just a span of an hour and a half, this should be easy. Or so I thought.
Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island
Taking a selfie while Jan contemplates what he has gotten himself into.
I thought I still know the trail going down. Turns out that the big change of the mountain's appearance since the first time I climbed it way back just made me as confused as Jan who's a first-timer there. In short, WE GOT LOST. We've been walking in circles, going back trail, ending up in dead ends, and getting more confused as trails started crossing one another the further we go. We thought of going back to where we ascended, but we've already gone too far and darkness started looming in.
Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island

What do we do? Since GPS doesn't work in situations like this, we started looking for signs of life, in hopes to ask for directions. Unfortunately, we found no one. All we can do was to trust our instincts. We trekked further, and seeing a water source made my hopes up. You know what it means? Civilization must be near. We followed the water pipe and voila! A human! You should know how happy I was to see another human other than Jan. We're safe now. Or so I thought.

We asked for directions, graciously thanked the lady, and rushed down the trail. The descent was more difficult than I expected. Cogon grasses started to slash my legs. One thorny bush succeeded and left me with this:

All the more, the steep trail was slowing down our pace. And we're trying to beat time here. We needed to get out of the mountain before total darkness comes. The descent took us more or less 3 hours and all the while I was thinking, a trail like this can't be hiked in 2 hours as what other bloggers say about Guilon trail. Are we really on the right track? 

If I didn't know better, I'd say we're lost again. I mean, yes, I know for sure we're lost but the view of the sea below is already visible from the point we were standing on. That means, we're almost near the foot. We continued trekking, going up and down, and sometimes going through a trail less traveled as there are no visible signs of it getting trekked on, still following the direction of the sea. As the sight of the coastal road is getting clearer, I breathed a sigh of relief.

At about 6:30 pm, we finally made it!

But aren't we supposed to be in Guilon? Apparently, we are not.

Stay tuned for part 2. I'll be off to SM for now. Pacquiao-Mayweather bout is happening in a few hours. I'm not missing it for this. Haha. See you on my next post. :)
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What have I gotten myself into?

I have asked myself that question a thousand times during our hike to Mt. Parker. And even before we started hiking, the road to the jump off point was already unforgiving. More than an hour of dusty habal-habal ride was just enough for my nostrils to gather up dusts and turn it into the biggest snot I ever had my entire life. Gross, I know. Haha.

I may have climbed several mountains before, even with higher elevation than this. But six years of mountaineering hiatus just felt like I am a newbie once again. The only difference is, I still know the essentials of mountain climbing which I still applied during the hike. 

Trudging up an easy trail was already a lot of work for me. There are times when I was on the verge of quitting especially when the sun was trying to fry me and my back was about to raise the white flag. But there's no way to quit when you've already covered at least half of the entire hike.

Since we couldn't keep up with our company's pace, Jan and I decided to just enjoy the trail instead. After all, we can't get lost in it as there's only one trail up. We started hiking at our own pace and did several rests in between. Yes, technically, it was only the two of us hiking, constantly checking up on each other, looking for that tiny bird species that can surprisingly make a sound as loud as the ambulance sirens and admiring the unusual flora while others were already way ahead of us.
Mt. Parker
Our first climb together!

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