Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Mt. Amuyao Recall

When OLAYS find the time to reunite either in the mountains or in the metro, someone would always ask if we are ready to go back to Mt. Amuyao? Instead of giving a straight YES or NO answer , we usually respond with statements like, “ Grabe yung Amuyao na yun”, “Haggardo Versoza” , or the famed expression “Umayaw sa Amuyao”.  With these testimonials, one can infer that we did had a one hell of experience in that mountain. I even said to myself right after  I took my last step at the exit point after finishing the traverse that this mountain is officially on my list on the Mountains Not To Revisit.  Hands on the waist, I smiled and I sighed.

6 Years had passed and I may not be able to recount the nitty gritty of our adventure but I can surely provide the Top 10 Reasons why there is a love- hate relationship between me and Amuyao. 

1. We arrived at the jump off point at Barlig, Mountain Province and it was raining.  I once learned that rain is a form of blessing and I thought that it was a symbol of welcoming us and would later subside. Oh boy, I was wrong.  The rain was consistent all throughout our trek . It chose to accompany us all the way to the summit and it has a direct relationship with the height of the mountain. The higher the elevation, the greater the amount of rainfall. Just our luck. 

2. I thought  I was walking the stairways to heaven. It was an all ascend slope and I can’t recall if there were even gradual slopes. If there were any, they were so minimal that I can’t pull them out of my memory. We spent hours walking and most of us carried huge backpacks. At the first part of the trek, I was still ecstatic. Every now and then I would asked  “Are we there yet?” and looked up at the trail ahead. Towards the end, I fall into silence and focused on just my small steps as I was convinced that it would still be a long way to go and looking at the degree of inclination of the distance ahead was not really helpful.

3. We started with the group being intact but adding the factors of the trail, weather and the weight
of our backpacks, we created micro groups.  At first, the group was divided into two but as the trek progressed, we were further subdivided into smaller groups and even individuals. We were climbing at our own pace and it was like playing “ the boat is sinking, group yourselves into two and then three.” I was just finding humor amidst the condition. We arrived at the summit at different intervals. The first group was even hours apart from the last pack. I was one of the those at the middle of the pack. It came to a point that we even planned to do an emergency camp before reaching the summit as we were all exhausted. We had foods in the bag so we thought that should be enough to get us through the night and since there were no flat areas to pitch our tents, we planned on wrapping ourselves inside the garbage bags  to give us warmth before daylight. The irony of this plan was that it was conceptualized within few meters away from the summit. With exhaustion, our vision was impaired that we were not able to see the satellite looming at the distance. The satellite is the summit's marker. With the vision impaired and so is the judgment. 

4. Arriving at the summit, we were lucky enough that we can be accommodated in the bunkhouses. We stayed inside rather than sleeping at our tents. Plus, I find it challenging to pitch the tent outside as the wind was strong and area was mostly cemented. Inside the bunkhouse, we got to refuel our energy and prepare for the next days ahead as we traverse the mountain.

5. Spectacular. Outstanding. Amazing. These words are even understatement as to the views that Mt. Amuyao offered from its summit. The view of the sea of clouds and surrounding mountains made us forget the challenges we had from the other day and it was a perfect opportunity to had a moment with yourself and with mother nature.

6. As we descended on the other side, we thought it would be fairly easy  but the adventure was just getting started. What we experienced from the other day was just nothing compared to what lay ahead. There were trails when it was  just all descend and you would be happy as you would not reach the maximum capacity of your lungs compared when you are climbing up. But if you are doing this for hours, you would pity your knees and for some of us, they chose to go down by sliding on their butts.

7. We even passed on paths in which the trail easily erodes that lead to the most unforgettable moment of 

my life. I passed on that part of the trail and I fell on the side with few meters down.  I thought it would be the last moment of my life but thankfully, there were some plants and trees that I was able to grab on to that helped me pushed myself back to the top. The trees had thorns and I didn’t mind that as I was hanging on for my dear life. I survived without any fractures but the bruises on my face , arms and legs were testimonies that I won the battle.  With that incident, I was very careful in the next steps I took but it was not sufficient learning experience for everyone as some had their fair share of experience of the fall. Some were even worse than what I had.  Everytime we passed a trail that’s too steep and narrow, we usually exclaimed “Here we go again.”

8. Overtimes are not just for work. These words can become available when climbing as well. During our Amuyao Traverse, we never had a chance to rest before sunset. We were still walking even at 8 PM even though we started on time. We even had an emergency camp on the second day as we were still far from Cambulo Village where we were supposed to spend the night. We chose a location that is flat and near the water source for an emergency campsite. We tried to squeeze all our tents on that small areas so we can rest for the night. When we woke up the following day, we thought that the emergency camp location was a blessing as it was situated between two mountains with the view of rice terraces in between.

9. Feeling exhausted for the past two days, we were eager to get this done until we reach the Batad
Rice Terraces. Prior to reaching the viewpoint , we were motivated to walk fast so we can rest at the shedhouse before finally proceeding to the exit point.  What surprised us when we reached the viewpoint was the panoramic view of rice terraces. The guides mentioned that the shed house was just a rest stop and failed to inform us that we can see the hidden beauty of Batad Rice Terraces from there as it was meant as a surprise for us. It was indeed a good rest with the best views in front of us.  What I was only able to see in postcards was a reality  in front of my eyes and to complete the experience of the rice terraces , we literally walk on them. 

10.Our guides said that from the viewpoint, exit point would be near but he did not mentioned that it would be another ascend so it is another enduring walk to the top where our rented jeepney awaited us. I carried the views of Batad Rice Terraces in my mind so I would not be able to mind the painful walk to exit. To top it all, stairs was the finale before reaching the exit. 

The Amuyao experience was tough most especially that I was a newbie then. It was a test not just of the physical strength but as well as the emotional and mental aspects of our being. It molded our character and the mountaineers that we are today. 

Throw me the question if I want to climb Mt. Amuyao again. This time, no more beating around the bushes. Ill give you a straightforward answer. And it would be, " Oh hell, yes!"

Credits: Thanks to Sir Maykol for some of the photos in this blog