The tall grass scratched my bare arms and legs as I marched along the narrow, nearly faded trail. The heat of the sun was making me more exhausted as the trees were becoming fewer along the way. I was already lagging behind my friends though we were not yet halfway there. But I was not worried about getting lost. I was worried that my sneakers were about to give up.
These shoes have been my companion for quite some time. I bought them so I could have a nice comfty footwear in Ireland three years ago. Though this pair has been with me in a few adventurous moments, I rarely bring them along at hikes. Only lately, the signs of wearing out were seen on them. Despite of this, I thought it was safe to bring them along to Maranat Falls.
We have heard so much about these falls after visiting Mt. Balagbag. It was located at Mt. Maranat, between the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan, which was just beside Mt. Balagbag. In order to get to that falls, we had to take the same trail going to Mt. Balagbag, expect that we had to take a detour in the middle of the way.
I was expecting Heidi, the friendly dog, to tag along with us again. But since we arrived quite late in the morning, she must have accompanied other hikers who came earlier.
Though most of the area along the mountain was almost bare and isolated, it was slowly
being developed as a habitable place. A few cottages can be seen, surrounded by landscape and little vegetable gardens. As the trail elevates, we could view the town of Norzagaray in Bulacan opening before us. Going further, the trail becomes more isolated and grassy.
Catching up with my friends, my shoes could not keep from being totally worn-out. At last they gave in, like twins crying out with their tongues sticking out. I tried to reach the waterfalls still wearing them but I could not keep them on my feet soon enough.
Fortunately, my friend Riza had slippers to lend me. Not wanting to leave my faithful sneakers behind, I tied them on my backpack. These slippers I was now wearing can have the tendency to become slippery when wet. Good thing the ground then was nearly level and dry. But when we were near the falls, that’s where I had to be extra careful.
Lans and Rozi had already reached the falls by then, as they were quicker than us. Riza was also being extra careful while using a sturdy stick to support herself, as it was her first time to hike. Our tour guide, Mang Macoy, who was quiet most the time, had to assist me going down. I feel
pathetic at this, especially I am the one always assisted by tour guides and most of them were thinner than me. The trail downwards was becoming steeper and slippery. More thorny plants were clinching on my clothes and bag. I felt more exhausted, thinking that it would take an eternity reaching those falls.
But part of me wanted to jump off those rocks at the sound of trickling water. The falls! The falls! I can’t wait to dive into the cool water. Upon coming there, I had a sigh of relief. It’s better than discovering hidden treasure in a clandestine jungle.
We ate our lunch beneath the lush, green trees upon reaching the falls. I suddenly felt sleepy when the cool air surged on my tired muscles. Putting my backpack beneath my head and stretching my legs upon the cold, bare rock, I was lulled to sleep. The rest of us did the same, invibing nature into our souls. Oh, this is a dream come true!
When we woke up, I lost my urge to dive into the pool. I dipped my feet into the cool waters for a while, washing the tiny scratches on my legs. But I couldn’t bring my whole self into the water as it was too cold for me. Riza also watched from afar, too tired to bring herself down into the pool. We just waited for Lans and Rozi who had jaunted nearer to the falls to take more pictures.
It was time to go back home. Once again, I was lagging behind. I was slower than before, perhaps because I did not have the time to work out. We’d have short breaks one at a time. But at one of those breaks, we noticed that one of us was missing.
Since we were already quite distant from one another, Rozi walked along the wrong
detour. She struggled to find a way out, which was already a dangerous trail. In the end, she cried because of the possibility of being left alone at night. By then, Mang Macoy was able to find her and bring her back.
Weeks after this hike, Lans and I discussed that we need to have training on first aid and other survival management skills. We realized it’s time to discard that tourist mindset when going on a hike. There’s always the possibility for the need of survival at these kinds of travels.
Towards the end of this hike, Riza and I lagged totally behind the group. Twilight was already there, and we could already see the stars peeking on the open, purple skies. It was totally dark when we came at the little baranggay hall at the quiet town of San Jose Del Monte. The town was almost completely covered in darkness. The light from the lamps looked like distant stars tucked away in those small houses.
I felt that we were in twilight zone when we rode in the tricycle. The road was eerily dark as we chugged along the rocky road. Yet, as the tricycle driver said, the people here are contented with their state of living. As long as they have food to eat and live well, there’s no need to strive for more. It’s a reality too far from the reality I know. I will surely miss this place again.
I have to return the slippers to Riza. My worn-out sneakers are back on my feet. But I still felt comfortable wearing them again. No matter how worn-out something may be, if they carried good memories with you, it’s not easy to throw them away.