I felt I was ready to be blown away like a wingless bird. The wind was blowing hard over the green grass taller than any of us. On the top of the mountain, we could see Laguna stretched before us. In a few hours, it will soon be sunset. I thought coming here was quite too late. But seeing that we have Mt. Kalisungan to ourselves, I guess we came just in time.
For the first time, I came hiking with a totally different group. I was invited by a friend’s friend because I was of her same age. Besides, it would be her first hiking experience. She was worried she would be out of place as most in the group are young people (wait…I also belong to that age group, don’t I?)
I easily befriended the girls as we had much time to get to know each other at a fastfood restaurant along the metro rail transit. The smell of breakfast meals, coffee, and burgers did not tempt me as we waited for the boys for two hours. Banana and crackers were enough for me. I feared that the carbs from the burgers would weigh me down.
It was 8am when the boys arrived. I was dismayed that we left too late for a day hike. The
estimated travel time from Manila to Laguna would be two hours or so. It was high noon when we arrived at Laguna.
We had to start our hike immediately after a quick lunch. We were welcomed by the rain when we arrived at Mt. Kalisungan’s jump off. Thus the soil became damp and muddy, my shoes becoming soiled easily. The sun then shone again, making the hike a bit humid. Fortunately, there were much trees along the trail that lessened the heat of the sun. Though I was exhausted easily at the first leg of the journey, the cool breeze was becoming more refreshing the higher that we get on the mountain. My spirits were lifted up more when the view was becoming clearer at a higher plane.
But the remarkable part of the journey was finding gold in the middle of wilderness. We don’t mind it in the city but it becomes valuable when our water canisters are empty.
We found that in a little shack near the steeper part of the trail. It was actually an improvised store that offers soda. No water. Only soda.
Still, it’s a good thing for me. As long as it’s cold and it’s something to drink, I’ll take that. Even when it’s double the price.
The last part of the hike was more slippery as it was steeper than any parts of mountain. I had a hard time clinging to trees and plants as some of them were thorny. My leggings are even more littered with these green hitchhiker-like plants. When the trees were cleared by the tall, looming grass, I knew I was almost there — and I was struggling even more.
At last, I found myself on the top of the mountain. There goes the wind, blowing like mad at me. I never thought it could be that strong!
We checked out the summit of Mt. Kalisungan. But the 360 degree view they were talking about was covered by even more tall grass. We might as well return to the other peak and enjoy the clearer view there.
No other group was on the mountain with us. The sun was also calmer was it was preparing to land at the far horizon. It was the perfect moment to enjoy the mountain. At that point, the others were already planning to return here soon enough.
Mt. Kalisungan reminded me of Mt. Jumbo of Benguet where the winds were cooler and the breeze almost strong. I would have loved to wait and watch the sunset but we have to leave at 4pm. We had already taken 3 hours on our ascent. We hoped that our decent would be lesser than 3 hours. That means almost no rest on the way. And it was trouble for me.
That’s when I missed my friends. We had this bond that made us know of each other’s
strengths and weaknesses. Although one of the boys did not leave me, the one being slowest in the group, I would have enjoyed the “left behind” moment with another close friend. Or maybe with a really talkative tour guide who had a lot of stories to tell. Besides, we had no common memory to talk about. I was not even in the mood to get to know other people.
Dusk was beginning to hover over the horizon. The man who owned the little store near the summit had gone before us with his horse.
No matter how many times I have tripped, I was already running on the trail, as if the darkness was chasing me. I realized another mistake at this point. I had no headlamp. And the need for it came at the day I did not expect it.
The tour guide came back for us. The light from his phone was weak enough to battle the darkness that already covered our trail. Perhaps he was not expecting this darkness, either. Still, he kept on looking back at us, trying to hear our footsteps crunching upon the stones on the trail.
Everybody clapped when we reached the end of the trail. It’s was like surviving a long
hard journey. But the experience was worth the memory. I just hope this experience is also worth the lessons I need to apply on the next hike.
After the failed attempt to remove these clingy plants off my leggings and washing myself of from the mud and dirt, we need to reward ourselves. The town of Calauan in Laguna seem
to have its own duck-breeding business, we had to try at least a dish made of duck. Adobong itik everyone?
I hope I can return soon to Mt. Kalisungan. But when I do, I will return with my hiking buddies. There’s nothing like having adventure with your closest friends, isn’t it? 🙂