Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘fear of heights’

​Breathing Adventure: Flying To the Rocky Summit of Mt. Paliparan

My chocolate bar has already melted. I set it before the air conditioning vent so I can bite that sweet piece that would replenish me from that 11-hour hike (which included 2 hours of picture taking). Still, its sweetness is nothing compared to the joy of being in the outdoors again.

We were back in Tanay, Rizal to explore Mt. Paliparan. Standing at more than 500 meters above sea level, it was one of the newly-opened hiking sites that’s fit for beginners and weekend warriors like me. But this weekend warrior had to strip off her title for a while because her little adventure army has chosen Monday as a date to conquer new land. Weekends would attract endless crowds that are likely to clutter the mountain, the view, and our photos with photobombers. 

The grassy trail

Brgy. Cuyambay would be accessible through public transportation (jeep from Cubao to Cogeo, another jeep to Bary. Cuyambay, and tricycle to the baranggay hall where registration takes place). Since we have to reach the place before sunrise, private transportation would be more convenient and safer to take. 

We originally planned the Maysawa Circuit because we wanted to see the sea of clouds. But the tour guides gave us Mt. Paliparan as another option. They suggested Maysawa Circuit would be best visited in August because the rains would make the sea of clouds more visible. Besides, they warned us of the abundance of limatik (leeches) in that trail. Since Mt. Paliparan looked more adventurous, we decided to take their advice.

The trail to the summit is reminiscent of almost all of the mountains we had visited. The vast farmland leading to the trail reminded us of Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Maranat, the grassy slopes was like the trail at Mt. Maculot, while the assault leading to the summit brought Mt. Pamitinan to mind. The rest of the trail was easy except for the last trail leading to the summit.

The first peak

Mt. Paliparan has four peaks. All of these are marked with huge, towering boulders that were challenging to climb. The tour guides have told us the mountain was called as such because it was a site where small Japanese planes used to land during World War II.

The second peak

A small cave can be visited along the way. It is a perfect place for hiding from the nasty heat of the sun. 

The trail was littered with flowers and colorful berries that seemed luscious but not edible. Small amorseco (hitchhiker plants) have annoyingly clung onto our clothing. The tall grasses were not helpful in giving us shade as they managed to annoy and tickle our sunburnt faces. We relieved ourselves with the sight of Laguna Lake, the old cement factory and the wind turbines at a distance.

While the rest of the trail proved to be easy, the assault going to the summit was challenging and quite dangerous. This is the time when gloves are highly needed. The sharp and jagged rocks, though may be helpful in providing footing, can be relentlessly unforgiving on bare hands. 

It requires rock scrambling and rappelling to get to the very top of the boulder that sits on the mountain’s highest peak. It was tempting to give up because I was struggling to carry my body’s weight on the rope. But I was challenged when the tour guides told me, “Since you’re here, you’ll regret it if you don’t do it.”

I felt like a champion when I have scrambled on that rock. Once I got hold of the pink flag that mightily fluttered in the wind, I felt like I have conquered the cowardly giant in me. Everybody was a winner that day. We had to reward ourselves by resting in the Dumagat village which would take about an hour to reach.

The Dumagat people are one of the nation’s indigenous tribes living in Luzon. If you were lucky, they would cook tinola or pinikpikan for you (these are local chicken dishes, one is made with soup). However, there were no chickens available that day. We ended up with buko juice and pansit canton. 

The adventure would not be complete without visiting Tungtong Falls. The trail, which would take another hour from the Dumagat community, lingered around giant, dark, round rocks and cool streams. The waterfall was small but refreshing. Instead of diving, I took a short nap because I was so tired from the trip. 

The tour guides were wise enough not to bring us to the highest falls which required rappelling again. We were so exhausted from the very, long trail. One of us had sprained her knee and ankle. We enjoyed the final stretch of the trail by taking our own slow paces back to the starting point. 

Despite the strenuous journey, I was revitalized with the beauty of nature. Experiencing this is a privilege because it is a gift from the Greatest Artist in the universe. Seeing, touching, and feeling such immense creation is like seeing the very heart of God who made these things because He loves us greatly. It’s something you won’t find everyday in the mechanical jungle called Manila.

The river trail

As I closed my eyes to sleep in the van, I kept a clear picture of the pristine waters, the warm summer heat, and the vast sights from the summit. The memory I had treasured that day was the ability to conquer my secret fear of heights. That instance made me dare for more. I hope that little courage gained would not abandon me on my next adventure. 

The adventure team

Overcoming Mountains and Caves

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI had the fear of heights.

And I did not realize this until my last vacation in Sagada just this Sunday.

After a long time, I had to chance to get out of this fast, city life for a while. Sagada was my dream place. I’ve been longing to trek nature and discover the unseen places never found in Manila. But who says it was easy? The biggest battle was not against nature but against self.

I was the slowest in the group. I lagged behind my friends whenever we trekked

Rock climbing at Sumaging Cave. It was here when I learned that I had a very weak grip. I managed to reach the top though :)

Rock climbing at Sumaging Cave. It was here when I learned that I had a very weak grip. I managed to reach the top though 🙂

the mountains. I could hardly catch my breath, but that was only the start.

At the Sumaging Cave, the slower I became. What slowed me down the most was that I was actually fighting the thought of crashing into the ravine. Yes, I trembled at every step. Not because it was cold or I was tired, but because I was scared of taking a step to the next jagged rock. I starred at every foothold I was stepping on so to keep my eyes away from the unseen end point shrouded in darkness. Whenever I did, I wanted to faint, struggling against an alter ego that whispered that I can never make it.

I saw my weakness. I felt the pain. But I saw that out of this, I learned much.

I was reminded that I cannot do all things without Christ who strengthens me.

Having fun with friends at the mountain top...Sagada, here we are!! :D

Having fun with friends at the mountain top…Sagada, here we are!! 😀

I saw the goodness in people. My friends encouraged me as I starred at every step. Instead of being sullen at my cause of delay, one of them said how she appreciated us city people for not complaining along the way. I did not realize how patient I was, that all I was looking forward was to get to the end point of the hike.

But most of all, I saw the beauty of God’s creation. I felt even more alive as I moved on. If I had stopped and left behind, I never had seen the unseen inner beauty of the caves, the culture of the people in life

Hanging coffins at Sagada. Through these, I learned how the natives valued their loved-ones as well as the afterlife.

Hanging coffins at Sagada. Through these, I learned how the natives valued their loved-ones as well as the afterlife.

and death, and the loveliness of the hills and mountains.

God left me awestruck with who He is. Opening my eyes, I realized how big He is while how little I am. Here’s this little me googling in His big, big world of mountains and cave. I would never have experienced His amazing creation if I ended up looking at postcards. The passion that had brought me out of my box for a while rewarded me with a whole range of experience to my senses and to my knowledge of Him. The industrialization that man tries to expand are nothing compared to God’s great works. The roads, bridges, and houses I see clustered on the mountains are too small to compare to the Creator’s handicrafts.

I could have hesitated to stand by this cliff and look beyond there. But, I would rather see myself conquering my fears and uncertainties. Sagada, I came, I saw, and I conquered! :D

I could have hesitated to stand by this cliff and look beyond there. But, I would rather see myself conquering my fears and uncertainties. Sagada, I came, I saw, and I conquered! 😀

Unconsciously, I soon learned to place the right foot at every downward step and move a little faster. Too bad I only learned it on the last day. True, I obtained cramps and muscle pain like my other friend from Manila. Yet, the two day visit to Sagada was memorable. Perhaps the pain we had was a reminder that one had to break from his shell in order to feel a whole new world we never had before.

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