Last February 4, I joined a mountain climbing trip to Mt. Manabu with Team Tagaktak. It was a spontaneous trip (at least for me) since my sister notified me a night before the hike. Though I was tired from the work week in Manila, I said yes because I did want to return to Manabu after four years and I wanted to meet up with my Lavoxa friends.
So yeah. The hike happened like that, on a whim, but after it all ended, it felt like I needed to be there, like it was meant to happen. I won’t narrate the entirety of what happened. Instead, I’ll just write what I learned from the climb.
Travel at your own pace.
I started confidently, striding alongside those who have more recent experiences of hiking than me. I thought to myself that Manabu was the mountain of my childhood anyway and I conquered it before. But I was badly out of shape and I needed to realize that. It was only when I allowed myself to slow down and take breaks that I was truly able to experience the hike.
There are things you don’t give up on. (Find real motivation.)
At the time of the hike, I was on the brink of deciding to move on from something big. That was when I came to learn that I don’t need to put up with meaningless things. So maybe, it was by default that I also thought of giving up on the climb after my body gave away.
But the hike wasn’t meaningless. I just couldn’t understand what it meant to me initially. I needed to find real reasons why I should go on.
Partly, it was the team, specifically Sir Jun, who really pushed me to reach the summit (because they won’t leave me no matter how much I told them that I’ll be fine). But mostly, it was a bet with the mountain and a promise with myself. I told myself that if I was able to reach the summit, I’d be able to take the “next step”, face everything toxic and live meaningfully.
There is beauty in both knowing and not knowing your limits.
The hike was a wakeup call that I was so out of shape and that I’m not living a healthy lifestyle. Two stations in, I vomited and felt my spirit exit my body. My insides were shaking and my lips lost its color. Every cell in my body begged me to quit it.
I told Sir Jun this as he egged me to continue. Then he responded saying that knowing and not knowing your limits is equally important. Thinking that you still have it in you to walk an extra mile even when you’ve exhausted yourself, can push you to exceed your limits.
Take care of yourself.
One does not simply climb mountains. Despite being in bad shape, I was able to finish the course, yes, but if I want to do it regularly, I have to start taking exercise seriously. (I actually promised myself to return in a month with more fighting spirit and a better body condition but guuuuh. I’m sorry.)
People come together through labored breaths.
I’ll admit, I was pretty intimidated by Team Tagaktak initially. I’m not an outdoorsy person or someone who actively seeks to join groups like theirs. And I know that I often get mistaken for a timid introvert with different priorities in life.
But that day, I was just myself around them. Though I’ve been dragging the trip, they made it feel okay and encouraged me all throughout. They made stopping and resting normal and they stood by the code which is to never leave anyone behind.
I know I’d be fine if the left me alone in a rest stop or something but it felt good to experience their sense of loyalty and kindness first hand.
(A/N: Kinilig ako noong inadd ako sa FB group. First climb ko pa lang naman pero kahit pa.)
Away, you can be most honest with yourself.
As we hiked, everything was just fleshed out and real – the numbness of my feet, the mud inside my shoes, the thorns poking my skin. And then, the wind, the smell of grass, sunlight. In that setting, how can you resist admitting that you are in fact, just a girl trying to take a leap of faith?
You’ll find yourself in a different place just by turning around and facing the other side of the mountain.
When we reached the summit, I turned to the side facing San Pablo. The lights were dimmer, the wind was stronger and I felt magical.
It’s okay to depend on people.
(And it won’t mean that you’re necessarily a burden.)
It’s a matter of finding your own path, and being willing to dig deep in the mud if you have to.
This is my favorite part of the hike! We went down at night and I walked at my pace (which was slower) so of course, I got separated from the group. It was fine because I made paths of my own and led Lyka who was behind me. That really motivated me to do well and wow. It felt like I had a knack of finding my own direction.
The most rewarding thing is feeling sweat flow down your forehead.
(I’ve missed sweating that much for anything.)
There’s a certain song, rhythm you come to memorize in the dark, when going down.
(And because of that, you come to memorize the landscape.)
Bet against the mountain. Promise victory.
I finished the hike. I will return a better person and conquer it(myself) again.