Sept. 21, 2005, that was a Wednesday, I recall. The two ComSci blocks visited the towns in the south as part of our Hist 1 class’ Heritage tour. Fast forward nine years, we’ll be doing the same – just three to four towns at a time. Our goal is to eventually cover all the towns in Cebu, including those in the north, hopefully by the end of the year.
I call this “The Road to Discovery” project. What we can gain from it, I could name a few. And who knows, we might encounter our long lost soul mates along the road, cross paths with them at some old church, or perhaps take the same bus rides. After all, fate works in ways we could only imagine.
My friends and I wanted to embark on a quest to conquer Cebu’s highest mountain peak. So a month before our scheduled trip, I did a little research on Dalaguete – anything there is to know about the town: its famous Osmeña Peak, historic and centuries-old churches, natural springs, delicacies, etc.
Several blogs I’ve stumbled upon states that the trek to O-Peak wasn’t that difficult, as majority of the trail was following rough roads. As it turned out, that wasn’t our case. Roads comprised less than one-fifth of our trail. Many pathways were narrow and a little slippery, too. As someone who is not used to hiking for hours while carrying heavy backpacks, it was quite challenging. But definitely, it’s also one of my most rewarding experiences!
It was a fine Saturday morning, on the 21st of April, when I met up with my friends at around 11AM at the Caltex Gasoline Station (situated near USJR and the Carbon Wet Public Market) where the minibus station is. The buses here are all bound for Mantalongon Public Market; bus fare at the time was only P100; and travel time takes around 2-3 hours. In creating your own travel itinerary, you might want to consider the possible delays as bus departures also depend on passenger load.
We started heading off at half past twelve.
And after almost three hours of my internal battle against motion sickness, the bus came to a full stop, and the passengers began unloading. We had finally arrived!
We made a quick stop here to buy some food and supplies. Around the vicinity were motorcycle drivers who offered to take us directly to the foot of the mountain for a 30-minute drive and save us maybe an hour worth of trekking. But where’s the fun in that?
So we started hiking from the market and just around the bend, after a few minute’s walk, we found this grotto. I tried counting the number of steps, but as I went up each one, I felt some shortness of breath and eventually, I lost count. Haha.
After taking pictures and saying a quick prayer, we continued walking.
We passed by a lot of vegetable plantations. There were plenty of them, really! And they made me miss my farm. Here’s to hoping for an abundant harvest!
After stopping several times, either to take photos or to rest, we needed to increase our pace. One of us, a lady whom I’ve just met earlier that day and whom we fondly called Madame Phink, just came from a running event. Funny thing was, Mr. Harvey ended up with her backpack after she hinted that it’d be far easier to climb without all the added weights. Poor dude. Haha
It was getting dark and we must setup our tents before sundown.
Minutes passed. Tired and excruciatingly exhausted. But each step we took brought us closer to success. A few hundred meters more and voila! Such a breathtaking view!
The campsite was packed with other campers from the city, which made the place feel safer. There were also local guides, mostly kids and teenagers, who kept watch over us and whom we called on when we needed something.
Then it was dinnertime. Eating half-cooked rice prepared by Mr. Harvey – a first! Me cooking fried chicken – another first!
After dinner cleanup, we played card games inside the tent as it was freezing cold outside. Daisy performed some card tricks which were an epic fail, I must say. Haha. By midnight, we were still wide awake (except for Richard and Nhel who got knocked down already) so we decided to go to the summit.
Darkness and heights are two of my greatest fears. And if you put them together, they spell warla. I wanted to come with them, so I mustered up all my courage and put up my strong facade. I struggled with each step, carefully treading the rocky path, and keeping my headlights properly positioned.
No one else was there when we reached the area. Cold, heavy winds were blowing from all directions – it’s no wonder why pitching tents here is prohibited.
We sat on top of this rock and at that very moment, we’re at the highest point of Cebu – at approximately 1000M above sea level. You can’t see it from the photo but we were surrounded by fireflies, too. I was dazzled by these night creatures for I’ve never seen one before. And here I was, seeing multitudes as I glanced over my shoulder, with some of them landing on my hands and shirt. But much more than this, the starry night sky was a sight to behold. If you love the stars as much as I do, you should try this or you’ll miss half of your life. 😀
A few hours later, Mr. Sun greeted us.
I strolled around the area and took some pictures.
Shortly before we had breakfast, it started to drizzle, prompting us to eat inside our tents. We finished quickly and then packed our things since it was surely going to rain. Heavy downpour came just when we thought the drizzling had stopped. And worse, Ian was out doing God knows what. The memory gives us such a good laugh even until now. 🙂
When the rain stopped, we went to the summit one last time before heading down.
Our descent was a lot more difficult, particularly because of the rain. Slopes and pathways had become muddy. But thank God we got down safely. 🙂
Our next stop was the 300-year old church, but that would be another story. 😀
So that concluded my first ever climbing experience. And I look forward to doing more of these in the future. Mountain trekking is not only fun; it also teaches us more about ourselves – our endurance, our emotions, our limitations, our responses to certain stress factors, and how we cope with unforeseen circumstances. Truly an amazing experience. 🙂
Let me end this post by leaving you with the most befitting quote I could think of:
When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top.