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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's a Different High: of Mountains and Climbing and Why I Do It Even When I Don't Want To

My love affair with mountains is definitely not a whirlwind romance. Unlike backpacking--solo or otherwise, it took me a long time to convince myself that I do like the mountains, and even a longer time to realize that I am also irrevocably in love with it.

Believe it or not, I even swore it off once. No, several times. I've actually told myself a lot of times before: I'm never climbing mountains again ever. Ever.
1.) Taal: my first-sort-of-climb/youth camp with LYFE. This is where I got "heat stroked"  | Photo from LYFE
I climbed Taal (2008) and nearly fainted 50 meters into the trail. I climbed Mt. Daguldol(2010) and almost passed out halfway to the summit. I climbed Mt. Pulag (2011) and I was asking to be left behind when we were trekking up the summit at the unholy, freezing hour of 3am. I was slightly better at my succeeding climbs (2011: Mt. Sembrano | Mt Manabu, 2012: Mt Manalmon, 2013: Mt Batulao | Mt. Maculot Rockies),  but only slightly: I was almost always dizzy, tired and ready to give up halfway. But I didn't. I can't.
2.) Daguldol:  Jumpshot galore. Where did those excess energy come from? | Photo by Pinay Bundoc

Because you see, there's this some sort of magic that mountains hold over me.
3.) Pulag: Well-wrapped and still not warm
 | My story here: Mt. Pulag: Walang Drama Version
I huff 
and puff
and run out of breath
and curse myself for getting out of bed
and pray so hard that the dizziness won't set
and then actually get hit
by that disorienting feeling of the world spinning faster than it should
every single time I climb (I am actually getting dizzy now thinking about it).
Almost always I stop and sit and wish I could just stay put and wait for the others to come back from the summit. But I didn't. I can't.
4.)Sembrano: The sky is so close you can almost touch it. 
Because you see, there's this some sort of magic that mountains hold over me.
5.) Manabu: Helllooo from the top! 
It's the promise of wonderful sights of what?
Other cloud-hugged mountains, maybe.
Or perhaps a vista of distant towns or surrounding lakes.
Maybe rugged landforms and shifting waters.
Flying solitary hawks or other homebound bird-kind in V position.
Gradually changing hues of the sky or diamond-laden sky.
Sometimes you don't even see a thing worth noting 'cause it's so foggy
and yep that's awesome, too.
        It's different every time, and it's always breathtaking.
6.) Manalmon: Waiting for the sunrise

It's the promise of rejuvenation. No matter how dead tired I was before the summit, no matter how much my legs ache and my head pound while crawling up, I get recharged the moment I step into the summit. And it wasn't just a gradual returning of the energy I lost: it's an instant zap! and wham! I'm alive!  Wooohooo! *JUMPSHOT YEAH!* Yep, seriously. Five seconds ago I can't barely walk, now I'm jumping up and down in an effort to snap a picture of myself midair.
7.) Batulao: New year, new high!
It's that sort of magic that pulls me up everytime I want to sink down. It's that sort of magic that can make me endure an unbearably heavy backpack-- not in a way that I feel the backpack's any lighter but in a way that makes me think to myself: 'Hey, I can actually carry anything.' Figuratively, of course. It's that sort of magic that makes knee-buckling scrambling among rocks actually exciting and not scary-- even when it should be.
8.) Maculot Rockies: Living life on edge... and loving it. :)

When I climb, I feel empowered, confident, brave, happy and magical. That's why even when I feel I should, I can't give up any summit. That's why even when I know I can, I don't.

Hey, see you at the top? :)

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