On Scaling Boulders and Chasing Fireflies

/ Tuesday, November 30, 2010 /

It never occurred to me that I will be backpacking for Mount Talinis in Dumaguete this year, not even in the next five years and perhaps, not in this lifetime. Lifetime, eh?

You see, I have this love-hate relationship with the outdoors. The ocean to me is the ex-lover who turned out to be the purely platonic pal through the years. But every time I look the opposite direction and gaze at the green mountains and ridges towering the city, those boys who thought I was just another nerd that is not worth their time and effort comes to mind right away. I have already accepted the fact a long time ago that trekking and mountaineering are just one of the many things in life that will be included in my ‘I'd-love-to-do-but-I-can't’ list. Why? One of my instructors in nursing school used to call me clumsy; I preferred the library over the school gym and bleachers during my University days. And there was once a lousy 8 year-old who showed up in YMCA's summer swimming clinics back in the 90s. So yeah, scaling boulders is out of the question.

Fast forward to now. 2010 is supposed to be my make-or-break year; I started the year with overflowing hope that one of my lifelong dreams of seeing the world will materialize. But August came and after several attempts of reaching for the dream, it seems like that the Cosmos is not yet sure if I deserve it. The last time I tried, I can almost grasp it with my bare hands and smell victory from next door, only to be told that I failed. Again.

Fresh from another stint of failure, I welcomed the idea of doing something new, a distraction of sorts. Dan and Insoy of Tsinelas told me about this waterfall that is just a hike away from the city and they invited me to tag along on a Sunday. Since I have been missing a lot of Tsinelas activities, I said yes. I was also curious which waterfall they were talking about - the only one I know of is the popular Kawasan Falls in Badian. How on earth can a city full of smog house a waterfall?

The group met somewhere in Talamban and my initial reaction was ‘Holy Smokes'! I have to sound outrageous here to give you an idea of how surprised and confused I was at the same time. Why are these people carrying bags that huge? Is the world about to end for them to pack like that? Are we really going home later in the day? And talk about being underdressed, too. I was wearing beach shorts and a shirt plus a pair of rubber slippers and my good ol' sling bag. On the other side of the road, the girls were wearing trekking shoes, leggings and warmers.

Surprise, surprise! That day turned out to be one of the longest Sundays I had. And I never had the slightest idea that there will be longer Sundays after that.

I saw the other side of Cebu City while trekking down Budlaan River and I met the Ewit Mountaineers, too. I have heard of them a couple of times since they have been working hand in hand with Tsinelas and Beyond Art's Sake but I never had the chance to meet them. While traversing down Budlaan's boulders and still waters, I felt like a stranger in my own home city. I have heard of Barangay Babag before but it sounded too far to me. Yet, I was there in the flesh.

Aside from being overwhelmed with the new sights to behold coupled with a few slips here and there, I was also overwhelmed with the new faces I met during the trek. There are some whose names are easy to remember while there are some whom I get to remember only the face. But it doesn't really matter if I remembered the name to a face - all of them were there to help. Everyone's always ready to extend a hand when you find it difficult to step on your own. One offers his rain coat while others are there to hand you a jug of drinking water when you need one. And there’s the simple but priceless smile to remind you that everything’s okay as long as they are around. They are the Ewit Mountaineers that I met that day.

And the rest was history, as hackneyed as it may sound. New words were added to my vocabulary such as ‘assault’ and ‘night trek’. Aside from learning different rope work techniques, exploring other peaks and meeting new people, I also learned that genuine bliss is just a climb away. No matter how tired one's feet are, reaching a mountain's highest point is a feeling beyond words can express. It gives one a wider perspective, allowing one to see things beyond the material world. It did for me. Unadulterated happiness, indeed, does not come with a price tag- it is as simple as chasing fireflies at Mount Talinis’ peak.


{ Kikit } on: November 30, 2010 at 4:49 PM said...

Climbing mountains gives me a sense of spiritual achievement. When you reach the peak, it just feels different.

Nicely written Kai. Hope to go climbing again soon. :)


{ Kai } on: December 1, 2010 at 1:07 PM said...

Salamat kaayo, Kit. Basin siguro different feeling ato ma-experience kay nipis ang ang hangin sa babaw, hahha. :D

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