5 Nuggets of Wisdom Learned (and Un-Learned!) on Our Kitanglad - Dulang-Dulang Traverse

/ Wednesday, April 3, 2013 /

Sir Pitong @Dulang-Dulang's Summit, Photo by Sir Don SIngson

Since we arrived from Bukidnon two days ago, I have been itching  to write a full-blown narrative of how the Kitanglad to Dulang-Dulang traverse climb went. Yet, apart from being at loss for words, work (as always) is also to blame for the failure to provide a blow-by-blow account.

But I swear by the scratches and bruises I have in my face, arms, legs and ankles that I will craft the full story as soon as I can -- how everything went as planned on the first two days and how we ended up spending roughly 18 hours on our descent from Dulang-Dulang via the Dalwangan (also known as Lalawan) trail.

So, I will make do for now with a list.

Here are 5 nuggets of wisdom learned (and un-learned!) while we attempted to sequentially summit two of the country’s highest peaks -- Mount Kitanglad and Mount Dulang-Dulang.

1. It always pays to “err” on the side of caution.

In my attempt to always pack light, I avoid taking “extras”. C and I have always shared his huge sleeping bag every time we go on a major climb. A week before the Bukidnon trip, C suggested we spend a portion of our travel fund in purchasing an “extra” sleeping bag --just in case it gets extremely cold up there in Kitanglad and Dulang-dulang. I disagreed. I told him I don’t need an extra sleeping bag for added warmth and comfort. “Magdala ra ko ug another jacket para i-layer sa akong fleece,” I told him. Yet he was so resolute with his suggestion that he bought another sleeping bag without me in tow. He only informed me of the new acquisition right after the purchase. I recall texting him, “I am against the purchase but I trust your decision”.

And yes, the second sleeping bag proved to be a necessity during the 3 nights we spent at the foot of Kitanglad, its summit, and Dulang-Dulang’s peak.

2. Energy bars are pricey because they really live up to their name. They will quickly provide you with energy when you badly need lots of ‘em.

Again, this is another decision by C that I was not really keen about. We were doing our last minute purchase of supplies, including trail foods, when he suggested that we try one of those energy bars. I was quick to point out that energy bars are just fancy and overpriced food products. But he kept on bugging me that we give these bars a try. After around 3 times of going back and forth the energy bars section at the grocery, I eventually gave in under the condition that we only buy 2 pieces  and that we should not eat them unless we ran out of our regular trail food.

And yes, we eventually ran out of our regular trail food and we badly needed all the energy we can muster during the 18-hour descent. And the two pieces of bars saved the day (or should I say night!). Yet, I have no plans of taking energy bars with me on my next expected long trek, I would probably just take more trail foods with me. :D I  am not fully sold with the long list of ingredients printed at the back of the energy bar wrapper.

3. Your hormones may get the better of you but you can actually tame them if you want to.

This realization particularly applies to women who are into the outdoors. For the first time since I started mountain climbing, I had my menstrual period on our second day -- the day we traversed from Kitanglad to Dulang-Dulang. Currently, there is no solid scientific evidence linking premenstrual syndrome to extreme mood swings in women. Yet, I am one of those women who go through all kinds of mood shifts every time the monthly period fairy sprinkles her damn bloody dust.

Roped Segment Between Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang
The day we summitted Dulang-Dulang was no exception. I experienced all kinds of annoyance and irritation with the littlest of things during the trek such as G's funny antics.  For the first part of the climb, C and I was with majority of the tail group, with our guide M, Ca, T, and P leading the pack. Suddenly, I had this urge to separate from the rest of the tail group and trek in between the lead pack and the trail group. “I want some peace, a bit of Zen,” I reasoned out to C when he asked me why I was quickening my pace while trying to distance myself from the tail group. I indeed had my dose of Zen when C and I were able to position ourselves in between the lead pack and the tail group. Later in the day, when we were able to summit Dulang-Dulang, I realized that I was such a sissy in allowing my hormones get the better of me and hurt G’s feelings in the process (I told him “Dili ta friends ron kay gidugo ko” before we separated from the tail group). Fortunately, I was able to control further damage by my hormones on the same day. G and I sort of "made peace" when we reached Dulang-dulang’s summit. :) It may sound so immature but when you’re up there and you feel all kinds of excruciating pain courtesy of your monthly period fairy, you will most likely be annoyed with even the littlest of things.

The sudden burst of angst and irritation also worked to my advantage. I did a lot of “rock climbing and rappelling” moves without too much fuss. I don’t remember uttering a complaint on our 2nd day because I was so focused on just moving forward so we can reach camp, rest, and seek menstrual cramp relief.

4. Strength, speed, and endurance are at equal parts vital for anyone who wants to explore the outdoors but the true measure of a mountaineer is his ability to admit weakness and seek help from co-mountaineers.

Our guide M perfectly portrayed this when he asked G and J to replace him in exploring the rest of the trail while we were lost on the way down from Dulang-Dulang. It was getting dark and his knees were starting to weakened.  He needed to slow down.

5. Just when you thought that you cannot, you actually can.

It may sound just another clichéd epiphany but it occured to me on the last few hours of our epic 18-hour descent. We were running out of water and trail food; everything around us was already pitch black except for our headlamps and the occasional starlight.  We had no idea where we were, we just kept on moving. We crawled through trails that were not suited for humans to pass through. There were no gnarled roots to hold on to and each step is calculated to avoid falling from ravines. Several members of the group suggested that we set up an emergency camp the moment we find a sufficiently durable space. While setting up camp was probably one of the sensible things to do at that moment, the others suggested that it wasn't possible. We were very low on water and food for the rest of the night. So we had no other choice but move on, one painful foot over the other.

It feels really good to be back home with these nuggets of lessons learned safely tucked for future use. And yes, I am grateful for another day like today to tell my version of our Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang story.


{ Kikit } on: April 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM said...

Payter Kai! Great experience, powerful words. Dili ko sure ug kakaya ko ani. Pwede siguro pero magdala ug duha ka porter for the trail food. hahaha :D

{ Jan } on: April 3, 2013 at 1:35 PM said...

Hahaha! Yes to the porter for extra trail food, Kit!

Hats off to you & Chong & your group, Kai!

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