I am way in over my head here. This is suicide. These were my cheery thoughts as I prepared for the traverse from Mt. Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad, the country’s second and fourth highest peaks, respectively. I’ve climbed a few mountains but I still can’t consider myself a mountaineer. Whenever I try to say “I’m a mountaineer,” I break into raucous fits of laughter. By and large, I’m just a wimpy, masochistic idiot whose ambitions far exceed her physical abilities.
I got the idea of doing a traverse on my first Dulang-Dulang climb last October. I saw Mt. Kitanglad from the D2 summit and thought “Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if I managed to walk from here to there?” My flashes of sheer brilliance are priceless, I tell you.
After blogging about the D2K traverse and sending out email blasts to everyone on my contacts list, I got quite a lot of response from people who want to join. I was ecstatic, thinking I won’t be doing this solo after all. Then they all backed out for one reason or another and I was back to square one. I’m used to traveling on my own and wouldn’t mind doing the climb with just a guide but the costs are too high for me to shoulder alone.
Two days before my trip to Bukidnon, I got a call from a random guy who said he read my blog and he wants to come with me. I didn’t expect anything definite until he’d actually show up in Bukidnon with his backpack. And what do you know, he did show up.
Ben, our guide, said another climber would be joining us. She’s hardcore and has a lot experience climbing tough mountains, he said. I grinned and thought, “Great! There’s someone to balance out my wimpiness and inexperience.”
We scrambled to get food supplies just as stores were closing up, slept in a hostel, and traveled to the bus terminal at the crack of dawn to catch the first trip going to Lantapan, the jump-off point. We started the trek at around 9am with overcast skies. I was getting nervous at the dreadful possibility of getting rained on while on the trail. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive it. I’d lose my footing somewhere on the slippery trail, land on a giant rock, and crack my head open. Props for my perennial optimism. Thankfully, the rains didn’t push through. The cloudy skies even became an advantage since we had to hike through a long stretch of open trail before going into the forest canopy.
Climbing Mt. Dulang-Dulang for the second time should’ve been easier. That was what I thought, at least. Wrong. It may even have been harder this time; my pace was slower and my breathing was heavier. Unlike last year when I did Mt. Malindig right before D2, I didn’t have the benefit of a tune-up climb before doing this traverse. My laziness in cardio training took its toll. I also had a full 35-liter backpack this time since we’d be on the mountains for three days. And the fact that I’m a natural-born dork with the agility of a sickly snail may have also worked against me.
Ben and Daisy were so far ahead of me, and Jay (this was his first climb in three years) and Pele, our porter, were so far behind me that I was hiking alone most of the time. The trail was fairly straightforward though that even someone with a horrible sense of direction like me will have no opportunity of getting lost. Hiking solo for hours was quite an experience. I’d get into thinking about some profound crap, then I’d break into an Eraserheads song (I switch between Ang Huling El Bimbo and Magasin), then I’d stop and stare at the moss, which are all very pretty. For the most part, I was really just trying my damnedest not to lose my footing and crack my head open.
We reached the Plaza, a large campsite about 45 minutes from the summit, at around 5pm. There we caught up with Sir Henry Binahon, the owner of the agro-forestry farm that has become my crash pad in Lantapan. He was guiding a British birdwatcher. They already had their tents set up and had a nice campfire going. I was shivering from the cold and dying of envy. We thought of setting up camp there as well but in the end decided it was better to spend the night at the campsite near the summit so we’d have an early start with the traverse.
We made a side trip to Manny’s Garden for picture-taking and so we could stare at bonsai trees, more mosses and other pretty things. Then we soldiered on to the summit in the dimming late afternoon light.
We reached the summit campsite just as it was about to get dark. Daisy went straight to the peak and was lucky enough to catch a great clearing that revealed a magnificent view. I could hear her squealing “Ang ganda!” while I was huddled underneath a tree on the campsite, trying to coax myself out of possible hypothermia.
We pitched our tents, had a quick dinner and slipped into our sleeping bags as fast as possible. It was freakin’ cold.
- Maladies and Malaise on Mt. Kanlaon (Part 1) (misadventuresoftintin.com)
- Maladies and Malaise on Mt. Kanlaon (Part 2) (misadventuresoftintin.com)
- Mantalingajan Traverse: Day Four (misadventuresoftintin.com)
- Mantalingajan Traverse: Epilogue, Lessons Learned and a Million Other Things I Want to Say (misadventuresoftintin.com)