2017, It’s All About Getting Back into Shape

Before 2017, I managed to climb only four mountains. Most of it was for pleasure rather than for health purposes. However, my perspective began to change in 2017. With an adamantine resolve that I never thought I had, I climbed one mountain at a time. The time to whip myself back into shape has finally come. I have had enough of people telling me how out-of-shape I am.

I started with the easier climbs before scaling more technical and more difficult climbs. From Montalban Trilogy in January, I slowly progressed and took on more challenging hikes like Mt. Damas, Tarak Ridge and the knee-breaking Mt. Tapulao. My 2017 Get Back into Shape Program is on a roll. But there is one climb that has really piqued my interest.

I first heard about Cawag Pentalogy from a friend because of his deep interest in it. I didn’t have an iota then on what the buzz is all about but it is one that I often hear from my seasoned hiker-friends. Without knowing any better, I took on the challenge as a solo joiner. I would pay dearly for my arrogance – this hike is my longest climb to date, both in distance and time. However, this hike is something that stayed with me because of two things – the challenge and the people I met who helped me overcome this challenge.

Mother Mountain. Back then, I didn’t have the heart to scale mountains. It was purely just for pleasure.
Itchy Feet. In 2017, my life drastically changed as I begun to spend weekends exploring new mountains.

An Ominous Sign

Thankfully, the meetup for our organized hike is at McDonald’s Greenfield District which is within a striking distance of my residence. However, the meetup time is very early because the complete hike is bound to be lengthy. It takes a minimum of 16 hours to complete the entire circuit comprised of five mountains, three of which are, on their own, major hikes. Even though this is my third solo joiner climb after Mt. Daraitan and Tarak Ridge, I am still every bit apprehensive.

Even before I could leave for the meetup place, the rain has already begun to pour. As a result, I nearly didn’t make to the meeting place on time. However, upon reaching our meetup place, I found out that we are still incomplete as one of the organizers also got caught up in the traffic caused by the rain. We were supposed to leave for Zambales at around 9 PM. We could have left without the organizer but he is the one who had the contacts for our climb. Hence, his presence is necessary.

Obscurity. The early morning fog shrouding the mountains of Zambales greeted us on our climb.

Hiking Buddy

While waiting for the last organizer to arrive, I was introduced to the other participants. The first two I got acquainted two were two grandmothers which, to some extent, surprised me. I got even more astonished when I learned that they are both planning to take on Mt. Guiting-Guiting, one of the most technically challenging climbs in the country. Thankfully, the rain outside has begun to subside. I am not hell-bent on repeating my very drenched experience at Mt. Tapulao.

As I have mentioned already, this is my third solo joiner climb. I am still a bit anxious knowing that I barely know anyone in the group I am climbing with. All my trust is placed on the organizers. I am on the danger of being out of place, or estranged from the rest especially after I learned that most of them have climbed together previously. But then again, I have to come back to the reason why I do this – to meet other people outside the confines of my comfort zone.

Company. What makes every climb special is the group of people one meets along the trail. Indeed, endeavors are all the more worth while when shared.

Imagine my relief when I learned that there was another solo joiner in the group. Mahdi is a nurse who works overseas and is currently on vacation. He is a dedicated climber and has been scaling mountains every weekend since returning to the country. The week before our Cawag Hike, he climbed the daunting Sta. Inez Trilogy in Rizal. The day before, he climbed Mt. Maculot in Batangas. His stamina is truly admirable because I never thought of doing that.

Even before we started our climb, Mahdi and I agreed that we will be the pacers because he got bored when he was the sweeper during their Sta. Inez climb. I thought I already knew what I had to know about my hiking buddy, I was in for even more surprise. Our Cawag hike I his warmup for his next climb which will take place a wake after this hike. His next climb is one of country’s most challenging climbs, Mt. Sicapoo. As the night grew deeper, my admiration for this guy I just met is growing.

Finally, it was time to depart for Zambales. The clock has just hit 11 PM. I am worried because we are already way behind our planned itinerary. Oh boy, this is bound to be a very long day. After about four hours, we finally reached Zambales, the early morning shower has left its remnants in the morning breeze that greeted us upon alighting. We had to stretch our sleepy body because it has become sedentary after the long drive.

Hiking Buddy. Do watch out for the rest of our adventures in the hinterlands of Zambales in the coming days.

The second part of this series will be published in the coming days. For now, happy climbing!