This is a series. Check out the other parts below:
Cawag Pentalogy: The Ultimate Open Trail Challenge (Part I)
Cawag Pentalogy: The Ultimate Open Trail Challenge (Part II)
Cawag Pentalogy: The Ultimate Open Trail Challenge (Part III)
The Final Stretch: A Thunderous Uproar in the Mountains
Fourteen hours since setting out on this jourey, we reached the base of Mt. Cinco Picos. From afar, its shape is reminiscent of Mt. Batulao. Now that we are close to realizing our Pentalogy, I breathed a sigh of relief. However, darkness has begun to envelope us. Because of this, we decided to skip Mt. Cinco Picos because according to our guide, it will take another two hours to complete it. Too bad because we were looking forward to it. Our safety had to come first, more so that the rain has begun to pour.
In the dark, we traversed through the think and tall maze of grasses. The rain was beating on us hard, reducing our visibility. Our guide had to stop every now and then. He would flash his light on the trees before deciding on the trail to take. As myths would have it, several climbers, including seasoned ones, have already gotten lost in the think foliage. This is the reason why I can fathom why our guide took his time in choosing the path to take.
Going down, our speed has drastically slowed down. It was dark and it was raining cats and dogs. On one side, I can see lightning flash one after the other on the summit of Mt. Balingkilat. Now I understand why they call it the home of the thunder god. However, I was silently praying that the lightning would go down our path. This is an uncomfortable position one finds himself in but these kind of experiences are the ones that sharpens one’s character.
For over two hours, the rain relentlessly pounded on us. When we reached the base of the mountain, I can feel my knees finally giving up. I had to stop but I couldn’t let the others stop because of me. Moreover, our guide was going on a breakneck speed we can barely make out those who went ahead of us. Thankfully, someone volunteered to stop awhile with me as I rest my sore knees. Apparently, he also got injured and doesn’t mind resting midway.
When I felt like I can carry on, my new found friend and I proceeded. At first I was worried because we couldn’t trace the trail our companions took. It was doubly hard because of the rain and the darkness. But lo and behold, we were able to trace their marks and in a moment, we were able to rejoin them. I had more reasons to celebrate because alas, the pain on my knees have begun to subside.
At around 9 PM, our group stopped to take a rest and to eat whatever is left of our food. This is to prepare us for yet another lengthy traverse on the grassy and water-filled trail. We still have about three more hours to go before reaching the jump-off point. After everyone’s spirit was briefly revived we proceeded again with our journey. Just like my Mt. Tapulao trek, the trail became a virtual creek. This is the ultimate river crossing challenge! At times, the trail is mushy – it seems that we are passing by carabao watering holes as well. No time to take that into consideration though. Our only aim is to safely reach the jump off point.
At around 11:30 PM, we reached the biggest river crossing – we never could have enough of that here. The organizers have feared that the river would swell due to the heavy downpour and might sweep us. Fortunately, the river did not swell to the point of being impassable. For our safety though, we joined hands while crossing the river. When we reached the other side, the organizers deliberated on going back because someone had gotten injured. While they waited, they let the rest of the party go ahead.
Finally, after 20 long hours, we are back at where we started. We left it in the dark but who’d have thought that we’d reach it in the dark also. Mahdi quickly took his things and showered. Even I couldn’t wait for my turn to wash off the remnants of our lengthy climb. While waiting for the others to climb down, Mahdi and I took the chance to get to know each other more. We resolved to do a revenge climb on Cawag Pentalogy. We truly believe that we could have completed it in spite of our late start had the trail not been very damp. However, we have to wait for another year because in a couple of weeks, he has to return abroad to work.
Until then, I’ll be patiently waiting in anticipating for the chance to climb alongside my newfound hiking buddy. In the meantime, I’ll sharpen my craft so that I can take on Cawag fully prepared. Regarding my knee, surprisingly it stopped hurting after the climb, unlike my Mt. Tapulao climb where my knees didn’t hurt during the climb but hurt like hell after it. Oh well, I have again to thank those who guided me and helped me on this climb. It was tough. It was challenging. But it was worth the bother.
And thus concludes my lengthy weekend adventure. Till the next mountain!