Every trail to the summit are different. They pose different challenges that each mountaineer has to survive.
And like life, we may walk on the same path to reach our goals and dreams but the experience would always be different because each of us look at life in different spectrums guided by our principles, beliefs, status in society and past experiences. Our realities will always be different from others.
But not all trails in the mountains will lead to the summit. Some waylay mountaineers that leads to accident, getting lost and sometimes death. I call them dud trails.
Those are the trails created by other people who climb mountains with different motivations. Locals who knows the in and out of the mountain like the back of their hands. They climb to survive the day to day grind of life by collecting firewood, mountain produce and herbal plants to sell.
The locals cut and burn trees to produce uling. They cut and burn trees to give way for kaingin because like everyone else, they too need to survive.
The Trail: A Hell of Open Space
I felt the sweat from my brow make its way on the side of my face and fell on that parched soil. Once it landed, all it took was mere seconds for it to evaporate. The hunger for water was so evident that it transcended to my psych, I drank water like tomorrow may never come.
The trail is easy but was made difficult by the brunt of the sun, humidity and lack of shade.
We met several climbers who had started the trek as early as 2am and they all look worn out dry albeit their hearty greetings of good morning Ma’am and ingat sa pag-akyat.
Some even forgot the unwritten rule of traffic on a narrow trail. The ones going down should give way to the ones going up unless in circumstances that it is much safer for the later to give in.
Or maybe the basic courtesies like the above as strictly observed by veteran mountaineers is waning to oblivion in this new breed of mountaineers.
From the clearing where we stood is the unobstructed view of Mount Marami, jutting out from the lush canopy of leaves below. A curtain-like edifice standing proud and mighty against that clear blue sky dotted with white fluffy clouds. That is how it was dubbed as Mount Rushmore. They certainly has the same feautures.
On one side, a citadel also rose among the trees. When your imagination nosedives, a naughty thought can form in your mind but you burst out with a knowing smirk on your face: hey, it’s a mushroom you green-minded monkey and you would probably look at the faces of your climbing buddies furtively to check if they noticed it, too. I sure did so sue me.
In between the heat, drinking water and the beckoning mountain was the lush sea of green that stretched as far as the eye could see. The faraway ridges were covered with trees that sports a sea of green while the bushes along the trail too were adorned with new leaves.
This was a stark contrast to Mt. Manalmon’s yellowed and sun burnt leaves that gave a nostalgic sense of summer.
Maybe it was the sudden burst of summer rain that created the magic or maybe it was just time for the ordinary miracle of nature to take place. Whatever brought it to life, the spectacle is one to behold.
Somehow life will always persist over death.
The Summit: A Collection of Huge Rocks
One last push and we found ourselves looking up at its foot and that is where my first impression disintegrated to pieces.
At one of it’s rock tops, the vast plains of Batangas and it’s nearby provinces was laid out for the eyes to consume.
The slopes of nearby smaller mountain ranges were dotted with coconut and mango trees. It reminded me of the sweet buko juice and it’s yummy meat; the wisp of sweet smell from the mangos that fell onto the trail with it’s tinge of rotting fruit.
From a distance, Mount Marami sure looked like a curtain but as we navigate from one rock top to another it turned out it was a collection of massive rocks – thus it’s name, standing on angles that created that perfect illusion.
It gave the vibe of a mighty rock monument, proving that a solid front is a solid front from a spectator’s view. Like a confident person, no one knew of the butterflies in his stomach until you step nearer to see the fine sweat on his brow or the nervousness in his eyes.
Some would have felt fooled but for me it reminded me of a lesson in human relationship.
Relationship can withstand the blows of life as long as the parties involve chooses to stand beside each other. Choosing to say good morning or goodnight, hi or hello. Choosing to give appreciation even for the smallest act of love and kindness. Choosing to share the mundane things of everyday. Choosing to share the fun and the downtime of life. Choosing to give support instead of critisism.
How else could this lump of rocks have withstood the test of nature and time? Beneath each are voids, their sides open into an abyss maybe to give way for motion but somewhere, their hands and feet are entwined.
Nature would have placed them together but they stood so close to each other giving off that strong vibe of strength and oneness.
Take note, my realities are different from yours as we see life from different spectrums, hence make a bolder move and step into one of Mount Marami’s rocktops.#
My gratitude to Jo Benedict, Sam, Rouie, Anna and Mageo for climbing with me.