Mt. Pico De Loro, a few weeks before our scheduled climb, you probably already knew that I didn’t want to join and that I was not excited to see you.
It’s not that you’re not beautiful, indeed you are, but you knew that I’m more in love with the sea than the mountains.
I saw a lot of your photos posted online and I couldnâ€™t deny that you had me amazed to see your gargantuan rock structure that probably towered above 2,000 meters high.
I could imagine how I would look like while striking my signature post on top, facing the sky with my arms outstretched in victory. I admit I started entertaining thoughts of conquering you someday but it still does not give me the same thrill as being surrounded by fishes in the sea.
My friend, Cathy, Invited me to come meet you and though I practically declined her every day, she didnâ€™t give up. Until the day that I said, â€śOkay, I’ll join this climb,â€ť a decision that changed my views about climbing a mountain.
I woke up early to prepare myself for the upcoming challenges. My mountaineer friends said that it is easy to climb you. I shouldn’t have listened. It might be easy for them, but not for a beginner like me. In spite of my hesitations, I didnâ€™t see a reason to back out. I felt like that there must be a reason why we should meet soon.
I was with a group of at least 20 people and together we walked through the forest. I was surprised to see a stream of water at the beginning of your trail, flowing languidly. Maybe you wanted me to feel that you are not that challenging.
After a few minutes, the path twisted, now with a view of old, tall trees whose roots are twisted and uneven. The view as we walked by was becoming more and more Instragrammable. After a while I felt my body getting tired and it was true with the others. I could hear some of them asking, â€śAre we there yet?â€ť
Funny because at this point, we haven’t even walked for more than an hour yet. We still had a two-hour hike ahead of us before we reach the base camp. Sweat started dripping down my body. I was thankful that the temperature was not unbearably hot.
During our trek we were greeted by other climbers along the way, smiling and saying “Good morning.” Though it’s not required to greet other mountaineers, I appreciate how people were being polite on the trail. Also, there were strangers who offered us food along the way. It made me think that if hiking can make people generous and polite, perhaps this should be a subject taught in grade school. I just hope that we can keep doing this even when we are off the trail.
We reached your base camp before noon time. The heat coming from the sun was strikingly hot, but it didn’t stop people from continuing their hike to reach your peak. I took this opportunity to rest. I saw how steep the trail going to your summit was. It’s not going to be easy but I was sure it was going to be worth it.
I’m sorry if I underestimated the first part of your trail.
The word â€śeasyâ€ť was running through my mind, but stopped right at the moment I started reaching the summit. The path has become narrow and the soil was dry. This was where the traffic started — groups of climbers were headed down while we were climbing up which caused a mini landslide of rocks.
This was the point where I told myself that I need to take this seriously. I was thankful for the existence of the bamboo trees along the trail. Without them, passing this part would be too challenging.
The path ahead was getting dryer that some people started climbing the area right beside the cliff where there was grass to hold on to. I didn’t feel safe taking that way so I decided to crawl at the center, holding on to some rocks, with my body almost hugging the floor. I didn’t care about the dirt or if I looked stupid. Your summit was almost there, it’s within reach — surrendering at this part was not an option.
I was happy that I made it this far yet I was not satisfied. I was up for more challenges and ready to climb the Monolith. I can’t help but be amazed by its structure and how it’s erected from the ground.
Only a few people from our group decided to continue. I wouldnâ€™t deny that I felt nervous – it looks risky, but I don’t want to live my life with regrets. It was a now or never moment. Sometimes there is no next time.
We waited in line for more than two hours; two hours of uncertainty. There were voices running through my head, battling with myself asking if I should still continue this or not. But before I reached a decision, my turn to climb the Monolith has come.
I climbed using a rope in a rappelling style. The guide was pressuring us to move a bit faster because there were impatient people who were waiting for the path to be cleared to go down from the monolith.
Though it doesn’t look too high (my estimate was around 10ft), it still looked unsafe. The cliff was too steep and without any safety gear, I held on tight to the rope and pulled myself up.
Even with my slim figure I still found it tough to lift my body. The feeling was inexplicable, all I wanted in that moment was to finish the climb and reach the top of the Monolith. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I almost cried after accomplishing it.
Finally, the long wait of feeling hesitant was over. I made it to your Parrot’s Beak. I felt the wind embracing me together with the heat of the sun. I loved the view of thousands of trees, one of the beautiful rewards of making it to that point. The enigmatic emotion of being higher than the mountain, and viewing the world in a different perspective — it was pure bliss.
Thank you Mt. Pico De Loro for teaching and reminding me about some things in life — like the importance of planning. I came there unprepared and at some point, even put my life at risk. I promise to be prepared next time.
Thank you for teaching me to trust myself and to become more optimistic. There were moments during the climb when no one was there to lift me up. I learned that it is essential to trust myself and avoid overthinking.
Thank you for making me see the true “team spirit.” I was helped by my friends and strangers along the way and I know that if it werenâ€™t for them, this journey would have been more difficult than it already was. It reminded me that there are things in life that we can’t do alone and that sometimes, when people offer you help, you should grab it.
Thank you for keeping me moving. I occasionally ranted and asked my group “Why am I here?” when I could have been on my bed lying and resting. But I realized no one said that it’s going to be relaxing. At times, I tend to rant and easily blame others. I realized that the more I stopped and released negative vibes, the more difficult it got to start again so I better just walk and keep moving.
Lastly, thank you for motivating and inspiring me to appreciate myself more. When we reached the Monolith, we met a guy named Alex Agustin.
He is physically challenged, and his right leg was amputated. Despite the challenge, he climbed with the help of an artificial limb. I was moved when I saw him taking off his artificial leg. I remembered all the difficulty I faced to get here. What more for someone with disability?
I was inspired that his physical challenge didn’t stop him to reach his goal. May he serve as an inspiration to everyone that if we are determined to reach our target, nothing can stop us.
A day after our climb, it was announced that the Monolith was temporarily closed due to the change in the soil, resulting to the falling of rocks and the loss of vegetation. I knew then that we were destined to meet each other before you rest. It made our meeting all the more special to me; not all people can experience it now.
Not everyone would be given a chance to understand that the best views in the world are not the easiest to get to. And I am ever so happy that you gave me that chance.