Mount Capistrano: Adventures Above The Limestone On A Rainy Weather From A First-Time Hiker

I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain. It is one of my goals this 2017. Indeed, I have accomplished one of my hard goals by hiking Mount Capistrano yesterday, a surmounting mountain, situated at Barangay Binalbangan in Aglayan, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. It was an unplanned hike because my officemate, Tin, invited Tara (also my officemate) and I just 2 days before the climb. At first, as a risk-averse person, I was hesitant to go through something unprepared. However, Tara really convinced me to join. So we embarked on this risky yet thrilling adventure. We were clueless about what would happen during our first hiking experience.

TRAVEL TO AGLAYAN, MALAYBALAY CITY

I woke up at 1:30 in the morning since our assembly at the city proper is at 2:30 in the morning. It would take a 3-hour travel from Cagayan de Oro City to Malaybalay City. We arrived at Barangay Binalbangan, Aglayan at 6:30 in the morning. However, when we reached the area, heavy rain started to pour until it persistently continued. Tara and I were already hesitant to climb because we don’t have any rain gear. We left our extra clothes at the van and we just brought our packed lunch, 2 liters of water, trail snacks, towel, and most importantly, our cellphones and cameras (of course, for Facebook and Instagram purposes). 😛

Yet, rain or shine, the hike would still push through. So, after the orientation at the barangay hall, we, the inexperienced hikers, began the trek without any clue of what we would encounter during our journey towards the summit.

THE JOURNEY BEGAN

We began our trek by taking the 200 step stairs. I thought that it would be an easy one because I always exercise, but actually it’s not. I was already gasping for my breath when we were already in the middle portion of this phase. Then after the stairs, the hostile journey began. We climbed using the ropes so that we would not easily slip. My shoes were already soaked in the muddy soil. Every footstep, we were striding on chocolate-colored waters. My arms started to get weary. In my mind, I was thinking, “What the heck I am doing here?” At the same time, the rainy weather still continued. We went through three phases using the rope while climbing until we reached the point on top when we weren’t already using any rope. We were just relying on ourselves.

THE STRUGGLE WAS REAL

When we weren’t anymore using the ropes to climb, I was already complaining silently in my mind. I said to myself that I would not anymore have my next climb. Yet, every pace, we made sure that we are stepping on a sturdy foundation, or else, we would accidentally slip down. No one will catch us neither rescue us if we would fall down. Every stride, we made calculated steps so as not to make a wrong move. It was the hardest portion of the trek because we were relying on the small branches of trees, the twigs of plants, the sturdy roots of grasses, and the solid rocks in order to support ourselves. Not to mention, we were already soaked in water and mud.

Thankfully, whenever I could not anymore help myself, my hike mates helped me so that we would reach the top together. Specifically, I’m thankful for my new found friends, Cookie and Mimi, who helped me and most importantly, my officemate who brought me on this agony, Tin. Dapat lang! Haha! 😛

Likewise, we also encountered other hikers who already going down the trail. They were saying that going down is more struggling than reaching the top. This made me more worried. However, I was still not thinking about it because I was looking forward for the scenic view on top.

THE GREAT SUPPORTERS

After the struggling portion of the trek, we then reached the part where several rocks and lime stones are located. I was relieved because at last, something could support us during our climb to the top. We were very careful because the rock’s sharp texture could scrape our skin.

During this part, Jezreel, Tin’s friend and one of the trek guide, talked about several things on hiking. I learned the importance of taking care of our Mother Nature by not leaving our trash at the area during the hike. Likewise, I learned that the trails, which is the path which hiker’s pass when trekking, should always be followed in order to maintain the area’s biodiversity. Also, he talked about the caves situated at the mountain and his experience in climbing other mountains such as Mt. Hibok-hibok in Camiguin and Mt. Dulang-Dulang, the 2nd highest mountain in the country next to Mt. Apo. Eventually, we reached the campsite area of the mountain which is already near the peak.

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At the campsite area of Mount Capistrano

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We continued our trek until we reached the part when we already saw the skies. Indeed, we were already on the summit. Yeeey! We were in awe on the scenic beauty of Bukidnon’s landscapes. We weren’t able to completely witness the view because of the fogs due to the cold and rainy weather. However, reaching the mountain’s summit is more than enough for us to be reminded that our struggle in climbing was worth it.

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With Tin, Me, and Tara

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When I checked my backpack, my things were soaked in water. My tissue became wet wipes and I could already squeeze water from my towel. Haha. Fortunately, I packed my food bought from Jollibee and my gadgets on a cellophane.

GOING DOWN

After staying on the top for almost 2 hours, making the most out of that time, and taking countless pictures and selfies, we then started our journey in going down. It was not a struggle at first because we could still step on the stones and the rocks for our support. Until we reached the most struggling portion we went through during our climb to the top. Some of us could not help but just laugh when we slide through the mud because no rock, root, or branch could support us. By then, the bottom of my backpack, my leggings, and my shoes were already covered with mud. Going through the mud is inevitable. If you won’t go through the mud, you would not survive so you really have to take the risk of getting dirty.

Until we reached the part when we could not hold on to any rope, some of us were gliding through the mud or doing “padidit.” While some of us are still taking calculated steps so that we won’t slip, my officemate Tin, was doing padidit until she accidentally glided down the trail. We panicked because it’s a risky area. If she did not control sliding down, she could have went off the cliff. Yet, with her bubbly personality, she just managed to laugh it off despite her near-to-death experience. This still reminded her to be careful next time.

While going down, we were depending on the thick grass and the twigs of plants to support us. We were looking forward on the portion where there are ropes. It was a long journey down until we reached the portion where the ropes are situated, at last!

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The slippery trail

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The breathtaking landscapes of Aglayan, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon

During this portion, we were just thinking that this is already the last challenge. This became our motivation to go down. It was painful holding the ropes because the palms of my hands were scraped from the sharp rocks at the peak. Yet, I have no choice but to hold on to this pain for me to survive. I slipped several times especially when the soil I stepped on easily eroded and the muddy waters heavily flowed on the soil. Moreover, we just continued until we reached the 200 step stairs.

Tara and I were in tremendous joy when we already reached the stairs. We truly had a great time despite the challenges and we said to ourselves that we did it.

Truly, our first climb was an unforgettable one. It was an unexpected one because we never anticipated the heavy rains and it was an unpredictable one as first time hikers.

Some of our fellow hikers, who were also first-time hikers, said that this would be their first and last. Haha. When asked if we would still have our hike next time, we are still undecided. Moreover, we were still overjoyed right now that we survived the countless challenges during the climb at Mt. Capistrano

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Tara’s backpack
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The aftermath

A MEMORABLE ADVENTURE FOR A FIRST-TIMER

Hiking for the first time, especially at Mount Capistrano, reminded me of life’s journey. Truly, there will be several challenges if one badly wants to reach the top. There would be individuals who would support you on the way. More likely, as you continue your journey, your true friends would emerge during the times of crises. You will know who are the ones who won’t leave you during the lowest time of your life. We would always be grateful for those people who continued to help us and who never left us when were about to fall on our way, just like Tin who helped me go up during the climb. Indeed, as you reach the top, you would say to yourself that everything was worth it, that anything worth having for must be exerted with enormous effort and perseverance, that you cannot just the reach the top by easily passing or handling it to you. You have to work for it. Indeed, the climb is undeniably tough but the view is worth it.

At the same time, how one climbs the mountain is more important than reaching the top, how one must have the focus, the determination, and the willpower to succeed. It’s not about the destination but the journey, the lessons, the values, and the people whom you have shared it with. Most importantly, during our way down the trail, this reminded me that we should always look back on the things we have learned on our journey and the people who helped us so that we can reach the peak.

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From this, if you ask me if I would still climb another towering mountain? Well, it’s just the first month of the year and there’s still so much to look forward for the next 300 days. 😉

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