A Quick Word

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Summit Fever

Mt. Makiling, Laguna
At the dawn of some recent hiking mishaps in the Philippines -- the drowning incident in Rizal1, the accident in Brgy. Masipag2, and most recently the misfortune in Mt. Batulao3; people, especially parents can't help but ask,

"Ano ba ang napapala nila dun?"

I have heard this question a dozen times and even though I'm just new to the hobby, it's really easy to classify the motive behind it. It's either:
  1. They have never climbed a mountain.
  2. They have climbed, but they find it too grueling.
  3. Parents -- of course they worry.
  4. They're curious and want to try.
Usually, when faced with that question, my answers usually range from "The view from the summit is incomparable!" or "It's fulfilling!" to "It's just a form of exercise". But really, what I meant was, "Sorry, I can't explain".

Early one morning, before entering our office unit, I decided to go out the building's deck to take a look at the city below. Out of nowhere, or maybe because of my elevation, the answers came to me... or at least the closest I could come up with.

I enjoy hiking because for me, it's like going home.

The moment I step on the jump-off, the lush forest greets a warm welcome. The air is cool, the birds provide music, and the sun, though hot, doesn't feel that hot unlike when you're on paved streets. Everything's just natural. Everything's just simple. Basic. Right. It seems like your body and mind know that they're back to where they're originally designed for. You instantly feel at ease. And the best thing? You forget your life's problems and mountain or no mountain, you learn to detach yourself from daily woes.

I enjoy climbing because I feel fulfilled.

All of us have our own sets of frustrations and concerns. Heck, life isn't perfect, no matter how hard we try, we just can't succeed in everything. Some think climbing is just a physical test. It's not. It's a test of who you are. How many times have I heard somebody say, "I can't go on. My knees are killing me" but later on, despite the cramps and pains, that person's still pushing his way to the top? You've also probably heard of the successful amputee climb in Mt. Batulao way back 2009. Why do climbers go on? It's because every time you tackle a hurdle, and every time you get to the summit after an exhausting climb, you feel a different sense of fulfillment. It's like you're in a state of trance, that though you know you're not the best you wanted to be in your normal day to day life, you feel a bubbling sense of confidence that wasn't there before. And this sense of fulfillment is followed by hope and belief that since you're able to reach the top, you'll also be able to surpass other glitches in your life. And once you're on the summit? God, the view and the sense of being is priceless.

I enjoy mountaineering because it humbles me.

I don't know for others, but every mountain, no matter the difficulty, teaches me a lesson -- to NEVER UNDERESTIMATE NATURE and that THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN YOURSELF. Each terrain is different, and up in the mountain, you're all alone against nature. You can't bribe it to make the way easier, nor you can't skip the difficult impediments on your way. The worldly possessions you own don't mean a thing, your college degree, your awards and your profession are nothing.

Amazingly, this feeling stays with you long after you're back in the city. You'll know it when worldly possessions don't mean that much anymore.

1 http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2011/09/mountain-news-mountaineer-adrian-alba.html
2 http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=200&articleId=729837


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