Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Climbing Mountains

I have climbed a lot of symbolic mountains — striving to reach my career goals, traveling alone to places I haven’t been to, or getting over a painful heartbreak. I would like to believe that I am a strong person, but I never would’ve thought that I would actually cross out one item off my bucket list this soon — climbing an actual mountain.

Mt. Daguldol in San Juan, Batangas, Philippines, 3/9 difficulty level, 672 MASL, is my mother mountain. I never planned to do it so soon, but opportunity presented itself. I had a lot of hesitations and insecurities. It has been a few months since I was doing cardio at the gym. I live a sedentary lifestyle. I prefer glamping over camping. I don’t want to be stressed while enjoying nature. That’s not me. My mind is full of excuses, but guess what? I figured a lot of things I didn’t know about myself after I grabbed that opportunity.

Mt. Daguldol summit view | 23 June 2018

A couple of days before the climb, I donated blood during our office blood drive. On the climb itself, my menstrual period started earlier than expected. It was probably triggered by undue stress caused by my initial ascent. I felt like I was running on low fuel. I can feel my heart overworking to get oxygen to my lungs and blood to my veins. It didn’t help that the further I go up, the less oxygen there is. I had to stop for a few minutes after covering only short distances to catch my breath. I was thinking of quitting and of going back down. I told myself, the spirit is willing but maybe the flesh is weak.

I’ve been through different types of pain, I often tell myself maybe I am just a self-proclaimed masochist. I’m sure this was just another type of it. Besides, I’m already there. Even if it takes me hours to reach that summit, I will do it. No pain, no gain, right?

Mt. Daguldol summit | Pretty tree | 📷: Paula Africa
Mt. Daguldol summit | Lone white horse | 📷: Paula Africa

I took a lot of chances to rest. Because I have supportive companions, I walked at my own pace. During these rest stops, I watched the scenery and listened to nature sounds around me. I appreciated the cool and clean air. I spotted birds, flowers, butterflies and wild plants I haven’t seen before.

On the other hand, I kept pressuring myself because: (1) I don’t want to keep my other group mates waiting for me; and (2) I don’t want to quit. It took me almost twice the time as what it took almost all of my group mates, but I did it. The summit scenery was well worth it.

With my group mates at the summit. Thanks for waiting for me! :) | 📷: Chis Cailo
With my physical and emotional support systems at the summit | 📷: Paula Africa
With my physical and emotional support systems back at jump-off | 📷: Paula Africa

I’ve discovered a sense of community throughout the trail. I’ve met strangers who became my instant friends. People were kind and accommodating. People respect each other. I was grateful I witnessed that and became a part of it. I was also grateful for the perfect weather. I thank those who believed in me and even those who did not because I know I’ve proved them wrong. I was especially grateful for the physical and emotional support. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived.

Me: Achievement unlocked! | 📷: Paula Africa

I never thought I could do this, but as they say, I’ll never know unless I try.

So, I did and it was worth it.

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