It’s funny once you overcome your fears or do things you thought you’d never be able to do. You start to crave for more. Once you discover that you can do things you were previously afraid of, you want to do it again and again or even move onto the next level.
I climbed another mountain, after my first. I conquered Mt. Pulag.
I decided to climb it not for fun, but to witness something magical. Because it is the highest peak in Luzon and because of its breathtaking “sea of clouds”, Mt. Pulag is a mountain on the bucketlist of many newbie mountaineers or enthusiastic travelers. I knew the climb was not going to be easy. However, I felt that it was an opportunity for me to discover something within myself. So I took the chance and the challenge of climbing Mt. Pulag.
Below are my learnings from my experience:
1. Commit and Pursue
When you make a decision, commit to it and pursue it. The truth of the matter is, I’m not a professional mountaineer. It was the first time I was going to do an overnight trekking which meant having to pack a lot of things to survive for at least two days. Pulag is known to have a a freezer-like temperature, which lowers down more as the night approaches. It also has less amounts of oxygen, given the fact that it is 2922 meters above sea level. The higher the elevation, the thinner the oxygen is. Thus, more pressure. As the date of the trip was coming close, doubts and fears started to sink in. What if I can’t make it? What if I freeze or collapse from sheer exhaustion? Despite these questions, it was my desire to overcome that pushed me to continue. The doubts and fears, even the exhaustion along the trail, was set aside the minute I focused on my dream – to witness the sea of clouds.
I substituted the thoughts of failure with the vision of achieving my goal. The same holds as we go with life. Battle your thoughts; don’t allow them to stop you from growing. Commit to your goals. Believe in yourself. Take the challenge or do new experiences. Cliché as it might be, but you will never really know what you are capable of unless you try.
2. Be Prepared
The most important thing to do before climbing a mountain is to prepare- physically and mentally. We thought we were already prepared after our pre-climbing sessions. But after that, when we realized that all the things we packed were not that essential, we “mentally-panicked.” There are particular gears and items needed especially when you’re doing overnight treks and also given that weather could be unstable.
Items were strictly checked by our tour guide thus, we didn’t have excuses not to comply. These were all for our own benefits. The more prepared you are, the more you can overcome challenges along your way. In a way, just like how it is in life, the more you keep prepping yourself to become the best, the better you become.
3. Urge Others
One beneficial effect of climbing a mountain is doing it together and discovering things with other people who are close to you.
In this climb, I invited a friend. This friend is not usually outgoing and it was her first climb. She had fears, doubts, and excuses– all of which she had to overcome. I had to encourage her and make her realize that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had to convince her that she could do it; that she was strong for it.
During the climb up, there were moments I felt that she almost wanted to walk away. I could see her being exhausted. Whether she was dealing with tiredness, draught and anxiety, I had to be there to push her so she could continue on and make her see that I will be there to walk behind her and help her along the way. I needed to be there to provide her with encouraging words that she could do it. And she did. I know that it was not all me. I know that the urge to continue was already within her; I just needed to push and motivate her.
In life, at some point, we are leaders and influencers. The important question is where are we leading others, why are we doing it, and what are we influencing them with? The power, the ability and resources you have- are you going to use it for your own advantage or to make others better and lift them up? This is the question that we should be asking ourselves.
When exploring, take part in respecting the rules of the places you go to and take time to engage with the locals in the communities. Learn their stories and even dialects. Be friendly and chit-chat with them, especially the porters who assist in carrying tourists’ items. In Pulag, some porters were women and children who are all incredibly strong. Even in your short stay, treat locals with respect, and respect their places by thinking what kind of ecological mark you are making after you leave.
Take time as well to connect with your fellow hikers. Start conversations with them or simply share a smile and words of encouragement with them. Open yourself to cultures different from yours. Enlarge your circle of influence; you might even be inspired by doing so.
Enjoy God’s creation. Enjoy and have fun in the Philippines. Our country has really wondrous secrets to offer, one of which is breathtaking Mt. Pulag. For first timers, Mt. Pulag is really worth the climb, even despite all the challenges you need to take. The trail includes the misty forests and the grassland summit with its “sea of clouds” evident during sunrise and even during sunset.
The stunning beauty of the sun as it rose, its rays vividly and literally transforming clouds into a serene sea and even a waterfall, the misty forest trails and the grassland summit– all of these added to a majestic experience which only reminded me that I am part of an amazing world where there is a Creator who knows what is best and has skillfully crafted everything accordingly.
Locals believe that you are blessed when you witness the sea of clouds during your first visit to Mt. Pulag. For me, it’s God’s grace. The weather was just so perfect and strength He gave me to endure everything was all His grace. God allowed me once again to enjoy His creation and gave me a plethora of unique memories. For that, I am thankful.