It was April 2013 in Davao. I wanted to climb Mount Apo before leaving Philippines. It is the tallest peak in the Philippines with a height of 10,311ft and top 98th (in prominence) in the world located in Kidapawan city. I approached the Kidapawan tourism, they arranged a guide for me. The guide advised me to climb in a group (unfortunately I couldn’t find/arrange one during that time). Thrilled for my long weekend, I went to mountain hardwear to buy gear, shoes etc. The manager Mr.Raz advised me to join their event that would be on May 10th. I was enthralled now that I can climb in a group, the more the merrier.
I am a novice climber. Lacking experience in trekking ever before was a challenge. I had a month to prepare myself. I was ready.
It was May 10, the day to climb. I was excited 10/10. I had everything I needed including my Merrell trek shoe (👟❤️). Our group assembled around 4am and we traveled to Kidapawan. We were oriented by the dept of tourism. We were about 6 hikers with 2 guides & 2 helpers. All were surprised I’m the only woman, a first time hiker & a foreigner. Anyway, our group was organized by Mr.Raz (manager of mountain hardwear). We decided to hike for 3days, going up for 2 and down in 1 which is onerous for a novice like me.
We started hiking up through the kidapawan trail. Needless to say the trail was hard even for my fellow cragsmen. With snickers and a red bull, I had already reached 3000 ft. I sweat carrots, my face is rouge. In obvious I have tachycardia given the altitude & probably the caffeine. Embarassed to say I was the last one to reach among them. I always had the guide (Mr.Tik-) Mr. Suave with me. It started to rain & things get dicey when everything is slippery. Risible enough my rain pants tore off so the soil was all over me. I didn’t care. No matter how hard or bad it looked I just want to climb. With scads of pratfalls in the capricious weather, we finally reached about 5,500ft where we had our first night camp. Our group was sanguine and convivial, I was listening to their funny stories. We had coffee and dinner. Thanks to mountain hardwear for their accommodation. In torpidity I crashed as soon as 7pm. Despite my complex quivering and excruciating muscle ache, I was feeling serene.
That night I woke up around 12 am. I was enthralled to see a million stars above me. They are so close and beautiful like I wanna shriek. I enjoyed my star gazing time for an hour and went back to sleep again.
Day 2, we started to jaunt around 7:30am. According to my guide we would reach lake venado by noon. Day 2 hike was tougher. We had to hike through steep rocks, muddy tree roots and so many ups and downs (mostly ups). One look down I had a thought “if I slipped there, I would tumble like jack and jill.” By noon we reached a plateau (lake venado- above 8000ft). The guys said we need to reach the summit before sunset so we can go down the following day. My body wailed NO.
After a siesta and a fine lunch in an enamored view, I put my heart to hike for that pm. This was the toughest, not because of the path but the altitude acclimatization. I started to hyperventilate. Every breath was harder for every step. Around 4pm, I made it to the summit. It was one of the happiest moments and I cried out of joy that ‘I made it.’ I enjoyed my evening delight watching the sunset, the stars, the cities and the ocean. In a slow pace I started to hike downhill in the darkest twilight. We camped the night at lake venado.
The following (rainy) day, we started to jaunt downhill again. It was a different trail, I passed though boulders emitting sulphur fumes, rugged rocks and green forest with occasional water falls. We crossed many gangplanks on the river mainit with strong currents. We reached lake agko at 6pm.
I guess the best part of my day was to stay in the natural hot spring at lake agko for 30 minutes (we din’t have much time) before heading to davao. It’s like jacuzzi (only better, I wanted to stay in forever). You really need one after such an exhausting journey, JOIE DE VIVRE.
Writing this today made me realize how much ‘climbing apo’ has meant to me since I recall almost every detail of my trek. I’m grateful to have such a gracious company which made my hike easier. It was more than a hike (check my other post) and it’s only a beginning (more to come). La vida loca!