climb

my brain is 75% water

last saturday, i stuffed my 50+10 liter backpack with a surplus of gear in preparation for the trek to halcon's summit this weekend. i had adjusted the belt strap, and it now fits better than when i first bought it last september. i can hardly feel the stress on my shoulders. the weight has been effectively shifted to my waist and to my chest. why didn't i figure this out before?

at around 1pm, i was already at shaw to meet johnbee. he was keen on buying a the north face tadpole 23 tent to take to halcon, but for something so expensive (P14,999!), these things are in short supply! cathy, one of the attendants at the shang branch, promised to reserve one of the two remaining tents for johnbee (and since i was there this afternoon, i made sure she placed an urgent call to their bodega).

after that, johnbee and i had a very late lunch at bon appetit. edgar followed a while later with his salomon bike touring pack. i was amazed that he was able to stuff a tent and a ground sheet inside. it wasn't more than 30 liters. i didn't bring my bag into the mall because the shang has these bomb sniffing dogs, and i remember seeing this news report where the dog sniffed out what turned out to be lighter fluid. i had close to a liter of white gas as well as butane in my pack, and i didn't want the hassle of having to take my bag apart just to check for anything explosive.

after that, we proceeded to johnbee's place in makati. he hadn't packed yet, but he had almost everything organized, and in about an hour (why does it take me twice as long?), he was already ready. we flew all the way to festival mall to meet the other members of the maculot assault: rolly, tet and mike, and of course, dennis. we had a slight delay on our way to cuenca, batangas. there was a short discussion about an exit, and i was frantic about johnbee taking the calamba exit. the locals from the south said it was fine. turns out that they hadn't been through the pass for some time now, so we had to go back to sucat and turn around. we lost about 30 minutes, but that was a small thing, because the short detour added a funny footnote to our unique adventure (always pay attention to the signs!).

at about this time, jay sent me SMS asking what i planned to do the following day, sunday. i knew jay wanted to dayhike maculot. i couldn't tell him that i was already on my way there for a night trek. johnbee's revo could only accommodate so many, and i was just fortunate to have been invited. i was evasive with my answers, and fished for his itinerary so that we wouldn't have to bump into him along the trail.

at the last exit, we looked for a rose and grace to have bulalo. i hadn't heard of this place before, but it was apparently a popular eating destination. well, buses don't pass by these restos, which probably explains my ignorance. before we turned for the STAR tollway, we ate at rose (sister of grace -- there must've been some family squabble there), and had our fill of bulalo and tawilis. after dinner, dennis took over the wheel and was speeding through STAR at an average speed of 140kph.

night trek to maculot
we reached cuenca and started our trek at around 9pm. it was pretty dark, and my princeton tec scout headlamp wasn't built for night trekking, but i just followed mike closely through the steep trail closely. it was thankfully not as warm as we had expected (the sun was on the other side), and a gentle evening breeze followed us as we went up, but the exhiliration was still good to squeeze out some water columns from our bodies. mike's sweat would drop to the ground, and i could almost hear it falling. the sweat droplets were larger than 5 peso coins. tet wasn't far behind, and we were at the campsite in a record 1 hour and 20 minutes. the campsite, we later discovered, was already lined with dome bobcats and colemans -- tents which are better off down at the beach than on a windy summit. there were more than 50 freelancing mountaineers already there, overcoming the wind with shots of fundador. there was even a store on top, selling gin, soda, and even halo halo! i go up the mountains to get away from the crowds. but in maculot, the crowd is on the mountain.

since we knew we were going to make quite a ruckus, we decided to steal farther away. the trail to the summit had already been overpowered by tall cogon grass, but this didn't stop mike from clearing a campsite. my huge salomon adventure trek 5 boots came in handy in tramping down the grass. before long, we had a modest clearing fit for 4 tadpole tents. and instead of the hard earth, we were caressed by a layer of lying cogon grass. i volunteered to heat dinner and cook rice (or did johnbee coerce me?). i set my gear, including my bright lamp (the peak camp lantern may be huge, but it illumines a campsite rather well). considering we just had dinner a few hours before, we were still pretty hungry, and were wolfing down the binagoongang baboy johnbee cooked at his house. tet also prepared some austrian sausage snacks. yummy.

between the 6 of us (excluding tet, because she didn't have a sip of gin), we downed 5 GSM gin bilogs and a miguelito. it wasn't enough because mike and edgar left to buy more at the store. there wasn't any left, so they just looked around for anything which the other campers may have left behind. they found a london gin mixed with pomelo and took it with them, but i refused to have any of it.

i later suggested that we just do some stargazing. i wrapped myself in the malong chito bought for me in CDO. the stars were all out that night, and i proved my theory that if you just look at the sky long enough, you're bound to see shooting stars. i saw around 5 (and there wasn't even a meteor shower!) before i fell asleep. i must've been so exhausted. discovering that i had dozed off, the rest of the guys who were awake took liberties on my subconsciousness. that picture's going to end up in friendster soon.

we woke up at close to 8am. i was crippled by a bad headache. before i started preparing breakfast, i popped some pain killers. while i was cooking bacon, the other campers on the mountain had discovered us. they were on their way to the summit. some of these guys had called us "veterans" the previous day.

after i had prepared breakfast, we packed our bags and prepared to descend. it was still very early, so we decided to visit the rockies. it was overlooking taal lake, and was a place ideal for a lot of photo ops. on our way up, there were several hard core first timers on their way down. the girls were so out of shape. they complained a lot, and one of them swore never again to climb a mountain. thank goodness, i thought. we never want to see that awful color on your toenails again anyway!

when we started our descent, rolly and i were speeding down to the jump-off point. it wasn't because we were showing off, really, but these other guys are just terribly slow, considering they were carrying bags smaller than the one i regularly take to school. i wouldn't want to be such an elitist bitch, but these are the kind of guys i hope i won't have to meet on pulag or cristobal or makiling. these types leave trash like dump trucks regularly ply the mountains! and they don't care too much for preserving nature. a BMC does come in handy, after all.

when we were down, we were given VIP treatment at the shower area, and we finished freshening up faster than the larger groups who were there earlier. we left for calaca to visit the town fiesta. chito was already waiting for us there.

we were all very hungry by that time (past 2pm), but considering the number of plates we each ate, we probably were hungrier than just plain hungry. we ate at chito's house. we moved to his friend's house and ate once more. we moved to another house and ate yet again. and in all these instances, most of us had rice. now we were perfect strangers in so far as these guys are concerned, and our only connection to them was chito (one degree of separation doesn't exactly make us close friends), but we were welcomed whole heartedly (a real fiesta will not disappoint; there was leche flan in both houses we visited). you don't see much of that here in the city, and it is this kind of filipino hospitality which even a close-to-being-jaded filipino like myself constantly looks for. we had finished our fiesta binge at past 4pm (we had to refuse a third house), and departed for manila.

on the way, we stopped at leslie's for dinner, courtesy of chito. the eating never stopped, and i was almost certain i couldn't chew another spoonful. but i did. and i had around 30 more spoonfuls. on the way out of the resto, i was singing moon river, and this american (i assume he's american, based on his accent) says, "not bad, man." by the time we were driving back to manila, i was already close to bursting, and very sleepy. i was just exhausted with the whirlwind of things you get to do out-of-town with a car, 7 happy friends, and a wild sense of adventure.

i reached the house at around 10pm, and still had to prepare a powerpoint presentation for the career symposium earlier today. i'd talk about it but i'm just so tired. i have to get some sleep.

an explanation on the inside joke: my brain is 75% water is taken from a distilled/mineral water tv plug. i kept repeating this all throughout the trip, and it sort of caught on fire. i must insist though that even with 25% gray matter, i'm still pretty sharp (although johnbee would say that my brain's 75% water and 25% empty).
im not really particular about brands, except when it comes to the NorthFace! i just love it! nainis nga ako nung nagkaroon na ng northface dito e. tapos di naman ganon kaganda yung mga selections dito. hehehe! but yeah, id buy northface no matter how expensive, kahit i dont go outdoors that much. :)
buti ka pa. i do nothing there but salivate. sobrang mahal! i prefer TNF's urban backpacks over their technical mountain packs (mas type ko deuter and lowe alpine). sa shoes naman, salomon talaga ako. pero oo nga, maganda talaga ang TNF lalo na tent nila. about the selection, dadami rin yun. so far, parang brat pack lang na walang ibang brands yung store. they're opening another branch in rockwell nov. 12. o di ba, updated. hehehe.