by 8.15am, text messages were coming in. people who were scheduled to climb sembrano were looking for me. i still hadn't confirmed my attendance and i said i'd decide on saturday. jhoana's call woke me up at way past 9am, and she said that i should go because her guest, axel, wouldn't have a tent to sleep in. at 10am, i very lazily left my bed, very carefully packed my bag, and by the time eat bulaga was showing, i was ready to leave. i made one stop at hi-top, purchased ingredients for my pasta aligue dish, and then left for tanay, rizal. i knew that another group was climbing sembrano later that evening, but i just decided to hike alone. i reached the jump-off at past 5pm, and started my trek at exactly 5.20pm, just after i allowed some kids with snot and lollipops to see themselves on my camera. goodness, was my pack heavy. last year, at about the same time of year, for essentially the same purpose (tune-up for the inductees), i took a similar route: deciding on the day of the climb, and proceeding on a night trek. the difference this time around is that i knew the trail. but sometimes, your senses deceive you when what felt like an ordinary climb was taking longer than i imagined.
it took rendo and i around an hour and a half to get to the campsite last year, and i don't recall getting very tired. it must have been the weight of my pack. i was huffing and puffing and fearing a cramp as i hauled myself and my load up the 650 meter mountain. once i came upon its steep slope covered under a creepy forest assaulted by a fierce wind, i looked around and thought about leaving some of my stuff, under a rock or behind a tree, perhaps. sweat was falling off my face in consistent trickles. i drank more than half a liter of water. i stopped a few times, but rested no more than 2 minutes. i could see hints of civilization in the distance: fixed lights aglow in grids and lines. an ominous-looking cloud hung heavily over talim island and the rest of laguna lake. and i still had a huge challenge to surmount.
when i left the forest line and found the grassland, i knew i was near the summit, and i was suddenly possessed by a new kind of energy. i just kept on walking, and thought about whether i should announce my arrival with a whistle or a shout or a bird call, or just surprise them by showing up at the campsite. the wind howled, and there certainly was no way anyone would hear me. i just kept walking, pushing myself up to the campsite, not minding the wind even as it threatened to blow me away.
and then i was there, at around 6.50pm, on the first campsite, looking at 2 tents. very quickly i knew they weren't AMCI, judging by their silence and their choice of mountain shelter. i proceeded to the left, and found my club busy with dinner. very quickly i pitched my tent while the wind unleashed its fury upon us. the hubba-hubbas, cecil's mountainsmith, and aries's TNF heron 22 were flapping and bending and rattling wildly. it was a chore to even get my tent to stand, but once it did, it was really peaceful inside. almost no hint of what was going on outside. dinner was well underway. angie was taking care of a mean seafood pasta surprise. they'd prepared quite a lot, that they had to separate the pasta into 2 pots. i love pasta, but i think this is also one of the things i need to avoid if i want to cut down to 155. while we busied ourselves with eating our hearty meals, small drops blew into our faces. another fun climb under threat of going awry, on account of what is now widely believed to be bossing's magnetic personality, or his ability to attract bad weather.
after dinner, when the very slight drizzle didn't escalate into rain, we opened our spirits. there's absolutely no truth to alcohol being an aid to feeling warm, but hell, we drink it anyway, since an inebriated brain is less likely to feel all that cold punishment. we'd already started on granma and tanduay rhum earlier. then we passed the chaser filled with gilbey's vodka from lip to lip, and followed it up with gin and chased them down with juice and wine. after consuming over 6 liters of alcohol, we were still unsatisfied. i moved to the next campsite and begged for alcohol. it just so happened that they knew who i was. they're members of pilipinas sierra, batch 2k5. i earlier gave them seafood pasta, so they wouldn't have to cook, having arrived really late, so they offered me a bottle of GSM bilog. i don't even remember the last time i had GSM, and i now wonder why i even allowed myself to imbibe this vile liquid, but it must have been the advanced stage of intoxication i felt at the time, because regardless, we drank it anyway. by this time, jhoana had to be carried to cecil's tent. that night, she was the second to undergo the lover's carry, the first being genie.
when we were done with the bilog, we were faced with a grievous problem: that of having no more alcohol. it wasn't long, though, till our saviors arrived. we were supposed to just await the arrival of 4 more members, but we were really more interested in their alcoholic offerings. they'd taken a bottle of tequila with them, and after helping them pitch their tents, we snatched the bottle and continued drinking. by this time, my memory had been all too unreliable, although i think i assisted in finishing the liter that was taken up the mountain. i proceeded to my tent, and after a brief chat with axel, i fell asleep, quickly, much like when you're knocked out by a devastating blow. i woke up late the following day when cecil was looking for my fuel bottle. i went back to sleep and left my tent at 8.45am. how late is that! i had a swirling headache.
cecil informed me my pump was not working right, but i was too concerned with my state of health that i just brushed it off. for breakfast, where i had absolutely no contribution, i ate the bacon that leo and genie prepared. there was also what appeared to be either patties or a badly-made omelet available. the only thing i remember about the conversation there was leo asking genie: "mas cute ba sa akin si ryan?" people left the campsite in small trickles. as usual, i was the last to finish breaking camp. gerry said the reason my tent was so stable despite the wind was because it was pegged by 12 v-stakes. anyway, that was a nice morning. the sun rose above us, and the view was splendid -- something we weren't blessed with the previous year. i could see past laguna lake and its fish cages, and in the distant haze, i could make out the shapes of buildings. i was almost certain that i could see the pacific plaza towers of fort bonifacio. and then we proceeded to descend. it was actually quite steep -- no wonder i had a hard time pulling myself up. it was a tough, albeit short, hike.
we reached the manggahan where we had fresh buko juice before proceeding to the wash-up area. it was already lunch time when we finished, and people were divided between eating lunch in tanay, or heading straight home. having gone there alone, i went home by myself. it was actually by accident. i was supposed to meet the others at chow king, but since an FX going straight to ortigas was available, i boarded it very quickly. by 3pm, i was home, and although i was really very sleepy, i spared a few minutes to cook the pasta i brought up the mountain and down again. i shouldn't be eating pasta, i know, and worse, aligue, but it was really quite good. i had other plans for the day, like visiting the gym or heading out to mall of asia once again, but i guess i was just so exhausted that i ended up just sleeping for most of that day. first climb for the year. i wonder when my next will be.