That mountain with the more pointed peak is Mt. Damas in Dueg, Tarlac, where me and my climb mates ABG (Akyat Bagal Gang) participated for Freedom Climb over the weekend, for the second year in a row. As a neophyte in exploring outdoor activities, I am still considering myself as a new blood, that’s why, as always, I never expect anything whenever there is a climbing event. And I gotta say, this Damas climb is by far the most difficult I have done in the past year. I didn’t have the slightest idea that I will be in for another adventure I would never forget.
The above photo was taken at the jump off site, which I believe is in Camiling, Tarlac. Mt. Damas looked like it’s within reach. But do not be deceived, the hike to the campsite alone will be long and strenuous.
After a quick snack and photo ops at the jump off site, we then started the hike. I couldn’t contain myself with excitement at every step, hop, and skip as we made our way. I was thinking to myself, here I am again, conquering anew, marking this climb as my first year anniversary. Here’s a photo I took of a lone tree on a hill. I captioned this “One Tree Hill” on Instagram.
After, I think, a couple of hours of hiking, the major highlight of the climb (well, at least for me) happened. Me and my group mates were on our way down to this brook and I accidentally slipped on a big rock. I had my right hand for support and I guess the fall was bad. For about five minutes, I wasn’t able to feel my right arm, I felt nauseated, my vision got blurred, and all I got to hear was a buzzing sound. I seriously thought it was the end of me! Good thing I didn’t pass out. Chin and Dong were quick to help me out, thank goodness. They gave me a pain reliever which took effect instantly, and also someone from another group applied a liniment on my right arm.
Because of what happened, the climb became painstakingly difficult for me. It was excruciating! I lost my balance, my right arm is hurting the entire time, and the slippery trail did not help at all. We had one of the guides carry my stuff for me for I wouldn’t be able to make it with a heavy bag on my back. Good thing the guides are very reliable and helpful. Some of them would even wait for me and would offer assistance whenever they think I am having a hard time. Of course with my condition, we would rest for several times. Because of that, I was the last one (along with some other sweepers) who made it to the camp site. Dark has started to creep in at that time, around 5PM I think.
I initially changed, because my shorts were all muddy and my shirt were all sweaty. After that, we started to prepare for dinner, socials a bit, then I shut my exhausted body off. Much thanks to Joyce for lending me her tent. It was a nice sleep, with the occasional interruptions from my hurting right arm because of the cold breeze. Most of us were up by 5AM to prepare for the summit. It was just about a 15-20 minute climb from the campsite. I didn’t get to take much pictures because, again, of my right arm. But here are a few at the summit:
After about an hour, we went back down to the campsite for breakfast. One thing I love doing most in the mountains is eating haha, especially when people share each other’s food. It’s always a feast, I tell ya! After the sumptuous meal, we packed our stuff and prepared to leave. We did a traverse this time, on the way to the foot of the mountain through Ubod falls. Thank goodness the trail is not that slippery anymore! After, I think, three hours and several other falls (one of which we climbed), we reached Ubod falls! And what a sight it was!
The water is so refreshing! Nakaka-wala ng pagod! We stayed there for lunch, then rested a bit, then head to hike down anew. It would be another three or four hours of walking, hiking, trekking, rappelling, wall climbing – name it, we did it all during this climb! And I couldn’t be any happier and proud of myself because I did it! It might seem a tedious journey, but it’s all worth it. I got bruised, scarred, and injured, but that’s part of the adventure. And knowing that I can do it, I pushed myself to the limits again, defied gravity in its utmost extent, and ended up victorious. The best feeling! Again, thank you to Chin, Dong, Caloy, and the guides for the help and assistance, to Joyce for the tent, to the two sweepers John and Errol who gave me hand gloves for protection, to all the new people I’ve met, to that kid EJ who thankfully came by when I thought I got lost in the woods alone – I couldn’t thank you guys enough. For the nice words, for encouraging me, and for sharing this experience with me.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!🙂