The year was 1992. I was eighteen years old then. Just imagine the civilization back then of the third smallest island in the Philippines, the Siquijor island. A trek to its highest peak would be too adventurous and challenging. Camp Bandilaan, the island’s highest mountain, could only be reached on foot back then. Since I just came from the city, my aunt and two cousins invited me to take a hike there. During that time, the beaches are not yet developed for tourism, thus the local folks, as well as the visitors, believed that the most beautiful sight the island offers is its virgin forest and lofty mountain.
From where we start, we would cover a total of seven kilometers hike in order to reach the peak. My companions, though local folks, were not expert hikers. We followed a trail which they said was a shortcut to the mountain. Eventually, we lost our way. We had no compass, and no map. We then just followed my aunt’s instinct of where the way could be. Many times, we scurried because of some loud croaking and crowing. According to my aunt it was the sound of a snake calling for prey like frogs or roosters. We also found some loose snake skins along the way. My excitement of the hike was transformed into one of fear and worry. Who would not be, when you are in the middle of the forest, lost, surrounded by tall trees and lush vegetation and with no one to call for help. The look on my aunt’s face too was one of worried and afraid. Yet, she managed to encourage us to not lose hope, that we would find our way. Luckily, after an hour of wandering and searching, we found a trail that lead to the peak. We arrived at the peak at around 1 p.m.
The island is such a warm place. But there on top the wind is so cool. The sun was overlooking at us, but its heat failed to penetrate into our skin. The sight was very amazing because it was still foggy up there. From there we could see the entire island and all the neighboring islands surrounding it. I felt I was on top of the world, away from the cares and worries of the reality below. For thirty minutes I was on a different world, engulfed by nature’s beauty. It all was worth the hike. The sound of the leaves kissed by the breeze and of the birds chirping were all music to my ears. It were all meditative for me.
After thirty minutes of relaxing and having our lunch, we started the journey home because my aunt was afraid darkness would fall with us still on our way. Our trip back was faster and we no longer followed any shortcut paths. It was almost 5 p.m. when we arrived home.
I felt so victorious and fulfilled then. That was the first time I ever took a hike at an island’s tallest and most beautiful mountain. Only that there was one thing I was never prepared for: I got sick the next day. The reason? I got sore muscles all over because I did not take short or long walks before the hike. All in all that trip took us almost ten hours of walking. And I lacked the physical preparation for it.
From that experience I learned several, very important lessons (I also add some tips that are needed for modern-day hiking):
- Before a hike, you must have walked an hour or several hours a day before the trip that your body would be prepared for it.
- If possible never take shortcuts, wherein you have not been into before. You never know the dangers along the way.
- Bring a map with you, and know some landmarks as a point of reference in case you lose your way.
- Never forget to bring your cellphone and have the numbers for emergency. (At that time we never had cellphones yet.)
- Always have someone with you who knows the place well.
- Wear comfortable footwear.
- Never forget your water and pack lunch, in case you’d be hiking for a whole day.
- Wear a hat or a sunscreen.
- Tell your family or someone that you are on a hike and the place that you are going to hike.
- Pack basic first aid kit like bandages, moleskin, tweezers and antiseptic wipes.
- Never forget your camera. (One of my disappointments. I never brought one when we did that hike.)
- A sturdy backpack with a stomach strap is good to carry everything in.
A hike is a very good adventure. I never hiked for a whole day after that. But I am willing to in the future. Nowadays, I just do short and long walks with my kids; just a form of exercise for us. Hopefully, someday soon, I’ll be trekking at the same mountain with my family. I had returned there several times on a vehicle. But hiking would be much fun and challenging still.
Hope you have taken a hike one day in your life too. Have a purposeful day!
In response to WP Daily Prompt: hike.