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The Rainy Trek to Mt. Maynoba

Never in my life have I longed for the sun with such intensity the way I did in the dawn of the 27th January. We were marching on a muddy trail, I had been relying on what little light that lands on my pathway from the flashlight of the person behind me. The light’s movement was so erratic and unsteady I suffered from dizziness that lasted for half an hour. I was tempted to rely on my mobile phone for some illumination but I worried it’d be soaked in the rain. And so I prayed for the sun, willed the rain to stop, and I seethed with regrets, wishing for the entire thing to be over. These are my thoughts on what I considered my most uncomfortable climb to date; Mt. Maynoba.

Save for my cousin, Jackie and my friend, Krish, I climbed Mt. Maynoba with a new set of hikers. A few of my classmates from French class showed up, as well as three people who saw the event on my Facebook page. The group assembled at KFC Kia Theatre in Cubao at 1:30 a.m. I couldn’t climb on an empty stomach, it usually makes me lightheaded, thus I ate a full meal. We left at around 3:00 a.m.

If you’d rather watch a video than read the entire post, here’s the video that I created of this trip.

One of my friends, Krish, hailed an empty van and negotiated with the driver to take us to Rizal. He agreed to do it for ₱2,000, Krish haggled until she got it down to ₱1,500 ($28.85). We were a group of 10, everyone was amenable to pay ₱150 ($2.88) per head.

I sat in the front seat, tried to catch some zzs to no avail. It’s safe to assume not a soul in that van had a decent sleep the night before given how early our call time is. My cousin came around in my apartment at 10:00 p.m. so we’d go to Cubao together. We turned off the lights, we said goodnight, and just before I was drifting off to sleep, my clock alarmed. I turned on the lights, Jackie reported that she wasn’t able to sleep; neither did I.

The reason we were early is that I didn’t want to miss the sea of clouds this time. When I went to Mt. Batolusong, we arrived a tad too late to see the SOC (yes I just acronymed the sea of clouds, get over it). To ensure our success, I read up on mountains with the highest success rate of seeing the SOC; Mt. Maynoba topped the list. I set our assembly at the ungodly hours. I told them if I don’t get to see the SOC this time, I would throw a tantrum.

[Related: A Climb Inspired by Angel Locsin – Mt. Batolusong]

Mt. Maynoba is a 728m mountain and one of the hikers’ favorites in Rizal. It is classed a 3/9 in difficulty and may take 2-3 hours to finish. Aside from the chance of seeing the SOC, the other highlight of this loop hike that climbers can look forward to is the 8 waterfalls.

The network signal in Rizal is hard that we couldn’t rely on Waze or Google Maps. One hour in the road and I knew we were lost. The dark road seemed endless, the driver clearly didn’t know where he was going but he drove on anyway like he was hoping it would eventually lead us to our destination. I told him that we were lost, he denied it and said that he just happened to take a wrong turn somewhere. I sat there and maintained my eyes on the road, trying my best to keep my composure. Internally, I was trying to simmer down my growing frustration.

The driver apologized profusely when we reached our destination. I told him it’s okay, but my facial expression might have told otherwise. It was not his intention that we lost our way, but you got to understand none of us slept to be early for this trip. We wasted precious time that might have reduced our chance of seeing the SOC.

The rain showed no sign of stopping further dampening my spirit. It did cross my mind to cancel the hike. They didn’t pay me to arrange this trip, but I still bear the responsibility for being the organizer. I have never climbed a mountain in this terrible weather condition and never in this darkness. I knew this would be extra burdensome. Were they silently regretting that they ever joined this trip? It would be sad to know if they did, but I couldn’t blame them especially when I know exactly how it feels.

I inquired if they wanted to go on; they all said yes. And so climb we must.

Our next ordeal was a half hour ride to the jump-off point on a crooked, muddy road. Over the huge craters of the puddle, the tricycle hammered on, while we got tossed inside the small vehicle. We paid ₱200 ($3.85) for each tricycle. At the registration area, we paid ₱100 ($1.92) per head, and we were given three guides, each one is compensated with ₱500 each. A briefing from one of the guides ensued, and then a little before 5:o0, we were ready to go.

The rain hasn’t stopped, if, at any, it grew stronger the further we went. We were hoping to buy some raincoats from the stores but they said they were sold out. Jesse had a raincoat, which he said he always brings in all of his climbs. Krish, on the other hand, had an umbrella; the rest of us had nothing to protect us from the rain.

I had a backpack, inside there’s a gallon of water, my camera, extra clothes, and toiletries. My bag is not waterproof, but the material was thick enough to prevent water from soaking all of my stuff. Still,  I was worried about my camera the entire hike. I have put it in a plastic bag and sandwiched it between my clothes for protection. I didn’t care that I was bathing in the rain, if I get sick I can recover, but if my camera gets wet, it might not. While I was thinking about this, I recalled a childhood memory of my mother advising me to take off my shoes if I have to walk in the flood. I remember feeling a little bit hurt that my mother is more concerned about the shoes than me. Years later, there I was, climbing a mountain under the pouring rain, more concerned about my camera than my own health.

f I wasn’t carrying a gadget, would I have enjoyed the experience? I can’t tell for sure. All I know is that it was no fun, trekking and not seeing where you are stepping on and feeling your damp clothing clinging to your skin. When in my previous climbs my most insistent thought is getting to the summit, this time, all I wanted was to head back. My great sense of discomfort was mirrored by my companions.

20 minutes to the first peak, the rain grew stronger. We had to take a pause and assess our situation. There is no doubt in my mind that I want to go back, I don’t think it’s worth the risk and I was no longer enjoying the climb. I asked the group if they wanted to continue or to go back. Half of the group wanted to return, the others wanted to go on. We all agreed to push through to the first peak.

It was still dark and we could barely make out the surrounding by the time we reached the first summit. From a distance, we saw what we believed to be the sea of clouds, a big mass on the horizon. It was too dark that it was difficult to appreciate to view. We waited until there was enough light to take some photos.

We spotted a few tents set up by the campers. I couldn’t believe they were there since the night before and in this weather. It’s not hard to imagine that they had an uncomfortable if not a rough night. Jessie and his friend, Paul originally wanted to continue but after reaching the first peak, they changed their minds. The three joiners who saw my Facebook event were the only ones who finished the hike, kudos to them. The rest of us, mere mortals, retreated to where we came from. We encountered the other hikers on our way back and because this is a loop hike, they knew that we didn’t complete the trek.

I felt no shame for not having finished it. I know how to pick my battles. I skidded and fell on my butt twice from walking over the slippery slope. By the time we reached the jump-off point, was covered in mud.

They say that a bad experience makes for a good story for which I’d have to agree. As a writer I find the poignant tales and the most harrowing of experiences to be the most interesting themes to write. This is not to say I want to court misfortunes to create better stories, I just accept the fact that sometimes, things go downhill despite your best efforts. What’s important is the learning that you can take from each experience, in this case, one must always check the weather report.

Even so, my Mt. Maynoba climb takes the cake for being the most memorable. Hell, we got rained on. What could be more unforgettable than that.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Katchutravels
    May 21, 2018 at 12:56 AM

    Marjie- I feel exactly the same way. The bad trips with tough weather, murphy’s law always makes for better memories. Just like you, I too feel at some level, I attract some events like that on a trip. And yes, I too would love to plan for SOC’s (acronyms are cool), on a trip! nice to see the video to hear your voice and see you in video along with your trek mates.

  • Reply
    Shreya
    May 5, 2018 at 2:20 PM

    Trekking in rain become really challenging but you did a great job. This was really adventurous.

  • Reply
    Aditi
    March 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM

    This must have been quite an adventurous trek for you and sometimes the adventure is uncalled for, but then I guess travel is about a lot of unexpected twists and turns and all is well if it ends well. Today you can look back and still enjoy though it must have been tough back then.

  • Reply
    Erica
    March 11, 2018 at 8:15 AM

    oh no. it’s already very challenging to hike when it is rainy. i imagine the mud and the effort to maintain your balance … (i read you use your leg muscles plus your core for this) i’m impressed you even reached the first peak! if i were you and was wearing your sandals i imagine i’d be frustrated. but i hope you can try next time? id love to join! the sea of clouds here is gorgeous!

  • Reply
    sumit walia
    March 8, 2018 at 1:08 PM

    so did the three people who continued on manage to see the SOC or the rain just did not let them . Mental agreement to task at hand is very important and more so in treks and hikes . It is a good decision to turn back if the mind and heart are not in agreement . good call done here

  • Reply
    Ann
    March 8, 2018 at 12:54 PM

    Mountain treks are often times hard. Much more dealing with rain. I can feel the slippery routes and the struggle to make it. Nevertheless, you had tried and indeed that made a good story for you to tell. Not so fond of trekking but who knows someday, I will! An adventure seeker here, too!

  • Reply
    neha
    March 8, 2018 at 5:25 AM

    Well,sometimes our experiences during the travel don’t turn out to be exactly what we expected them to be. But then we have to remember that there is always a take away or learning that we get from such experiences. Glad you shared yours to the world. I am thinking to go to a rainy place in a couple of month as my daughter’s vacations start. After reading your experience, my one takeaway is that I will definitely pack my rain gears and a rain coat, instead of relying on renting them at the destination

  • Reply
    Christine
    March 7, 2018 at 11:19 PM

    Oh my god, I can’t imagine! I hate rain and I hate walking even in wet pavement. Wala pang baha yun! So yeah, climbing a mountain under the rain and super muddy train will make me super irritated. Also, I agree. You have to choose your battle. Even if you failed to reach the summit, it doesn’t mean your trip is useless. If I go to a place and I fail to do what I have to do, I just think my effort is not useless. I focus on the positive things that the trip brought me rather than focus on things I failed to do. I’ll join you next time! 😜

  • Reply
    Neil Alvin Nicerio
    March 6, 2018 at 10:48 PM

    This reminds me of our trek to Tarak Ridge a few years back. We went there a few days after a storm but lo and behold it freakin rained hard. We had to trek wet despite our ponchos and umbrellas. However, Papaya River’s current was too strong so we didn’t push through with it.

    That was my first and hopefully last failed climb.

  • Reply
    LaiAriel Samangka
    March 6, 2018 at 2:30 PM

    Sorry to here about that the heavy down pouring of rain during your trek with your friends. I’m happy as well that even your bag is not waterproof, but your stuff were still in good place and were not wet. They said that “Safety should always be a priority in whatever adventure we are into”. Truly, with what you guys have done, it is truly right. I once have climbed a mountain as well where we headed back and din’t continue our trek because of the heavy rain and it was getting dark that time. I know that even you guys weren’t able to reach the summit, but I’m sure that your trek to Mt. Maynoba is really worth it. Thank you so much for sharing this wuith us.

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