One Step at a Time: I Conquered Mount Mayon!

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Yes, I endured days of swollen legs and feet. Every step was torture (from over-exhaustion I’m told, a syndrome called DOMS or something).

Sure, my shoulder muscles still cringe.

My skin now has an uneven tan (I actually have a tan line in the middle of my arm. I look like I’m wearing a brown, skin-tanned glove).

And yes, my wallet’s a little more lighter from the expenses.

BUT!

I FREAKIN’ CONQUERED MOUNT MAYON!

Oh yeah I did!

I’m back from Bicol, from our Operation Jabez (OJ) local mission trip (which I promise I’ll be writing about very, very soon, promise). And I don’t know what came about me, but I suddenly had the crazy idea to join the Mount Mayon hike with some of my OJ teammates.

The hike from jump off point to Camp 1 and Camp 2 was manageable, almost like Mount Pulag, except a little longer. We arrived at Camp 2 after several hours of hiking, where we set up camp and had early dinner.

The real challenge was the Summit Assault.

The average Filipino would know from basic Philippine geography lessons that Mount Mayon is known for its “perfect cone”. We immediately recognized it… we were practically climbing a steep 45-degree wall. Would’ve been fine, except that it went on for hours.

The view from Manito, Albay. What we dared to climb.

The view from Manito, Albay. What we dared to climb.

We started the Summit Assault at around 2am. Very dark, but in retrospect I guess it was better that way. Every once in a while I kept flashing my flashlight up to see how much longer we still had to climb. There, as far as my flashlight beam could reach, were still rocks. Rock, rock, rock. And more rock. Seriously, it seemed to go on FOREVER.

We wanted to reach the summit in time for the sunrise, but with our pace sunrise came about 3/4ths to the summit. It was still a majestic view, though.

Watching the sunrise hundreds of feet above the ground. My point and shoot camera couldn't give it justice, for sure.

Watching the sunrise hundreds of feet above the ground. My point and shoot camera couldn’t give it justice, for sure.

Up and up we go. Brings to mind Frodo. Oh, how Frodo suffered. I'm much more sympathetic now.

Up and up we go. Brings to mind Frodo. Oh, how Frodo suffered. And he climbed for days! I’m much more sympathetic now.

Four hours later, we finally detected the distinct smell of sulfur. We are told to prepare gas masks or any cloth we could wrap around our faces to keep out the smell.

“The crater’s 15 minutes away!”, Bayron Cepria, our head tour guide, says.

And finally, what we hiked hours for…

What we hiked hours for.

What we hiked hours for.

Mayon Crater 2

Then, it was time for the dreaded descent.

I never knew how smooth, slippery and uneven weathered lava rocks could be. Nor how cruel they could be to our already battered knee caps.

I am EVER grateful to kuya Ronald,one of our guides, who literally held my hand going down and went ahead of me, scouring for “easier”, less slippery paths. This is also the part where I put in a word for kuya Bayron Cepria, our head tour guide.

He and his team were very meticulous in ensuring our safety, and at times, our convenience. When going to Mayon, he’s the man to call. I actually tried googling him, and was quite surprised that he has made a name for himself with regards to Bicol / Mount Mayon tours.

One word to describe this climb: CRAZY. Wait, maybe you didn’t get it. IT WAS CRAZY!

And finally, my very poignant reflection from this experience:

As in all difficult experiences in life, it helps when you have with you someone who has already been through the circumstance.

Deep, right? Heh.

I actually prefer ate Kerren’s reflection:

Going up, I felt like Frodo.  Going down I felt like Gollum. 

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