Manabu Peak, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. 760 meters above sea-level.
Sagi and Mac invited me to join them and their friends for a trek up the mountain. It would be my first time outside the Scouts to do so. It would also be the first time for me to climb with their group. I had decided to go even before they harangued me with text messages. I just needed to make sure my work was done before I confirmed.
Saturday morining, and I am on my way to the designated meeting place, having packed haphazardly the night before ... or rather, the few hours before sunrise. I know I have over-packed once again, and it was evident through my bulging backpack. Said backpack, by the way, is inadequate for a trip like this, and I had to use up every ounce of creativity I had in order to pack my things, or to attach said things with the bag. Carrying stuff by hand is inadvisable, and I am made painfully aware of such fact.
Two hours bus ride and we are at Lipa, Batangas. Lunch at the local mall and a bit of wait to complete our group, and we're off. I let them transact with the tricycle drivers who would, well, drive us to the foot of the mountain. And we're off.
The initial hour of the trek was easy. The path was rather level, with only a few obstacles like mud and boulders to obstruct me. There is a rule in mountaineering that we were taugh during my scouting days: "Never loose sight of the person in front of you." We actually managed to disobey that rule, and it cost us a few minutes, trying to figure out where our sweepers had gone to. Turns out that they were in the correct, newer path up the mountain, and that we were following an older, longer path.
The new path was a bit of a shortcut. It was also very steep, and it took all my will power to keep up with the rest of the group. It also made me realize how weak my legs and lungs are. A lifetime of reading books, or else balancing books, definitely made me ill-prepared for this trek, which mountaineers consider a "fun climb", but felt like the vestiges of hell to me at that moment.
Mountaineering websites describe Mt Manabu as a two-hour climb. We made it to the camp site in three, nearing four hours. We took our time with numerous pit stops, and I am grateful for those.
They say that reaching the top was exhilerating and rewarding. It was that and more. The view was beautiful, and the advent of the rising fog (or rather, descending clouds) added to the mountain's allure for me.