This post is a year late so my memories of the trip are kinda fuzzy. However, it was my first ever hiking experience so this mountain trip would still be my most memorable one up to date. Okay. So last year, I had been planning to go out and see the mountains for myself. I spent so much time reading itinerary guides and blog posts about hiking trips. I wanted to experience the same things I have read and more. I was so excited while planning my very first hike so I immediately asked Jem if he wanted to go with me. He said yes, of course (HE CAN’T SAY NO HAHA). As you may know, I’m from Cavite, an hour or two away from Batangas, that is why it was pretty obvious that I will go for the minor climbs located there. There were actually three mountains in mind: Mt Batulao, Mt. Talamitam, and Mt. Pico de Loro. I arranged the trip and ended up tagging my favorite cousins, Lean and Franz, along with us. They were SO GAME. It was decided: We’re going to Mt. Batulao. Everything was all set. Except for the date of our climb! We just could not find our common availability. Until months had passed and we still haven’t gone on our adventure yet.
One with nature. *naks*
Our view from the summit.
This was during the first semester of my last year in college so I had plenty of free time. However, it was a different case with the three of them. Their schedule won’t just allow them to go because finals week was approaching. One night, I asked Jem if he’s still willing to push through with the climb without Lean and Franz. Of course, he said yes. So I told him, “Then, let’s go! How about tomorrow?” And just like that, I packed my bags and prepared everything I would need the next day. We did not stick to the original plan, though. Instead of Mt. Batulao, we decided to climb Mt. Talamitam so we could still hike Mt. Batulao with Lean and Franz.
Our first look at Mt. Talamitam after the muddy trek.
I was so tired when we reached the base of Mt. Talamitam, I looked like crap.
Everything happened so fast after that. We woke up early the next morning, grabbed our bags, and hopped on a bus heading to Nasugbu. It was a two-hour drive. I slept through the whole bus ride. We were still on the bus when we noticed that the sky was getting dark. The rain was upon us! The weather wasn’t being cooperative that morning. After talking it through with Jem if we should still go or not, we decided to go. We thought, “Nandito na tayo, e.” We got off at Brgy. Bayabasan and registered at the DENR station. We paid Php 25.00 and was assigned a tour guide since it was our first time to hike. Our guide was seventeen-year-old Kiko. He was really patient with us given that it was our first time and the weather did not help at all. The trek was twice as difficult because of the rain. We had mud all over us and we really could not make it without Kiko’s help.
That’s Kiko leading our way to the foot of Mt. Talamitam.
It took us almost three hours to reach the summit because we took a lot of time to rest at the base of the mountain. Jem and I are aware that we could make it to the summit within an hour and a half but that day, we just couldn’t. We already felt our bodies failing us while we were still on our way up.
Nope, I wasn’t covered in mud. Not at all. And it wasn’t that foggy. Nope.
The view of Mt. Talamitam as we emerge from the forest into the grasslands.
My first glimpse of the summit gave me an unexplainable feeling. It was like I literally felt all my exhaustion leave my body. Reaching my first mountain peak was a fulfilling experience. It was surreal! I felt like a champion! I wanted to shout, “I made it!” on top of my lungs. I conquered Mt. Talamitam. My first hike made sense. I made it to the peak. My smile was uncontrollable. Reaching the summit made me really happy. That is when I thought to myself, “This is it. This is what makes hiking very addictive. This is the feeling that makes a man climb more mountains.” And that is also the moment when I realized that Mt. Talamitam, despite the body pain, shortage of breath, and muddy shoes it caused me, will not be the first and the last mountain that I will conquer. It is just the first of many.
We ate our lunch together with the others who also hiked that morning. We took refuge in a hut that was built by the locals. We gave Kiko one of our sandwiches but he did not eat it. Jem told me he saw him offering the sandwich to Mama Mary. There’s a small grotto at the summit and that’s where he put the sandwich.
Locals put up tents and sell food and drinks at the foot of the mountain.
That’s my happy face right there. This was taken at the peak with Mt. Apaya (Mt. Talamitam’s neighbor mountain) in the background.
It rained hard while we were at the summit stayed in the small hut we shared with the other hikers. We waited for the rain to stop and the fog to subside so we could take a good look at the view from the top of the mountain.
Dark clouds loom over Mt. Talamitam as we near the mountain.
We started our way down after spending an hour at the peak. Going back down to the jump-off point was even more challenging than climbing up because it was very slippery and we only had the tall grass and feeble branches to hold on to. Kiko helped us get through, of course. I started regretting wearing my running shoes when I felt the mud entering my shoes. I told myself repetitively that I should have worn sandals. Jem and I washed all the mud off our shoes at the river. Then, Kiko lent me his slippers so I could walk comfortably. (Yes, he was wearing rubber slippers all throughout the tedious climb.) It was very nice of him and it was very reckless of me to finish off the life of his who-knows-how-many-year-old hiking slippers! Kakahiya, besh. Five minutes into walking in his slippers, the sipit accidentally snapped! I apologized multiple times and told him I will buy him a new pair.
Our view from the summit.
We made it back to the jump-off point at around 4 o’clock. We showered and changed clothes. We were on a limited budget so even though we were hungry as hell, we settled for some soda. We hopped on the next bus home and slept through the whole ride.
“We had grown into one another somewhere along the way. We were officially a team.”
—Shannon A. Thompson
Mt. Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas
Mt. Talamitam was beautiful. It will forever hold a special place in my heart. No matter how many more mountains or hills I climb, it will always be my first mountain. The first mountain to give me the experience of a lifetime. As they say, every hike is a different experience. And my first hiking experience may not be perfect—the weather was bad, I did not see entire beauty of the view from above, and I was not in proper attire—it was perfect for me. It made me exhausted and ecstatic at the same time. It taught me a lot of things. It served as a lesson that I should always check the weather first and wear proper attire. It also made me realize the most important things in life. Finally, it made me feel that all the pain was worth it. And that is what matters the most.