Climbing Mt. Apo (Kapatagan-Kidapawan Traverse) – Day 1/4

This is it. The day has finally come. Every Pinoy mountaineer’s dream.

I am ready to climb the entire nine thousand feet to the highest peak of the Philippines. ♥

Mount Apo stretches over parts of Davao and Cotabato in the island of Mindanao. Together with BRB Mountaineering, we decided to start our trek at the Kapatagan Trail. We boarded a flight to Davao City where we were met by Sir Charlito, our mountain guide. Then we traveled for hours under the sizzling hot sun towards our jumpoff.

Before we officially started the trek, we dropped by a little village where we met a few locals. Five of them were our porters. They were a bit shy at first but being the great people that we are (ahemm), they quickly became our friends.

In Philippine provinces, you often see cows or goats in mountain villages. They are mostly found grazing under trees or on backyards. But here at the foot of Mt. Apo, they have horses instead. Laysho!

After my experience at Mount Pulag, I have vowed to myself that I will hire a personal porter to carry my backpack. That way, there’s no stopping me from taking out my bulky DSLR.

I entrusted my 18-kilo backpack to Kuya Eldie who carried it with ease. And even with a pack that heavy, he zoomed past most of us, reaching the campsite way ahead of the others.

Rain clouds started to gather above our heads. I was afraid it was going to be a terrible experience. Thankfully, it didn’t rain at all. It just started to get really cold and foggy. It was only a couple of hours after noon when we started hiking up the mountain. But with the intense fog, you couldn’t even tell.

We passed through the greenest fields of carrots and corn, and small huts, and farm animals, until we were so far away from civilization that soon it was nothing but dense forest. The sun had started to sink below the horizon, and with a canopy of tall trees, it got darker sooner than I expected. If not for my headlamp, it would have been pitch dark. Which made it difficult to take pictures. I could have been standing on the edge of a cliff, and I would never know.

Okay, I was wrong, there is something that could stop me from taking pictures. I was already tired and I couldn’t see much except for a few feet of dirt illuminated by the tiny circle of light from my headlamp.

When we reached Tinikaran Camp, it was already 7PM. I was surprised to find our tent already setup by Kuya Eldie and the other porters. So I had nothing else to do but curl up inside for a while, change my dirty clothes and prepare for dinner. I have no regrets at all for paying the 400/day rate of my personal porter. 😀

When I was all set, I went outside to help with the cooking. The menu that night was cabbage soup and a can of Ma-Ling. The serving would have been enough if the food was divided only among our group and our porters, which would make a total of 5 people. But as it turned out, the porters did not know about our grouping so all 9 of us shared the single can of Ma-Ling. Such a terrible way to end a tiresome day.

I slept that night with a grumbling stomach. But things got better the next day. I think.

To find out if it did, stay tuned for the rest of the story. ♥


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