Auspicious Suspicious.

Once in a while, great things happen and its usually when we least expect it. I woke up on 11-11-11 thinking that my friends and I would just eat out or do karaoke in one of Baguio‘s side streets. Instead, we climbed a mountain. As you can see in the image above, all three of us girls with the exception of our male friend here, have relatively little climbing experience. We’re also wearing our usual gear with accompanying bling bling which climbers are advised against. At this point, we don’t know where we’re going and how far the walk is. All we know is that we’re visiting a friend (of our male companion) who’s an elder to say hello and ask him for advise about a ritual conducted weeks ago. This photo was taken at the foot of the mountain. Behind us is a bridge that leads to the tollbooth of Kennon road.

Twenty minutes later, you can view said tollbooth and marvel at how close you are to the sky. I took this after passing a hedge which gave me the illusion that we weren’t so high up anyway. Rule number 1 of climbing is to never look down but of course, I break that rule every time. I’m just glad a patch of sunflowers kept me from seeing past it to the ground below.ย  Speaking of sunflowers, this is the wonderful narrow foot path that was lined with them:

Narrow is an understatement but as you can see, the line leads up to more inclines which made the entire experience quite memorable. That gray slope was the site of a recent landslide and while I managed to walk a few meters ahead of my troupe, I hesitated to cross because I was sure to fall. Our male companion tried to teach me how to do it but half-way through this slide, I felt the ground beneath me slip, the rubble started rolling down the slope and part of me forgot for a while that I could have slipped as I watched these pebbles roll down. As a result, my friend had to carry all three of us (!!!) through. In an action known to the Ilocanos as uba (pronounced ub-ba) which means to carry on one’s back, we were moved from one footpath to another.

I still can’t fathom how people can manage to walk through such walkways without seeing images of their creator but oh well, different strokes for different folks. We reached the summit some thirty minutes later so all in all our climb lasted less than an hour. The man we were supposed to meet had us over for roughly an hour. We spoke for a bit then later found ourselves enjoying a bowl of clear chicken broth with rice. The chicken was cooked in the typical style of the mountain people which involved some mild beating of the chicken with a stick to promote blood clotting. After slicing an artery on its neck, the blood is then allowed to drip. The chicken is dressed then thrown into an open fire to a semi-roast. After it is half-cooked, it is then placed in a pot with water and turned into soup.

We ate in darkness with only the fire of the make-shift stove to accompany us. It illuminated our faces and in this light, I understood why our friend, the elder, was met with such respect and admiration by our companion. The lines on his face might have betrayed his age but the creases they made when he laughed convinced us of his sage-like nature. If images of God abound in the earth, I was certain I was staring into one of them.

Night came for us and when it was time to leave, we all decided that it was better to take an alternate route going down (as the dangers of passing that tiny landslide were high). The forty minute climb up the mountain turned into a three-hour walk down. By the time we hit the road (as in the actual road), we had already watched the moonrise and could see Baguio at a distance. We had walked all the way to the road leading to Philex mines. This might not seem to mean anything but a quick look at Google maps will show just how crazy that trek was.

Would I do it again? Of course!

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4 thoughts on “Auspicious Suspicious.

  1. What a lovely, love experience Nash. I envy you climbing those mountains and walking the narrow trails. Two years ago, three weeks after my chemo, we visited Tanay and enjoyed the trek, a sort of acid test for endurance but looking at the Sierra Madre mountains and being rewarded with such a view was worth it all. I called it Touching Heaven!

    • You know, climbing mountains is one thing but enduring chemo and surviving cancer ranks as making Everest in my book. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep trekking, Arlene and even if you don’t manage to get too high, rest assured that your experience would have given you just as much to be grateful for. ๐Ÿ™‚ Will think of you the next time I see a mountain.

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