As I made my way up the summit of Gulugod Baboy, I realized that it was my first climb after almost a year. I had been making good time in spite of the customary rest stops at the huts along the trails to give the newbies time to catch their breath. More importantly, my bummed right knee was cooperating perfectly. This was the only chance I would have of actually testing it before climbing Kinabalu two weeks from now. It was past noon already and only Susan was behind me. The rest were still hundreds of meters away and after just a little over an hour, I was perched on its peak marveling at the views around me. Everything seemed quite new. I even had to check the campsite twice just to make sure we were on the right side. But the bamboo fence was there and so were the bushes which was the camp toilet. For a mountain that I had climbed thrice already, it seemed strangely new. Or maybe perhaps because I wasn’t with my regular groupor may be because this time, I wasn’t a passive participant, but the climb organizer and the trail lead.
After a couple of postponements, the 1st Official Climb of the Gold’s Gym Outdoor Climb finally pushed through. We were blessed with clear skies last Sunday and with 22 people, most of which were first timers, it was bound to be exciting.
Are We There Yet
We arrived at the jump-off point about 45 minutes off our itinerary as the driver of the van we contracted took the longer route rather than the Star Tollway. We also missed the turn-off to the road to the jump-off and ended at the pier instead. I was getting impatient already and when we finally saw the steep cemented road on the left side, I was just itching to start hiking. It’s fun climbing with newbies as it brings back memories of first climbs. You act a as a cheer leader egging them on that they could do it and that when they get to the top they would understand what all the hardship is for. And when the trip ends and they are back home safe and sound, the feeling of accomplishment is like no other.
We Made It
Everyone made it to the top except Motz who opted to stay at the last hut just before the saddle leading to the camp site. He could have made it to the top if he really willed it. I was really proud of the Timog girls, Cheche, Mina, and of course, Carina, who at 52 years old was going hiking for the first time. Those three don’t really live very active lifestyles due to work loads and yet they kept their humour and perseverance with them all throughout. I was quite worried with Carina when reports reached me that she was giving up due to the strain. Seeing her with the other Timog girls as they slowly made their way up to the summit was like having a dream fulfilled. After all, I kept on encouraging her to join the climb. But it was Peter and Al’s assistance and motivation that really pushed them on.
After the photo-ops, we descended to the clump of trees for lunch. I had two kilos of sisig which I shared with everyone. A half-hour’s rest later and we started our descent. Now, this is the true knee test. I gladly stayed near the tail-end as I am very slow at descents. I got the Coleman trekking pole I lent to Carina saying that I’m really bad at descents, and gingerly made my way down. When we finally caught up with Mots at the hut he seemed rested and I got my Black Diamond trekking pole and gave the Coleman back to Carina.
Kate slipped and twisted her right ankle. I gotta give it to her though, she was such a good sport all throughout— she didn’t even cry and showed no fear. At the jump-off, we got a motorcycle (who charged her Php 60 bucks for the mere 2 minute ride!) to bring her back from the trail head down to the main highway.
With the popularity of Gulugod Baboy, a lot changes are bound to happen. There was now a wide parking lot with huts which initially charged our van Php 200 bucks but brought it down to Php 100 when we complained that someone had thrown a rock at one of the windows causing it to crack. There was also now a Php 10 registration fee which I really hope goes to the upkeep of the trail and the campsite. Whereas before one had to go to the Philpan Dive Resort to shower, there were toilet/shower cubicles.
Socials was inside the van courtesy of Peter and Boyet who kept the drinks going. We stopped at a Bulalo restuarant called Rose sister of Grace on Peter’s suggestion. It must have been all that Red Horse but I felt so sleepy and a little nauseated. I merely drank a cup of soup and picked on the beef shank I shared with Rogie and William. Back at the van, I instantly fell asleep and only awoke when we arrived at Galleria already.
I really enjoyed this climb because everyone enjoyed it.