Call time is at 3:00 A.M. Even if I had just a few hours of intermittent sleep brought about by the neighboring tent’s “socials” the night before, I was still fortunate to wake up on the right side of the tent. I prepared for this day, the day we climb up the summit. Buying a sleeping bag was probably the best decision I made prior to this trip. It added warmth and comfort even if I was away from home.
All Geared Up
We were blessed with perfect weather from the time we left Manila all the way to Benguet and there was no reason to stay inside the tent and miss the summit. I slept with my early-dawn climbing attire on. I had 5 layers of upper body clothes (rash guard, shirt, 2 sweaters, 1 jacket, 2 bonnets, and knitted scarf) and 3 layers of pants (thermals, jogging pants, trek pants), socks and gloves. Talk about getting ready for battle.
Our team leader suggested to put on our ponchos/rain coats as additional protection against the cold which dropped to 7 degrees Celsius. I never thought the raincoat I brought could be used this way, but it helped.
We left camp thirty minutes past three and trekking time is about an hour and a half. The summit is only a few hundred meters away from base camp, but the total darkness and the near freezing temperatures at high altitude made it more difficult. I told myself to take baby steps – but the lights coming from the head lamps of fellow trekkers ahead of me made it seem like forever. I had difficulty breathing and catching up with my team mates but my guide encouraged me to breathe through my mouth and stay focused on our goal.
The Sky as Big Screen
The dark midnight blue sky was slowly turning to a deep amber and specks of light were beginning to be seen from the horizon. When I finally reached the summit at 5:00 A.M., there was already a huge crowd of people waiting for the sunrise.
We each took our small space on top and patiently waited for the sunrise. The sky now seemed like a giant screen while we waited for the opening credits to roll.
The yellow-orange colors faded into a light blue then in perfect cadence of the moment, there it was…the glorious sunrise.
Amidst a Sea of Clouds
Photographs could not do justice to the breathtaking scenery unfolding in front of me. The rising sun in the horizon and the famous sea of clouds around us are the most rewarding sights on top of this sacred mountain, also known as the “Playground of the Gods.”
On the other side of the mountain, the partial sunlight looked like a glowing crater. We all felt so blessed being there at the right moment witnessing nature at its best.
The summit at last! Did I conquer the mountain? No I didn’t…because it was the other way around. The mountain conquered me.
Hopping and whistling on my way down
One last look at the summit…a silent witness to
a lot of people ecstatic upon
fulfillment of a dream.