“Expect the unexpected!” A 685+masl mountain, Mt. Damas’s height is classified as a minor climb but its trail is indeed a MAJOR one. I could say that this mountain is now included on my top list of most challenging climbs experienced.
My climber friend DL Bustillo invited me to join the Imus-Bacoor Mountaineering in a “Climb for a Cause – Handog Tsinelas” in Mt. Damas and without any hesitation; I said “Yes, I will join”. I was with mixed emotions… excited as its my first climb for a cause… and regrets as this would be my last climb for the year (need to take a break for some personal matters). Nonetheless, a week before the climb, got an email for a career training… (same date of the climb…. waahh! such irony…). Need to inform DL about me not joining the climb, both of us feel upset. But God is so good, Friday lunchtime; our HR officer told me that my training will be moved. Yeheyy!!!Agad-agad, nagBBM ako kay DL para ipaalam na makakasama na ako.
Saturday (Nov. 10, 2012)
Meeting place was at Mcdo in Pasay Rotonda, and our call time is 5:00 AM. There is a short meet and greet with the members, actually I didn’t know most of them. We are only 3 girls out of 16 climbers. We’re now bound for Camiling, Tarlac and I’m so lucky that I was comfortable with my seat on the jeepney; I used to sleep during the travel. We arrived at Brgy. Papaac around 11am, the place where we will distribute the slippers for the kids (travel time from Manila to Tarlac will take only 3hrs or less, pero nag stop over kasi kami sa palengke ng Camiling to buy our food supplies and prices for kids). Our contact person is a Pastor and he gave us some important information such as not to take picture with the locals without the elders’ permission
At the basketball court of Brgy. Papaac, kids were waiting for us so we don’t waste any of our time, we set up all the slippers and let the children fall in line. Then that’s it! After they heard our signal, every kid grabs a pair of slippers. Then we choose 6 kids with the ugliest and oldest pair of slippers to receive special prices. It was an awesome experience, to make them smile in our simple way; we were like Korina Sanchez in “Rated K”. The Brgy. Captain treats us with cold soft drinks before we leave and start our trek to conquer Mt. Damas.
We started the climb at exactly 12nn (tirik na tirik si haring araw), it made us to stop every now and then kapag may makitang lilim na lugar na pede masilungan at mapagpahingahan. I remembered we stop in a trail full of small bamboo plants, Sir Arvin asked our guide to cut one the bamboo so we can experience to drink water from that bamboo (they called it “tubig sa buho”). The water is a little bit salty but it taste good. The guide made a glass out of that bamboo. The start of the trail was quite easy, only gradual assaults for more than an hour. But I already have an idea that it was just a patikim of Mt. Damas. I already read reviews about this mountain before I climb so I prepared myself with the clothes I will wear against the tall blade-like talahib and thorny makahiya plants; but still, I never thought that this mountain has more surprises.
Our guide gave us two options of trails going to the summit; 1st the trail that will pass through Brgy. Dueg then the Ubod Falls side trip will be on the following day and the 2nd trail is that we will be passing through Ubod Falls first then going to Brgy. Dueg on the next day nalang. Then we decided to choose the 2nd option. That is our first encounter on river-crossing, it’s far easier than the river crossing in Mt. Apo (Apo daw gawing standard ng mahirap na river crossing..hahah). After 10 minutes, we faced the start of difficult trail;it was getting steeper and narrower, di matapos-tapos na assaults, habol-hininga kami. We are lacking of energies, we continue asking for those who are ahead if there is a “patag” area, so we can have our lunch to renew our energy. Until we reached a perfect “patag” area, it’s overlooking the amazing Ubod Falls and the summit of Mt. Damas. It’s already 3pm na, we ate then we took a nap, we rest on that area for almost an hour, mapapasabak pala kami sa mas matinding trail, the “Cardiac Trail”. Slide dito! slide doon!padapa! paupo!lahat ng pwedeng posisyon para makababa…walang mahawakan kundi maliliit at matatalas na damo, di ko na mabilang ilang hiwa sa daliri ang natamo naming lahat except yung nagsuot ng gloves.
After that challenging trail, we received our rewards, to see the breathtaking 120ft Ubod Falls face to face,the beautiful yet smaller than Ubod Falls, the Si-el Falls at marami pa maliliit na falls.
After the water falls experienced, akyatan na, sabak na naman sa assaults at lampas taong talahiban. During the night trek, we always asked the guide, “kuya, patag na ba?”, and his common answer is “Opo, Patag na”, until we found out, patag na kasi wala ng hagdan yung assault..waaahhhh!!! I can’t count how many “Take Five” we made. We reached the summit at around 8pm, another group already occupied the campsite on the summit, so we have no choice, we walked, we slide na pala (super pagod na) for another 10 minutes going down to the other campsite where sir Ian is waiting for us for almost an hour already.
We pitched our tents and then prepared food for our dinner. We have plenty of food. Ang saya! One thing I really enjoyed doing most in the mountains is cooking and eating, especially when people shared food to the group. It’s always a feast.
We more get to know each other during the “socials”, there are sharing of stories and experiences, mapamountaineering experiences or personal life experiences, meron nga mga pangMMK ang life story tulad ni Sir Edgar at Sir Arvin…muntik na ako maiyak pero at the same time, I admired them..Meron din tawanan at kulitan(tuksuhan)..yeeeheheh!. But the most memorable to me is our star gazing and counting of shooting stars, paramihan ng nawishan na shooting stars, si Sir Arvin ata pinakamarami. I can’t take my eyes on the sky; it was so amazing. Seeing millions of stars during the night is very rare to experience if you were in the city. Thanks also to Mugi, for sharing his knowledge on constellations and stars.
Sunday (Nov. 11, 2012)
The original plan was changed; supposedly, we will go down through Brgy. Dueg but due to intense heat, we chose the river-crossing trail that was suggested by our guide. We climbed back to the summit, took some pictures for remembrance pero mabilisan lang dahil sobrang init talaga.
So we went down through the same trail up to the Si-el Falls where we stopped to have our lunch, rest for a while and enjoy swimming on the cold and refreshing water of this falls, nakakawala ng pagod.haayy! We stayed almost 3hrs on this area.
Then we head to hike down anew, it was around 4:00 PM. If we could only knew how hard the challenges are awaiting for us. I removed my arm warmers and socks. Naunderestimate ko pa din pala ang Damas, we thought it was the same river trekking we encountered the other day. To our surprise, the trails are “buwis-buhay”; more extreme than the trail yesterday. It took us four hours of walking, hiking, trekking, rappelling, wall climbing, rock climbing, crawling, jumping – name it, we did it all during this climb! Nag ala-Tarzan and Jane din kami, mga baging at lubid ang naging kapitan at pantawid, kung ayaw mo mahulog kasabay na gumulong ng mga bato sa bangin at ilog.
Another unforgettable experience to me was the plant they called “lupa” which I accidentally touched its leaves, it was a disaster!!! In just few seconds, I started to feel hot on my left arm and right leg so I decided to pour alcohol on my arm and leg, but it’s getting worst. The infected areas turn red, nagpantal na sya at pag nahahanginan or nababasa, ang hapdi, parang tinutusok ng karayom ang bawat pores ng skin ko.
Thanks to our guide, for the first aid, he applied sand on infected areas, and to Sir Arvin, he used medical tape to pull out the powder or hair (we really don’t know) of that leaves on my pores, the treatment was quite painful, parang nagpapawax daw, nasasama balahibo ko sa paghila ng tape, but it’s really effective. That’s what I call adventure, experiencing things beyond my limitations and expectations.
It was indeed a successful climb! We survived this Mt. Damn-As (Damas). Special thanks to Imus-Bacoor Mountaineering, I am really challenged by this small mountain. I loved this climb talaga. I never thought na may hihirap pa sa river-crossing ng Mt. Apo, and Mt. Damas did. Until the next climb mga Sir and Mam Pattie. To our 3 guides, kay Kuya (I forgot to ask his name), to Daniel (the smiling face) and his brother Jeremy, ang mga batang hindi ata nakakaramdam ng pagod at di pinagpapawisan, kahit kami ay hirap na hirap na…TWO THUMBS UP!!! 🙂