Well this one is already a very long overdue post. But observing the ever growing community of mountain hikers, trekkers, or whatever you call it, rushed my memories back to something I would like to share.
It was early 2018 when I had the chance to climb the infamous volcano in Camiguin island, and yet my memories are still vividly clinging at the tendrils of my neurons.
But before anything else, let me say a few words about the volcano in case you haven’t heard about it yet.
Mt. Hibok Hibok is one of the active stratovolcanoes in the Philippines. It is located in a Camiguin island which is a small island enough to house it in. Actually, the island houses more than five volcanoes, thus giving it the monicker “The island born of fire”. The volcano has multiple eruption records. You can actually google it for more information. Thankfully, it showed no activity during our visit.
Climbing the volcano was actually a half-hearted plan. There was no concrete itinerary. But letting the chance slip while we’re still on the island was a much harder consequence on our thoughts. Gearing ourselves with the information we gathered through the internet and self-gauging our capability was our preparation. Reading blog posts and gathering stories and experiences from other climbers gave us the picture of what the climb will be. As long as we can secure a person to guide us to the top, then we’re okay so we thought.
Our friend contacted a local to guide us during our climb. Our guide was still a student, maybe on his early college year. I’ve experienced climbing mountains before, together with local guides that are still students, so it was not a big deal for me anymore. I did not even mind if he’s a legit guide or was I just too clouded with my excitement to climb the mountain.
We came to our agreed meet-up place and to my surprise, there were few others waiting on the bench. They we’re not in trekking attire and so I thought they were just local youngsters chilling by the nearby sari-sari store. To my surprise, they were our guide’s friends and they will be climbing with us. I did not mind it at all assuming they are locals and may have the experience and knowledge climbing the mountain already.
And so the climb starts. The youngsters were already ahead, full of energy and having their version of fun. We were trailing while basking to the wonders we see while climbing the mountain.
At the early ascent, countless spiky rattans usher the trail. Thankfully, the ground is not slippery. Conquering the ascending heights slowly lead us to a mossy forest with trees getting taller and stockier.
The famous white sandbar can be seen at the higher ground of Mt. Hibok Hibok. Fog covered the forest from time to time blowing the leaves and leaving the ground moist.
From time to time, sunrays penetrate through the thick forest showing a sureal image of a forest like from an elvish realm.
Suddenly the weather started to turn to some degrees. The sky got gloomy and the fog grew thicker. I knew then that rain will be coming, but we already prepared ourselves for that.
We ate our packed lunch at the nearby elevated area. I can tell that the kids were not yet familiar with proper packing and preparation. Seeing them struggling to open their canned goods with just the handle of their spoons and with the help of rocks, brought me back to the days when I first experienced mountain trekking. It reminded me how naive I was when I was still a newbie. I used to bring bottles of water with me, 2 liters at least, just for a day-trek. My gears were not even fit for the activity during those times. City backpack and a nike rubber shoes.
One thing that struck me was that they were not aware of the basic LNT (leave no trace) principle. If we did not tell them, then they would have left their trash right where we rested. Cans, cartons, and plastic bags would be floating at the caldera lake.
While we were resting before our assault to the peak, big drops of rain suddenly started hitting our heads. Thick fogs made it even worse. Some of the kids were already soaking wet and shivering. I assumed they were not prepared in case it rains. So we have to decide if we have to continue our assault or not. Weighing down the risks and the preparedness of the whole gang, we decided to just go back to prevent from further accident.
Though we were not able to summit the peak of Mt. Hibok – Hibok, at least we get to see a portion of its beauty. At the end, what matters more is the uniqueness of the experience.
Leave No Trace.
Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Photos, and Kill Nothing but Time.
What you bring, take it back with you.
Dispose waste properly.
Leave what you find.