A month has passed after that life-changing trek at Mt. Kapayas but it will always be one of the most memorable adventures of my life.
It all started with JT asking me if i want to join trekking with his triathlon friends, thinking it was just like Osmeña Peak which was an easy breezy trail, i easily agreed. I even tagged along my sister who is here for a vacation.
On the fateful day of June 11, the meeting place was at Catmon. It is around 57 kilometers from Cebu City or approximately 2-hour drive. Meeting time was 6:30 am but everybody was complete around 7:30 am.
Upon arrival we then signed a waiver at Catmon Police Station and rode a truck to take us to the jump off point. The all-in fee is Php 600.00 including the truck ride, trek guide and environmental fees.
For a small group, a habal-habal ride can be an option going to the jump off start but since we are a big group, we rented a truck. It was an hour of bumpy and winding road ride.
Our first obstacle going to the jump-off point was a small river that we have to cross.
We also did a warm up lead by Dra. Kathrina Catingub. After that, our adventure began. We walked for around an hour going to our first pit stop.
After resting for 30 minutes at what we call Evelyn’s Store because Ma’am Evelyn stayed here and did not continue to join our trek, we started our journey again. This time it was a seriously long trek. At this point, we were blessed with a fair weather. it was really a good thing.
Passed by around two mountains with this kind of trail before our second pit stop.
More mountains, grassland, hill assaults, another river to cross and a narrow trail for us to trek for an hour before our lunch.
We took an hour lunch break and had our much needed rest. Since everyone has already rested, those who attempted to just stop at the house (like me and my sister), agreed to finish the trek since our guide said it will only take an hour to reach the peak of Mt. Kapayas. It was also the time that he asked me if i have other upper long sleeves garment as there are tall, pointy plants along the trail. Sadly, i was not able to bring one so i took out my towel to hopefully protect my arms.
After an hour, we still did not reach the peak but we took a breather at this point with one of the most picturesque view i have seen in my life. For a time, i forgot how tired i was.
After that point until the peak of Mt. Kapayas, i was not able to take anymore pictures. I was so busy hanging on to my life. The trail was dangerous and slippery. At some point, it rained and made the trail more slippery than it already was, good thing that the rain lasted for just minutes. I was struggling to keep my balance with a very limited space to stand. We were a big group, two guides were not enough to assist us especially that most of us are beginners. It was a combination of guts and more of prayers that i was able to survive the trek. One wrong step or move, i will surely be going down the cliff. While i was hanging on to my dear life, all i could think about are JT and my sister whom i dragged on this. If i will survive and they will not, it is just like putting an end to my life. I am responsible for my sister. I could not concentrate on climbing and crawling as i was also looking on to them.
After another hour of walking, climbing and crawling, we finally arrived at the peak of Mt. Kapayas!
We spent 30 minutes at the peak since the arrived there at around 3 pm and we have to go back to where we passed going to the summit.
Going down, we were able to do it faster than going up maybe because we already know the trail. Just the same, it is still heart wrenching, tiring and life-threatening.
We went back to the house where we had our lunch for fresh buko juice and much needed pee-break.
We continued our trek but time was not on our side. It was already getting darker each passing time until we needed our mobile phone flashlight for us to see the trail. We were not prepared for a night trek because as per our original schedule we will be back at Catmon by 5 pm. So we have to endure more pain, more hiking with little light to guide us. This time, we were not stopping anymore, we just walked and walked and walked because if at some point, we will stop, i know that we cannot finish the trail due to too much exhaustion and emotional drain.
One of our trek-mates twisted her ankle and cannot manage to walk anymore. Kyno, our Lead Guide, carried him all the way back to Evelyn Store. Arriving there, we were welcomed by Ma’am Evelyn with water and bread which we badly need! We managed to hook up with a multicab to take us where our truck parked. We honestly cannot walk further.
We waited for the second batch to arrive at the truck since the multicab can only carry maximum of 10 persons. When we were about to leave, another tragedy happened, our truck lost grip of the gears. We were in a dilemma of waiting for rescue or to walk for around 2 hours more. I was so willing to walk further because all i wanted to do was to go home. That feeling that you will do anything just to go home. Unfortunately, night trekking was not allowed and it was also very dangerous. It was already 9:00 PM and some of our trek-mates were off to find a cellular signal to inform our families that we are still at Catmon and also to ask for help.
A good-natured woman cooked noodles for us. That was the most delicious meal i ever had in my life! Our trek-mates also offered biscuits and sandwiches which was supposedly our snacks in the morning. It was so quiet and the only people who were awake at that time was just us. Imagine a scene from a horror movie where you were just waiting to be eaten by a monster or some ghost will suddenly appear, those are my thoughts while sitting in a bamboo with my sister.
After an hour, our trek-mates who were looking for a cellular signal came back and told us that they found none. Our rescue arrived with a multicab and 4 habal-habals (motorcycle). We rode the multicab for around 1 hour and half and i did not mind if my feet hurts or if it was the most uncomfortable ride of my life. I was so tired, hungry and sleepy all at the same time to care.
Upon arriving at Catmon, we took a few minutes of stretching our legs before we drove back to our homes. As we drove home, we were worried because three of our trek-mates (Adrian, Doc King and Char) were yet to be heard of. Due to too much exhaustion, we fell asleep almost instantly after we a shower.
The next day, we received the news that they arrived safely at their respective homes and that the delay was caused by a flat tire of the habal habal they rode. They told us that they walked for 45 minutes just to find a vulcanizing shop.
All is well.
This experience had taught me so much in life but one thing is for sure, i never regret going through everything and joining this trek.
If you intend to trek Mt. Kapayas here are a few tips i would like to share to you:
1.) Research before you agree into something. It was partly my fault because i assumed it was an easy trek so i came there not knowing what to expect.
2.) Prepare. Always come prepared for anything and everything. We just brought siopao for lunch because we do not want to carry as much food which is a wrong move. Good thing that we brought a lot of water which also caused to make our bags heavier but it is alright. Thankful for the sweet potato that Nanay boiled for us too and to my trek-mates who shared food and candies.
3.) Dress appropriately. One thing i learned is that, i should have worn proper shoe and trekking attire to avoid injuries. My arms were full of scratches and wounds because the towel that i used to shield cannot fully protect my arms. My sister on the other hand used the slippers i bought because her feet hurts like hell.
4.) Listen and be observant. Since the Trek Guide was far from us, it is important to check out and listen to the person you are following.
5.) Prepare physically. Be physically fit if you intend to trek. I was in a no-carbs-diet when we trek, needless to say, i was struggling so hard physically. Up to now, i cannot even fathom where i found my strength that day.
6.) Bring extra shirts, power banks, head gears and flash lights. It is not called emergency for nothing. Good thing that there were no cellular data available during the trek which means we were not using much of our phone(for social media purposes) which saved the battery life and we were able to use it as flash lights but the downside was that we had difficulty contacting for rescue because there was no signal.
More than the bad experience, there are far greater realizations i had that came with this. I gained friends at the trek. Most of them i get to know and met for the first time yet everyone was very helpful. Our support for each other was indescribable. We taught each other how to climb, trek or crawl. I know that i was on a group with genuinely good hearts and if there is one thing i gained that day, it is the trust that the world we live in, has still so many kind and helpful people. I was in the verge of losing trust to humanity with all the recent news we’ve been hearing everyday but this experience prove it wrong.
You’ll never know how strong you are until being strong is your ONLY choice. Bob Marley, you are so right! If there is one quote that will describe that experience, then this is perfect.
I wanted to share this experience to everyone not to discourage or stop you from doing anything outside your comfort zone but to encourage you to test your limits. I, for one, never ever imagined to survive everything that happened that day. I tell you, it was guts and 100% prayers that kept me alive that day.
I saw how we almost gave up but as they say, there is always rainbow after the rain. Emotionally, I came out stronger and braver after that day. Literally, i cannot almost move my sore body and prickly arms but those were just physical manifestations that i survived a difficult trek and i am so proud of myself!
I live for the experience and for the lessons that i gained on that fateful day of June 11, 2017.
Happy Monthsary to the 20 brave souls that trekked Mt. Kapayas, this blog is to reminisce one of the best days of our lives and to remind us how strong and brave we all were that day.