“I accidentally found this route.”
After an hour of climbing down rocks, Kahlil, our guide, shared how he found his favorite trekking route.
“We were driving towards Buhisan Dam from Guadalupe using Waze. Then my car ran out of gas. The locals told me to just follow the creek.”
Now I found myself following Kahlil across a perilous maze of thorny bush, streaming water, and loose rocks. Meet the Streets morphed into Meet the Trees. Instead of our typical walk around a crowded city, we were greeted by the thick forest. Our small group of eight were sweaty, tired, and even a little unsure if we were going to make it all the way down.
The starting point was somewhere up the mountain of Buhisan. After passing small crowded villages, the road soon opened up and was lined with trees and bush. It was hard to believe that something so pristine was a few minutes’ drive away from the city.
Asides from the photo taking, a selfish part of me wanted to go outdoors. After my Minglanilla trek with Explore 360, I realized that I enjoyed getting down and dirty with nature. It made me feel more alive. While walking, Kaloy, of Explore 360, told me about a documentary called 180 Degrees South. According to him, it asked questions like why do we go out and explore? Why do we trek dangerous routes? Why go through the hours of pain and misery? We don’t have to do this. We don’t get paid. Even on the drive up the mountain, we passed the Buhisan Dam. We saw it from the car. It would have been easier to park and walk up to the dam from the bottom of the mountain.
We get nothing except the experience itself.
Our trek to Buhisan Dam was an experience. We stopped at the top of the mountain when we saw a small dirt road leading to a small farm. We searched for the creek which would lead us down towards the dam. As soon as we found the creek, there was no gradual introduction to what we were doing. Immediately we got our hands dirty. We climbed down a few rocks, sat on dirt to get good footing, and worked our way down. Little did I know, this was going to continue for another three hours. The foray down the rocks, the trees, the loose dirt, the spiky plants never seemed to end.
I don’t think it showed, but I was struggling. I was struggling for the motivation to keep going. The beginning of the trek was full of laughter and conversation. By the time, we were into our first hour. It was quiet. Everyone was focused on each step forward. One step at a time.
At some point, I had mistakenly judged a portion of a small tree. I was to use it to balance as I was taking a step down. The portion where I placed my weight crumbled into pieces and my body shot forward. Fortunately, the lower half of the tree had not crumbled and stayed intact. The wood caught my chest and stopped my whole body from falling forward to the ground below and prevented serious injury. Inside the small tree trunk was an ant colony inside. They were the biggest black ants I had ever seen. I dusted the ants off me, took a photo, and went on my way. If this happened in the comforts of home, there would have been a minor freak out. It’s funny how giant ants crawling on your body has little effect when you are sweaty dirty and tired.
When lost in the arms of Mother Nature, what matters is what is in front of you. When all your focus is on putting one foot in front of the other, it puts your problems into perspective. There was no inner chatter distracting me from my goal of getting down the mountain safely. Not even a close call or giant ants could take the focus away.
Perhaps this is what we get out of it, especially in this age of distraction. What was left in the city did not matter. The trek was an opportunity for no internet, no multitasking, no mindless chatter, no messages, and no calls. It was simply a lesson on keeping your balance and putting one foot in front of the other.
Great recap video by Martin Tabañag!