How Mt. Apo Inspired Me to Conquer More Mountains

It was October of 2014 when I had a great conversation with my mom about mountains. While there was a moment of silence, I thought it would be the perfect time to tell her what I wanted.
"Ma, Val and John (they are my climbing buddies) are going to Apo," I stated. 
"Do you want to come with them?" my Mom with her usual direct statement replied with a question. 
"Yes, I want to," was my determined answer. That was how I convinced my Mom days before I climbed Mt. Apo. True enough, Mt. Apo opened up one of the greatest inspiration for me. 

Goal Set and Go
"That's the highest mountain," I exclaimed to my friend's message. Nonetheless, who could resist? Te grandfather of all mountains in the Philippines was inviting me to reachhim. I had my last minute shopping the night before the trip. The morning after, I was bound to Davao with the team.
"Mt. Apo from the distance"

The 45th MMF and the Night Hike
It was my first time in Davao but I felt warm and confident. From there, we readied ourselves and did the last minute buying for food and stocks. We then journeyed to another city to meet the organizers of the climb. It was the Mindanao Mountain Forum who organized the Mt. Apo climb for their 45th Anniversary. 
"The group with all smiles and ready for Mt. Apo climb"
"Joined by other climbers from Mindanao"

After an hour ride to the jump-off point, we started our night hike towards our campsite. The wind was cold and chilly. There were even slight drizzles while we were pitching our tents. At midnight, I saw the sky giving its signal that it would be a starry night.

Kids, Climbers and my Alter Ego
The morning started when I saw adorable kids passing by our tent as they were off for school. Their rosy cheeks and their lovely smiles had me recollecting my childhood days. Then we were off for the morning climb.
"These kids are off to school"
"John with his vaunted strides deep in the rainforest"

Val and Kayi were ahead while John and Jude were meters away behind me. Feeling ambivalent since they were out of sight, I went on following the other pack of climbers. "Am I ready for this? I am feeling healthy, so what is my problem?" Those were contradicting voices of my ego fighting off the ambivalence. Nonetheless, my Mom became my inspiration to climb. The permission from her was enough for me to summit Mt. Apo. 

Camp Goody Goody and the Emblem of Camaraderie
After 7 hours of hiking, we pitched our tents for the night rest. Tomorrow would be bouldering and climbing up Mt. Apo's peak. 
"At the camp with the complete cast"
 "Our hearty meal before bouldering"

At night time, the organizers and some other climbers greeted us. Somebody called out my name aloud. they were the college groups waving at me while smiling. I smiled back at them since I knew them along the trail. I remembered that I led them to the right trail between the forked path. They manifested their astonishment on why I knew the way. I told them about reading trails signs as went on hiking the deep forest. 

Boulders, Berries and Back
It was our third camp. The night was wet and freezing. It rained hard in the jungle and the strong wind was testing our tent on how sturdy it was. The morning after, the weather seemed welcoming. The sky was bright. I became accustomed with how everything would go. John and Kayi for food preparation while Val and I did the aftercare.
"The rich rainforest is breathtaking."
"Start of our trek"
"At the boulder of Mt. Apo while it's releasing its sulfur"

With all the morning rituals done, we followed the rest of the group to summit Mt. Apo. I should say that the climb was intense. From root climbing up to bouldering, Mt. Apo gave me a greated perspective of the its topology. The rainforest was rich and diverse as its flora and its fauna were commendable. Tiny insects were a common sight. Black berries seemed to be sprouting along the boulders. The White Sand was an astounding site. 
"Foggy bouldering almost reaching the White Sand"
"Hanging out at the White Sand"
"Still foggy at the summit of Mt. Apo"
"Waving Mt. Apo goodbye..."

I reached the peak with so much joy. Mt. Apo was an experience I will forever treasure for the rest of my life. It paves way to greater inspiration and aspiration. I have conquered the highest peak in the Philippines like how I conquered my own fears and doubts.  
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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