Traveling solo to other countries has given me the glimpse how wonderful it is to explore, wander and be lost somewhere. As I look back over the years, I have to think when did it all start.
Life has been passively changing even before: transferring from accommodation to another; from school to another university and even from one job to another company. But there was a time when exploring the unknown was difficult to control. And it was after we climbed the Susong Dalaga Mountain in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Philippines last March 2014.
Susong Dalaga (Maiden’s Breast) is a mountain with two cone-shaped peaks that resembles a woman’s breast.
As I always get lost following directions, I relied on my companion to reach the meeting place. What I can clearly recall now is our tricycle ride to transfer us to Barangay Hall to register ourselves before hiking to the mountain. But prior to that, we had a stop at the marketplace to buy cooked food for our breakfast and lunch.
It was a bumpy ride passing the rough roads and I kept on holding tight as if I will be thrown out from the tricycle. I missed appreciating the surroundings that we passed through.
After few minutes, we reached the hall for registration. From that place, I can see the green mountain, Susong Dalaga, waiting for us. It wasn’t that high by the way. (That was what I thought.)
We didn’t stay long for the registration as they planned a day hike only. We have to start early so we can go down before the sun will set.
Hiking to the foot of the mountain, we followed a trail while passing by cassava plantation with grown coconut trees and banana trees anywhere.
For a person who hasn’t taken a hike for a while, that was a difficult warm up. But, no turning back. One was even teasing me that I might be left behind.
That was a long walk though. We rested and ate a portion of the food we bought as our breakfast. There was free flowing water so we managed to wash our hands and ate with our bare hands.
The ascent is one of the tracks less traveled. There are narrow steep pathways not clearly seen as grasses started to grow, the branches of the trees hindering the pathway. When one the last time Susong Dalaga has been climbed? Maybe, it’s been a while.
Most part of the trail is well lit with the sunlight. Philippines has a tropical climate so we were sweating. Good thing that some parts of the path are covered with trees giving us cooler atmosphere.
We were panting until we reach a good place to relax, a big rock overhanging from the side of the mountain. It seemed to be like a cave but it isn’t.
We continued hiking to the top. I walked faster during the ascent so I can rest and wait for the others.
Going to the peak required a greater effort. What’s the use of ‘almost there’ when you wouldn’t go for it? Chasing dreams requires a vigorous determination. And yes, we did it. It was a relief reaching the peak. It was a victorious feeling at the top of Susong Dalaga while looking to the other mountains near and far.
What I thought that Susong Dalaga is not so high is a big mistake. It was too tiring for me. But it was all a part of a beautiful experience. At the top of the mountain awaits a feeling of being a conqueror, setting a foot on a marvelous place.
We had our lunch at the top of the mountain. One of the best things to be in a group of mountaineers is that they still have enough of drinking water when you are already running out of it. It is even filled with ice. They cooked a meal and shared it with everybody when all I care is to quench my thirst and rest. Don’t worry; they’re responsible in taking care of the fire they used to cook and with the trash.
Going down is a challenge. My knees were already tired and worn out. They’re trembling, goodness gracious! That was the time I loved the steep trail. No need to walk. I just fold my knees, sit on the ground and slide.
One more thing, instead of using the rope, they led us to another path that we have to go down from a big rock. All the girls managed to descend except for me. They took my backpack and freed my hands from anything so it would be easier.
Believe me, I did anything. I don’t want to be left in the jungle. I tried to go down sideways, crawling position or whatever. Still, I kept on going back to the top. I was really, really afraid.
Maybe somebody wanted just to push me down by that time. They’d been waiting in vain for me. Until one gentleman stood below the rock and told me to step on his shoulder. Who would say no for that?
I am so grateful to that guy. At the same time, felt so sorry that he has to sacrifice to carry for a moment on his shoulder a 45 kg person who’s not brave enough to go down thru the boulder.
If I was leading going up, I was the last one when going down. But of course, they couldn’t leave me alone. Sorry for being a weakling sometimes.
Who else is the happiest when we reach the plains? No one else than me. We were served with sweet, juicy papaya fruit when we arrived at the barangay. It was a great help to recharge our tired bodies.
Then it was time to go home.
What else we can expect the next day except for aching muscles. But as soon it will pass, you’re on the go again. I don’t know exactly where and when a travel bug bit me, one thing is for sure, I am still infected until now. I wish it is contagious, that by reading this, you are inspired to go and chase your dreams.
After conquering Susong Dalaga, I found myself helping to drain a fishpond so it is easy to catch fishes; swimming in the sea though I don’t know how to swim; exploring the mountain nearby; reached Lake Sebu, South Cotabato without planning; snorkeled in Tuka Marine Park and hiked to Falel Mountain. These are only a few of the things to do in SOX (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos.)