And all throughout, the rain became continuous. No, it wasn’t a spattering rain that made loud noises as it fell to the earth. This was very fine rain, which, coupled with the high wind speed, was almost like a spray. One moment you hear the wind whistling in your ears, the next moment your face is drenched with rainwater.
This was, for me, the best part of the trip. Walking through the rain with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, and hearing only the sounds of nature everywhere. A number of times in the trail, I purposely let everyone go on ahead until they are out of sight. It was a great feeling walking all alone on the trail – peaceful, overwhelming, triumphant, exhilarating – a lot of words you will only fully understand once you go there yourself.
I was enjoying one of those solitary moments when I realized that it was already 6 pm. That’s when I panicked a bit because we were warned that it gets dark pretty quickly – and you don’t want to be stuck on the trail in the dark alone. I picked up the pace and caught up with my companions who were resting on a rocky peak. It was only later when I remembered that there were a number of veteran climbers who were behind me in the trail so there really was no cause for worry.
What was genuinely cause for worry, however, was the condition of the campsite when we reached it. It was already dark and the rain volume increased. We set up the tents in this desperate condition, and a number us (including myself) began to worry about there not being enough tents for everyone.
The fears were not unfounded. In Ehmer’s tent where I stayed in, there were three of us guys (the other guy is Raymond) who were packed like sardines in 3.5 x 6 feet of floor area. We Considered ourselves fortunate because there was a group of three girls (“the Munings”) who had an even smaller tent and which seemingly sucked in rainwater which pooled inside.
Later on, when the wind speeds picked up and we realized that we were actually experiencing a storm, we assembled in the makeshift hut owned by the campsite watcher and proceeded to have dinner. Ah, so this was what they called a mountaineer’s meal. We had brown rice (brought by myself), mixed tomatoes and salted eggs, and two types of soup (the kind labelled “Knorr” in the packaging.)
Sleeping in the tent was an absolutely miserable experience. Apparently, Ehmer pitched the tent in uneven ground. On my side there was even a rock that slightly protruded to the surface – which poked on my tailbone. This would later on cause some pain even a week after the trip.
In addition, moisture began to set on the inside of the tent – which meant that water began to accumulate in our tent too. Since i was extremely on one side, i kept on catching the water that dripped down from the side of the tent. Needless to say, it was very difficult to sleep even though I was exhausted to the bone.
Later, before dawn, when it became apparent that we were no longer going to get any sleep, we accommodated Krissy (on of the “Munings”) in our tent. She was a welcome addition because it was getting boring and we guys needed someone to pick on (hehe). Food was passed around from tent to tent and when we realized that most were already awake, everybody just began talking to each other. It must have been a funny sight for an outside observer. It was as if one tent was talking to another tent.
(It was also at this point where the mountaineers gave me a nickname – “Boy Bastos”. But that’s another story.)
When dawn finally broke (it didn’t really “break” in the usual sense of the word since the skies remained overcast) everyone gathered outside relieved that the rains gave us respite ,and to spend some time socializing. It was unfortunate that the rains spoiled what could have been a great mountaineering adventure. In particular, the chance to socialize with each other was severely limited. Most of the morning was spent packing up for the trip back.
We’ve reached 8 peaks and in the morning we were supposed to go further and explore the other two. But the veterans were unanimous in deciding that, lest the rains come back, we’re better off descending the mountain. When it was time for the trek back, it seemed as if all the atrocious things I experienced the night before was cleansed away. I again enjoyed walking alone on the trail in the mist, with no sound at all except my footsteps and wind.
The trip back was as grueling as the trip going to the campsite, because we passed by the same 8 peaks we have reached. It was like climbing 16 mountains all in all – 8 going to, and another 8 coming back – unlike a singular mountain where the descent is all downhill.
(To be concluded)