It has been a while since I shared a travel blog. I enjoyed writing my collection of solo travels in Southeast Asia and am proud to say it is by far the best and most memorable adventure I had in my life. Perhaps I will venture out into another solo escapade in the future when traveling seems a bit easier.
For now, I do want to share about my life as an "ex mountain climber". I say "ex" because it's been 3 years since I last went up to the mountains. Nonetheless, the stories are still worth telling. But how and where do I begin?
Somehow, one of my first memories of climbing brought me back to that time when I joined the "USC Mountaineers". A mountaineering club back when I was a college student and a working scholar. My schedule was jam-packed but I still managed to join a club that also requires commitment and time. And I learned all the basics there is to know about climbing. Yes, I had formal and rigorous training from the "old school" mountaineers. However, the strict rules that come to such organizations didn't make me feel free when climbing. So I went on my own after a year.
My friend Dale was into climbing and I informed him of my situation. I told him I didn't want to quit climbing just when I was starting to fall in love with the outdoor life. So as my first climb away from that organization, we went on a day hike to Mount Naupa!
Mount Naupa was still a "virgin" mountain back in 2013. What I mean by "virgin" mountain is that it wasn't still known to other hikers. It was one of those "untouched" nature. Comparing the mountain back then and the present, there is such a huge difference. Now, I feel blessed to have been able to climb that place years ago.
Mount Naupa is located in Naga, Cebu. From the main highway, we rode a motorbike to get to the jump-off point - a small chapel. From the chapel, we started our trek along a narrow path. It was still sunny that day but once we started our ascend, dark clouds were looming beyond.
There were open areas where we could view the neighboring mountain ranges. Sad to say, patches of bare land were visible. Not sure if this was due to logging or mining. There has been a lot of "mining-induced" landslides in Naga throughout the years.
The path going to the peak was full of vegetation, although not that many trees to give shade. At one point, we passed by a few old houses. It always amazes me that these people were able to live simply and peacefully up the mountains. Passing these houses was an indication that we were halfway through our journey.
After that, the ascent became steeper and I'm sure we had multiple stops because my weakness is always the climb. Since it was a day hike, I just made sure to bring what was necessary - water, food, and an extra shirt. Imagine, if it had rained that day.
It was probably after an hour and a half when we finally reached Mount Naupa's camping ground. And to be honest, I was not expecting that seeing its peak would make me feel at peace. I was elated for having reached the top - just me and Dale alone with mother nature. And with that, I knew I made the right decision to go on separate ways from the club.
The camping ground with its flat surface was ideal for an overnight camping. We talked about coming back with our other friends but somehow that never came to realization.
We stayed here for some 40 minutes absorbing Mount Naupa's calming energy. Just when it started to drizzle, our stomachs were already growling with hunger. So we went to a nearby hut and asked the locals if we could have our lunch at their place. They happily welcomed us. After finishing our meals, I got drawn to the owner's simple garden. It was full of colorful flowers.
It was not that long when we started to descend. We bid our goodbyes to Mount Naupa and followed the same path we took. This time we reached the jump-off point in just less than an hour. I haven't been back to Mount Naupa for a very long time but seeing photos of its current state, although nice, it will never be the same.
Back then, climbing was always my go to activity when I want to escape my problems in life. I also started with just some second hand gears at that time. And that always makes me smile. I used to find ways to fulfil these simple goals despite the lack of money and up until now.
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