Hey, Mt. Matutum
Don’t get me wrong, hiking to Lake Holon may also be considered a mountaineering activity. However, climbing up Mt. Matutum is three or four times harder and more challenging for me. And I will tell you why in this post. =)
After trekking Kule and Sala cafe trails, I realized how difficult it is to climb a mountain but at the same time, it piqued my interest of the activity. I found out the numerous benefits of trekking/mountaineering. I think one that tops the list is the opportunity to be with nature and experience a primitive kind of life at least once in a while.
Not for beginners
We were lucky because right after the Lake Holon trip, my friends found an opportunity for Mt. Matutum climb through social media. The organizer was inviting interested climbers to join in. I remember one criterion listed was that one shouldn’t be a “beginner” climber. Since I’ve already reached Lake Holon, I assumed I wouldn’t be considered beginner anymore. Ha! It could be that or I’m just overly confident that I can make it to the summit, that’s why I joined in. =)
Although I had some doubts, I agreed and was even thrilled about it. I think a great factor for my high spirit is because of the people I’m climbing up with. My two great and nature-loving highschool friends went along with me even though they’ve already climbed the mountain before.
Assembly Time: 5 AM
Because we were joining a bigger group of mountaineers, we needed to meet up with them first and be on time for it. We met at a 7/11 store in Cannery Site where we waited for the truck, which will bring us to the start of the trail, to arrive.
The truck ride was something I had never experienced before. There are no seats so we had to stand up and hold tight for the rocky drive. What I loved about it was the view of Mt. Matutum as we were approaching, plus the pineapples enclosing it. By this time, my excitement doubled but I was getting more uncertain of myself too. I was thinking to myself, “I’m really going to climb this mountain”.
Porters & Fees
Porters are available for those who prefer to hire one. Their fees range from 500-700 PHP per day but our organizer managed to arrange for 500 PHP/day. Once hired, you must include them to your meals and snacks. We opted to hire one for our group of three to carry our food, especially our 6 liters of water. I was amazed by these porters, who most of them are young adults from the village because they were like spidermen on the trail, jumping and hopping.
Day 1- Start of Climb: Keumang Trail
Based on our itinerary, day 1 would take an estimate of 9-10 hours of physical activity until reaching the summit. Mostly, this involves pushing or pulling yourself forward against the pull of gravity. That’s what makes Mt. Matutum difficult to climb.
There are two Phases, 1 and 2. Getting to phase 1 is the easier part of the trail. My favorite was walking through tall grasses until we’re all covered up that I couldn’t see the people in front of me anymore. It was a little unsettling for me but I trusted myself. I knew as long as I follow the trail, I’ll be alright.
When we reached phase 1, we stopped for an hour to have our lunch. By that time it also started raining. So, one item you shouldn’t forget to bring is a raincoat. We found a spot, sat or squatted and ate our lunch in the rain. It was also a great time to meet new people who participated. We met people from Davao City and others from our very own town.
After our lunch, the rain also stopped. We resumed our climb on the muddy trail this time. This, for me, was the start of the real challenge. My friends weren’t joking when they told me that I would climb on tree roots and rocks. There were some instances that I crawled under instead of climbing up because it was easier. Ha!
Not only the legs are working but also the arms. Arm strength is very important because there are parts where you will need to pull yourself up. Doing it for hours is exhausting though. So, once in a while, we stopped for a break or I asked/begged them to take a break. =)
Why, oh, why? =)
Reaching phase two, I felt like I almost had enough. Questions of why I’m doing it or why I’m punishing myself emerged. But when I see my friends who seemed to still have the energy to move forward gave me the little push I needed. The difference was I did it slowly, at my own pace. But, at least I was moving.
Finally, around half past three, we reached the summit. But I was so drained that the first thing I did was sit down and not move for 5 minutes. You know that feeling of exhaustion when you don’t want to move at all. That was what I was feeling at that time but we needed to set up our tent and prepare for our dinner so my rest was only short-lived, unfortunately.
Food & drinks
We brought ready-to-eat and easy to cook food such as hotdogs, beef loaf, bread, and noodles. Surprisingly, it was enough for us. The truth was all I desired was to lie down and put my legs up after that day of torture.
We also may have brought and drunk some alcohol at the summit. =)
Another difference of the camping site at Lake Holon with Mt. Matutum is the toilet. At the summit, you can have your own toilet as long as you’re hidden somewhere.
On the next day, after eating our breakfast of bread with peanut butter and noodles, we decided to visit the second peak. It’s optional and usually, in a big group like ours, the organizers will arrange it at around 5 or 5.30 in the morning. However, because it was foggy that morning, nobody was interested to see it except us.
Well, we thought since we were already there, why not climb a little more to reach the second peak. Personally, I already considered this climb to Mt. Matutum as my first and last time so whatever I have to see, I should see at once.
Despite the fog blocking the view, it still felt incredible to be at the peak. I’m sure it will be better if it’s clear but you know, we should always appreciate what we have in front of us. We still felt lucky and blessed.
We then went back to the summit and packed our stuff for the descent.
Going down is much easier than climbing up like what other mountaineers would say. The struggle came with the muddy trail because if not careful, one could get injured. Many times, I remember myself crawling in this mud too.
We started our descent at 8.30 AM and then, we reached the end of the trail, back to the village at 3 PM.
Injured Climbers including me
I didn’t know where it started but two hours before arriving at the village, I started sensing this pain in my knee. I know then that I sprained it. My pace became much slower like a turtle because I couldn’t bend my right knee. Our new friend, although injured too, offered his walking stick for me to use. Of course, I’m thankful for my two friends who were patiently waiting for me too. I’m sure they could have been one of the first people to arrive at the summit and back to the village but since we were a team, they didn’t leave me alone. =)
A number of other climbers got injured among our group. One fell from a horse which I think dislocated her elbow and one slid from a big rock and hit her knee. The good thing was that she didn’t fall very far or it would be a huge problem.
I helped them by giving first aid, together with my other nurse friend. We made a splint out of bamboo sticks to immobilize her arm until she’d be able to reach the hospital.
It was worrying to see all those people injured. However, in an extreme outdoor activity like that, accidents can always happen. So, being careful is a must.
I remember mentioning in my Lake Holon trip that it was uncomfortable the next two days after but I didn’t expect a longer recovery time from this one. It took me one whole week before my soreness in my legs and back were gone. Ugh, it was more than uncomfortable, really. It was like a punishment and I am not exaggerating at all.
Overall, I would agree with others saying that this climb is not for beginners. If you’re interested to climb, you must prepare yourself physically and mentally. One shared that he started going to the gym prior but it still wasn’t enough. In my case, it was only the Lake Holon trip that prepared me for this and our training for the 21KM run. And I still felt like dying at some point.
This is an experience that will test how strong-willed you are not to quit. Of course, I couldn’t quit or else, I would be stuck in the rainforest alone. There is no other way but to move forward. And you get to think like that for hours and hours. It’s a real test of endurance and strength.
What motivated me was the fact that in the end, everything will go back to normal, I won’t feel the pain anymore but the experience reaching the summit of Mt. Matutum will always be in my mind and heart. That’s how it was for me anyway.
PS: I’m a mountaineer =)
So one day after the climb, while at work, I was obviously in pain getting ready to take one effortful step on a stair, and people stopped and looked at me. Then one concerned person asked, “Are you okay?”. I gave him a big smile and said, “Oh, it’s nothing. It’s from Mt. Matutum climb”.
That’s how proud I am of myself.
So, Mt. Matutum- been there and done that. Check! =)
I dare you, whoever is reading this post to do something you think you’re not capable of doing. I bet you’ll be surprised.