Mt. Apo, the Philippines highest mountain, lies in Mindanao. Some mountaineers has this in their bucket list, for me I have Mt. Apo as a way to train for future climbs, a way to further know my body, my capabilities, my limitations, what I can do.
I’d skip the introductions, the hype words to build up this climb. However I will tell the story of how this Mountain changed my views, my way of words, and my way of thinking. Standing at the summit reflecting on my past actions, my merits in life, left me a question to think about what I’ve been doing all this time. I was pondering on the question for the future, I get this anxious feelings, excitement, wonder and fear of what to do next, what can I do next.
Standing there feels like that time stopped, as I stared blankly to the different islands that can be seen. Coasts that can be drawn. Clouds that you could see when on a plane. And you remind yourself, that you had walked kilometers, crossed rivers, climbed rocks and boulders to reach the summit and spend less than an hour cherishing the view.
Indeed this is the highest in the Philippines. With its views of cities, the bay, the different islands, you could easily compare how small they are from how far you are, trees seem small but once near you’d be surprised.
The initial route was to enter via Digos-Kapatagan and exit via Agco – Kidapawan trails, Kapatagan trail takes 2 days to reach the shoulder campsite of Mt. Apo (10mins from the summit) but can be done in one day around 10-14hrs of fast paced trek. However the Agco trail is much more challenging in my opinion, it has a much more steeper trail, with a lot of river crossing (strong currents when it rains).
First day was a 9 hour trek to camp Godi-Godi, we arrived at the camp around 4pm If I could remember correctly, we pitched our tents, got in and slept for a while, then rain came pouring down. Dinner was ready but no one went out to get some grub, we were tired that we wanted to sleep rather than eat our dinner. The guides were worried about us and decided to do tent-to-tent service, they brought the food to us, a very tasty Pakbet and rice!
We slept soundly on the first night, we were dead tired from the roadtrip to the very humid yet no wind mossy forest. We woke up around 6am to fix our stuff and break camp, the next campsite would be near the summit, it’s an estimated 5 hour trek, pass the boulders and sulfur vents, around the crater then camp. One of us was getting sick so we(sweepers) distributed his things so we can carry it up, fortunately he made it! Yay!
We camped and we were still wet from the rain, we were cold and want to get inside the tent and lie down, so we pitched tents, changed in to some dry clothes, and rested for a few minutes. While cooking dinner we took some shots of gin and brandy to keep us warm somehow, well it was worth it.
After dinner we talked to the guides and asked about their life, culture, their family, and the local government(lol), we also asked why there were so many uncollected trash at the shoulder, they said that before(years ago) they were hired to clean up the Mountain but the LGU never paid them, so now, currently no one wants to go up and pick trash. Lake Venado has also some notable dumps that even has a diaper?! I mean come on!
Morning came. We woke up very late. Around 8am late. We didn’t catch the sunrise. We got a better view instead, yes, its only a matter of perspective and camera angles. We saw Davao City, Kidapawan City, Digos and Samal Island. It was a very beautiful and rewarding view.
Break camp after an hour or less at the summit, our load was much heavier now, more wet clothes in our bag. Then at the same time much more lighter, few trail foods left, water is at minimal, I had to share mine with the Porter/sweeper behind me, as well as some trail food with him. So my rations were literally divided for the two of us.
60-70 degree descents were waiting for us, in the old Kidapawan(agco) Trail, we didn’t go through the new one since it would add 2 hours on our descent and we were chasing daylight. Marvel River was a little high because of the continuous rain on Mt. Apo, so crossing it needed more effort. Night came, and our TL made subgroups, we were on different pacings. I were still sweeping with the porter/sweeper and eventually catching up with the mid. But as it got late we were moving far apart.
We got out in to the jump off Kidapawan around 9pm, washed up and went departed at 10pm. We reached the hotel around 1am the following day. And ordered some McDonalds.
Im not gonna spoil everything in this blog, it deserves its mystery.