4AM: Time to get up. The day of the assault to the summit has come. It was a first time for me and a few in our group to reach Pico de Loro’s beak, I mean peak, and despite seeing the pictures there’s nothing better than actually being there. Excited? Yes! (But still sleepy)
5AM: The assault begins! The sun still hasn’t risen up but it is definitely starting to light up the sky. The trails were barely visible at that time but it was gradually getting brighter. Gab and his group would be staying at camp and cook breakfast for us (thank you guys!) so we were able to leave a lot of things and trek light. This was very beneficial for us since the ascent got much more difficult and steep. Along the way we passed by the last campsite before summit where numerous groups were camped and also met a lot of fellow hikers as well. It was an endless exchange of greetings.
Finally, the moment of truth. The most challenging part of this adventure was getting to the summit itself. There’s nothing to hold onto on these parts but grass! Add to that the very steep gradients and wind! At this point if you’re scared of heights there’s only one direction you should look: up!
6AM: After amassing strength to conquering the final leg the summit was upon us. It wasn’t a very big area so not very many people would fit. We were glad to be the first to arrive but unfortunately we were deprived of the legendary panorama—the clouds were so thick the visibility was very short.
After staying at the summit for about an hour with no signs of the sky clearing up anytime soon we decided to head back down. On our way down we encountered all the other hikers coming up to the summit for the flag raising ceremonies of the Freedom Climb event. We were so excited to reach the summit that we forgot our flags at base camp. We also didn’t expect the ceremonies to be that late (it was past 7AM when we crossed trails with the people heading the event) so it was unfortunate that we didn’t get to be with the actual ceremonies.
Upon arriving at our base camp breakfast was waiting for us—how sweet! We didn’t really have long time to spare so after eating we packed all our things and started to scale down before 10AM. Like our earlier descent we met more hikers on our way down but surprisingly enough this batch looked like they were going to the mall as some were wearing short shorts and slippers and some even brought along their little kids.
Upon arriving at the jump off point our service was there but unfortunately it wasn’t the same RunHiker Mobile—it was a van. Yes we all fit (barely like sardines inside the can) and it has air-conditioning but it’s not as charming as the previous one. Before finally heading off for Manila we stopped by some eateries along the way for some “real” food. A few of us were dropped off along the way so it was just the core RunHikers on the final stop. Trekking being a physically-demanding activity it was just natural that we were hungry and stopped by a nearby bakeshop for deserts. This was the end of our Pico de Loro adventure but this was not the end of our weekend activity. What happened next was an entirely new chapter.
I would like to thank Mar and Gab for making this memorable climb such a wonderful experience for us especially the first timers. Likewise, thank you to the hardcores: Cindy, Ayen, Ana, Joseph and Sir Gary for supporting us and making the adventure fun. Thank you all for bearing with the lesser-experienced wanna-be mountaineers like myself! I hope you enjoyed it as much as we do and hope to have more stories with you guys. To my fellow RunHikers thank you for the company and it was always a pleasure to do anything with you guys. This is definitely just the beginning of many more activities to come. (Some photos on this series from first to current courtesy Rodel, “the Argonaut”)
No longer are we just runners. No longer are we just hikers.
We are the RunHikers!
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Freedom Climb Chronicles: