|Happy to be at the summit of Hibok-Hibok ^_^|
“Desidido ka na ba?” Ronald, my guide, asked me while looking directly into my eyes.
We were at the lobby of my hotel and it was almost 1:00PM. My guide wanted to know if I was sure I wanted to climb Mt. Hibok-Hibok despite the probability that we will be able to go back down after dark. Plus, the top of the mountain was covered in thick clouds promising wet and slippery trails. Average trekking time without full packs is about 6-7hours and I wanted to do it in 4hours. He must have thought I was crazy. And I can’t blame him.
I stared back at him and gave him an honest answer, “Yes.” I was not being overconfident nor was I underestimating the mountain. It was truly the only time I can afford to climb since it was just a quick escape from my hectic work schedule. And despite the odds, I was already bent on climbing the famous active volcano of Camiguin. At the very least, I wanted to be given the chance to try. He finally conceded with the condition that we would bring flashlights. I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Yey!
We started our trek at 1:30PM. Jump off point was right beside the Ardent Hot Spring Resort. Ronald was on a consistent power trek pace. The first half was fairly flat with minor inclines and short steep uphills. A diverse 3-km trail greeted us from loose soil, slippery rocks and boulders and compact mud. We stopped at the halfway point which is also where the DENR tower was located. By this time, we were already surrounded by fog.
Considering the limited time, we resumed trek after a quick break. Ronald warned me the second half is a 3-km steep assault. And he meant it. My thighs felt the viciousness of the trail. There were parts when I had to haul myself up using both arms because my legs couldn’t reach the next step. And my hearts and lungs were working overtime. I have to admit, it was at this point when I got a little bit worried. I didn’t mind doing a night trek but the fact that the trail was very technical made me think of possible accidents that could happen if I made a single mistake. I shook off the negative thoughts and instead focused on the unforgiving terrain. It was made more difficult when it started to rain and strong winds came in. I increased my pace to ward off the cold and offered a silent prayer for our safety.
Exactly into our second hour of ascent, we reached the summit. Considering the fog, there was of course no view at the top. But knowing I was at the peak of Mt. Hibok-Hibok made me super happy! 1,332+MASL and worth every single step! We had our snacks and routine photo op at the summit before we started our descent. Our downhill took a little more time because we were extra cautious in securing our footing. We got back down by 6:00PM with still enough natural light for us to see the trail. Whew!
I know what I did was foolish and dangerous. And I’m not just talking about the challenges offered by Hibok-Hibok. I’m really grateful for Ronald, more known in the locality as “Tagalog,” who took good care of me and made sure I reached the summit and got back down safely. A DENR-accredited guide, he knows the Camiguin trails very well and is very generous with his knowledge about the beautiful Island of Fire. I highly recommend him to friends who plan to explore any of the summits or other destinations in Camiguin. You may reach him directly at mobile no. (0910) 659-3349.
For more information about climbing Hibok-Hibok, you can check out www.pinoymountaineer.com.