by Harlon Pasion Agsaoay
It’s summertime, and many of us are probably aching to loosen up and have some sort of a journey in order to lessen the summer heat and enjoy an adventure-filled vacation. Some of us are probably going to the beach in order to swim, dive, or even surf, and some of us are planning to do wakeboarding, kayaking, mountain climbing, rappelling, and the likes. In short, we want to do something different, ’cause we are stressed when it comes to our work or school, and the city is too crowded and noisy for us to enjoy a well-needed rest. We, Filipinos, are fond of going outdoors during these months, that is why places like Boracay, Puerto Galera and even Anilao are packed and vibrant.
In my opinion, there is more to outdoor activities than just plain enjoyment. It has always been for me, an excuse to reflect and be more curious about how nature works. Buzz Aldrin, one of the 3 astronomers of Apollo 11 once said that humans are bound to have an ‘insatiable curiosity’, and due to this natural trait, we are explorers. I totally agree to that, because in my opinion, exploring would be a way for us to connect to the world, so that we’ll understand how it works. We should not separate ourselves from nature (unlike most people who are not thinking about the consequences whenever they do harsh things against nature itself) — instead, we should be part of it; and we have no right to destroy and exploit it. Check out this video from North Face and you’ll see what I mean.
During the course of time that i’ve been joining a group of people to climb mountains — not just a dayhike, but an overnight stay once we reach the highest point of the mountain or the summit. I’m quite a latebloomer when it comes to these types of adventure, but then I felt the natural instinct to become part of it. I never even joined mountaineering orgs while I was in school, but then, I’ve got lots of experiences climbing tall trees (to be honest, I am good at it), and that made me think that I can adapt to climbing mountain trails. It was a different ballgame though, because to be honest, I am quite afraid of heights, but still, I did it. It is hard to climb a mountain, yet, you learn a lot, as a human being. I really liked the challenge, because it requires a certain amount of skill and perseverance to do mountain trekking. The good thing about it is that you get to observe life itself — and that there is more to it than your own problems, heartaches, and petty opinions. I have met nice and helpful people when I decided to experience mountaineering. Those people, understand the joys and the thrill of being in the mountain, and they’re the coolest guys to be around with. They don’t think about other things when they explore, they leave their problems in the city or where they come from, and they value community and respect amongst others. I’ve never once encountered a smug climber (maybe there’s a few, not that I’m aware of, but I am sure there’s not too many), because that type of personality is not supposed to be welcome to trudge mountains.
After my experience with at least two mountains and the enjoyment of it all, I soon realized that what I’ve learned from climbing ’til I reached the top can be applied in the “real world.” I learned to be more patient, especially during traffic in the city, or rush hour at work, annoying and pestering people that you can find anywhere, and any other things or incidents when you need to be calm or to settle down. I learned to become more self aware, and to understand everything without prejudice or bias, and to appreciate everything that I encounter in life however good or bad it may be. I learned to be more driven, willing to take risks and challenges and to try different things, and gain more focus, in order to achieve my ambition and goals.
I never considered myself as an extreme sports enthusiast. I never learned how to properly ride a skateboard, or a rollerblade. Or wakeboarding. When I decided to join a mountaineering team, I was inexperienced, but then I had this “hell yeah” attitude and welcomed the challenge. I’ve always considered myself as a person who loves taking risks, and appreciates the beauty of life. Climbing mountains equate to nature tripping, and with that mindset, you are valuing your surroundings. You’re not being selfless. I will never to come to a point where I’ll climb Mount Everest, the highest summit in the world, or the more dangerous Himalayan mountain called K2, but you bet I am going to climb more mountains. I’ve always loved the outdoors. Surfing would be my next adventure, and I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy every moment of it.
Nature tripping is therapeutic. In my opinion, it is also spiritual. It sort of helps you out in understanding why we live, and what’s our purpose, and helps us understand our weakness. It is in any way productive, because it helps us strengthen our mental capacity. It enriches your well-being. You have to do it to believe it. Just don’t leave your trash there.