The start of the trail to Mt. Binacayan is a concrete road, with residential houses of a typical Filipino province on both sides. This uphill road is a challenge in itself and made me stop for rests at this early point of the climb. At the foot of the mountain, where the concrete road ends are 3 resting points, a few hundred meters away from each other. While I was on the first rest point, I kept on noticing a cellular site tower on a nearby mountain. In my mind, I was silently comparing my altitude to that lone tower, as if it were watching me, too. I started the trail and saw it so small being so high above me. Nearly two hours after I made it to the summit of Mt. Binacayan, the tower was still looking so small, but that’s because it was way below me.
Mt. Hapunang Banoi may be the hardest mountain based on difficulty rating but Mt. Binacayan (rated at 3/9) was the most difficult for me. I was exhausted beyond what I thought was my limit even before I started the trail. I was short on water, too, and there I’ve proven that dehydration is real and that it makes muscles feel sore. From the early morning when I felt dizziness and thought that I can’t even make it to the jump-off point of the first mountain of the trilogy, I was uttering my prayers. By the time I was climbing Mt. Binacayan, I was praying with tears. I wasn’t complaining, nor was I regretting my choices. I was just exhausted, overwhelmed, and awe-struck both of the beauty that surrounds me and the strength I never thought I’ll find within.
That had always been the beauty of climbing mountains for me. You get to do things you never thought you could. God is faithful. He never leaves my side and I felt His presence so strong on this third mountain. As with Mt. Hapunang Banoi, I was the only hiker on that afternoon at Mt. Binacayan. DENR office confirmed that I was the only hiker who did a trilogy that day. Eagle is an animal I identify with. It has a backstory back when I was in college and my closest college friends know that. An eagle was circling around me and my guide up the trail to the delight of my guide.
Climbing mountains made me discover how wonderfully God made us, that conquering something which at first seemed physical can actually be conquered by strength of spirit. When it’s the soul that’s willing, the flesh follows. You’ll be able to defy logic and by logic that means, the limitations you mistakenly hold for yourself.
As in climbing mountains, there are a lot of things in life that should be conquered with courage and faith. St. Therese of Lisiuex wrote that, “True courage does not consist in those momentary ardours which impel us to go out and win the world to Christ at the cost of every imaginable danger, which only adds another touch of romance to our beautiful dreams. No, the courage that counts with God is that type of courage which Our Lord showed in the Garden of Olives: on the one hand, a natural desire to turn away from suffering; on the other hand, in anguish of soul the willing acceptance of the chalice which His Father had sent Him.”
Just because you seem “slow” in life, being left behind by stronger “hikers” doesn’t mean you won’t make it to the top. As they say, take life in at your own pace. Just because you get tired doesn’t mean you should quit. Just because you’re having a hard time time now, panting for dear breath, doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to summit.
When life is hard, maybe it’s because we’re trying to level up. Greatness is never found in our comfort zones, we really have to start the climb. When you start climbing a mountain and find yourself completing half of the trail, you don’t go down – even if you know it’s gonna be harder from that point onwards. You continue to move forward, upward, because it would definitely be foolish to go down without first reaching the top. It’s foolish to back out. We’re already here.