Photoshopped? Edited? I had a good time replying to comments when I posted the photo below on the right. I take it as a compliment when people can’t believe some of the things I am capable of doing. Photo was taken on the “buwis-buhay” rock formation on the first mountain I climbed during my Montalban Trilogy Hike. This rock formation is NOT the summit of Mt. Pamitinan but online, it may be one of the most famous spots and it’s not hard to understand why. Just looking at the photos evoke fear and concern for the climber.
Not that I’m underestimating the struggle of climbing mountains. Doing the “buwis-buhay” pose is not easy but this is just to encourage those who want to try it that it is doable, even for beginners, even for those who will hike solo. In reality, how the rock really looks like is the photo shown on the left. That looks safer and more reassuring that you will live to tell the story. Yes, you may fall off a cliff with just one wrong move. Yes, it may mean your life but it won’t happen if you will just follow easy instructions from your guide and take extra care.
Especially if you climb during holidays or weekends, there is a big chance that there will be a queue for picture-taking on this rock formation. Even when I was waiting for my turn, I didn’t think the rock was dangerous. I was freshening up, hoping that the haggardness of the first trail won’t show much on photos, and waiting for the group of balikbayans to finish. When it was my turn to go a few steps down to the boulder, fear suddenly set in!
I saw the small space I could and should step on. The sharp, pointed rocks I was holding on to during the entire trail on my way up suddenly seemed smooth at this point! I had a glimpse – just glimpse because I did not dare stare – of the rocks, shrubs and bushes I might fall onto, in case I fall. I heard a man who belonged to the group on queue after me told their guide in a worried tone, “Kuya, kaya ba nya?” The guide who have been coordinating with my guide and the rest of their team on duty that morning answered, “Kaya nyan! Trilogy kinuha nyan eh.” I suddenly wanted to rethink my decisions that day.
Presence of mind is surely what one needs to survive that buwis-buhay pose but I also advise not to overthink things. Just do it! The next thing I knew, my tour guide was holding my mirrorless camera, while another guide on queue was holding my mobile phone. They were giving me instructions how to position my feet, my arms, where to look and the photos from these two points of view just fired away.
Next stop is the summit itself. Though not a hard rule, there are signboards reminding that each group is given up to ten minutes only for photo ops on the summit of Mt. Pamitinan. The rest would just have to wait or eat breakfast on this spot. My guide told me I was looking to Mt. Binacayan, the third mountain I should climb should I decide to pursue the trilogy. He wasn’t convinced I’d finish the three mountains, which did not offend me. I wasn’t convinced, too.
Ropes on any mountain hike is exciting! It means the trail-makers had given up. They can’t make it any easier so they just placed a rope to make climbing easier. Most of the time, rope really does make things easier and more secure. Ropes also signifies that we are near the summit, at least for most of the few climbs I had so far. An eagle was my photo bomber here! The feeling of being so close to nature is one of the thrills mountain-climbing gives.
My hiking guide told me that there are spots that won’t necessarily be highlighted on the trail if you go with a large group on peak times. We took the trail slow and here are the spots I got to enjoy.