(photo from a friend)
Had an incredible weekend trip to Pulag recently. I’m not usually one to talk about my occasional adventures, but I felt like I had some information to contribute if ever someone were to search about it and prepare for his own trip. I certainly felt like the information was lacking in some departments. For example:
To Vibram or not to Vibram? I bought a pair of Treksports shortly after my first climb (to Pico de Loro) half a year ago. They were on sale, my friend wore them during the climb, and I felt Vibrams offered better traction than rock-plated hardcore climbing boots. My colleague insisted I was better off with the latter, but I didn’t want to spend money on new boots. He said I should try climbing in my trainers instead, so I brought both. (I read another entry where someone blogged about having numb frozen feet because Vibrams didn’t keep his feet warm and was in other words a bad idea.)
I’m glad I stuck with my Vibrams. I wore them with toe socks so I didn’t get any blisters, and I didn’t get the reported muscle pain that came with breaking them in and wearing them for the first time (probably because I wore compression pants, but that’s another vignette). I definitely felt more secure in my flexible minimalist shoes compared to my first climb — when I couldn’t get the feel of the ground beneath me, and had no idea whether my footing was secure. The key with the Vibrams is to make sure you wear socks with them or you’ll get painful blisters. And yes, your feet will feel cold in Pulag, but that’s only for a short while until you get your blood circulating with a hike. I switched to trainers during the ascent to the summit but I reckon it really wouldn’t have made a difference.
The caveat is that the weather we were blessed with couldn’t have been more perfect — the situation might have changed if it were raining. By then you might have been better off with a more substantial and waterproof shoe. Cold feet are the worst. But I waterproofed mine with some spray before the trip and thankfully I didn’t have to prove anything because it would’ve sucked if the spray didn’t really work.
Are a godsend. They were so expensive but worth it (again, I bought mine on sale) — because the only time I felt any muscle pain in my legs was the time I stepped off the bus going home. Typically, I experience a couple of days’ worth of muscle pain after just a couple of hours of intense physical activity (after periods of inactivity), but I was just so amazed at how well it kept me from the ninth circle of karmic fitness hell. It feels like carrying an immunity card on the show Survivor, making me feel all smug.
Traveling with friends
I’m typically a go-it-alone kind of girl, but I definitely appreciated the company on the arduous (pussy trail as Ambangeg was) 5-hour climb. Even the jeepney trip made me appreciate friends who let me sleep on their lap as the monotonous ride lulled us all to sleep.
Friends who make it a point to memorize lines from Sacha Baron Cohen movies are keepers. They’ll surprise you with random movie lines (with all the acting included) and keep things light when the trail gets tough. They’ll sing songs like Snow White’s Seven Dwarves’ “Heigh Ho” and turn the flashlight into a strobe light so you can do the disco in the dark. They’ll talk to you about aliens and excitedly point out in wide-eyed wonder the falling stars that zoom through the dawn sky.
My favorite part was when we were at the summit, waiting for the sun to come up, and we were all freezing our figurative and literal balls off — we just started dancing with each other with nary a care.
I liked how we could all be kids again, and nobody was too cool to be judging us for it. I don’t think I would have had more fun with another group. So I’m thankful for the experience. Some trips are just better in the company of friends.