Not all those who wander are lost.

Wanderlust – (won-der-luhst) (n.) – A strong innate impulse or desire to travel the world.

When  I told my friends that I’d be going camping for two days, the reception I got was either, they were all appalled like I just told them a hideous joke that Adam Levine was gay or that they were extremely shocked. I remember their exact words were like: “You??! Go on camping?! No way!” or like “Are you out of your wits?? 2 days in the woods?….Well, good luck..” And I’m like, awkwardly sipping my coffee, muttering to myself: uhmm thanks guys, that’s really supportive of you. There. I hope you get the picture.

My friends Laurence and Aron, looking good and all geared up for the hike. Me, looks like a girl about to go to the gym but got lost in the woods haha 🙂

Well, I can’t blame my friends for being so hysterically negative about the news that I’d really be going on a camping, because they knew me inside and out, and the version of me that they knew best is the one who can’t even stand the sunlight, gets annoyed walking around the city except when shopping, hates getting sweaty and all and basically dislikes anything that makes me uncomfortable. And as much as I hate to admit it, it is true! Hey, who isn’t? But then there’s this other version of me who secretly enjoys going outdoors, or doing something extreme and totally outside of the box. To tell you the truth is, one of my bucket lists is to experience being surrounded by the wonders of nature. Camping! Checked! 🙂 Plus, I always get jealous whenever I see photos of my friends in facebook, hiking and taking photos on top of the mountains and all. I wanna experience that!

The beauty of Mt. Tarak 🙂

So after weeks and weeks of asking pleading Laurence to include me on one of his trips to the mountains, he finally agreed (with sooo much gusto! Not! haha) to tag me along. It was All Saints/Souls day so we took advantage of these long weekend to go on hiking at Mt. Tarak, Mariveles, Bataan. At this point, I wanna take a moment to curse Laurence for bringing me, a beginner (with much emphasis on that fact), to one of the major and difficult treks ever invented in the history of Philippine Mountaineering! Hahaha Good thing he brought one of his mountaineer friend, Aron, who by the way, is one of my newest favorite persons in the world! As the story progress, you’ll know why hehe.

The boulders on the way to Paniquian Falls, Mt.Tarak, Bataan.

I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t put on some make-up :p Well, just some mascara, little gloss, sunscreen moisturizer and I think I put on some perfume as well. Hey, don’t judge! A girl has got to look and smell good eventhough she’d be crossing mountains right? LOL. To get there, we needed to ride the bus and endure the 3-4 hours drive to Bataan. There are couple of bus stations along Cubao area such as Bataan Transit and Genesis which are the perfect rides to bring you there. Once you arrived at the Mariveles proper, you need to register first at the Barangay Hall before starting your journey to the mountains, this way the officials can monitor if the mountaineers made it safely back. Because there were incidents that some mountaineers got lost and nowhere to be found. Talk about bad luck huh?

Once you’re all set, then you’re good to go! 🙂 Like I said, it was my first time to go on hiking. Yes, few days before the trip I did some research on what to bring and what to do when you’re on the woods and those articles written on the net sure did helped but, boy, it did not prepared me for what’s the reality in store waiting for me in the woods!

So for the newbies who aspires to go on camping and experience the magnificent adventure in the woods, I took the courtesy of writing some guidelines (based on my own experience) on what to do and what to expect about camping and being in the wilderness. I simply call it, The Kikay’s Guide to Camping 101 🙂

1. BE-FRIEND OTHER MOUNTAINEERS AND THE LOCALS.

If you’re used to being a snob in the city, try your best NOT to show this true colors of yours when you’re in the woods! haha Yes, we do hope that everything will work out just fine but then  it’s nature. You can’t possibly predict what will happen next so it’s better to be-friend other mountaineers you meet along the way. The locals in Mt. Tarak are very friendly and accommodating as well. I met Nanay Cording and her family who resides on the foot of the mountains of Tarak. I was surprised that some mountaineering organizations all over the metro provide medicines for her family, especially her husband who just recently suffered an injury in his left foot. They were ecstatic when I told them that it was my first time to climb and wouldn’t stop giving me advices and why climbing is good for your health and so on! haha I’d love to go back there and spend a day just talking to the old lady 🙂

Meet Nanay Cording. The happiest and very friendly local you’ll ever meet at the foot of Mt. Tarak 🙂

2. GEAR UP AND PACK LIGHT.

I honestly don’t know what the fuck was I thinking carrying that stupid neck pillow with me to the mountains! hahaha Regardless that some of the trails would not be as difficult as the ones in Mt. Tarak, still try not to bring unnecessary things with you. When traveling abroad or any domestic place, I always tend to overpack. Literally carrying multiple sets of clothes and shoes with me. But being on the mountains is entirely different case. Try to pack only minimal clothes as much as possible, or you might regret carrying tons of weight with you. I don’t have enough time to buy proper equipments for the trek so I used my running shoes instead. It would have been acceptable to use my running shoes for the trek, but then, it rained when we were at the boulders so it was extra difficult for me to jump from one rock to the other because everything was wet! I slipped a hundred of times, mind you, I even caused a rock-slide and putting our lives in danger! Huh.. talk about damn luck. Also, I’ve endured like three blisters on my feet caused by my shoes. Need I say more? hahaha learn from my mistakes and shop around for a more convenient and comfortable hiking shoes.

Yup, that’s me carrying that neck pillow to the woods. What a bright girl! 🙂

3. PACK A SNACK AND REHYDRATE.

I consider climbing as a major exercise! There aint a minute where I’m not drenched with sweat all over my body so to avoid dehydration, you need to bring enough water for you to consume 8 ounces for every 15-20 minutes when you’re on the trail. If you’re also taking on a longer hike, make it a point to stop and refuel for healthy snack such as fruits, nuts or energy bar. As for me, since I’m on a diet, I brought pistachios, almonds and mixed nuts and some vegetable crackers 🙂 Aron also brought some chocolates which helped us boost our energy during the climb. You may bring any trail food that you want, but then again, try not to over pack and only carry food that will help you gain your strength back and not snacks that will make you feel full.

Us three, sharing our snacks 🙂

4. RESPECT MOTHER NATURE. RESPECT THE TRAIL.

For your own safety, and the protection of the wilderness, stick to the designated paths and trails. Try not to be overly “Adventurous” and making up your own trails. Eventhough you’ve been there a couple of times, nature is still nature, it’s unpredictable and has to be respected. So follow the rules and guidelines of the park you are in. Carry your trash with you at all times, don’t pick flowers or plants, and don’t be overly noisy when hiking. Use this experience to enjoy the beauty around you, allowing nature to speak to your senses and your spirit 🙂

The breathtaking mountain ranges of Tarak 🙂 

What a beautiful candid shot. This is the face of a happy hiker! LOL 🙂

The Donya in the woods haha

5. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND ERGO DON’T GO SOLO.

No matter how loner or emo you are, please don’t go on camping all by yourself. Have you not seen James Franco’s movie entitled 127 Hours? Let this movie be a warning to campers who always go on solo flight. To avoid different kinds of incidents and desperate measures to survive, go with groups or bring a partner with you so you’ll have company in case of any mishaps.

And despite the very discouraging words from your friends or my friends, for that matter, I still make it a point to tell them where I will be and when do I plan to return from my hike.

Aron and Laurence, enjoying the morning swim at the falls.

Good morning! 🙂

Don’t worry about him. He’s totally fine, just taking a quick power nap before we go on 🙂

Plus, hiking with your friends is so much fun than being alone 🙂 And no matter how Laurence makes fun of me during the hike, at least he still takes good photos hahaha For a first-timer like myself, it’s very convenient that I’m with two professionals with me! Naks! haha Eventhough the trail was a bitch, I’m still at peace knowing that Laurence is vigilant enough to scout the area and look for the trail guides along the way so we won’t be hearing the words “Dammit, we’re lost.” haha

The very sexy Laurence! A.k.a our walking-navigation LOL. Lookin’ good To, wit-whew!:)

And Aron, oh Aron, the very patient guy who always stays behind me, making sure that I step on the right path, I won’t fall on the edge and get myself killed (seriously!), giving me a boost on every assaults, and carrying my neck pillow! haha See?? Every princess in the woods needs guys like them! LOL Just kidding 🙂

Aron, always ready to save the day me! haha

Me on the fork of Mt. Tarak! 🙂

6. FOR THE LADIES, BE PREPARED FOR THE THREE P’S : PEEING, POOPING AND PERIOD.

This kind of adventure makes me wish over and over again inside my head that I was born as a guy,  that way I wouldn’t have to worry about what I would do when nature calls. Never in my life did I ever imagined that I’d be doing my thing behind the bushes! I swear, that truly is the highlight of this trip! haha I remember I was telling Laurence that I needed to go, and then he just pointed towards the bushes. And I’m like, noooooo way. Oh my gosh… But what the hell right? You’re in the woods! Try not to be so dumb and expect comfort rooms or portalets hangin’ around the woods, it’s not possible. So yeah, no matter how happy you think that you’re in paradise, with a great companion and ice cold beer on one hand, when nature calls, it’s like a reality check and everything seems to be ruined! 😦 But don’t fret, ladies, ’cause I have mastered the arts of three P’s: peeing, pooping and period 🙂

First, you need to get off the trail. You don’t want other mountaineers seeing you do your thing right? Or worse, accidentally set foot on your pee or poop, that’s just disgusting! So you gotta find a secluded place where you can do your business, but not too far or else you might get lost. When you’ve found a perfect spot, try your best to be comfortable and think of happy thoughts! I know this may sound funny, but when you keep on thinking that you’re in the woods and you feel and look ridiculous, you may have a hard time letting ‘go’, if you know what I mean. 🙂 Also, you gotta look for a spot which can easily absorb liquid like soft soil, or have leaves on it, this way you can avoid mess on your legs and shoes. Plus, make sure to really grab on to your pants or else you may find a hard time explaining to your friends about that wet spot lol.

There are a couple of peeing/pooping positions for girls but the usual and much easier way to do it, is the squat position. Yeah, this is where your squats in the gym pays off! 🙂 You just have to try your best to make it quick because this position may sore your thighs and legs but if yours are strong enough, then you’re A-Okay! For all the campers whether you’re a boy or a girl, when pooping, always dig for about 8 inches deep on the ground. You don’t want your waste to be lying around there right?! And always carry wet wipes or tissue with you but do not leave them behind, you should also be carrying plastic bags or ziplock to tuck away those nasty tissues.

If you’re in bad luck which means you have your monthly period, always carry extra pads and clean underwear with you. I am very particular with this, wherever I go, I always carry more than a couple of undergarments with me especially when I have a period because I hate having stains all over my butt! It is also more comfortable wearing tampons than napkins especially during this kind of adventure. With tampons, it’ll be easier for you to move around without worrying much about the stain, odor, and the uncomfortable bulking napkin inside your pants! haha Again, don’t leave your sanitary in the woods, always bring ziplock where you can tuck them safety inside your things and dispose them properly on the trash bins. So there, viola! Success! 🙂

7. PACE YOURSELF. YOU’LL GET THERE, EVENTUALLY.

If you don’t regularly exercise then I suggest you go get your butt up, log out, shut down and go run. You can’t possibly expect to survive even one day of hiking if you’re not active and exercising a lot. I’m not so much of an athlete myself, but somehow it helps that I’m doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but then again, if you’re not a trained hiker or used to hiking then surely you’ll still have a hard time catching up. There are a couples of times when I needed to rest more than usual because I needed to catch my breath! It’s also essential to do some warm ups before the climb. Consider the first 10-15 minutes of your climb as a warm-up and then gradually increase your speed. Listen to your breathing – You should be able to carry a conversation as you hike. Laurence and Aron have been hiking for years so they’re really light on their feet and very quick, unlike me, I am practically slowing them down! hahaha Honestly, I don’t know how the fuck they do that being quick and light on their feet, ’cause every single time I try to do so, I would always trip! Dammit! The most challenging thing is when we needed to crouch or cross above or underneath a massive fallen trunk! There’s just no other way across it. If you wanna die, you can just slide through the cliff on the side. So in order to survive and tell this story to your future kids, you just gotta hang on tight to the large trunk and cross in any way possible. Talk about wa-poise! I swear… everytime I do that, I was panicking inside!

Me, being a crybaby during the hike and not wanting to go on! haha

8. DON’T JUST RELY ON THE WEATHER FORECAST.

It’s a must to check the weather forecast before going on a hike or do some outdoor activities. Mind you, we did checked the weather forecast before the climb and it was sunny during the first few hours but when we got inside the forest on the way to the Paniquian Falls, the weather suddenly changed. It started pouring and what sucks more, I don’t have a waterproof cover thingy (whatever it is) to protect my bag from the rain! So I improvised with some plastic bags from my things and used this to cover my stuff. Not only did the rain made the trek much difficult to cross, it also took us hours to get through the boulders and next thing we knew, we lost the sun already! So instead of learning it the hard way, always expect the unexpected. Anticipate the sudden change of weather, always wear multiple layers of clothing during sunny trek just so your skin won’t be burnt from the intense heat of the sun. When the weather is a bit cloudy or there’s a rain nearby, don’t forget your waterproof covers and bring lots of plastics to cover your gadgets, clothes and so on.

9. TAKE PHOTOS. AND TONS OF IT!

Whether you prefer carrying the weight of an SLR camera or you’re fine snapping away with your iphone, number 9 guideline is; DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA.

10. MAKE AWESOME MEMORIES.

No matter how strenuous the climb was, how many bruises and blisters I got from being clumsy and slipping, how uncomfortable my sleep was during the night, how many mosquitoes bit me, how my body aches all over after the climb, how I was pushed to my limits, I can go on whining about it all day but still, I can’t find myself regretting each and every step I make just to reach Paniquian Falls of Mt. Tarak. The experience made me appreciate the beauty of nature even more and reconnect with myself.

Yes, the idea of going on camping scared the hell out of me,what more when I saw the uphill in front of my very own eyes! It made me doubt myself and lose hope a couple of times, but then I surpassed it and as I look back on the trail that I just gone through, I couldn’t believe that I made it. Me?? KC the Manila girl, who’s used to all sorts of comfort in the city-living has managed to spend two days in the woods! I deserve a standing ovation, people! hahaha just kidding 🙂

And many thanks to the two gentlemen (ahem) who were with me all throughout the trail, Laurence and Aron, who painstakingly endured my slow pace and my girly attitude on the woods! (I tried my best not to show my innate girlyness, I really tried) hahaha I salute you guys and warm kisses to both of you! 🙂 I was literally a burden, I admit that, but they never made me feel like one at all. Thank you guys for not losing your patience on me and for making sure that I got home safely. I love you guys! Tara, hike ulit! 🙂

I hope these guidelines helped you out as it helped me survive on the woods. Just remember to have fun, make awesome memories and treasure each and every step you make.

See you on the woods!

Cheers!

Xoxo

KC

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