First Major Hike: Mt. Damas

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Jump off point sunrise

My first hike of the year! It’s in Brgy. Papaac, Camiling, Tarlac together with Monxter Outdoor. Mt. Damas stood at 685 masl and had a difficulty level of 6/9.

I wasn’t that ready for this hike, to be honest. And then I didn’t even research about this mountain. Who would’ve thought that at 600+ meters, it’d be considered a major hike? Yes, you heard it right. This was my first major hike and I WAS NOT PREPARED for it. There went my hope to have an easy and relaxing hike.

So what went on during the hike?

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First, it was easy. Yeah, yeah. The trail was calm and peaceful. I still got to laugh and feel my feet. We were fast, actually. The first five (woohoo!) were fast. Like, our guide didn’t like taking a rest, I guess. He just kept on going and wouldn’t even look back at us not unless we actually had to call him for take five.

At first stop, we waited for everyone. We met up some of the other groups but they went on when we’re starting to crowd the area. We had our group photo there as well as we relaxed for a bit.

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Before the start of river crossing (photo credits to kuya Dexter)

After this rest, it’s where the challenge started. It was after 30 minutes when we finally hit the beginning of the river crossing. At first it was easy. All we had to do was cross the river, making sure that our steps were safe. Then, we came across the first rappelling.

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It did look easy. It was short and quick. I think the only struggle I had with this was where to put my footing, and considering that it was a bit of a cliff, it was a struggle.

The river crossing took for almost 2 to 3 hours, and it was so hot. There were a total of 4 (if I wasn’t mistaken) rappelling before ending the river. After that, it’s where the hardest part begun.

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It was pure assault.

Our guide pointed where the falls was and where the next path was going to be. Just by looking at it, I was sure it was going to be a one heck of a trek up to the summit.

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first five

I felt my knees giving up on me. Of course I didn’t push it to its limit because it would double the struggle. I did my best to not give up. One would actually shout the frustration because it was that hard.

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look at that view

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We took a break at this spot just (almost) thirty minutes away from the summit. We had to catch our breaths because the heat was draining us faster.

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view while having lunch

Then we decided to continue. We reached this spot at around quarter to 12. This was where we decided to have our lunch. We actually wanted to wait for everyone but we were so far from them and it would take time, so we just ate ours.

After lunch, we spent the next hour just lying on the ground. It was hot. We were in a little space, sharing its little shade to cover us up from the direct heat of the sun.

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summit!!!

We headed to the summit after realizing that the others would take longer. Also because there was nobody up in the summit, we had it all to ourselves.

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(photo credits to Sir Rodel)

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Exactly the moment we were heading down, the others finally arrived.

If you thought that going down was easy, think again. It was harder (for me it was).

Upon reaching the end of the assault trail, we headed straight to Ubod falls. Again, the trail going to the falls wasn’t easy the way we thought about it.

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Ubod falls

We crossed huge rocks and mini falls just to get the view of this scenery.

It was around 3 pm when we called it a day. We started our way to descend. Funny thing was, our guide said that there was an easier trail going back. We didn’t have to cross the river again. But when we saw what the ‘short cut’ really was, we actually thought we wanted to do the rappelling again.

As we took the way up (yes, up again), we couldn’t help but shout our frustrations and tiredness. It was at least a thirty minute ascend before we saw the descending part. At this point, we were all so tired that we just wanted to get back to the jump off point, get change and rest in the van.

The descend was a long way. We didn’t even take a rest because it was almost sunset. Our group was already divided at this point. It was only four of us going down the trail and it’s starting to get dark. By the time we reached the end of the river, it was night already. It was so dark my imagination had gone wild again. It’s my writer’s mind working it’s way out which was one thing I didn’t want to think about at the moment.

Then, you know, unexpected things happened.

It rained.

I was like, I didn’t dive in the waterfalls because I just wanted to get out of my hike clothes. I only waterproofed my phone and just let my other stuff and myself got wet. There’s no point anyway. The rain came unannounced. Good thing that I left some of my stuff in the van.

It was around 6:30 pm(?) or seven when we finally arrived at the jump off point. We fell in line for the shower and paid for the food we wanted to eat. And then we’re refreshed.

We were the second group who arrived there and we’re worried for some of our friends that were still at the trail. It was total darkness already and even the moonlight didn’t give much light. The good thing was the rain had stopped. We just hoped everyone was close to the end of the trail.

My verdict for Mt. Damas? Once was enough. I didn’t think I could go back to this mountain and experience the same thing again. I was just so glad that I got to see its beauty before deciding not to climb it again.

But if you haven’t,  you should try it. Don’t let my thoughts stop you from doing so. It’s still better to experience it firsthand, you know.

Watch the video here.

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