Mt. Irid | Sitio Sadlak | Brgy. Sta. Ines, Tanay, Rizal
10.01.2016 – 10.02.2016
Where do broken hearts go?…
After Mace and “That thing called Tadhana” inspired all the broken hearts to head north to Sagada, mine went east…
I was in the middled of letting go…of releasing the anguish and sorrows of a broken heart. And right when I was trying to hold on to my greater sanity I met 12 souls who walked with me to a higher ground…to a more peaceful heart.
12 souls, 1 Broken: Fresh Pa!
The sleepy two-hour jeepney trip to Brgy. Sta. Ines in Tanay via Cogeo was one of those peaceful journeys I’ve been. The morning chill of the provincial air and the scent of a rural day break had me hypnotized. My aching heart was brought back to life by the colors of a breaking dawn – shades of red, pink and purple beautifully painted on a blanket of low clouds…
The show of morning colors which reminded me that there was more after the breaking ended as we dived deep under the sea of clouds. Verdant hills and a sleepy community welcomed the 13 souls (one broken). Before we reached Brgy. Sta. Ines, the trail head of Mt. Irid, the monster we called jeep crossed about seven(7) rivers. Yes, there is no other way but to cross ‘em…like getting over a breaking, you don’t go around it…you cross over no matter what.
The monster jeep crossing the river
Team Bes, hiking with a purpose
Like any other mountain, we registered and made ourselves accounted for. When the dues were settled and guides secured, it was time to start walking…but no one ever starts with an empty tummy. The store across the street offers rice porridge with hard-boiled egg at P 15 a bowl. It was warm and filling. Make it hot and savory with a blend of home-made garlic chips and chilli oil!
Lugaw with egg – fuel for the hike
From the barangay center the journey to Sitio Sadlak was an introduction to what was to be the hardest hike to-date. It’s like breaking my heart all over again. This time it’s not the heart but the knees and legs (LOL). The trail was peppered by river crossings [(eleven (11)] so get ready with the most suitable footwear, preferably those that can be worn wet.
Flip flops aren’t the best footwear…I swear!
Sitio Kinabuan and its Icy Waterfalls
I stopped drying my eyes off of the pain of being broken. This time I was all wet and cold from all the rivers I’ve crossed. We reached Sitio Kinabuan where we had lunch by the waterfalls.
The water was cold…and the longer you were in the water, you get used to it like how my heart has gotten used to that thing called pain. Lunch, while they had theirs on plates and wares, I was digging in on a cup of noodles with a pair of chopsticks and they were laughing at my oddity (who would have thought of packing chopsticks on a hike?)
My preferred portion of the falls
Getting over a breaking really needs focus and balance…like balancing rocks by the waterfalls. How far would you go…how high would your tower be? In the end, no matter how great your towers are, there is that someone who would dare to break them down so your heart can love again…
After lunch we started the final stretch to Sitio Sadlak, our camp site before assaulting the summit early the following morning.
Sunshine was so intense that river crossings became welcome refreshments. After the 11th river, comes the steep assault. It was a test, a re-acquaintance to the feeling of moving forward and healing. The pain in every stride was burning all the happy thoughts and memories. Each step was a reminder of how I got broken…why I was here breaking bones and burning lungs?!
Reaching a flat surface high above isn’t as easy. My heart was racing and my lungs, they just can’t keep up! I threw up a couple of times like how I did trying to accept the fallout…But this was me trying to move on…have I? Oh well, they say it was just altitude sickness. Mt. Irid was, after all the highest I’ve been.
We stopped for a bit to recover and to take part on another healing. We brought seedlings of fruit-bearing trees to plant. It was one of the requirements when hiking Mt. Irid. That’s 13 new trees we can revisit say 3 or 5 years later.
This was the point when I realized how high we’ve come.
Healing…planting for the future
A few more huff and puff under the scorching heat of the sun I noticed something dark and round sticking pretty snug between the last two stubby fingers of my left foot. High above the mountain I was oblivious of its presence…IT! hahaha…with the 11 rivers we crossed it has managed to cling to my aching feet and merrily fed itself to satisfaction! Yes, when I thought I got away from them, I was proven wrong…What am I talking about? Limatiks or commonly known as blood leeches. I got one and fed it to satisfaction. I was too grossed out to take a photo! (sorry).
And just when you thought you were almost there, muscle cramp steels your thunder! I walked-paused-walked (pretty much like crawling) my way to Sitio Sadlak high above the mountain with a stunning view of the summits of Mt. Irid and Tukduang Banoi.
Reaching that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! That’s how I felt when my butt finally found it’s place on a rock under a mighty tree (not sure what tree) beside a makeshift water fountain (yes, spring water fountain).
Nakakapagod magmahal! (Loving is just too tiresome!) pero mas nakakapagod mag move on (but it’s more exhausting to move on from a breaking). I slept pretty soundly on the bamboo bench after washing up. When I woke, it was time to put up the tents! We raised five tents for thirteen guys before the afternoon rain spoiled the outdoor evening plans. The sky was empathizing with me…for reals? It rained like there’s really no tomorrow…
Faith, our greatest ally really works miracles. Our camp site has a bunk house for guides and porters who moves food from one village to another across mountains. The couple who owns the bunk house was gracious enough to have us as guests for the night while the rain continuously pounded the mountain top.
As we took refuge under the bunk house, we shared the floor (literally) and had a merry little dinner of adobo and canned tuna.
Dinner is served!
The rain had fun making love with the mountain that we decided to leave everything to the almighty God and for Him to bless our guides to make the best judgment…Then we all tucked our selves under anything we find warm in all corners of the bunk house.
At around past 1 in the morning I found myself shaking under the blanket. Apparently, the rain somehow has gotten tired of dancing with the mountains and had given way for our ascent to the summit. I felt the hands of God there who has granted my heart to heal in his grand creation.
We packed our bags with the essentials, particularly drinking water. I had a liter…I could’ve brought more. My dry bag had, apart from a liter of water had jellies chocolates and bread. We prayed to the Almighty to guide our expedition because the trail could be wet and slippery…
Hiking in the dark…Head lamp is a must!
I was wearing trail shoes because my experience on the first day with flip flops wasn’t as good as I hoped it could be. So we threaded the wet and muddy trail (if it was even a trail). It felt like we were walking on a waterway as every step makes a sloshing sound with the combination of water and mud!
It was dark. It was slippery. It was everything you would fear when you’re outdoors. I held on all things I can get a hold of because if I don’t, I would end up either with a broken neck or better yet dead with a crushed skull.
My journey to the summit of Mt. Irid was like my heart’s path to recovery – painfully beautiful. It demanded a lot of self-preserving moves that taught me to trust God and his plans and to trust the people around me because they were with me in this journey and that nobody would be left behind…
Close to the summit
The trail was steep, wet, muddy and slippery. I faced ravines in the dark trusting that the roots and branches next to me were God’s hands that will save me if I fall. It wasn’t easy but it was not impossible either. I held on to something more powerful…I held on to the hope that one day I will meet the one brave enough to break my walls and mend my brokenness.
The neighboring mountains of Mt. Irid
The summit view is totally worth the EFFORT!
The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love – Hubert Humphrey
I made it to the summit. I may have fallen behind a number of times, slipped on the muddy trail one too many but I survived Mt. Irid – my first major hike. Every step, each fall I made and each time my heart skipped a beat stepping and crawling on sharp rocky edges and holes were my prayers. They’ve been my bubbles of hope…my inspiration for moving forward.
Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Na-survive ang Mt. Irid!
(Fell in love, have been broken – Survived Mt. Irid)
Sitio Sadlak, Sta. Ines
Difficulty Level – 6/9 (Major Climb)
2 Days of adventure (October 1-2, 2016)
4 Hours from the trail head to Sitio Sadlak
5 Hours ascent from the camp site to the summit
4 hours to descend from the summit (back to Sitio Sadlak)
22 river crossings (11×2 = 22)
Arrived in Cubao at around 10PM in the evening…
Tired yet happy…satisfied and peaceful.
Unmarked photos borrowed from:
PM Valera Garcia | Louie Diola |Otep Rey-Hipolito | Julios Terante | Keith Calansingin | Ryan Eric Figueroa