So Close, Yet So Far – Part 4 of the Mt. Pulag Adventure

Needless to say, I underestimated more than a few things!

Needless to say, I underestimated more than a few things!

So here are the following ways I severely miscalculated:

I. The belief that my body could handle the cold because the physical activity will keep me warm anyway.

Although my body was doing physical work, I realized that my body had to work overtime to 1) keep my temperature warm and 2) to keep on moving. So my previous logic was totally false and my lack of warm clothing pushed my body to work overtime. Resulting in me being more tired than ever and without energy to even put one foot in front of the other.

II. The belief that I could breathe normally even at high altitude because I survived it in Baguio.

Ok, I underestimated the fact that getting oxygen into my bloodstream is more difficult due to the high altitude. My body was really not used to it and I could feel my extremities severely flagging in energy. Because it was hard to breathe, going uphill was not just difficult because of my already battered smoker lungs, but also because of the high altitude and cold air that causes my lungs to feel heavier. Every cold air that I inhale made it feel as if my lungs were getting harder and were functioning less. The mountain air was definitely different from the Baguio air because it’s a lot colder and the altitude is a lot higher.

III. The belief that my body could handle a little moisture.

So I normally walk under the rain, it’s not a problem with me. When I was up in the mountain, I realized that the moisture was making my body colder exponentially. Even with the poncho, I continued to generate moist from the contrast of my body heat trapped by the plastic poncho and the cold temperature outside of it. So I was sweating under my shirt and also outside of my shirt. The moisture was too much. What worried me the most was my cold back. It was scary.

So as soon as we reached camp, I was so grateful. I didn’t even have time to savor the fact that I survived. I was too busy thinking about how we should set up the tents stat! So that I could find some sort of shelter from the unforgiving cold and moisture of the mountain. Clearly, the mountain is not for the faint of heart/will. I knew that I only made it to the camp by sheer will, not because of my physical abilities. I was able to mentally shut out all the stresses on my body and focused on making it to the place where we could set up shelter.

As soon as we set up the tent, I got inside it and stripped off my poncho, my pants, my longsleeves. I left only my tankini, t-shirt, and shorts on. These were the only dry things left on me. Then after taking off all my wet things, I dove straight into the sleeping bag and felt warm for the first time since starting the climb. The boys brought us dinner to the tent. It was cold rice, eggs, and a few snacks. I was too tired to even think of eating, so I told ate Novy that this was how I felt.

I thought that I should just take a strengthening nap before eating. When I wake up, I can start eating my dinner. So I was unable to sleep because I was gripped with a fear that I had a fever. My neck and forehead were hot, even after I warmed my hand to make sure it was not just the contrast between a cold hand and a warm body. To make things worse, my head was hurting so much… To add a little challenge to the mix, I couldn’t find any warmth… AT ALL. I felt I was doomed.

To be continued…

***Quick note about the photo: This photo was taken by me, but has been manipulated by playing with the contrast and the brightness.

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