Mountain Goat-A A +A
Thursday, October 24, 2013
MY BACK is complaining and my feet are tired. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Panting, I wished I was home, tucked in the warmth of my bed. I could be watching TV. But I always find myself up in the mountains, counting the hours to when we will reach camp, dreading the steep slopes and keeping count of leeches.
I don't remember climbing trees when I was a child, but I remember enjoying the fruits from the guava or the mulberry tree. Where we used to live, leaves fell on our roof and clogged our gutter. An old tree fell one stormy night missing our house by inches. Perhaps this closeness with nature as a child has taken root in me. Since I joined the UP Baguio Mountaineers seven years ago, I couldn’t stop thinking of the next climb.
Why climb mountains? For one, people climb to get the view of and from the mountain. But to climb a mountain once isn’t enough for many mountaineers. They come back again and again, like visiting an old friend – an old friend whom we seek for wisdom and peace. Because every time we climb that mountain, we are presented a different view. We gain a different perspective, an added meaning to our lives.
The altitudes we climb shape our attitude towards life. My mountaineering life has changed me in many ways. It has changed the color of my skin. I am never without sunburn. My legs are scratched and scarred. My toes are calloused. My brothers call me a ‘mountain goat’. But I take pride in all of these for my soul, more than my sole, has been touched by the mountains.
More and more people have become interested in mountaineering. I am optimistic that this is not just a fad or an item in one’s bucket list. I pray that it becomes a lifestyle. I pray that we will never climb a mountain and say we have conquered it, no matter how many times we’ve climbed it. I pray that we allow the mountains to change us.
I pray that when we post our next climbing photos in Facebook, we will take pride in this experience – not that we have conquered the mountain, because we never can, but that we have been humbled.
I pray that we allow ourselves to be touched by the mountains such that our love and respect for dear Mother Nature has been lit, or has intensified.
I pray that when you leave the mountains and return to your routines or non-routines, you'll say no to your next styro and plastic, bring your eco bag to the store, and shop with a green mind. You will upcycle and re-use things that would otherwise go to trash. You’ll plant trees and hug them.
You will encourage (and soon compel) others to do the same until they call you an eco-freako, but will respect and love you even more. You, too, will have a "changed skin." You will grow calluses. You will grow old climbing.
You, too, will become a mountain goat, if you aren’t already one by now.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 25, 2013.