Week 13 (May 29th-June 4th): Mt. Paliparan, Tungtong falls and a creative anniversary

For more, awesome pictures of Tungtong falls, see Celine’s blog:http://www.celineism.com/2016/05/tongtong-falls-tanay-rizal-photos

May 30: Mount Paliparn and Tungtong falls
It’s Monday and we are back from our hike up Mount Paliparan and Tungtong falls. I wish I could capture the experience on paper in a way that would do it justice. The hike to the top of mount Paliparan was somewhat demanding with a steep ascent and a few major rock scrambles along the way. Honestly, the view at the top was a bit disapointing. That being said, beign able to complete this part of the hike with relative ease was satisfying. It gets easier every climb. The first hike I compelted here was much easier and felt much harder overall, then this one.
We left Manila at 2am and arrived around 4am in Tanay, Rizal in the Barangay (municipality) of Cuyambay. (for more details see here : http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2016/05/mt-paliparan-562-in-tanay-rizal.html). We bagan our hike promptly, which i was thankful for. With the heat here, it’s so much nicer to hike before day break. We hiked to the sumit of mount Paliparan for about 2 hours I would say, took a 45 minute break up top and hiked down. We hiked with the sun rise. We then stopped at a small village (there were three or four traditional cottages there, I’m not sure you can call that a village) where we got some buko (coconut water ) and a few other tasty things. The heat and humidty really do increase the challenge of any hike here, making regular stops essential, and the prospect of buying cold beverages or snacks heavenly.  After an other 45 minutes or so, of rest at the « village » we made our way to Tungtong falls. We hiked for about 1 our on flat terrain while essentially zig-zagging across the river bed at the foot of the fall. Many of us got our shoes wet and very, very muddy. Somehow walking through the long sharp grass and bog-like ambiance of that little river felt even hotter then the previous seciton of the trail (maybe the aproahcing mid-day sun? Who knows). But we got the the falls and I even managed to keep my feet dry! We still had to get to the swimming hole at the bassin of the falls though.

All in all this hike totally hit my risk versus reward sweet spot. But the main part of the day that made me work hard yet feel profoundly elated was making our way up the falls. After a decent day of hiking, I was already tired and honestly getting a bit cranky (that’s something I am learning to let go of here, but hey, it’s a work in progress). Of course, it was time to climb! Turns out, the swimming hole we’d been promised wasn’t located at the first, lowest fall, but the second pool. So, we had to climb up the rocks around the falls to get there. What a feeling.! Something really powerful happened once I decided I just had to get to where I was going; I let go of my fear, I consciously shut off my impatience. And then the magic of physically holding rock walls that are millions of years old in my insignificant hands came through. These insignificant hands and limbs are also able to bring me to where I need to go, even when this involves climbing rocks and getting creative with holds. We arrived at the second fall’s bassin and went for an incedibly welcom, refreshing swim. I didn’t check the weather that day, but an average noon temperature here might be 32 Celcius with humidty anywhere between 80 to 95% making it feel more like upwards of 35 degrees.  In other words swimming in cold spring water andsticking you head under the waterfall feels amazing.
After a swimming break and having a snack the organizer asked if we actually want to have lunch at the third fall up. I wasn’t quite ready to get up but the group decided the other location would be fun to get to. The climb was also challenging. The spot not as nice, but I really enjoyed the view from up high. When came the time to actually leave from our break and make our way to the pick up point, I realized that we had to climb up the remainder and highest portion of the falls. This time though, we were climbing write beside the falls, which was breath taking, and the guides has set up a rope for rappelling purposes. It started pouring rain which made the rock slippery and more dangerous, but I felt strangely ok about it all. I ended up needing to be pulled up in this one section of the climb up, but I found out later that most everyone else did too. That felt very reassuring.
We walked in the pouring rain for a while and then it stopped raining. We made it to the village where we were to be picked up. We had to walk on an upaved road that had turned into mushy mud and fred and I had a good time, enjoying the freshness and newness of everythig after the rain, as well as having to stop and try to remove some mud off of our shoes that had accumulated into weighty balls of muddy mush.
Then the organizer Grace, as she usually does on all her trips, cooked us an AMAZING filipino meal at the communtiy centre while we took showers and dried out our sutff. It is my understanding that Tungtong falls are a newly opened trek for the wider public. I highly recommend it.

June 1st: A cute anniversary and a tribute to an amazing partner.
Today is Fred and I’s e-phi anniversary (4.39 years) we came up with this number because it felt apropriate to have a nerdy reference and on January 8th (our actual anniversary) we were pretty stressed and overwhelemed getting ready to move to the Philippines etc. I am so proud of our partnership. I grew up in a world where relationships always seemed frought with drama and tensions. As such, it is so precious to me that I have built an adult relaitonship which feels simple and borring and mostly drama free. Fred is particularly good at stating a feeling or a frustration calmly, once, and then moving along. He does not expect the other to be responsible for his well-being or to fix a problem and I am learning to do the same . I also could not imagine a better co-pilot. It is as if, not expecting resolution from others or eachother most of the time (hey, no one’s perfect allll the time :p ), we were better able to be present for each other in a free, unpressured way. So, when we show up for each other it is in joy and happiness rather then by obligation per se. I also could not have found a better person to go on adentures with. I love beign with someone who cares enough about me to leave me alone. There is so much space between us to grow together, or apart, in a way that isn’t restrictive or conditional. I am profoundly lucky to have found someone who helps me feel securely attached to them and to my own existence more generally.

On a different note, In the last few days I saw an anquaintance of mine back in Montreal was heading to Thailand and I inquired if I could crash their trip and they said yes! I am mad excited to be joining them and spent yesterday and today getting ready for it (buying tickets, figuring out when I will follow their itinerary, when I will not). This thrip will also allow me to check a few items off a list of 29 top places to visit in South East Asia: I tought loosely following such a list  could be a fun. (http://www.touropia.com/best-places-to-visit-in-southeast-asia/).
I look forwardto sharing my adventures with you.



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