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Mt. Ugo Traverse » 9 Things You Must Do During a Climb to Celebrate Life

Spectacular view of Mt. Ugo sea of clouds hover_share
In hiking, who-is-the-fittest trail drama is not something to trudge through, as though it were an endurance contest – not unless it’s a trail marathon. The hike is meant to be filled with joy. But in order for this to happen, we must first learn to celebrate life.

Last weekend, we successfully conquered Mt. Ugo via traverse from Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya exit to Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet. The purpose of this climb is to celebrate the birthday of Dys and Sherwin, two super bubbly hiking enthusiasts I met during our previous Mt. Cinco Picos climb. Joining us is also another birthday celebrant, Ms. Leslie, making this climb a triple celebration. 

There is nothing I love more than a celebration! What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a hike on the Cordilleras. 

I first stepped foot in Cordillera’s massive mountain ranges two years ago - it was during my first major climb in Mt. Pulag via Akiki-Ambangeg trail. I immediately fell in love with its raw beauty and expansive grand panorama. There was just too many mountain peaks there to explore and I became determined to see and experience it all. 

My encounter with Mt. Ugo was just as spectacular. The panorama never fails to take my breath away and the fog and pine forests brought me again to a state of magical euphoria.  

Now, here I am, apologizing again to my feet. They are refusing my command and won’t take another step. Well, I’m sure they’ll forgive me again – because we both learned that pain and exhaustion after a major climb were manageable conditions.  Strange but the pain of climbing mountains was somehow therapeutic. 

While I am nursing my muscle pains and writing this post, I find myself again searching for those nostalgic magic moments during our Mt. Ugo climb. I browsed Facebook post-climb comments and photos from the participants and for most of us, and the one thing we all agreed upon was that, all the memories during the climb was something we all could cherish and treasure. 

Moments like these reminded me of how important it is to have fun and celebrate life.

Well, let me share here 9 fastest and easiest ways to create nostalgic and memorable fun climb which I learned while climbing Mt. Ugo: 

1.  Surround yourself with positive people.  

Ugo Ugo team on their look up look up group shot hover_share
Look Up! Look Up!

Rain started pouring hard in the afternoon while we are passing Domolpos Village. We regrouped on a waiting shed near the elementary school and while resting somebody said worriedly “Naku pano na ang birthday party natin mamaya.” 

Then somebody replied, “Ok lang yan, titigil din yan, kung hindi eh di gagawan natin ng paraan.” Everybody agreed and continued walking against the rain. 

In the evening, stars magically appeared and in the morning we were blessed with sea of clouds. 

It’s when fellow hikers in the midst of a heavy rain doesn’t get scared or in a foggy day doesn’t get troubled because they hope a quick clearing is coming even though it can’t yet be seen. I, like all the other participants on this Mt. Ugo climb, enjoyed the collective positivity of the group. It makes this climb wickedly memorable. 

Hiking buddies you can count on hover_share
Hiking buddies you can count on

The trail is full of optimists, pessimists and hikers in between – those balanced mountaineers who comprised the majority of hikers. Building a positive support buddies is essential to battling the inhospitable environments in the mountain. 

The group or the people you join affect you more than you think. Therefore, to have a truly memorable climb always remember to stay positive and surround yourself with positive people. 

2. Meet new people

Friends admiring the sea of clouds at Mt. Ugo summit hover_share
Mt. Ugo sea of clouds - Photo credit: Sir Rogemar Bravo
I always have this issue of starting a conversation with a total stranger, and I hate it. So last month, I gathered enough of my senses to join a hiking event randomly posted in Facebook – a climb together with total strangers.

Instead of assuming everyone is a jerk like me, I painstakingly tried talking to them and I find it fun. I realized getting to know mountaineering folks can be a real treat. The conversation we shared: finding common ground, hearing about their mountain climbing adventures, learning where they’re from and why they do whatever it is they do are amusing and informative.      

The boys souvenir photo at Mt. Ugo summit marker hover_share
The Ugo Boys

The girls souvenir photo at Mt. Ugo summit marker hover_share
The Ugo Girls

I feel empowered by the things I’ve learned, and proved to myself that I’m not that introvert jerk after all, so I joined another hike again the following week, and then followed by this climb in Mt. Ugo.  

Mother and son hiker at Mt. Ugo hover_share
Mommy Maricon and her son Omar
Speaking of meeting new people, I was really inspired by this two loving souls joining us on this hike - Mommy Maricon and her son Omar. This is the first time I met them and it was really inspiring to see them doing their passion together – a mother and son tandem on the trail – that is just so moving. 

I was hoping I could learn few deeper things about them and from other participants; unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for proper campsite evening socials due to rain and freezing evening.     

3. Have a day of spontaneity. Drop you plans. Follow your heart. Shake it baby!!!

Mountaineers doing funny gig at during one of quick stop hover_share
Shake it baby!

Itinerary is just a guide and should not be strictly followed point by point and at the exact time. Maybe other hikers, especially climb organizers, may not agree with me but I think creating and strictly following a perfectly timed itinerary is just oh so boring.  

It’s not a good idea to just pass an amazing view unappreciated or a potentially life-enlightening moment with the clouds just vanished because of being overly time conscious. 

I say if it is not life threatening to reach the campsite a few hours late, then go with the flow. Memorable climbs are not always a matter of being in the right place at the right time – it is nearly as much as it is taking the time to determine what the right place and the time ought to be – and of course, mountains are always full of surprises. 

So, next time, stop and hop on top of a hill along the trail to sing and dance - Have a mini concert! Shake it baby!

4. Laugh - laugh every time!  Do something fun or silly along the trail that evokes laughter.

Well, in an ideal world it was very easy to laugh, but in climbing mountains you will be disgusted with all the crazy, seemingly random obstacles making you on constant exhaustion. A slippery mud, endless steep ascent, heavy rains or scorching sun and on our Mt. Ugo experience, lots and lots of cow shit littered along the trail – but we all turned all that into fun.  

Mountaineer na tumatae ang baho hover_share
My point here – and I do have one – is that you don’t have to take yourself quite so seriously along the trail.  Laugh when you do something silly or when something funny happens.  

5. Stop to smell the flowers

A mountaineer stopping to admire and smell wild flowers hover_share

Mountaineers somehow share one of the common reasons why they climb – that is to relax and escape the fast-paced stressful city life.  As for me, the smell of fresh wild flowers makes me feel like I am beginning a fresh new start – enough to reboot my system. 

Rediscovering small simple pleasures such as stopping to smell or admire a wild flower enriches our trail experience. If we take a few minutes to stop and look, we can definitely find beauty and inspiration along the trail that we might typically take for granted. 

All these simple things provide small joy that bring us into the moment, dissipating the worries of the day and bringing beautiful memories and lightness into our climb.  

6. Hug a local kid!

The one thing I noticed while passing villages along the trail going up Mt. Ugo are cute little village chinito/chinita kids.

I find it very fulfilling every time they gave me a shy smile after giving them some of my trail foods.

A mountaineer playing and hugging a local village kid hover_share
Ma'm Dys and little red riding hood

Having a chance to play with them or give them a quick hug is definitely comforting. The warm reassuring kid hug will definitely make you feel that indeed everything on the climb will be fine.  These little things work wonders I assure you.  

7. Fall in love. In love with yourself. In love with your life! 

A girl proposing to a mountaineer on top of Mt. Ugo in Benguet hover_share
She's actually saying "Will you eat this flower?"

In every moment in the mountain, we have a choice. We can choose fear or we can joyfully surrender to celebrating happiness in each moment. 

So as we start the exhilarating trek into the depths of the mountain and up to the peak, define who you will be on that moment. Decide whether you will be a wanderer or an adventurer. 

An adventurer determines and creates who he will become, while a wanderer waits to see what will transpire.

Two mountaineers romantically playing at Mt. Ugo hover_share
Brokeback Mountain - Mt. Ugo version

When we find that inner-adventurer state, the joy of love-consciousness begins to penetrate our every moment, our every action. We just have to fall in love with life!

So if it’s so simple, let’s do it. Fall in love!    

8. Cook outrageous meals to share.

I lost count how many times I heard Mommy Maricon asked our sassy mountain chef Ma’m Lady Diane how she and her sidekicks (Sir Rogemar, Dys, Jlo and Jason) were able to cook our outrageously sumptuous dinner at the campsite – they prepared creamy carbonara, menudo, fruit gelatin, hotdog-marshmallow on stick, and club sandwich. 

Mountaineers preparing dinner at the campsite of Mt. Ugo against a makeshift tent hover_share
Campsite dinner preparation challenge
We survived the cooking challenge against the freezing rain by making a makeshift tent out of Dys’ poncho connected to trekking poles. 

Party food ready for the party at the mountain campsite hover_share
It's chow time! 

The 3 birthday celebrants - Dys, Sherwin and Leslie 

So yeah, we just took campsite food and party in Mt. Ugo to a new level! Holy heck, we even have balloons, glow sticks, party hats and yes, a birthday cake!

Speaking of that chocolate birthday cake, after also surviving the grueling ascent-descent trail combos, it ends up looking like cow sh*** …. well never mind, bad picture. 

9. Spend quality alone time with yourself.

Amazing sea of clouds and the summit of Mt. Ugo in Benguet hover_share

Along the trail, always have time to stop to breathe and admire nature’s beauty and to ponder on gratitude for being part of the scene. 

As we spend time with ourselves in the mountain, our perspective continuously expands and we can easily appreciate more varied landscapes. 

Colorful camping tents at the summit campsite of Mt. Ugo in Benguet hover_share
Mt. Ugo campsite 

This act of slowing down and taking a quiet moment and meditating on everything we have accomplished helps us to be mindful of all our blessings in every aspect of our life. 


Post-climb video courtesy of our organizer Ma'm Lady Diane Recto 

Always be aware of what a timeless treasure the mountain is. Just look and take in the view. It’s spectacular! We conquered Mt. Ugo. That means we were blessed with time, friendships, and a chance to enjoy life.

Let’s always take moments to celebrate our accomplishments. Celebrate Life!

Okay, now it’s your turn!

I would love for you to share on the comments section below one way in which you celebrate life on simple ways!

Mt. Ugo Quick Facts:
MT. UGO (2,150+)
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks
Source: Pinoy Mountaineer - Mt. Ugo/Traverse (2,150+) 

Mountaineering, Trekking, Hiking Escapades

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