Climbing the formidable summit of Mt. Daraitan, exploring the dark and magnificent cave of Tinipak Cave and jumping into the crystal clear and cool waters of Tinipak River was an unforgettable greeting to February 1st. Starting our day by waking up in the wee hours of the morning and driving 4 hours straight to our destination made it all surreal. A heart-pumping challenge and a breathtaking view of miles and miles of mountains was a sure way to kickstart the month.
It was a bucket list worthy adventure that the after events made our hearts full and our souls high with euphoria. Revisiting the moments made me nostalgic and thinking about it made me step back and assess all the places I've been to. I've seen so much outside of my home country that I never really thought about the hidden gems in our own roots. So this time around, I made a mental note to myself to see and explore the beauty of my home.
If last year was all about pushing my boundaries and traveling halfway across the hemisphere, this year it would be seeing within my boundaries and traveling within the country. With a determined mindset, I'll be putting my goals, dreams and hindered plans into motion. No more excuses, no more setbacks, no more waiting around. As this statement eloquently puts it:
When it comes to planning trips, one rule applies: Don't think, just do.
Marking our third hike, Mt. Daraitan and Tinipak River proved to be the most difficult by far. Yes, it definitely surpassed our hellish and dehydrated trek up Keālia Trail in O'ahu, Hawai'i. Needless to say, climbing the summit was definitely no walk in the park.
Despite the trail being covered with treetops that will protect you from the harsh heat and rays of the sun, the steep climb will definitely get your heart pumping and leave you gasping for breath throughout the entire duration of the hike. But not to worry, all of that pain and struggle will be worth it once you reach the peak.
After two deathly hours of hiking through mud, holding onto branches, and climbing rocks, (it's a total body workout folks) we successfully reached the summit and were greeted with a spectacular view of the mountains. It was definitely rewarding and a refreshing sight to behold. Not to mention my first achievement of reaching the top — literally speaking. When we got to the summit, we settled down and reveled in the breathtaking view. Since there were a few hikers that came before us, they had the privilege of going first in this secluded area with a rock formation. There, you'll be greeted with a 360-degree view of the mountains with a heart-shaped river in between. The best part about coming last was that we had the area all to ourselves since they all went ahead and traversed the other side of the mountain to head down the river.
Needless to say, we spent the better part of an hour just taking in the scenery and fresh air, while snapping a few photos here and there of course. Although it drizzled a bit, the weather was absolutely wonderful despite arriving there around midday. You'd think it would be scorching hot, but the cool gentle breeze made up for the heat. Everything was absolutely perfect.
If you're thinking of exploring this exquisite place, my sister wrote down a travel guide to hiking the summit with helpful tips, what to expect, expenses and a summary of our itinerary on her blog, Sartorialust.