At Ulap’s Embrace

I immediately felt at peace as soon as the pavement gave way to the narrow mountain trail. It felt like greeting an old friend who just lets you be you.  My soul heaved a sigh of relief. Today, I could forget about that version of myself that always seems to disappoint, and that I seem to carry around a lot lately.  I could just live on the trail and allow the mountain to tell me it’s gonna be fine.

We started walking a little before dawn.  It took a while to recognize the carpet of tiny wild flowers in the dark.

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Our guide said locals boil and use the plant’s leaves to treat skin wounds. Those were not the only things they could heal that morning.  The sight of those untamed white specks against the night’s shadow calmed an overanxious mind.

Soon, more colors came.  The sun leaped from bough to bough.

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And the sky! How glorious it was that morning.  In the early light, any shot would look good against that blue canvas.

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It was an easy walk all the way to Mt. Ulap’s peak, passing Gungal Rock defaced by some mindless traveler’s (or local’s) grafitti and a grassland where cows gazed at hikers–those clueless, hapless creatures.

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The summit brought back memories of Batanes and Mt. Pulag.  Soon, the mountain would live up to its name as clouds engulfed its peak.

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We went down a different route.  It turned out to be one of the steepest trails. Pain reigned over the knees and legs as we navigated it.

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It didn’t matter.  The mountain is always a good idea.  I bid Ulap good-bye, thankful for its soothing company, my faith restored by its tranquil embrace. Till we meet again, old friend.

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