March 1, 2024

Working seven days a week made me feel overworked. It really affected both my mental health and productivity. So when my cousin Ruth asked me to come with her on a joiners group travel, I agreed right away. After all, leisure activities are needed to establish a greater work-life balance.
The night before our trip was the only time I was able to prepare for what I need. Since we were going on a minor hike, I packed very lightly. It was almost midnight when I headed out of the house to wait for my cousin. The cool breeze of January brushed my face. It was really cold and despite wearing two layers of jackets, I was shivering. My lack of sleep and hesitation whether I should continue with this trip were the only things I could think about. We arrived at the place where we met with our organizer and the other joiners of the trip and I suddenly felt very excited. I have joined several group travels last year and I can say that I developed an appreciation for going on a trip as a joiner among people I have not met before. Maybe it is for the reason that the travel will surely push through. Unlike when we make travel plans with our friends, often times, it always ends up as a “drawing”. Aside from that, it is also less stressful because the itinerary is already set and the cost is cheaper as the cost or expenses are divided within the group.
It was past midnight when we started our travel to Cavite. I put on my earphones and I instantly fell asleep. I awoke when we had our breakfast along the way. At about six in the morning, we already arrived at the jump off and I was all the more excited. Before starting the hike, we were oriented with the do’s and don’ts on the trail as well as we were given background about the mountain we are going to climb. After we were introduced to our tour guides, we started our way to the trail. Slowly, conversations and stories were made amongst our group. What started out to be a group of strangers quickly became friends- helping each other out, cheering on each other, laughing at everybody’s jokes and taking each other’s photos. Halfway through the climb, the weather changed and suddenly there was a rain covering the entire area. That did not, however, dampen our spirits. There was a period when it was actually truly refreshing. Funny thing was, out of the ten members of our group, only one of us brought an umbrella. Gladly, we were able to reach the view deck and took cover there, avoiding getting completely soaked in the rain. Thankfully, the rain stopped after a short while we were waiting for it to.
We carried on with the hike. It was extremely foggy and everybody became silent. At that moment, I thought we were all murmuring the same prayers for the sky to clear up so we will see an extraordinary view when we arrive at the summit. As we went on the trail quietly, I got to simply enjoy the view, listened to the gentle rustling of the leaves and the distant call of the birds. In the midst of the bustle of everyday life, you can’t find peace like it in the trail’s serenity and how it soothes the soul. Just as we are about to reach the summit, the sun started to show up again. When we finally made it, we were rewarded with breathtaking views. How wonderful it is to be surrounded by nature. Together, we celebrated our victories, the limits we pushed and the challenge we put on ourselves. We were all feeling a sense of accomplishment. But what made the climb a more incredible experience was the patience of our driver, the encouraging smiles and words from our tour guides, the warm welcome from the staffs at the jump off and our travel organizer who ensured that we would have the best experience possible.
They say that the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next and with every hike, you add a new chapter to the book of your adventures. There are a lot more mountains to conquer, big and small. With every mountain, there is a story waiting to be told. The trail will persist to beckon and whisper tales of beauty, companionship and personal exploration. And I will be waiting for the time until I will lace up my shoes again, grab my backpack venture on to the great outdoors and great adventure that awaits.