Camping is a great source of pleasure for us. It has a bracing effect on our mind. Once we leave the crowded streets of the city and got out for a camping weekend away from the mad world, we feel free. Our mind and soul are at liberty from the stress building up from work, the depressing daily routine from it, the intolerably incessant noise of the traffic and tumult of the metropolis. And getting away from it all for a weekend camping for many means getting away from other people and their toxicity. All of these are forgotten. A peaceful date with nature on outdoors. Tranquil and enlightening. But what could ruin it?
It’s Friday and weekend came early this time. My best friend and I suddenly planned to spend our Friday night and weekend camping. We’re both excited about this as it has been a very stressful week for both of us.
I briefly considered using a smaller backpack than using my usual outdoor bag so I could accommodate a few of my stuff for a two-day long camping trip since I’m not the one bringing a very bulky tent. It felt like so light to carry a smaller backpack but I was more concerned about my best friend might get ballistic after seeing me carrying one so I threw all of my stuff into my usual bag at the end. We met at a grocery store and shopped our food there for the weekend. Good thing that I used my usual backpack, we stuffed what’s all in our shopping list in and now it’s twice as bulky as it is now.
As excited as we may be but, we started off late in the evening; 3 hours late than what we originally planned for. More so, a half hour trek to the camping ground made us pitched our tent almost midnight.
“WE’VE MADE IT TO THE CAMP!” I said to myself.
After we laid out all our camping gears, we made ourselves comfortable inside our a little home. Aside from our distressed souls and tired bodies, I guess everything was just about as perfect as it could be. Even more, we had the camping ground all for ourselves; a token given to those who camped on a Friday night.
The crickets nearby screeching distinctly yet pleasing to the ears like a harmonious orchestra at night made a perfect company for us. Then, the stars slowly peeked through the clouded sky. With toasted bread at our hands and a late night conversation with a best friend, what more can we ask for this very night? It would’ve been nice to have taken things slower, to take in everything and savor each moment, but we fell asleep before we knew it.
Morning came in. The campsite was nice and slowly making colors around. It’s like a little piece of heaven, a slice of paradise. Peace and quiet, for the most part. Pleasant weather, cool winds, and fragrant meadows. The outdoor is beautiful indeed. I believe a nice cup of coffee and breakfast for two is in order. We sipped. We laughed. We snuggled ourselves into the tent. The world may be chaotic out there but here, it’s peaceful and serene. We didn’t appreciate Saturday mornings more than this — it made us feel grateful that we are alive.
Before the sun hit its peak, we stepped outside our camping ground and looked for another one. A secluded lake was sleeping at the center of the province.
“It would be so nice to watch the stars at night there from our tent.” my eyes glistened with optimism directing to my best friend. “YES! And the Milky Way, too!” he responded.
It was an hour trek under the scorching sun before we hailed a habal-habal from the highway to take us to the secluded lake. Putting our faith to the limited information on the internet about this place, it was a stone’s luck that we arrived at the right location.
After hours under the sun, we could finally set our heavy backpacks down and rest our tired muscles. It’s past 3 pm and we have plenty of time before pitching our tent. It’s a shame if we would not explore the place. After all, it’s our first time being here. We traipsed our feet rocks after rocks and found a sweet spot overlooking the whole lake against the sunset. It was beautiful as the deep green calm waters sparkled below.
No one was there except us and a few locals. And again, we had this place all for ourselves. Or so we thought.
Just before the sundown, 10 aspiring campers pull in next to us. They’re quite rowdy at first after we greeted them with a smile. The camping ground once pitched by our sole tent then donned with brightly colored ones.
Sun’s going down. Chilly wind’s starting to pick up. We could see other campers gathering down yonder at the other end of the site preparing their supper. For us, we prepared a little feast fit for two kings.
Now that dinner’s done, embracing nature would be next on our plate. On our fleece mat outside our tent, we wormed ourselves into our sleeping bag — laid back and watch the stars proudly. The honey glazed toasted bread was within our arm’s reach for this cosmic movie. The cool breezes that night were laced with whiffs of dried leaves and earthy aroma. We could fall asleep any minute that night.
Then came in our neighboring campers with their loud music and hysterical laughs. I would very much prefer the crickets’ rumpled music sheet than this. They were screaming and hollering at each other all night. Such diminishing factors of enjoyment. It was like an extension of a popular street named after fruit in the metro. As part of the minority, we had our patience at its peak.
“JONEEEEEEEEEEL!!!!!~~~~” kept on repeating like a broken record.
We crawled ourselves back to our tent where we can be sheltered from some of the noises. It’s no use. They stayed up until past midnight playing their music, singing along and hollering, and chugging their booze. We got annoyed. I GOT ANNOYED. With every moment my rage grew. You know, those moments when you can feel yourself losing a grip on your serenity. You can slowly but surely feel it slipping away from you and you know you’re on a slippery slope to going thermo-nuclear. I know they’re all experienced campers but apparently, none of them patrolled to tell their people to quiet down. They lack empathy for their fellow campers — us. At the very least, respect the sanctity of the evening rest and allow people to sleep when it’s past dining hours with minimal noise.
I debated consciously whether I wanted to say something to them, but that usual sort of thing can result in the group intentionally being more obnoxious or a risk of it being an unpleasant encounter. Then I tried to just say to myself that they are enjoying their camping their way and sometimes people don’t know they are loud.
3 am. The alarm sounds and my buddy woke me up from snuggle. I donned my jacket and stepped out of the tent and into the cold.
“It’s out! There it is!” he excitedly said in a whispering manner.
The core of the Milky Way is out. Oceans of star dotted the clear night sky. Even more astonishing, the calm lake waters reflected back some of the bright ones like a cosmic mirror. We went to the sweet spot we found yesterday to have a better view of the lake reflecting the Milky Way. Ethereal. A view we once dreamed of from the Southern island is coming to realization. The silhouettes of the trees on the slopes of the mountain with the Milky Way just right above it and lake water reflecting it all doubled the celestial scene.
Phones down. No use of taking a photo that nobody would care for, honestly. Plus, we won’t be able to capture even a fraction of its beauty even with the best gear we have. These are the moments best appreciated by living in the moment with the least distractions. Awestruck, our souls recharging.
With full spirit, I have a strong feeling that we’ll be treated with a beautiful sunrise when we wake up. Unfortunately, the next morning, our slumber was broken by some loud noises from the nearby tents. Unaccepting. This time, we made them know of their acts and asked for consideration to lower their voices. It made them quiet somehow.
But after breakfast, they’re on the run again with their pesty noises. All we wanted was a peaceful morning and lay down inside our tent. Inconsiderate as we labeled them but this is far beyond that. They played their music all day long. Not terribly loud music, but loud enough to disrupt a relaxing morning. A couple of the guys were really loud and would often holler various noises, again and again. They refused to police themselves even after we made them aware of their acts. Terrible neighbors in a campground.
This time again, in a calm and educated manner, we made sure to reprimand them to show some camping etiquettes considering they’re not the only ones using the camping ground. When I hoped it would not result in the group intentionally being more obnoxious, it does. These rude, obnoxious campers began spitting ill comments and hate speeches towards us. They threw personal attacks, mocking and provoking us into physical contact. I would gladly not engage in this childish act of them.
While these guys were making a verbal list of negative connotations, we’re just lying inside our tent hearing their hypocritical statements. One guy said that he did not even bother getting his ass out after hearing a commotion outside his tent at dawn — his pertaining to the time when we got out to see the Milky Way. Well, you’re counting the wrong numbers, my friend. I prefer not debating to someone who got a trampled balance sheet. He’s not even counting how many hours they made loud noises since last night.
There’s this older woman who said, “This is not a private nor public property! No one owns this place! We can do whatever we want! That’s why we’re here ’cause we want to be loud and rowdy. So, if you want a peaceful place, GO FIND YOUR OWN MOUNTAIN! NAME IT FOR YOURSELF!” That alone made a very bad image on that woman. If being loud and rowdy is what they want, they should go out clubbing and partying other than this camp.
The other guy even continued with some sarcastic statements, “Sorry ha! We’re just FACEBOOK MOUNTAINEERS! We didn’t get to experience any major climbs at all. We didn’t have the chance to climb Mt. Apo, Mt. Guiting-Guiting, Alto Peak… We don’t know how to mingle with other campers.” Say what??? He said it in a proud way and sarcastic manner. Their group even laugh after that. So, being able to climb those mountains gave you an authority and title to get loud and rowdy and act like you’re the boss of this place? That’s not the true essence of being a mountaineer and unreal to the truest sense. These ‘Trophy Mountaineers’ are a real deal.
An hour past and they’re still on this road. Our patience is running slow. It’s almost 2 pm until they stopped, broke camp, and walked away from the campsite. It’s such a disappointment to have this fellow campers who got conceited after climbing major mountains in the country. They made trophies out of these mountains.
Mountain climbing, in many ways, endows us with a lot of freedom when on the trails. But with this freedom comes with responsibility: The freedom to make noise should not trespass with the freedom of other hikers to have their silence and peace. Let alone nature itself. May it be in private or public or even on protected areas, moderating your voices and sounds in the campsites and the trail is a sign of true respect to other hikers. One should show consideration and empathy. And summiting the highest peaks doesn’t make a person big. It’s the exact opposite. It makes a person feel so small but still can be proud even after stripping off all the crowns we had at the ground. And with all what’s conquered above should be brought and shared down below.
One should also remember that we learn our lessons about outdoors on trails, not only at the summit. It’s lighter to pack etiquette than some stupid trophies and crowns.
This encounter made me don’t wanna go camping anymore. But not with my friends, but with these so-called TROPHY MOUNTAINEERS!
To Trophy Mountaineers,
If you are reading this, well, good job finding me.