After a day of shooting rocks and smashing into enormous waves, we decided to cap our second day in Baler by risking our lives and cross the rickety hanging bridge traversing the Tibag-Sabang River.
Heights really don’t scare me and hanging bridges are supposed to be fun. So I was not worried one bit when our good host, V, told us that we’re gonna cross one; I thought to myself, no problem, piece of cake.
We arrived at a rather remote place in Baler, parked our car, and headed up the concrete steps to our next rendezvous; I gazed up from the stone steps and came into full view of the bridge we’re gonna cross. It is the longest freaking hanging bridge I’d ever seen.
Let me make this clear, this is not gonna be a walk in the park. This bridge is not the fancy ones I’m used to seeing; this one’s made for the local folks for real-life use to cross the span of the river below.
The bridge floats through rusty steel cables usually used as reinforcement bars on concrete construction. More rusty cables hold the floor of the bridge where old wood planks are haphazardly laid down over a thin metal mesh to carry a crosser’s weight.
I asked one of the kids hanging around the area if there had been cases of people falling off the bridge, he told me not to worry as there were only a few he says. Only a few! Holy smokes.
A couple of our friends backed off, totally daunted by this uncute hanging bridge; but I wasn’t about to join them, I will cross this bridge. So we carried on, one careful step at a time.
The first third of the way was quite a challenge, the wind sways the bridge, the floor was barely a foot wide and we were having a hard time holding on to the railings (if you can call it that) since they were too far apart and we had to completely let go, balance ourselves, walk a few steps more before we can again hold on to the comfort of those rusty cables.
It was doubly hard for me as I’m lugging my heavy camera around with me, and snapping a few photos while holding on tightly with my left hand (I was thinking the whole time that I should not fall off or my camera would be destroyed, camera first before everything else haha).
I looked ahead and saw my friends ahead literally crawling on their hands and knees on the walkboards for fear of getting thrown off. The kids watching from the far end must be having a ball laughing at our expense.
I at last reached the middle of the bridge without resorting to crawling. I got to relax a bit as the handholds are closer at this part and I can walk continuously without fear of falling off.
Then came the hardest part; the last third of the way, the cables again began to widen in gap and the wind seemed to grow much stronger. I was having trouble walking as vertigo sets in and the bridge seemed moving leftwards without stopping.
My mind was already playing tricks on me and the only thing that kept me from being eaten up by dizziness was the green land mass ahead of me. I kept trying to focus on it to reverse the effects of vertigo, succeeding for a few seconds and lapsing into it again.
About fifteen feet from the other side of the bridge, I finally gave up. I cannot do this without risking dunking myself and my camera down the waters below. The cables for support were really now too wide apart, and it takes intense concentration to keep off the vertigo that’s now sweeping my brain.
I turned back, to the disappointment of my friends who were now on the other side and well, to my dismay as well.
But ever since I reached my physical limits on a trip up north years ago, I decided that adventurous I may be, I have to know and set my limitations lest those adventures end prematurely. I had reached my limits this time, I know it.
Now I have to face the problem of going back the way I came. Why oh why did I ever put myself in this position. Dang.