The temperature was in the high 30's, the humidity felt like 90%, I was carrying three litres of water, was absolutely drenched and a bit muddy. And it was only seven a.m.
Meet Mt Mayon (2,462m) - a beautiful, perfectly cone-shaped active volcano, not far from Legazpi on the Bicol Peninsula. I could not let this one escape - it was way too alluring and too perfect to just look at and hadn't erupted since 2009.
The guiding company driver excitedly told me on the drive to the start that "you are the first female on her own to trek on the mountain with our company". Once I realised I was 'special' and got over the fact that the temperature alone was going to keep me 'trekking ugly' all day, I settled in and enjoyed the company of not one, but two great guides who accompanied me up one of nature's finest.
The spectacular views did not come without effort and reminded my thigh and butt muscles that they can not yet retire into a life of cafe living. A few hours of very narrow, muddy, winding, heavily forested tracks requiring lots of big step ups and we reached the start of the lava flow. This was my favourite bit and we all continued up the smooth rock until about the 1,500m mark. I had planned to go on only to the 1,800m mark, aptly name 'End of the Road', but didn't quite make it (after that, oxygen masks are required to avoid the effects of the sulphurous gases).
By 1,500m, the dehydration and heat had got the better of me, so we all just sat on the lava, took in the sensational scenery and just enjoyed being alive before the return trip back down. The complete lack of rubbish is a great indication of the pride that the locals have in their mountain and protecting this pristine environment - unlike much of the world.
A tough day, but so very satisfying to spend it surrounded by perfection.