Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXXIV: The Rosary Loop

GOING UP TO MOUNT BABAG again today, February 16, 2014. It is just another training hike for stamina buildup. The route would be from Napo to Babag Ridge then back to Napo in a “rosary loop”. There is nothing new except that there are three new people going with the bushmen of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Some rough cuts, I would say.

It is a day activity with different elevation changes; a knee breaker on one stretch. Maricel, Mark and Nelson are public-school teachers. They believed that joining Camp Red activities would provide them additional knowledge and skills in the furtherance of teaching scouting to their students. A wise decision! But, before engaging them with the real thing, it is but proper to expose them slowly to our brand of outdoor culture first.


Our inclination to open carry our knives in all our activities might turn off some people. A lot of people do not know the very wisdom why we carry our knives outdoors and they do not know the manner in which how we use it. Maricel, Nelson and Mark will soon learn why Camp Red people loved to use, own, carry, collect and manufacture knives.

So after seeing them at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, together with Dominic, Kulas, Faith, Justine, Bogs and Tope, we leave for Napo at 07:45 on motorcycles. When we arrive there, we immediately hit the trail. The Sapangdaku Creek is full and robust; the morning is very mild; with the ground showing moist after last night’s light downpour.

Today, for a change, I am bringing my newly-acquired Chipaway Cutlery Bowie Knife. I will test it but first I will have to open carry it and get used with its weight on my side while walking. It comes in a handsome leather sheath dyed brown. Another knife, a William Rodgers, protrude at the back of my Sandugo Khumbu. It had already accomplished of what I liked in a knife and it goes where I go.

After 35 minutes of walking, we have reached the trailhead of a connecting route to Manggapares Trail. Manggapares is a path that trudge on the ridgeline of Tagaytay. It can be reached by walking uphill for about 200 meters. The first steel tower loom ahead and it projects a promise of a few minutes rest to recover our labored breathing. The cool breeze did not fail to come and it cooled our sweating bodies.

We walk to the second tower passing by a charcoal camp and felled trunks that host a healthy environment of edible wood mushrooms (Local name: kwakdok). I forage some for keeps and instructed everyone what it looked like and how to collect it. The route to the second tower is almost obliterated now by vegetation even though I passed here recently three times in a row since December 29, 2013.

In the tropics you could walk on any vegetation anywhere and see it recover quickly from a day if it is a wet season to a week if it is a dry season unlike in the temperate zone where the plant ecology is so fragile owing to less sunlight days. The Leave No Trace is really designed for the upper north and lower south hemisphere countries and in deserts but it can be used only as a guidance in a tropical setting.

We at Camp Red understand LNT but we do not follow it word for word as what other outdoor clubs are doing. We know what we are doing and we know better our environment because we stay close to the ground and study everything unlike conventional outdoorsmen who just pass by in a hurry for pleasure, exercise and feeling good. Besides that, we blend in with the mountains. Flashy metrosexual clothes are not in our war chest.


The third tower is a harder walk because the sun is in full blast this time. A row of Mexican lilac trees (Local: madre de cacao or kakawate) offer shade where there is unobstructed breeze. Water is essential but not necessarily splurging on it. You have to control your urge for water by just sipping a little and let it stay for about ten seconds in your mouth. The purpose really is to cool your tongue, the gums and mouth cavity.

I show Mark, Nelson and Maricel of the best firewood to use. It is not dead branches lying on the ground but those that are hanging or still part of a live tree. The recent typhoon have littered the route with falling trees, broken branches and eye pokers – a whole set of dry twigs. Here, I begin to work on the trail by snapping off branches and twigs that block passage and removing heavy branches that are hanging precariously.

Manggapares Trail is a very beautiful trail good for uphill hiking and it is seldom used by the local inhabitants. Nobody uses this route except us at Camp Red and those that we bring. It is essential in me then to do trail maintenance to keep it safe and navigable. There used to be a copse of citrus trees here but only one tree is left standing now. We move on for the next tower.

We reach it but it is unfinished. By its very location the posts are far from each other. I have to use both hands to reach part of it and then balance on a narrow ground between two holes to reach another part. The road starting from Bocawe ends here. It is unpaved and not maintained. Furrows caused by rainwater carry topsoil downhill as wild vegetation begins to creep in on their former territory.

The backhoe and the cement mixer are still here left to fend for itself against the elements, the crawling plants and them “cannibals”. It is now easy walk but I am not asking for it. I walk where I choose to and I do not mind the angle or the type of ground as long as my feet are comfortable inside their shoes. Proper and comfortable footwear then are very important when you hike on rugged terrain like the mountains.

We reach the fifth tower and beyond it are the sixth and the seventh. After that last tower at Tagaytay Ridge is Mount Liboron. I have not scaled that peak and I do not find good reason why should I climb it. It is just an obstacle. Its importance is its being a landmark. I opt not to hike towards the last two towers and take another route below the highest ridge. This is Liboron Trail. It is narrow, the ground is soft, and it is a wild path.

Locals are beginning to tame this wild place. I see a large Java plum tree (Local: lomboy or duhat) and a couple of Mexican lilac trees being cut down that would soon be converted into charcoal. I just cannot find good sense why the farmer did not take advantage of the trees that were felled by the typhoon, which are numerous here, and resort instead to cutting live ones. Tsk! Tsk! What a waste!

On the other hand, I see three-foot poles of Mexican lilac being planted straight on the ground. Part of a hillyland reforestation project. It is a good idea planting trees this way with a species that had adapted well with our land that does not threaten or compete with indigenous species. It grows fast and gives nitrogen to the soil allowing neighboring plants to thrive. Seasoned stumps make good firewood, charcoal and wooden handles for tools and knives.

I have to take a lot of detours, going around both uprooted and chopped trees. We reach the hidden meadow. It had to have a source of water somewhere if I were to recall the story that a local at Kahugan had told me a year ago (NBT 57: The Last Wild Place). I may have to look again on this place in the future and do some exploration. Prospect is high to convert this as a place for the next Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp once water will be found.

We proceed on until we reach a saddle and take rest. I look back and show Justine, Faith and Dominic of the route we took last December (NBT 70: Manggapares Trail). It is thick jungle and a bit of scary! I tried to be adventurous that time and we suffered with our itinerary. We face the path uphill where a lone mango tree is found and walk towards it. Soon we will reach the halfway point and our meal rest.

I forage three poles and a long vine as I slowly approach another mango tree. Above us is the garden abode of Julio Caburnay and we reach it at 11:00. Julio had been so kind to accommodate me and my party into his property many times that I make it a point to give something extra for his upkeep. He is minding his little farm and he had already stashed dry firewood. Everyone take whatever vacant space available and begin to boil water for coffee on portable stoves.


I make a tripod of the three poles by binding it with the vine. This same vine would hold the cooking pot from where it will be suspended over the fire. Nelson, Mark and Tope watch intently of this cooking arrangement and I explain to them of its advantage. The tripod make a stable footing on any uneven ground and gives a lot of space to push firewood underneath the pot which a traditional trio of stones could not. The vine is just an alternative to a rope.

Since there are a lot of firewood, it was not difficult to make fire. I cook a colored rice over it. Meanwhile, Dominic took charge of the viands. He will be cooking mung bean soup and pork adobo on butane fuel. He will get a lot of help from Justine, Faith, Maricel, Kulas and Bogs. Flavoring to achieve good taste on the soup came from shreds of dried pork that Bogs provided. It was the best mung bean soup I have eaten beating my wife’s own by a snout!

Tope experimented in making charclothe on the leftover coals. He cajoled the flame back to life by pushing more wood. Shreds of clothe are placed inside a small can which is tightly shut. A tiny hole allows oxygen to escape so clothe burns itself slowly. I leave a kilo of brown rice, some cooking oil and soy sauce and six sachets of instant coffee to Julio as a token of thanks.

After a good rest and a very delicious meal, we leave the place at 13:28, taking the remainder of Manggapares Trail towards the ridgeline of the Babag Mountain Range. The route snake above the ridge into another forested area. The grasses are now long, the bushes begins to extend its reach on the middle of the trail. It is quiet here. No sounds of birds. Just the rustling caused by our passing.

The newcomers had proven themselves during that steady ascent and are now privileged to walk with me at Babag Trail and the rest of the route. This is an old trail where only a few hikers use but I intend to make it as a training ground now. I walk slowly, quite wary of broken branches snagged overhead and them rattan spines. Debris caused by the typhoon littered the ground. I intend not to do trail maintenance here to make life difficult for off-road motorcycle riders, which visit here noisily from time to time.

The trail is on the ridgeline but thick vegetation kept us from the view on both sides of the mountain range. We proceed on and show the newcomers of an old tunnel used by the Japanese during the last war. Further on is a popular old campsite that had been forgotten because of barbed-wire fences erected by property owners to discourage motorcycles. It has a good view of the Bonbon River Valley and faraway Cantipla Ridge.

When we got past the fences we walk towards the vicinity of Mount Babag. From here, it is all downhill. Another test of strength and control of balance. The ground held fast as it is partly moist. A group of seven hikers came up the trail. Some corporate type with wrong footwear. We reach Upper Kahugan Spring and rehydrate before proceeding to the East Ridge Pass.

Along the way we meet Aljew and Christopher. Both were supposed to be on this hike but someone’s alarm did not function and both missed the ETD. They join us and now we are twelve people fighting gravity. Another group of six people are resting on a ridge taking pictures among themselves. We pass by them and go on our way until we reach the Roble homestead. All the benches are full of hikers – the corporate generic kind.

Three groups are already there and we are the fourth. Their eyes widened when they see knives on Aljew, on Christopher and on me hanging by our sides. It is as if we just committed a sacrilegious offense. I know these kind the moment my eyes acknowledge their presence. It is a pity that these people stuck to a foreign ideology without even understanding the whole concept of and the spirit behind LNT.

Anyway, we ignore them and sit among stones and pieces of wood. I learned that Nelson and Justine had been limping due to cramps while Maricel hobbled on a busted shoe. Brave effort and the day’s activity is almost at its finish. When the group of hikers had left, we claimed the empty benches and enjoy water from young coconuts.

It is 15:45 when we left the Roble family and go on down a shortcut to Kahugan Trail. The route is steep but no one spilled, not even with Maricel who changed her shoes into flip-flops. We reach Napo but we have to walk 400 meters more to Arkos where Aljew had parked his Toyota Lite Ace. We reach Guadalupe but we transfer instead to Francisca Village in Banawa. Jhurds, another of Camp Red, hosted a simple dinner for us and a good swim of cold beer!


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Monday, September 22, 2014

BUSHCRAFT IN THE PHILIPPINE OUTDOORS SCENE

SINCE THE TIME I shifted to Bushcraft and Survival, I now know where I am going. This is no accident for me but it had been motivated by one popular TV show whose producers made one fine dude into a buffoon. That show had made nonsense of what bushcraft is really all about. I know that, for I had been taught primitive-living skills by my late grandfather, who exposed me to woodlore at a young age.

In the Philippines, bushcraft or primitive-living skills or wilderness survival or off-the-grid living is still practiced by a good percentage of the populace, even more so, when you travel to the far countrysides. Shades of it are even carried by migrants into the big cities but that is just all about it. Nobody is interested anymore because it is low technology and inconsequential. This present generation thinks that the search engines and their tablets could provide them of what they want.


This direction I am talking about is imparting my knowledge to people and, at the same time, converting contemporary yuppies into weekend bushmen. My philosophy of enjoying the outdoors is not conventional and does not follow how the mainstream work but I place it in a proper perspective so it could be understood better by those who may practice it. It is an activity that uses a lot of common sense and a good dose of hard labor, although it is disdained by many conventional types because of its nonconformist methods.

I would like to emphasize that there is more of the outdoors than just being conventional or mainstream. I have seen the difference because I had been there. I cannot comprehend long ago why my hands were tied when I am supposed to enjoy “ultimate freedom”? It is not a very good idea going on camping with someone watching behind your back constricting your movements along the rigid lines of a foreign ideology called Leave No Trace.

Be advised also that there is a limit to enjoying a bushcraft activity which is really different from what you see on TV. You do not just cut green branches without considering the type of species. You do not just make fire without a purpose and without also considering the impact it gives to the camp ground. You do not just show off your blades on popular mountain sites without offending the sensibilities of certain people. Our own concept of the outdoors does not necessarily gets appreciated by the mainstream crowd.


People are now more aware of their environment because they choose to help and preserve Mother Earth in a good state in whatever way they can and that is good. Their adherence to LNT made them better hikers or mountain climbers, I suppose, and educates other people who visit the mountains for recreation. Ethical backpackers are incensed of people and activities that despoil the environment and are now more forceful in their approach. Rightly so, for a lot of reasons like garbage to fire rings to mass climbs to crowded campsites to commercialism.

I am practicing Philippine-style bushcraft and I make it sure that its impact on the environment is negligible if you compare it with how Westerners does theirs. I shun popular campsites and I would rather be with as few people as possible so we could enjoy bushcraft better. I encourage my adherents to practice light backpacking and to absorb the principles of “adapt, blend and improvise”. Campfires are mandatory on preparation of meals but, do not worry, we keep it small.

Conventional hikers always love to camp on high places and when they see fire rings on their beloved campsites, they would attribute that to bushcrafters even though it runs contrary to how and where we choose our fireplaces. We prefer hidden nooks, inconspicuous places that are too remote and wild, even to an adventurous urbanite but, sometimes, we use our old haunts which are now frequented by people. We equate our activities akin to those of indigenous people and we imitate their ways of moving about in a forest.


We learn plant ID by heart and that distinguishes us from firewood and charcoal gatherers who cut trees wholesale. We prefer cutting green limbs from introduced or invasive species, if we do not find any left behind by locals, when we need it for general bushcraft work. Firewood and kindling we get from dead branches which do not touch the ground and save someone the trouble of being hit by a falling one. We forage and use wild edible plants on our cooking; natural fibers for cordage; and natural tinder for our fire kit.

What we cannot leave behind, we burn. Any organic refuse, goes back to the land. As much as possible, only opened cans and empty bottles goes back to civilization to be sold in junk shops. Bringing in of garbage back to the cities are unnecessary since it would only use more fuel needed to transport these to dump sites, add more man hours and help hasten the filling up of landfill projects. Smoke from small garbage we burned in an hour of a weekend are peanuts compared to everyday poison unleashed by coal-fired power plants and vehicle fumes.

The importance of knives in bushcraft and survival are supreme and its presence in all our activities are mandatory. If you cannot stomach the sight of it, then keep your distance else learn from us. We have no other purpose for the knife except as a tool and, without that, tasks would be downright difficult to accomplish. Nowhere else is an outdoors hobby would you get to learn a myriad of skills except here in bushcraft and, as always, the knife is very relevant.


Where does one learn bushcraft here? If you search the Internet, this word is confined to countries that are mostly found on the temperate zones. In the Philippines, your search will take you to Cebu, the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp and me. Yes, I teach bushcraft only during the PIBC, which is always held on June 10 to 12. The Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines also requests me to teach their members wilderness survival each year. Apart from that, I instruct people indoors about urban survival techniques.

To keep and maintain the skills of local bushcrafters sharp all the time, I established an organization for this purpose: the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. It is the only one of its kind in the Philippines and is based in Cebu. Camp Red members are always out there on the field every weekend, hiking mountain trails, exploring, foraging, learning outdoors culinary, firecraft and a lot of real-world skills. You can distinguish them by their preference to carry openly their knives.

Bushcraft, for me, is the ultimate experience. You are the sole master of your own fate and you will know the mountains and its valleys and rivers more than anyone else. You just stay in a few places while everyone else are preoccupied of their time and destinations, totally missing out the finer details of a journey which would have given one lasting impressions, wonderful discoveries and irreplaceable wisdom. I have achieved total and unimpeded freedom doing all these and no foreign ideology, modern technology or expensive gears had altered or prevented that.


Bushcraft shall remain outside of the mainstream and so would the men and women who had embraced it. It will never ever replicate activities of conventional outdoor interests nor would it intrude on their realm but it can be integrated into theirs, with a few adjustments to their individual’s mindsets. I have come to the conclusion that Philippine-style bushcraft will stay for good and it will develop people into self-reliant individuals who may become leaders of a community of survivors should there be a SHTF situation.

The introduction of bushcraft as one of the activities in the Philippine outdoors scene should be welcomed, even from those whom have thought that the outdoors is their monopoly. Although we do not abide by the principles of LNT, we understood the spirit by what it was meant for and we have our own set of values when in the outdoors. We appreciate nature very much and we, like the rest, are never in a good mood when our mountains are abused. It is our playground as much you had considered it as your own.



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXXIII: Pyromaniacs

THE BOAT FROM CAGAYAN de Oro arrived at 06:00 today, February 2, 2014.  I know that the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild are congregating right now at Guadalupe for another outdoors sortie at the Babag Mountain Range.  I have to be there in the fastest time possible as this is an important activity which would not go well with my wife.  She kept complaining that I have no more time in the house except to eat dinner, watch TV, sleep and drink coffee in the morning.


Well, deep inside, she knows that men of my age are prone to heart diseases caused by inactive physical exertions and unhealthy lifestyles.  I know she would agree with my continued absence during weekends as long as I do not go home drunk and cut in noisy.  In a blur, I am out and running to the street carrying the same bag that I used during that travel to northern Mindanao.



I commute twice from home to Jones Avenue to Guadalupe and I notice people with candles on the streets and inside public jitneys.  Of course, it reminded me that today is the Feast of Candles and it marks the end of the Advent of Christmas.  It is the birth anniversary too of my late maternal grandmother, Purificacion, and my late paternal grandmother, Presentacion.  I arrive at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe at 08:30 and I feel that the Camp Red guys are now hitting the trail from Napo to Lower Kahugan Spring.

After eating two moon cakes at a bakery, I hurriedly take a motorcycle ride for Napo.  At around 8:50, I am now hitting the trail myself.  I notice the Sapangdaku Creek very robust and noisy, the result of a typhoon that had passed by a day ago which dumped a great volume of rainwater.  I open carry a Seseblades JEST Bolo for today to test it.  I follow the trail and begin counting the footprints.  Each individual are distinguishable by a different shoe tread but there are just too many, overlapping each other and I have to try.

I was at this act of studying the tracks when Dominic Sepe arrive near a mango tree and we both help each other distinguish the shoe prints.  Here is a Vibram sole and there a running shoe.  No, two people with running shoes!  Quite small, maybe a woman’s, but the imprint is deep, it could be a man’s.  There are a lot of hiking shoe prints, very wide and with deep furrows.  Some smudges, made by locals wearing rubber slippers.  I do not think that all these shoeprints are made by Camp Red people.  Surely, there are other groups of hikers today.

We reach Lower Kahugan Spring and I top off my water bottle.  The stream is flowing freely and it is full.  Gone are the debris and the big stones used as a footpath and replaced by another set of stones, smaller and unstable, that looked like a tiny dam.  I surmise that our guys would take the long Kahugan Trail and so, I decide, we take a shortcut to our destination which is at the Roble homestead.  I follow this route and I see fresh footprints and no Camp Red bushmen would surely walk this very steep path.

When we arrive at our meeting area, the group of Barry Paracuelles and Maria Mahinay are already there.  Two ladies and another guy are with them and I notice Barry and the other guy wearing running shoes and that answers the shoeprints I studied a while ago.  So the Vibram sole must have belonged to Aljew Frasco as what Dominic had suggested.  When the Camp Red group do arrive, Dominic had guessed correctly about Aljew’s shoes, eliciting a smile from him.

I see Jhurds Neo, Christopher Maru, Fulbert Navarro and his girlfriend and the new guys, Jerome Tibon and Tope Laugo.  It is nice to see them again and I believed Jhurds had planned a firecraft activity for today.  I have brought my fire kit, which consists of safety matches, a butane lighter, a ferro rod, fatwood, charclothe and a jumbled mixture of foraged tinder.  I also brought pieces of pyrite which I found in that trip to Mindanao to test it if it could give a good spark if clashed with steel.


By now, the guys are foraging firewood and sticks to make tripods.  Black-soothed cooking pots are familiar fixtures of bushcrafters unlike those of the spotless ones that conventional outdoorsmen carry.  We at Camp Red prefer to cook our food with fire coming from wood instead of canned fuel.  The more we use firewood, the better our skills with making a fire and it does not matter if we use a matchstick or with friction to start it, just as long as it is done the bushman’s way. 

I make the JEST bolo work on the cutting and splitting of wood.  I use a baton on the stoutest wood.  I found the JEST bolo easy to use as long as it stay sharp.  This bolo had been given to me by Dr. Arvin Sese, through Jay Z Jorge, while I was conducting a Basic Wilderness Survival Course in Antipolo, Rizal last October 2013.  It comes with an Igorot-inspired wooden sheath and a webbing belt with clip lock.  I even use it with the pyrites and minute sparks appear. 

When the group of Barry and Maria had left, another group of five hikers came.  It seems, they are part of the first group but this habit of failing to come on time wrecked havoc on someone’s itinerary.  It is not our concern though and it has no effect on our activity.  The fires had now started and the rice is now ready for cooking which Fulbert is now focusing on.  Dominic produce iron grilles and lay it above the surging fire, a prelude to a delicious barbeque.

The pots used for rice are suspended on two tripods from which separate fires blazed below it.  The pyrites were tested on the steels and anyone could choose to keep the pyrites for himself.  I also brought an industrial bearing cap which composition approximate those of a micarta.  It could be sawed into small pieces and filed to proportion as knife scales.  I gave this to Jhurds for his unending knife projects and, hopefully, this piece would provide him satisfaction.

Anyway, a mixed-vegetable soup with oyster sauce is now on its final stage of cooking while the steamed fern tops are now transferred from pot to plate.  The thin strips of pork and beef are giving off smoke and pleasant smell and the gastric juices are beginning to play on our tongues.  It is 12:00 and everyone gets a seat inside the visitors shed as the prayer before a meal is lead by Fulbert.  Refills after refills, the food gets decimated by the hungry band of bushmen without a whimper. 

When we had recovered from that feast, Aljew produced pulp wood and begin carving a spindle and a fireboard; familiar items for a bowdrill.  On the other hand, I go downhill and look for a dry pole of bamboo which I found and cut it to size with the JEST bolo.  I carry it up and keep it near a fire to heat it and then refine it as a fire-making implement.  While Aljew is showing to all how to make a bowdrill set, I show to Jerome and Tope how to make a bamboo-saw set.

The knife, together with the folding saw of either a multi-tool set or a Swiss Army knife, are very essential tools since, without these, it will make this work difficult to perform.  Aside that, you need a lot of patience to make a fire by friction.  It is not done in conventional fashion but through stages.  You have to follow the process slowly and forcefully to achieve an ember.  Presence of smoke is not enough though but persistence will.

Aljew produced a fire with the bowdrill.  The bamboo saw did not although the presence of smoke is one step less to achieve an ember.  Jerome tried to improvise but with no result breaking the bamboo in two.  Christopher, on the other hand, produce fire with the same bowdrill.  Tope took the reins of the bamboo assisted by Fulbert and produce smoke yet the magic ember is missing.  Jhurds, after failing a first and second attempt, achieved success the third time on a bowdrill.  Persistence after patience. 


Fele Roble, a farmer who just observed what everyone did, made a fire using the bowdrill.  It goes to show that the techniques in the bowdrill are easy to do compared with the other methods and that is why when I conduct the yearly Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp, I make it sure that the bowdrill is given a demonstration on the same level as that of our hometown favorite, the bamboo saw.  On the whole, I find preference with the bowdrill as it does not use energy that much.

On the other side of these pyromaniacs, the steel and flint, although more crude than the modern ferro rod, could give off sparks as efficiently as those rods provided you use a charclothe.  The ferro rods, available commercially now through the advent of survival TV shows, produce a lot of sparks that could ignite even a sawdust from a half-dry wood.  It is now the standard equipment for all outdoorsmen, replacing the safety matches and the lighter, since it could be used more than a thousand times, even in wet or cold days, and is much safer.

The tinder could be sourced anywhere or you could make it yourself like the charclothe.  Foraging tinder is the best practice.  You collect and collect until you think you have enough.  Any combination of natural and manufactured tinder is good and would save you from a bad day in the woods.  For insurance, carry rubber strips and thick plastic.  These are good material to kindle a fire under extreme circumstances.  It will never fail!

When it is 16:30, we start to leave the Roble homestead together with a couple of hikers, who had enjoyed our fire session and the powdered corn coffee.  We go by way of the route I took in the morning.  It is not that slippery as the ground is moist.  We reach the stream and walk the trail back to Napo and to the parked red pickup owned by Aljew.  We take a dinner at AA Barbecue Grill, complements of Aljew, and capped the day’s activity with a few rounds of cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen.

To appease my wife, I gave her my Seseblades JEST Bolo.  She knows how to use a blade, she being bred from a prominent homesteading family who pioneered a community in the wilderness of Mindanao.  It all goes well. 

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