Ah, another round of trekking the old trails from Guadalupe to Mount Babag (752 meters above sea level) is in schedule and I have to go on and meet Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon. They were there with me on August 17 when we tackled the old route together with Glenn Lao. As in the previous trip, we would meet at the Virgen de Guadalupe Parish grounds at eight in the morning and start from there.
I arrived earlier, and was able to catch the 7:00 AM Holy Mass for the first Sunday of September. The Mass ended after an hour; Boy T and Ernie were already there plus Nathan Cannen, Myla Ipil and Harold Alcontin, the GPS Man. Good! Six is a good company. The rains started to fall but it didn't dampen our spirits one bit as most of us, except me (as always), brought rain gears. We stopped by a carenderia at the back of the church and bought packed lunch before proceeding by foot for Napo in Sapangdaku.
It rained hard on the asphalt road to Napo but it gave more meaning to the purpose and scope of our activity: the harder the climb the better! Reaching the community center of Napo, we treaded the trail down the Guadalupe-Sapangdaku River and crossed the creek hopping on a series of boulders placed midstream. We followed the snaking trail in and around the communities that lined the waterway and crossed it again on another shallow ford.
The rains never let up turning the trails slippery and muddy. We ascended slowly grasping at branches and twigs to keep our balance. At this juncture, I offered to be at the tail end of the group to assist Boy T in going up and guiding him where to place his feet on the slippery terrain. We passed by a flower-growing lot that was so steep and without a handhold slowing our pace.
We kept trudging on, walking uphill, resting a while to catch our breath. The cold wind blasting our exposed part as we shivered and cuffed our hands. Good thing nobody wore a pair of sandals else it would have been a waste of useless exertion and a heart breaker. We passed by again the same lone male goat munching from bound leaves suspended from above. It was deja vu for Ernie, Boy T and me.
The forest, or what was left of it, in the back country of Cebu City suddenly came alive during the rains and I could not help but sulk in the warmth of its gratitude and silent praise to a higher being above the heavens from where these liquid graces came forth. Oh, it's good to be a part of the earth again, soaked to the ankles, muddy and exposed to the elements that reminded me of my childhood years.
We reached a hill where a lone house stood at and rested there for a while as a little boy offered his humble abode to us. I promised him a pair of shoes the next time I will pass by. We bade goodbye to the kid and went downhill and crossed some upper part of the Guadalupe-Sapangdaku River and climbed again another uphill stretch.
Here the trail was quite steep, loose and slippery. I improvised in ascending the difficult trail by using a broken branch as my staff as my “toothless” and pre-owned pair of Columbia shoes could not give a respectable performance. In between, I have to push Boy T up so we could move forward a little bit and hopefully, reach the summit by noon.
At 1:15 PM, we finally had enough tackling the trail with a hungry stomach, so we took lunch just two hundred meters away from Mt. Babag. After ten minutes, we finished the remaining length and made a U-turn back to where we came from – Guadalupe. We took a different trail this time passing by Kahulogan (or Kahu'gan).
The trail led us downhill, crisscrossing mango tree farms and brooklets and huge boulders. We crossed by small rivulets of water that came alive during the onset of rain and splash our way over small ponds along the trails and small waterfalls appeared making our downhill trek enjoyable. But we have to be back at Guadalupe by 3:00 PM as we have to attend a membership meeting of the Cebu Mountaineering Society (CeMS) at four.
Harold put up a torrid pace, then was followed by Boy T, Nathan and Myla while Ernie and me lagged behind. Ernie and I found at our wit's end wondering where did Boy T got that sudden surge of energy when, the last time we knew, he was gasping and crawling the last two hundred meters of our ascent at Mt. Babag and we thought he would give up at Ernie's trail. Half-running, we tried to keep up the pace and close the distance between Boy T and us, but, Boy T became Speedy Gonzalez that day!
I could just imagine how Boy T's Oakley hiking shoes would screech and careen over bends and turns of the snaky trail as a trail of vapor would follow his wake hurrying to reach Napo by three in the afternoon. Ha...ha! Boy T, you never cease to amaze me and, by His good graces, you seem to be on the way to a recovery. God be praised!
We arrived at Guadalupe at 3:20 PM and all hopped happily inside Nathan's Isuzu Crosswind for the CeMS meeting. Gladly, even as we were half-wet, we were able to make it to the meeting and there was a lively quorum. We even inserted our just-concluded trek and made a post-climb report to all present.
It was the second time for me to pass by and follow Ernie's trail and, I know, it will be a busy trail soon. The trail is a good training ground for aspiring mountaineers and a perfect complement in preparing future CeMS climb and only a few have tried it. It will be a trail that I will tackle repeatedly alone or with a group in the coming weeks. I would be glad to share the trail with you if ever you would want to go with me.
“Oh, the freedom of unimpeded movement is most cherished by only a few daring ones.”
- Ernest Hemingway
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.