Saturday, August 1, 2009


I DRANK MY LAST BOTTLE OF beer and I went home at thirty-five past eight in the evening. Our office just concluded a Thanksgiving Mass and there was a buffet dinner and then drinks were served. It is Saturday, April 4, 2009 and, earlier, two members of the Cebu Mountaineering Society led a mixed group of eighteen member-applicants and guests from and from NCR to a trek from Guadalupe to Mount Babag at 10:00 AM.

I am supposed to be on that morning trip but I begged off from joining the activity but I promised them that I would be there at eleven in the evening. The drinking session in our office was an unforeseen event and I was forced to tarry long, but, nevertheless, I did make true my oath that I WILL BE THERE and so I quickly gulped all the frothy liquid served to me.

After a quick shower I packed my things inside my Habagat Venado II and bade goodbye to my wife and the kids. I carried along my heavy Maglite - powered by four size-D batteries, my rainbow-colored Mantrack jungle knife and my new Böker folder for my protection on my solo travel in the dark. I also brought my throwing axe and secured this outside my backpack while I held the flashlight with either hand. A good knife is a good companion on the trail.

At 9:47 PM I arrived at the back of the Guadalupe church and I rode a motorcycle-for-hire for Napo and started my lonely trek 15 minutes later. It was very dark on the trail but there were wisps of moonlight that penetrated through the foliage and I used this scant light to navigate myself in the dark. A waning half-moon was still hanging in the western sky and in two hours it would be hidden behind the Babag Range. It was not easy doing travel without a focused light in front of you but I managed myself quite well.

I reached the second river crossing at 11:02 PM. I admit I mimicked the pace of a turtle. My personal safety is always on my mind and I used my flashlight only when crossing a river or a gully. It is best to limit your visibility at night. I bypassed upland communities knowing that a stranger's scent and sound could be easily picked up at night by a watchful dog so I improvised and followed trails where I have not passed before and calculated the routes to connect it to the main trail. These could not be easily done during daytime much more so during night without using a flashlight.

Finally, I reached Manwel Roble's place at fifteen past twelve midnight and I was soaking wet with perspiration even when the night was quite cool. I could hear voices from within the house and they have not noticed my coming so I took camera shots of myself sitting on the bamboo benches before I decided to make known my presence. I gave away my two kilos of rice to them so I could make use of less weight tackling the difficult Ernie's Trail.

Manwel's father accompanied me and I decided to use the flashlight to light our way. The moon had already descended beyond the Babag skyline and there are no more faint moonlight to aid in my navigation. The use of the flashlight at this phase of the trail is most needed and I would have to forego the element of invisibility. Along the route I could clearly see the lines and ridges left by many hiking shoes seen at a different angle of light. They left a lot of shoe prints to follow!

I arrived at the established campsite at Manwel's Peak at about 1:30 dawn of April 5. Ernie Salomon and Glenn Lao held vigil, along with five others, to await of my coming. It was a refreshing sight at this vantage scanning the bright lights of the part of the metropolis. The two bridges linking the island of Mactan with the mainland sparkled in the clear air while vehicle lights would repeatedly glint as they travel along lighted avenues and urban byways. Across another campsite faraway firelights danced and twirled and we thought it to be St. Elmo's fire.

Manwel was also awake and he was grinning ear to ear and I greeted him congratulations for graduating from elementary school. And gave him a high five. Yeah! Cool! After Ernie helped me set up my borrowed Coleman tent I decided to call it a night - or day - whichever is appropriate. Yes, I slept without even unfolding my sleeping bag and I didn't know that. I was that exhausted.

I woke up at nine and I noticed that they have already cleared the campsite. Mine was the only tent left standing. Por dios mio! I quickly broke camp and stowed all my belongings inside my bag. While I was busy, Glenn L and Boy Toledo where talking to the group. It surprised me to see Brian Gera present. Now we are four CeMS members leading a “mixed group of eighteen member-applicants and guests from and from NCR”.

After a photo session and prayers by Vince, Dusty of with her brother and friend, decided to part ways with us, with them going by way of the easy Babag Ridge Road exiting at Garaje in Busay while we will follow our scheduled route down for Kahugan Trail and back into Napo then Guadalupe. Without a surplus of time I skipped breakfast and gave away my part to Manwel and to his cousin, Paterno. We gave the boys their guide and errand fees and we left them our surplus of unused canned goods, noodles and snacks.

Boy T led the downhill route while Brian and Glenn L acted as backstop. Me, well, I just went with the flow of the pace and content myself without working my mind on managing the speed of the group. The sun was hot and all felt and bothered by the heat. We met fellow hikers from MONC going the other way and we exchanged smiles and short conversations with them. We arrived, finally, at Napo at 11:30 AM and all ordered cold softdrinks to whittle away the thirst.

Travelling at the asphalt road under the near noontime sun would be a useless exercise and we all settled to ride motorcycles-for-hire by twos instead and reached the parish grounds of Guadalupe safely and quickly. It was a successful assessment and training climb by Boy T, Glenn L, Brian and me on the fine young member hopefuls; with which event ran parallel to an ongoing climb undertaken by eight CeMS vanguards on the Cuernos de Negros Mountain Range.

The climb at Mt. Babag were ably steered by Boy T and Glenn L with support from Brian and Ernie. At the end of the activity, four of the participants submitted their membership-application papers to Boy T - a gesture which elicited an approving smile from him. Jolly good show Boy T! You have finally arrived.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer.


BLUE_ICE said...

congratulations sir you did it alone trekking at night. by the way sir naka sali ba kayo sa climb apalooza? nang taga fimoinc?

PinoyApache said...

Thank you Maxbern. I have heard about Climbapalooza and maybe in the next I will join. I might request Fimoinc to include Mt. Babag during their activities, especially this year's Freedom Climb.