Actually, it was already on my schedule after an impromptu meeting that I have with Boy Toledo, Sam Lim, Ernie Salomon, Glenn Domingo, Ben Lao and Jecris Dayondon on December 28 first, near Boy T's office in Gorordo Avenue, then at Calda Pizza in Salinas Drive in Lahug. Boy T, Sam, Ernie and me just came from Mt. Babag on that day.
So, on this Sunday morning I went directly to our meeting place at the back of the Virgen de Guadalupe Church. Andrew and Bong of ONE Cebu passed by with their guests from eTelecare to go to Mt. Babag via the Kahugan Trail. Later, Ernie then Sam arrived and we left at 8:00 AM for Napo in Guadalupe to meet with Manwel Roble, our boy-guide. Sadly, Boy T and Jecris declined to join us at the last minute and so have missed that early opportunity to sweat out 2008 from their body system.
At the first stopping area we overtook the group of ONE Cebu resting under a big mango tree. We rested as well there and exchanged pleasantries with them and we all decided to go to the second river crossing together afterwards. Two guys from MONC arrived at the river crossing then we split up, with my group going the hard and difficult Ernie's Trail. Together with Manwel, we climbed our usual route with so much enthusiasm and glee wherein I recorded some videos.
We arrived at Manwel's place at 9:45 AM and I brought out my usual present of bread for his siblings and I noticed that they constructed two new bamboo benches under the shade of a mango tree which were not there last week. I took pictures of the children there. It was so cool and relaxing sitting on the bench as the soothing mountain breeze lulled us to drowsiness but we have go on as we have to take an early lunch at Babag Ridge and so we said goodbye to the kids. We have a long way to go to find a trail for Kalunasan.
The three of us then went down the third river crossing and started the most difficult trail in this area. I huffed and puffed as I lurched forward slowly up the trail and it was quite surprising that I got winded of my effort despite my constant visits here almost weekly. I blamed it on the fast pace we made or maybe the fasting I made for the first Friday and Saturday of the year took its effect. We have made this area our training ground and we're glad to tackle this trail in whatever opportunity we could find.
We did reach Mt. Babag at 11:00 AM and took lunch at a store three hundred meters ahead. We rested for a full two hours as the MONC guys passed by and we followed them along the road to Garaje in Busay. Just beyond Babag Crest Mountain Resort, we separated from them and went down a trail that we passed by last week to look for a route that would connect us to Kalunasan. We were unsuccessful at that time, but this time, with me leading and navigating, we were able to break through to Kalunasan road at 2:45 PM.
There were many trails that led back to the river crossing that we passed by hours ago (just like last week) and they were easy to follow. And there are some trails that lead to dead ends and there are other routes that might go to an unknown destination. Without a map and a compass, it is a difficult predicament. However, I used my long experience as a solo trekker and I read and analyzed the contour of the terrain and discarded the useless hours of testing each trail. I followed my trailcraft sense until we reached the road in a time of less than two hours.
Sam suggested that the trail be named after me with which notion I quickly dispelled and name it instead as “No-Santol-Tree Trail” in reference to a a santol tree which is used as a landmark by the locals in going to Kalunasan as told to us by a local resident. We looked for that tree, but we found none, so the idea of naming this trail fell on that circumstance. There was not one santol tree on the place we passed by and we joked that the tree might have already been sold as charcoal.
Walking for about an hour downward for Kalunasan proper we finally reached the junction that led straight to the Guadalupe parish. At exactly 4:00 PM, Ernie and I sat on the pews of the church and attended the first Sunday Mass of 2009. It was a perfect Sunday all rolled into one with the most perfect weather. A time of a day well spent.
Happy Free-Walking Day!!!
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