Friday, October 8, 2010


IT IS SO HOT today. A perfect Sunday for training. Camp Red takes the trail of Napo to the Babag Mountain Range. Coming along is Dr. Abe Manlawe who is preparing himself for the Mount Apo climb with the Cebu Mountaineering Society come June. It is May 23, 2010.

I am the trail master for today. Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon will assist me and we will have two low-frequency handheld radios for this occasion. New guys Niño Dizon, Brady Betonio, Daveson Uy, Ian Betonio, Marco Albeza and Marlon Ponce will be physically tempered under the brunt of the sun.

Going also with us is Johnson Luym of Jungle Wild Adventures and Paul Ceniza of Ridge Outdoor Shop. Both will assess the quality of the trail and they will be in for a surprise later.

I lead the pack as we walk on the road from Guadalupe to Napo. Ian and Marco are behind me singing along with their iPods. After the half-way mark both were still alright and we were a couple of a hundred meters ahead of the rest of the party. I hasten the pace and both stopped singing especially along the vicinity of Sitio Arcos which is steep.

We arrive at Napo after forty minutes of walking and waited for the rest. Last to arrive were Niño, Marlon, Brady and Daveson. Everybody rehydrated themselves, except me. I will drink water once I will arrive in the last river crossing where there is a natural spring.

We were now following the trail after crossing the Sapangdaku River. Dr. Manlawe is carrying a heavy training load and exchange conversations with Johnson. Boy T and I run downhill when we could and swarms of sweat gush forth in endless rivulets from my body especially after a 45-second sprint down to the natural spring area.

Boy T, who was ahead of me, is already lying down on a big granite stone on the river while I gasp for air to stabilize myself from the extreme exertion. Getting my drinking bottle, I fill it up, drink and refill it. One by one, the rest arrive and enjoy this very shady spot which is a natural resting area for the locals.

It's time to move again after a 20-minute rest for the knoll where there is an ancient tamarind tree that host the home of the Roble family. The place is the last natural rest area before embarking the last stretch of the trail to Babag Ridge. You could rehydrate there with water from green coconuts provided you notify them early. Quite possible and here is the number: 09335164999.

By the way, a steep trail lead to there and I towed the rest of the party for a well-deserved rest. Immediately, everyone helped themselves to drink young coconut water and eat its soft white meat. Meanwhile, Boy T and Ernie became instant chefs and cook food provisions we bought from Guadalupe like pork meat, dried fish and milled corn.

As we were busy, Dr. Manlawe opt to cut short his training after receiving a call from a patient and retraced his path back to Guadalupe. I bring a rope for this climb and teach the newbies the four most important knots for bushcraft and survival: slip knot, square knot, figure-of-8 knot and the bowline knot.

Lunch time came at exactly one in the afternoon and the food served were pork in sinigang soup, dried fish cooked in tomato sauce and pork adobao while cooked milled corn remain as Camp Red's main staple. Others dished in their canned food to supplement the meals.

After an hour of siesta, time to move again. I divided the group into two: the strong climbers and the weak ones. Ian and Marco will come along with Ernie, Johnson, Paul and me going by way of the difficult Ernie's Trail while Boy T will lead the rest through the Babag East Ridge Pass.

The downhill part of Ernie's Trail down to the creek is not affected by the extreme summer heat. Right after crossing the dry creek, the vegetation is brown and sparse. Many trees wilted and their leaves go brown. A parcel of farm gnawed itself into the route and erasing a part of it, leaving me to look for the rest of the trail.

By the time we assault the main crux of the trail, the soil is very loose. Brutal! That's how Johnson describe it. Balance is of prime importance here and you have to use both your hands. 4 by 4! Paul added his to Johnson's remark. Inwardly, Ernie and I are elated at the guest's comments. Ian and Marco did themselves well. My compliments.

The two groups arrive at the ridge by just a few minutes of each other. We follow the Babag Ridge Road until we stop at a store to rehydrate. Boy T ordered two big bottles of cold San Miguel Beer to get optimum minerals and electrolytes lost to the exertions. I am very tired. Not from the climb but from the scene of cut trees.

Niño, Daveson, Brady and Marlon decide to part early with the rest of the party following the road to Upper Busay to attend to some important commitment. It is already almost four when we, the rest of the party, went down to Kalunasan via the No-Santol-Tree Trail. We ran and walk intending to reach Guadalupe before dark. We arrive at 5:30 PM and finish our after-activity rituals with four big bottles of Red Horse Extra Strong Beer at “Camp Red”.

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