I STARED AT THE far expanse of the metropolis and all its neighboring islands as I stood on the ridge of the Babag Mountain Range. It's just another regular Sunday for me hiking alone on the trails. It is September 6, 2009 and this is my twenty-fifth session here. Oh, I just arrived yesterday from Iloilo, crossing two bodies of water – the Guimaras and Tañon straits – and a whole day of travelling by bus over the great Panay plateau, the Negros central highlands and the Naga-Uling Road.
I should have rested this day but I have not. I have begun to develop a craving for Mt. Babag and I would miss her trails even for just one weekend. My self-imposed commitment to attain stamina have not wavered one bit. The trails in Sapangdaku and Kalunasan and, to a greater extent, the so-called Freedom Trail from Tisa over Toong and Baksan, is a perfect avenue for that.
And you may wonder why all my mountaineering-related activities are confined within the Babag Mountain Range? FYI, Guadalupe, from where I start my walk, is only two jitney rides away from home at Php6.50 a ride and that translate to only twenty-six pesos back and forth. Yes, a mere Php26.00 for the price of exercising your hobby to the max. Just a set of loose change in your pocket that you are ready to happily part with. A great bargain!
I am not a creature of comfort though and walking on the same trail doesn't matter to me either as long as it is realistic and attainable for my small budget alloted for leisure and exercise. I do not yearn anymore a once-a-month activity in faraway exotic places that doesn't sit well in my running a household in these difficult times. What I do need is a very good alternative that is conveniently located where I could repeat the process over and over and over...
Anyway, the weather is perfect for today. I did start at eight and found myself a small eatery in between Guadalupe and Napo and the lady cook there sold her food and rice at a much much cheaper price than what I paid for in the eateries of Guadalupe. I ate with gusto at the well-cooked meal and, after paying, I continued on my journey to Napo. Really, it is a cloudy morning and the breeze breathed in my face and hair. It is so refreshing even as I sweat.
I am alone today. I set my normal pace and, here I am, running in short bursts up a trail once my trail boots kissed the dirt trails. I am not here for a leisure walk but on a year-long intense training. I ran downhill when I could and shaved a little time. Long lines of “small people1” crossed the trails and I carefully placed my steps not to disturb them. I carried a training load of about ten kilos and forbid myself a drink save at the spring, at Manwel Roble's place and on Babag Ridge during my lunch.
The best time to drink would be at Manwel's place. Not water in my bottle but water from young coconuts. Manwel's father prepared four opened coconuts and I helped myself with three. Afterwards, five hikers arrived and I shared the last of the coconut to them. Then we parted ways at 10:30 AM. They took the Babag East Ridge Pass while I went to the very steep Ernie's Trail.
Ernie's Trail is thick with vegetation today and it had not been used since June 21, 2009 - the day when I last passed by there. Otherwise, the trail is in good condition and I sweat hard trying to climb on all fours or keeping myself on balance with the heavy load on my back. The cool breeze soothed my body well and my hawk feathers on my head danced. The bamboo groves creaked and swayed as its leaves exulted at the rubbing they got from the wind
I arrived at Babag Ridge at 11:15 AM, just five meters behind the five hikers who went on an easier route. We took lunch together on a small store offering a good view of Metro Cebu. After the meal, I stood and looked at Metro Cebu at a high vantage. Then I took a rest and slept for thirty minutes and then went on my way back to Napo via Kahugan Trail.
It would have been a perfect day for me except along the trail where a hillside have been cleared of madre de cacao trees that have have grown thick. Tree limbs were cut into pieces ready to become another batch of commercial charcoal. I couldn't understand why low-level village authorities like barangay captains remained blind to these activities. I couldn't even understand the Environment and Natural Resources department so inutile in enforcing national laws. I left dismayed and nurtured a growing contempt for these lazy bureaucrats.
Again, as I have done months before, I ran in Kahugan. I put to good use my anger here. Kahugan is devoid of people after noontime. The trail is wide and winding along the river on a rolling terrain that is perfect for a good downhill run. I let gravity dictate my pace and my quick reflexes evaded obstacles and tight bends and I sweat so hard even as my hawk feathers trailed after me. My backpack moved from side to side but I tightened the locks placing the weight closer to my body. I moved in long strides until I reached the river.
I panted but I felt good and I took a deserving drink from a spring and then went on my way for Napo. I relaxed my pace knowing I burned a lot of calories walking and climbing the whole morning and running for a full 3-4 minutes in the afternoon gulping clean air and enjoying the sights. You couldn't experience these kind running inside an oval track or sweating on a treadmill machine inside of a sweat gym. My track and gym is the outdoors and it is FREE!
I reached Napo at two then I took a relaxing walk down the road for Guadalupe. The sun still refused to show his face and the wind have been following me ever since morning. It took me just less than thirty minutes to reach Guadalupe and that surprised me even as I was just on a “slow” walk. Hiking and climbing on a very cool Sunday and delivering a plastic bag full of bread to a poor family is an exceptional combination that is both good for your body and your spirit. I just did.
Happy FREEWALKING Day...
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer.