Saturday, April 16, 2011

NAPO TO BABAG TALES XXXVII: Hidden Waterfalls of Kahugan

IT HAD BEEN more than three months since I last climbed the Babag Mountain Range, here in Metro Cebu, and that was during the third day of the “Tsinelas Charity” of Professor Marco Albeza's on August 8, 2010. To me, it's as if I have not walked for a year! One missed weekend and I'm in an agonizing state; what more for fourteen straight weeks?

Today is November 21, 2010 and I am on the church lawn of the Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu waiting for Ernie Salomon and Boy Toledo of Camp Red. I am also expecting Myand Abao of the EWIT Mountaineers. We will check on our seedlings taken cared of by the Roble family in the hills of Napo. Aside that, we will assess the route by which these fruit-tree seedlings will be planted.

The Holy Mass ended at seven and out came Ernie and Boy T (both are saintly in the morning and devilish at dusk). Myand arrive and a guest of Ernie's – Jamez of VECO – came later and we all settled to eat a light breakfast at the back of the church. Later, Ernie and I scour the little roadside market for our food provisions.

The Roble children – Manwel, Juliet and Josel – I am sure, would have missed me during those weekend non-shows and I will not let them down today. I will bring bread for them. The kids have endeared well to me, especially Josel, who metamorphosed from a shy three-year old into a pesky five-year old. (Laughing).

We leave Guadalupe for Napo at 8:30 AM and the sun is already high. We walk the road to Napo as a warm-up activity to loosen up tight unused muscles and reach Napo an hour later. After a very brief rest, we cross the Sapangdaku River and followed the meandering trail above it and reach the Lower Kahugan Spring where I fill my bottle and drink for the first time.

We follow the Kahugan Trail to take a short-cut to the Roble homestead. Walking along, I spied a waterfall. This could be the fabled hidden waterfalls of Kahugan which Boy T and Ernie have seen during an earlier trip. Ernie lead us down a route but ended up far from where I have laid my eyes on this particular waterfall. The sound of splashing water indicated more than one waterfall existed on that particular place of the river.

I insisted that Ernie is leading us to a wrong waterfall and I explained to all to try the ones we have just passed by ago. It is worth trying since we are already very near. We backtrack and I saw the faint trail that I saw a moment ago and I lead the way down until we stop on a sandy shore of a waterfall. There were actually four waterfalls! The uppermost is the highest while the lowermost might be of equal height and we were now in the second.

The river is full after several months of rain and the water cascade down from the four high waterfalls in close proximity with each other. There is a deep pool and further down the tip are stones placed by the locals to serve as a dam if, in case, they will catch fish, shrimps and crabs. A narrow channel is opened to let the water flow below the next waterfall. I document this one with pictures and video before I climb the upper falls.

Just like the ones I left, there is a deep pool also and a sandbar but no dam. I also shoot photos and take a video. All around were original-growth forest, which is very rare for a place known for its tree-cutting charcoal gatherers. The absence of birds in an area where wildlife are supposed to thrive gives me an impression that the locals have outsourced the birds for food.

After that cool interlude, we retrace our route and take a shortcut to the Roble abode. Power climbing is the order of the day for this trail. There is no rest but to go on as there are no shaded area. But once we were in Busan Trail, the inclination subside and we were able to recover our breath aided now by a shady lining.

We finally reach the home of the Robles and I surrendered my backpack (and my butt) to a long bamboo bench. It is very cool here with a giant tamarind tree giving you shade as well as a duhat1 and a mango tree. Everybody retrieved their cook sets, their stoves and the food. I boiled milled corn on two sets of pot and stove while Ernie and Myand do the slicing of the vegetables and spices for our vegetable. Boy T, meanwhile, teach Jamez the fine rudiments of cooking a milled corn.

Boy T showed off his new camping cook set. Very neat and a very practical equipment due to its size. We tested it right away with mixed vegetables stirred and fried, as well as cooking pork adobao. Nice to see again the Roble family, especially the children and I surrendered my cache of cinnamon and Frances bread to them. They were joined by their cousin Jerome and I see him and Josel running around and shouting and laughing.

At exactly 1:30 PM, we all take our lunch amidst the breeze stirring the leaves of the bamboo grove growing nearby. After all have their fill, everyone settled to social mode. I inspected the tree seedlings and they were a healthy collection of jackfruit, Java plum, rambutan, apple-mango, lanzones2, avocado and papaya growing inside their little black plastic containers. The seedlings were well-watered and taken cared of. I brought though a set of canistel seeds to be added to our stock.

We will have the whole Babag East Ridge Pass as the site where we will plant the small trees. Fele Roble averred that the landowner is quite receptive to have his land planted by fruit-bearing trees and save him the trouble of planting it himself or hiring people to plant it for him. We were elated by this news and so we planned below the duhat tree of how we will involve the local government unit of Sapangdaku and Babag I in this worthy endeavor.

After we stowed our gears back inside of our backpacks, I eyed the East Ridge Pass for Mount Babag. Boy T stared at the trail and signalled with his head that he have had enough for the day. Old age seemed to have overtaken Boy T. I noticed him along the way, he sat down at the old resting place under a mango tree. We normally ignore that place as our stamina increased and, if ever we pause by there, we don't sit.

So we backtrack and reach Napo in forty minutes. From Napo, we all rode a tricycle bound for Guadalupe and, from Guadalupe, we all rode inside Boy T's KIA Pride to partake of the feast in Lapulapu City where Boy T reside. We eat dinner there after which we toast our just concluded trek with bottles of Red Horse Extra Strong Beer. It was a good day for Camp Red and soon will be for the environment.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

1Java plum.
2Lanzium domesticum.

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