Monday, October 24, 2011
I FOUND THE LONG route perfect for exercise and it presented itself with a good landscape too. I am again leading six people on a cross-country hike from Lutopan, Toledo City to Guadalupe, Cebu City on April 23, 2011. Aside me, Marco Albeza and Ernie will be repeating this hike that we did last February 20. Both are Camp Red regulars.
Coming with us are two guests from the Cebu Mountaineering Society: Boy Olmedo and Glen Domingo; and Camp Red wannabes Jerome Tan and James Cabajar. We all meet at the Cebu South Bus Terminal at 5:00 AM and leave for Lutopan at 6:30 AM on the same slow bus that I rode on the last time that travel 20 kilometers per hour on the highway.
We arrive at Lutopan at 8:30 AM and proceed to buy food provisions which we will cook somewhere by the banks of the Mananga River. Camp Red prefer to eat their noontime meals hot and just fresh from the cooking fire. We decide to marshal motorcycles-for-hire for Camp 7, Minglanilla to compensate for time lost due to that slow-moving bus.
Upon arrival, we follow the tree-lined road to Sinsin, a mountain village belonging to Cebu City, and found a small store selling taro leaves cooked in coconut milk, which is a local delicacy. I decide to eat breakfast here and everyone followed, unable to restrain their gastronomic yearnings, and settled to eat their second breakfast of the day.
Minutes passed by, a whole army of cyclists arrived and stopped to rest, only to imitate what I have started. Refreshed after a rest and a good meal, I follow an unpaved road which goes down and down into Buot-Taup, another mountain village of Cebu City. I trotted down the road together with Marco and arrive at a small stream crossing underneath the road and waited for the others.
When everyone found their wits, I lead them into a shortcut that bypass the village center and arrive at the Mananga River. The river level is lower than the last time I was here. Blame that to summer. Up ahead are the sinister-looking craters hiding sand strainers and shovels within. Illegal quarrying of sand and gravel have reached this far now and they were not here the last time around.
We passed by a trio of naked little boys cooling in the mud under a very hot sun and my companions were quite entertained eliciting them instant camera shots. After crossing repeatedly the river, we came upon a cool place where there is a water source. We stop and we prepare the ingredients for our meal.
Marco and I took care of the cooking of milled corn while Ernie concentrated on the mixed-vegetable stew and marinated dried fish which Glen D provided. Meanwhile, James and Boy O produce banana leaves which we lay on the ground so we could place all our food there and eat in “boodle-fight” fashion.
After a brief siesta, we proceed on for Camp 4, a village belonging to Talisay City where the trail to the southern end of the Babag Mountain Range is found. Along the way, I see grown-up men fishing catfish with crude spears; boys splashing in the water; women washing clothes; and more of these hideous craters and their quarry.
Up ahead is an acacia trail that marked Cabatbatan Trail. I arrive first and remove my Coleman boots and socks and wring it off of water then the others came. After a 10-minute rest, it's time to move again. We will start the second half of this cross-country trek and it is 2:30 PM.
Cabatbatan Trail is a difficult route and it zigzags its way to a slope three hundred meters up and then the land feature changes into a rolling terrain that lead to Bocawe Creek. After crossing the stream, the trail follow the contour of the small river and cross two rock faces before stopping above the headrock of a small waterfall which end at a small hamlet of Cabatbatan, which really is a part of Pamutan, another mountain village of Cebu City.
The good thing about this route is you get to enjoy from a small store that sells the only cold drinks between Sinsin and in Bocawe, located far ahead, this, after an hour of tackling Cabatbatan Trail! I treat myself to three glasses of cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen to replenish spent electrolytes and shared the rest of the big bottle to Boy O and Ernie. The rest take this opportunity to catch their second wind and enjoy cold soda drinks as well.
After this interlude, we will go down an unpaved road and cross a concrete foot bridge above a small lake and then climb up a concreted road to the small community of Bocawe. I hate this stretch and the only consolation is that it is already 4:00 PM. Jerome and James developed cramps and are unable to go on. The rest of us facilitated to provide them transportation for Guadalupe.
Now that both are safe, we proceed on and arrive at Bocawe at around 5:15 PM and replenish our throats with cold refreshment. Then we proceed again walking the same uphill road that lead to the road junction in Pamutan. There is now a wide bamboo bench constructed and it is a very welcome sight to a tired traveller like me. Again, I waited for the others and the last vestige of light are almost erased from the horizon.
The road after this will go downhill that will pass between the man-mafe forest of Baksan and Lanipao. The road is unpaved and there are no lamp posts to illuminate your way not until you reach the first house located at least two kilometers from here. Everyone donned their head lamps but I prefer to use my night vision.
Marco decide to take this opportunity to run as part of his training for the 60 kilometer run from Cebu to Toledo. I follow and I half-run and half-walk over loose stones and shallow furrows in the dark but I'm accustomed to this. It is agonizing to my feet soles but I have to kill the pain nagging my old knees. When I could not take anymore the pain, I limp to Sapangdaku spillway at 6:30 PM.
We all follow the asphalt road to Guadalupe and arrive there at around 7:30 PM. We then transfer to Summer Kyla, Camp Red's official watering hole and Marco is already there by the time we arrive. We rest our aching bodies and douse our thirst with rounds of very cold beer until the beer case is filled up and the eyes feel the beckonings of Lady Starlight.
Document done in Libre Office 3 Writer