Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXXXIII: A Birthday, a Feast and Lots of Footprints

I WENT AS FAST AS I could to Guadalupe today, September 29, 2014. It is now 10:15 and quite late for a morning walk from Napo to the Roble homestead. No, it would not be a walk but a race against noon. I would not have been here were it not for a special occasion of which I am invited. Today is the birthday of Fele Roble, Manwel’s father.

Already hours ahead of me are Boy Toledo and Jhurds Neo. Both had sent me SMS yesterday of their availability for today. I believe more are going there. Anyway, I had taken a light breakfast near the Ayala flyover more than an hour ago after a rare Sunday inspection on my wards at the Pag-IBIG Fund Corporate Tower in the Cebu Business Park.

When I reached Napo, I put on my Chipaway Cutlery Bowie Knife, intending to open carry it to the Roble homestead. I drape my meshed shawl on my neck to shield me later from the onslaughts of the sun, which is nearing its zenith as well as its intensity. The Sapangdaku Creek is full and its water swirled and laughed at the bounty heaped by many days of rain in the valleys and hills of the Babag Mountain Range.

The ground is wet, parts of it muddy. In fact, a lot of soles are printed on trail surfaces. Leaving a shoe print is not wrong nor it violates a Leave No Trace Principle but, here at the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, we take it to a higher level. Leaving a print on a wet ground is like leaving a thumbprint on glass; more of like introducing your personality to another person. What you leave behind could tell about you which you had never known yet.

I have something in mind today. I would take photographs of as many footprints as my camera battery would allow me and make a database about it. From there, I would let people guess and choose from the album of prints for a particular picture of a rubber sole. They would also guess the foot size, gender, build and other details like what caused a shoe to dig deep into the ground? They would have to create a story basing on the set of tracks they see.

I am not frustrated of my insane pursuit as the ground gave me many shoe prints to photograph which even a blind man could follow easily in the dark. My eyes were focused on the trail, especially at its wettest and muddiest part where I get to “know” of a lot of clumsy individuals. Most just superimposed their tracks of another while some make a half circle trying to evade the mud – too late and too soon.

As I was doing that a lone hiker joined me on the trail. He could either be amused at my activity or was just ashamed to ask. I do not know since he is behind me. When you do not ask, you would never elicit an answer from me, otherwise, do not wait for that chance wherein you would have to pay me to get one. Nevertheless, he enjoyed my tales of the outdoors and the special and uncanny features of the places where we passed.

We reach Lower Kahugan Spring and we take a short rest while waiting for my bottle to get filled by the natural spring. We resumed our walk and I follow a new route which had recently been opened to the mountain folks but only a few outsiders had known. On it are more shoe prints but, at least, these belonged to friends. Nature had worked in my favor of this so-called deduction process.

The heavy 5.11 Tactical Pants I wear today becomes a drag as the terrain gradient begins to demand more effort of self to attain progress. The bottles of vodka and lime juice inside the Silangan Predator Z backpack also begins to be felt on my shoulders. This business of hiking mountainous terrain could never be understood by sedentary urban folks yet, here I am, always complaining against myself why I am doing this, promising (and breaking), time and time again, never to engage on this again.

It never was easy to fool a person but I seemed to be enjoying this on myself. The brunt of the sun added to this stalemate of a promise and a renege but I am already on a spot called the “point of no return”. The wristwatch, an instrument that promotes the Western idea of time, begins to grab me by the neck and imposes on me to make more effort. I have to be there not later than noon because I had promised myself so.

At precisely 12:00, I reach the Roble homestead but my struggle to be here in so short a time had taken the fight out of me. I sat on the bamboo bench, catching wind, ignoring an invite of a sumptuous meal. Too soon. Too soon. Everybody had already settled on the blank spaces in between, especially Jhurds, Dominik Sepe, Mark Lepon and Maricel, who found a spot at a mango tree on a platform built above the ground.

Boy T, Boy Olmedo, Ernie Salomon and Ramon Corro are on the visitor’s shed, already in the middle of a round of the first bottle of local brandy. I ignore these spectacles and concentrate to listen instead to my body talking. When I have settled, I begin to take fill my plate with milled corn, goat stew (calderetta), free-rein chicken (estofado) and diced pork (menudo). The food are meant for everybody. It is celebration time.

After I had taken my fill of the feast, I join the group on the visitor’s shed. Boy T is on a debate against the rest, defending his privilege to enjoy the outdoors with a little mix of liquor but the rest found on the other part of the shed are against it. I added my voice to defend Boy T but the rest, in jest, rebuke Boy T with a “board resolution” passed by the “Board of Directors” disallowing him to enjoy this privilege. I could only shake my head and smiled in agreement.

After I had disentangled myself from the raucous crowd in the shed, I make busy with my camera again taking photographs of rubber soles to add to my database album. From these soles, I would challenge my adherents to identify the footprints in which it was made. Well, that is advanced trailcraft for you and it would certainly add to your knowledge and, perhaps, you might even use this skill in another situation. Who knows?

Anyway, by 14:30, we leave the Roble homestead. Boy T cut short his drinking binge in accord with the “board resolution” and everybody is happy. Laughing. Sweat begins to bleed from our skin as the afternoon sun creates a very humid condition. We arrive at Napo at 15:15 and wait for our ride back to Guadalupe. We got that and continue our celebration at Boy T’s favorite watering hole in M. Velez Street.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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