I have declined many offers to earn an income since the start of December for my mind is focused only on one thing – The Thruhike. With or without those big names, I will have my Thruhike and I have a promise to deliver to my first set of sponsors, who expressed their profound support with funds and them nice things. I could not ask for less at the moment and while I am at it, I have to develop my stamina and my mindset to keep my end of the bargain.
It is so hard on me. I could feel the pressure weighing down on my resolve since I had already set a date of January 17, 2017 as the start of the Thruhike. I could not back down from it. And it is now about to be less than a month away. It would have been easier if I do not do the planning and just be a follower. But when you are the instigator of such things, the task is horrendous and of almost epic proportions since you would be treading on grounds that have not been tried before.
The Thruhike is not a walk to climb a peak which, by usual practice here in the Philippines, takes about two to seven days, usually starting at trailheads that has elevations of 200 meters and up. The whole island of Cebu, at its backside, is difficult terrain, starting from sea level extending to at least 400+ kilometers of mountain trails and roads and I have programmed to hike it at 27 to 32 days with extra three days safety margin. Besides that, it is not a guided hike. It is navigational savvy at its best.
I have even purchased a new pair of running shoes taken from donations for training. I do not use it for running but for personal errands where running is out of the equation. The walking is enough and I do not have to exaggerate it in speed so I could have that fastest best. I take care of my joints and tendons and I have my own discriminatory reasons not to behave in such reckless abandonment.
Today at Guadalupe, we are but few. It would just be a leisurely hike, just enough to sharpen the mind and to get the hang out of what nature could offer to the senses. Coming with me is Jonathaniel Apurado, Ernie Salomon, Richie Quijano and Glyn Formentera. This is my ideal size of crowd for a dayhike. I do not like boisterous company and I do not like people talking on the trail. They could have that in places of rest though.
It had been raining early in the morning and it is good to see the verdant grass growing thick and healthy on that totally bare backside of a hill that I am fond of calling as the “heartbreak ridge”, for the very reason that it had denied a good number of people to give up climbing it and almost claimed the same numbers that barely survived. It is just a low hill and I do not know why it is unkind to people?
If you are not likely be a victim of this heartbreaking episode, you are bound to see a different angle of the city and you begin to like it but we have to move on higher ground to the refuge of shades offered by a forest of fruit trees, hardwood and shrubs which you cannot see from anywhere down the curbs or even thought it existed this close to urban living. So save that exhilarating feeling on your SD card.
The trail goes horseshoe like, passing by a place called the Portal before ending at Baksan Road. You just walk a few meters up the road before engaging again another trail called the Lensa Trail. It is all downhill and goes through a man-made forest of Burma teak. It is eerie and silent in here as birds and flying insects do not make this exotic forest their habitat. Only a few people go here like local wood gatherers and us.
The playgrounds chosen by the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild are different from those chosen by the mainstream outdoors crowd. We prefer our camp under the protection of trees and we liked it anonymous. Of course, we have to chose earth colors for our canopies and our clothes to achieve that effect. Camping on peaks and on places where the crowds are, are taboo for us. Our minds do not simply work that way, child like.
I showed the guys of the honey oozing down a trunk of a Burma teak. Like I said before in another article, it is unusual for insects, much less a stingless bee colony, to roost in exotic trees. But here it is, defying instinct for survival. It is evolution at work. We cross Creek Bravo and the forest here seems more alive with busy insects zooming here and there while birds make their presence felt with their staccato of melodies.
Lensa Trail climb up a ridge over what seems to be a very beautiful forest that became a tangle of jungles when we reach Camp Damazo. This is our camp and everything comes to a standstill. We each brought firewood and tinder from the lower trails and, in a moment, we would have wood fire, a kind of fire disdained by the mainstream, whose beliefs follow that foreign ideology they hold so dear which, ironically, allows one.
First things first – coffee! I brought my Swiss Army emergency burner with me and coffee came in short time with fire coming from small branches. Not bad for a piece of can. This is a gift from my Swiss friend and we we here last November 26. Proof of that is that I saw and retrieved the dismountable pot holders of his Kelly Kettle. We simply overlooked it and thought we stowed it back to the burner set. Hahaha…there it is.
Ernie begins to ask of the food ingredients which we carried separately as Camp Damazo starts to transform into his kitchen without walls. Overhead is a dour sky but we do not want to be caught unprepared and so erected a cheap plaid nylon sheet above the hearth. Cords were in short supply but we have nature to provide us with something to stretch the canopy. Jon helped Ernie with the cooking while Richie and Glyn break the twigs into small pieces.
With the way the day behaved, it would be an enjoyable one as eyes are on the black pot. The same pot that had served me and my brethren well since the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp of 2012. It had survived the punishing interludes of Scotchbrites and sand and it is an icon in itself, a testament to the frugality and practicality of bushcraft. Everything we do and use are of the old world tradition and flashy gears used by the mainstream crowd does not find an instant fan from among us.
We stay for a while to recover from the shock of a full meal. Stories, yarns and jokes crawled out naturally caused by the effects of a fully-satisfied stomach. Washed pots and utensils are dried for a while as the owners claimed the eternal silence of the hills as theirs, for the moment, and felt free to do as they please with laughter and jolly voices echoing among this forested enclave.
At 14:30, we leave our beloved Camp Damazo. We halt for a while at Caramon Spring to drink then we continue to cross a couple of streams and climb up another peak whose one trail led us to Baksan Road. We cross this road into another trail that goes down a fertile valley and into Lanipao. The rest of the way, we walk on the road to Napo. Then a motorcycle is a good option to complete our day’s journey as it brought us back to Guadalupe.
It was an easy day yet worth more than the time when I raced with another on a high peak in another place and time faraway. There was no adrenaline rush and that feeling of invincibility you normally feel when on a high place becomes so alien and distant, replaced by a subtle appreciation of life and the natural world. I am on fire and the things I do in my present life would help and guide me in my quest to tame that wild spirit from within. The Thruhike will be my statement in my life should I succeed.
Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer