Wednesday, May 17, 2017

THE THRUHIKE JOURNAL: Days 4 and 5 (Cerdeña to Mantalongon)

DAY FOUR ::::: IT IS GOOD TO SEE SUNRISE after three days of moody early mornings. It rained the whole night but it was not that cold. The forest protected us from the elements. Although there was light rain today, it is so-so and is not bound to stay for long. I touched my wet clothes that I hanged under the canopy sheet. Partly-moist but wearable just the same. The Lorpen socks are now better than the time I removed it yesterday. This would be its last day of use and would probably be worn again on the northern leg of the Thruhike. Today is January 20, 2017.

It is 06:00 and I decide to tour the campsite for a good place to call in nature. When I returned, Jonathaniel Apurado is holding a pot that hot water is ready for coffee. Same breakfast fare of Knorr soup and rice as was done in past mornings. We break camp at 08:12 and it is a very very mild day. We would be walking on roads where, before, were trails. I may be a romantic but I am also a realist. Gone are the days when life was difficult for mountain residents. The presence of roads are a blessing for them, removing them from isolation, having access now to the economy of the lowlands, wide opportunity for education and better income which they could not wrestle in the past.


Despite the roads, the scenic views have not changed. The deep valleys on both sides are filled with seas of clouds after a rain. There are such few places in Cebu where you could view, while walking, both the western coastline, which includes Tañon Strait and Negros Island, and the eastern coastline, where you can see past Bohol Strait, Bohol Island and Siquijor Island. The route follows a narrow range of mountains, skirting two opposing big river systems, that connect the Southern Cebu Mountain Range, that start from Barili to Alcoy, to another mountain range in Oslob which is dominated by Mount Bandera.

A lone Brahminy kite flew over me and it circled overhead riding the thermals as I was about to make my way down to where this new road would join the road at Upper Beceril, Boljoon. We turned left and rest instead at San Antonio, Boljoon, at 09:25 near where we could replenish our water bottles. This is the road that goes to Nangka, Boljoon and this is the road where so much verdant hills are seen at closer distance on both sides, separated by narrow strips of farms. It is unpaved for the most part. Another scenic stretch which goes all the way to Nug-as, Alcoy.


We arrive at Nug-as at 11:35, hours ahead of schedule. We cannot just proceed to the next destination, which is in Mantalongon, Dalaguete, even if we are capable of doing it today. We cannot just alter the order of things this time just because I have the upper hand. There are times where you would have to honor what is on the itinerary and, for that matter, we would have to stay at Nug-as for the rest of the day. I have guests who would arrive later and we also have to meet our supply team tomorrow afternoon at Mantalongon. Good sense dictates that we would have to follow the itinerary to the letter.

The early arrival would do well instead for our bodies so it could recover from the hike of four straight days. This is another phase of the Thruhike where you would have to balance things out since the body could not bear the punishment for long. Remember, we still have 23 days more of walking. I do not want ourselves getting burned out halfway to the end or giving up somewhere along the way to injuries. Besides, I have a couple of sore toes to look over and a pair of shoes to dry. Considering all these, I sent a message to the Alcoy Police Station informing them of our presence.


We proceed to the barangay hall and asked permission to stay. It was not difficult to obtain since the one assigned today was someone who knew us from last time. We tied our hammocks on the same places where we fixed it last time. We do not have to use the sheets since there is a roof. We eat for the very first time a hot noontime meal of local noodles, the extra I carried just in case. I rehydrate a lot of liquid from powdered juice and Extra Joss and tuned in to an FM station signal coming from Negros Oriental. It was a very relaxing afternoon just lying down on a bamboo cot which the body really needs.

I would have stayed on the cot long but I have to find a cellular phone signal. We do not know if the GPS tracking device provided by Galileo Satellite Control System Philippines is transmitting our geolocations to them. The problem is that the only place where I could catch cellular signals here is on a waiting shed located 250 meters away. Photos and information from Day One to Day Four would be sent by my Lenovo A7000 smart phone and have to be posted in my Facebook wall to update my wife and family, my friends, my sponsors and my followers. It was slow at times when the signal appeared on a single bar and disappears from time to time. For text messages, I relied on my Cherry Mobile U2.

At 17:00, a police car from the Alcoy Police Station, led by PO1 Regidor, arrived to see how we are doing. They were sent to assist us if ever we encountered difficulty in finding our way in their area, which did not happen anyway. They stayed until 19:30. When we were on our own, we commenced our dinner of Korean spicy noodles with a sprinkling of shredded dried squid, sweet potato leaves and dehydrated seaweeds. We were well rested and waited for our friends to come but somehow they got delayed. We slept instead when the clock hits 22:00.

Distance Walked: 11.55 kilometers
Elevation Gained: 839 meters and a low of 359 meters

DAY FIVE ::::: JONATHANIEL APURADO WOKE ME UP at 05:00 that our guests have arrived some three hours ago. I am sure they would be tired so I let them rest for a couple of hours more. They have set up shelters in a car porch just a few meters away from the building where we are housed. They are Jingaling Campomanes, Mark Lepon, Christian Tan and Glyn Formentera and all belonged to the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Their presence and participation are more of supporting the Thruhike. They would engage in a dayhike with us today – January 21, 2017, from Nug-as, Alcoy to Mantalongon, Dalaguete.

Jon had taken over the cooking and there is Knorr soup and rice, boiled quail eggs and coffee. After breakfast, we took down our hammocks and stuffed all our things inside our backpacks. I changed into a new pair of undershorts and a clean pair of Kailas socks. The Jack Wolfskin shoes are now dry as well as my “uniform”. We are now ready to start Day Five except that our guests were still asleep. We shook them awake at 08:00.


We all leave Nug-as at 09:25 and this was the most late that the Thruhike had started. I have an additional cargo, ten small bottles of Yakult Cultured Milk, courtesy of Jingaling, which I carried inside a plastic bag with either hand. The sun finally appeared but not that scorching. January and February are the best time to engage in a Thruhike here in Cebu. You will be facing the cold winds that the northeast monsoon would bring in from the icy winters of Japan, Siberia and China. The sun would slightly be at your back since winter solstice changes the angle of its shadow.

We cross the boundary into the Municipality of Dalaguete and the village of Catolohan at 10:45. A lone Brahminy kite appeared in the sky, this time, much nearer. We arrive at Nalhub, Dalaguete at 12:10 and stopped for our noonbreak. Jon and I subsist on our food supply while the rest make use of theirs. Cold bottles of Sparkles cured those parched throats. Afterward, I shoot a text message to the Dalaguete Police Station and informed them of our activity, providing them our names. This is now a necessity since our party becomes bigger and noisier and it might send wrong signals to locals.


After an hour, we proceed on our hike and passed by Langkas, Dalaguete at 14:00. The hills here becomes like those seen around Osmeña Peak which is good as scenic attractions. The road goes up and up but I kept on going without stopping. I have taken my regular doses of one Enervon Multivitamin capsule and two Herbalife Natural Raw Guarana capsules each day and these might be the reasons I packed so much power today? Perhaps, but it is too early to tell. The long rest of yesterday might have to do with it.

Anyway, I arrived first at the Mantalongon Vegetable Market at 15:00. I expect to be here at 16:00, enough time to receive my supply team who will arrive at 17:00. As soon as everyone were all accounted for, we walk to the short distance to the barangay hall of Mantalongon. We are expected today by their officials and we were provide the free use of a building with toilet and running water. Just a few minutes after us, the Toyota pickup of the supply team arrived very early. Driving is Markus Immer from Switzerland with passengers Ernie Salomon, Justin Apurado and Glenn Pestaño with son.

They are also with the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and how glad I am of seeing all of them, giving their support wholeheartedly of the Thruhike as volunteers. I could not ask for more. The supply team had brought bread from Park N Go Bakeshop, courtesy of Randy Salazar, aside from our daily fare of food and fuel for the alcohol burners. Markus also brought two boxes of small brownie cakes baked by his wife Analyn as his personal contribution. I shared what we have with the barangay officials of Mantalongon.


We left for a while the barangay hall and proceed to the market to eat early dinner at 16:00. We found one local restaurant big enough to accommodate all eleven of us. It was the first time in the Thruhike that Jonathaniel and I eat food that was not our cooking. Glad that the itinerary brought us to Mantalongon and break that monotony. Again, Markus chipped the bill and we go back to our billeting area. The supply team left at 18:00 while Jingaling, Mark, Christian and Glyn decides to stay with us. They still cannot decide how they would spend the day tomorrow – a Sunday.

We partied in the room provided for us with the brownie cakes, juice and Korean spicy noodles. I took a bath for the very first time after five days and washed my upper “uniform”. Mantalongon is famous for its cold weather and that is why it is called as Cebu’s “Little Baguio”. The guys even had a “blade porn”, a bushcraft tradition of exhibiting all knives in one place – a sort of pageantry. Then the activity transforms into a pageantry of first aid kits and another for fire kits. My Term-a-Rest sleep pad proved its efficiency by providing me a good night’s sleep.

Distance Walked: 13.65 kilometers
Elevation Gained: 779 meters and a low of 603 meters

Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer

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