Friday, June 9, 2017

THE THRUHIKE JOURNAL: Day 8 (Mompeller to Mantalongon)

IT RAINED LAST NIGHT BUT it was just light and it saved me the trouble of a disturbed sleep. I thought I saw sunrise but shrugged at the sight and went back to sleep. Regained my senses at the sound of footsteps. Jonathaniel Apurado is busy this early. A pot of boiled water is ready for coffee with rice already cooked. I felt tiredness today, January 24, 2017. Must be the thought of the immensity of the Thruhike and, here we are, on its eighth day, barely making a dent, although we are now on the threshold of reaching the midpoint.

Yesterday was the longest stretch we walked. It was quite a departure from the days after Day One where we pampered our feet and enjoyed well-rested hours. I take note of things which made a Thruhike favorable for me and Jon. We are not young anymore yet we can outwalk anybody when challenged. Aggressive hike is good but it should not be done in a string of several days like most people do when chasing peaks. Their adrenaline rush dull them to dump everything for that perfect moment. These people are slaves to time, gobbling more than what they could chew. It is dangerous.

The Thruhike is not just about walking and moving forward. It is a cerebral activity as well. You consider many factors, seen and unseen. You have to be flexible and decisive when you are forced into an inconclusive corner. You do not think just for yourself but of your companion, the objective and everything that comes your way. Safety and security are given premium over everything associated with adrenaline. The Thruhike is an adventure moment all the time but we are not slave to time, even though we have schedules to observe, and of the brain, which sometimes release adrenaline for no apparent reason.

The itinerary is just a piece of paper. It is just a guide to keep an ordered observance of time but I could radically change it when I see a need like the first day and the yesterday. In between I gratify self with early arrivals and long rests. Would I be able to keep up with the pace of today with injured toes? I would have it treated later. It is a long stretch, maybe more than yesterday’s. I trust that we would, with our breakfast of rice, soup, chorizo Bilbao and coffee and supplements of multivitamins, Guarana and Yakult.

Before leaving, we visit Junnie Estimada whom we knew from last time. He is quite a fellow, intelligent despite his humble upbringing, had been to so many adventures when he was a younger man. He earned street smartness while working as a wash boy for a taxi company in Cebu City in the ‘60s and learned to drive one on his own. Later, he drove buses in Cebu and then in Mindanao. In Cotabato, he drove for a cargo company and was into the middle of many skirmishes during the MNLF secessionist war of the early ‘70s. He returned with his family here after retiring from his job at the Dole Pineapple Farm some fifteen years ago.

The Thruhike is about meeting local people who have stories of their own and this makes the Cebu Highlands Trail unique. Since Day One we have met many people and these interactions would be the main course of a future book about this Thruhike which I would someday write. Telling about them and their lives would give the CHT a different perspective, so different in a way, of how the usual long trails are viewed at. Here, in the CHT, there is more emphasis in showing kindness, patience, charity and love for, without such, you can never absorb acceptance.

We start Day Eight at 07:30 under mild weather with showers. We stuck to our northern course and soon came upon a very muddy part of an unpaved road. Motorcycles filled with passengers are in a quandary finding navigable furrows which would soon be flattened and widened by cargo trucks. Walking people are voicing out their displeasure at government for acting so slow. They requested us to post our pictures of this road condition in social media so something could be done immediately. Several stretches were turned into morass by trucks as it transfer from one highway into another highway.

The unpaved road that linked two highways wind about into breathtaking views of the wide lowlands of Dumanjug as we enter into Bae, Sibonga. Finding a good signal, I was able to notify the Sibonga Police Station of our Thruhike. The two solitary hills that we saw yesterday in Tulang, Argao are now in our midst. We reach another village of Papan, Sibonga before stepping on a paved highway that linked coastal Dumanjug to Sibonga coast. We followed it uphill going by way of the latter and soon come upon near a corner where there is a sign announcing that we are entering Manatad, Sibonga.

We entered another road, just a few meters walk, and another sign showing Libo, Sibonga. This is the place where we were supposed to be at yesterday. Saw an empty bench for a good place to rest and rehydrate from the almost two hours of non-stop walking. It offers an endless view of a beautiful valley. The weather is still mild and cloudy. We followed another road where there is another sign displaying Cagay, Sibonga and then another about Basak, Sibonga. The asphalt road is narrow with few vehicles using it like three-cylinder Suzuki light pickups but, most of the time, by motorcycles. This is another scenic stretch that gives value of the Thruhike.

We pursue our course to Basak and stop by a store to cool myself with a cold bottle of RC Cola. This is a common rural store that doubles itself as refilling stations for motorcycles. Part of what they sell is gasoline displayed in one-liter glass bottles of Coke. The owner is a peace officer of the village, Monico Iñigo, and he is busy loading his farm produce of bitter gourds and tomatoes into separate baskets so he could bring these to the town market. He asks of our ID cards and I gave him also my calling card for keeps as well as a CHT sticker.

The asphalt alternated with an unpaved one most of the way and it wind its way upward into lonely stretches. The weather is cloudy but mild. We cross into Candampas, Barili for a while before we found our feet walking again in Sibonga, The road passes by a community with beautiful gardens until we reach a place called Lamak, which is now part of Mayana, Barili. It is 12:10 and perfect time to observe noonbreak. We are now at the midpoint of Day Eight.

I munch on four pieces of Park N Go bread, three Tiger crackers, three Titay’s Liloan Rosquillos, a Nutribar and my mixed trail food of nuts, raisins, marshmallows and coated chocolates. These are paired with cold bottles of RC Cola. A Herbalife Natural Raw Guarana capsule is added to my simple lunch. Then I sent a text message for Barili Police Station informing them of my presence and my route. For the first time in the Thruhike, I lay on a bench, closed my eyes and pretend to sleep. The effort is good enough to freshen me after 30 minutes.

By 13:00, we proceed north and reach the boundary of Napo, Carcar City after an hour. I shoot another text message for Carcar City Police Station. The asphalt road goes about weaving a tight valley of strip farms, chalky cliffs and verdant hills and almost no houses. It is a lonely highway and the silence is only broken by just a few motorcycles. It goes down and up several times and I liked its solitude for it opens up the mind to accommodate many thoughts and enlightens the spirit. It also pushes the brain to block pain that are felt on the body.

This black road that goes through beautiful places is long and it goes through some parts of Guadalupe, Carcar City until communities appear and a school in a place called Hunob. I found the trail that will traverse the highlands of Carcar City and, later, would lead me to the Mantalongon Livestock Market in Barili. The day was warm but windy. Approaching Hunob, there was a light shower and it drenched me wet to my skin, including my socks which were nursing a blistered toe each.

I was walking in pain for the past three days but this day my shoulders felt a soreness that was felt after that light downpour in midafternoon. I tried to remedy that by shifting the placement of the shoulder straps of the bag which I had been doing so for sometime on the last five days. I think all my shoulder areas had been made tender by the stiffness of the bag’s shoulder pads. There was a flaw with its design which I first encountered during the exploration hikes in Segment VI, VII and VIII but it was not that irritating because these were just 3 to 5 days walk where weight diminishes by the day.

I would not mention the maker but I am exploring the idea of replacing it when I reach the halfway point of the Thruhike. The problem is I do not have the funds to procure a better one. What I have are the Silangan Predator Z, a Habagat Viajero, a Doldy VCS 30, a Lifeguard USA and a couple of army-issue duffel bags. All of these are either just too small to carry things for the Thruhike or are these designed for efficient organization of the items to be carried. I have another much bigger Habagat Venado II but it is already retired after 20 years of service.

My eyes betray the pain that I kept for so long but it is hidden by the dark sunglasses that was provided by Zue Fashion. We arrived at Mantalongon Livestock Market at 15:40. The honorable village councilor, Willy Muit, had been waiting for us and, once he spotted us, led us to their village hall. We were met by the honorable village chairperson, Ursula Daquil, and assigned us an upper room to use for our night’s stay. It was a tiring day but the people of Mantalongon made it sure that we were comfortable while we were in their place. Even personnel from the Barili Police Station arrived to give us support while documenting our presence with photos for their community relations program.

We have running water and bathroom for use and electricity to charge our batteries for Jon’s camera, my Lenovo A7000 smartphone, our Cherry Mobile U2 basic phones and our Versa Duo VHF radios. Although I have a Canon IXUS camera, the self-contained camera from the Lenovo A7000 would provide the images that I would send in real-time, or near it, in a social networking site for the benefit of our sponsors, friends and followers. The Cherry Mobile U2 is favored by members of the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, which we both belonged, because it floats on water at IP-6 rating and could function in any rugged conditions.

When not propagating signals, the Versa Duo VHF radio could function as an FM receiver and could provide us entertainment and relaxation when we are in urban billeting areas or in campsites. The rest inside the Mantalongon is most welcome. I would change my moist Kailas socks with that of an Under Armour socks for tomorrow. The base of each toe are not good to look at and demands immediate medical attention after our supper of Korean spicy noodles and rice. The skin on both left and right shoulders are red but there is no pain as pressure on skin surface is relieved by rest.

We were not able to cook our supply of food since a local peace officer decides to let us partake of food prepared for his daughter’s birthday. We appreciated this kind gesture very much for it changed our routine fare of spicy noodle soup every dinnertime. We will carry surplus food instead for tomorrow and it would be a long hike, perhaps much longer than what we hiked today. The blisters have been treated by Doc Jon with medical supplies from our own first aid kits. I felt a sense of security as I lay on the floor behind a big desk. Toned down MP3 music from my Cherry Mobile U2 brought me closer to Lady Starlight and after the third song I turned it off.

Distance Walked: 23.72 kilometers
Elevation Gained: 598 meters and a low of 162 meters

Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer

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