Saturday, July 1, 2017

THE THRUHIKE JOURNAL: Day 12 (Guadalupe to Biasong Creek)

I HAVE RISEN EARLY today, January 30, 2017, to finish the rest of the Thruhike. I have not really rested well on the two days that were allotted as rest days. I was working on the loose ends of the Thruhike like shopping for more food items and stove fuel that I have failed to procure the last time, assorting all of these in three separate plastic bags for the three rendezvous points of the northern leg, handing out these same bags to our supply team and another bag for Jonathaniel Apurado as his share of the stuff that we both will carry.

I have slept late on those two days. I was quite stressed out. When you are the organizer and the lead person, the weight of responsibility would bear on your shoulders. On the other hand, I am healthy and good to go for the final half of the Cebu Highlands Trail. My CHT jersey and hiking pants, which were both provided by Silangan Outdoor Equipment, are properly washed and smelled good again. For a change, I will use my old pair of Hi-Tec Lima shoes to let my blisters heal properly since these are a good fit and properly broken.



One great change that I have imposed on my gear is the replacement of a backpack that have caused misery on my shoulders during the southern leg. It was a local brand and the design had many flaws. I could have endorsed their brand in social media and in my blog if they have answered my message since I advocated support for local products. But it was not to be. They missed their chance and that freed me of the misery of endorsing a bad product. Gian Carlo Jubela of Adrenaline Romance Blog, however, provided me instead his pre-loved High Sierra Titan.

As it turned out the High Sierra bag is bigger, at 50 liters storage capacity, I was able to organize better my things this time. It is much lighter, giving me more option to carry more, and has fat shoulder pads and waist belts. It has extra pockets found on the waist belt and underneath the top cover and has an expandable pouch. The pouch is very important because I could retrieve quickly my itinerary, maps, documents and journal sealed inside a waterproofed Sea Line map case. It has another front opening near the bottom and has an earth-toned color of olive green.

Basically, the things that I carried on the southern leg are almost the same for today except, perhaps, a few minor ones like replacing the Buck Classic 112 with a Victorinox Ranger and adding the Camp Red Limited Edition Balaraw for slashing work on the hardest part of the northern leg. Our food would still be the same. Breakfast would be rice and Knorr soups, energy bars and baked products for lunch, and spicy Korean noodles and rice for dinner. Our meals would be supplemented by capsules of Enervon Multivitamins and Herbalife Natural Raw Guarana.

The northern leg of the Thruhike would be more difficult than the ones found in the south and I have to be kind to our legs and feet by identifying three different places to replenish our supplies. That meant that we have to lug supplies a few days less than what we did for the southern leg. Today we are carrying four days worth of food and fuel to be carried over the Babag Mountain Range and the more rugged Sudlon Mountain Range. As the initiator of this Thruhike, I am carrying extra.



We start from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Guadalupe, Cebu City at 05:10, following the road at the back of the church. I send a text message to the Cebu City Police Office informing them of the continuation of the Thruhike. We arrive at a place called Napo, which is part of Sapangdaku, Cebu City at 06:00. Eight minutes later, we were on our way again. The trail goes on into familiar ground, crossing the Sapangdaku Creek where Jon had a quick breakfast of spaghetti, right across the Lower Kahugan Spring.

By 07:00, we begun the assault of Mount Babag, following the trail that I personally designate as the East Ridge Pass, passing by the abandoned homestead of the Roble family and the Upper Kahugan Spring. We arrive at Babag Ridge at 08:50 and followed the road to a store owned by a friend, Vicente Bontiel. The climb and the walk that start four hours ago have started to eat away my resolve. It is 09:30 and it starts to go warm. A couple of cold Coke and 15 minutes rest would be ideal to recondition the mind that we are in a Thruhike instead of a dayhike.

This road goes to a junction and we choose the left one for it leads us to the village of Bonbon, Cebu City. Along the way, we meet Michael Cabras and wife. They are settling here as homesteaders. I teach bushcraft and survival and Michael learned from me during the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp last year in Liloan, Cebu. Homesteading is not easy, especially if you are doing it on your own. You would need to blend, adapt and improvise. If you know bushcraft, you fit in easily. If you are not, then you have a lot of real hard labor cut out for you.



We reach the Transcentral Highway and bought a few bananas. It is very humid and the bananas would be helpful in staving off muscle cramps. Just a couple of meters away is the road to Bonbon. It is paved and all downhill. We followed it until we reach a bridge at 11:20. We stop by here to spend noonbreak inside a small restaurant. The heat of the day is just too much. It is even felt under the shade of a roof. I cannot do something about it but get on with life. In about an hour, we would be on trails and streams.

I cross the wide Bonbon River, whose water level reach my knees. I have to remove my Hi-Tec shoes and Lorpen socks and fold my quick drying Silangan hiking pants up to my groin. Up ahead would be a place called Biasong and a creek that I would follow upstream. On a point where there is a trail, I would climb a mountain that would lead me to Maraag Ridge, our designated campsite for Day Twelve. It looks so easy on the itinerary. I hope we could achieve our destination despite the obstacles of climbing two mountain ranges in a day.

I am forced to walk Biasong Creek, following the route that I have identified and refined during the several exploration hikes that I undertook on Segment I in the years between 2011 and 2016. Of all the segments that the CHT would choose, this would be the most dangerous, for it cross rivers. Not only that, you would walk upstream on one river, like I am doing now. If I have time, I would remove this part and refine the segment on entirely drier ground, which I already did on its other half.



When you are walking a stream, you are forever indebted to check the sky from time to time. Biasong Creek is deeper than the last time I was here and, where I walked with dry shoes and socks before, I am forced to remove these now. Water goes up beyond my knees at places where it is most shallow. At one point, I felt goosebumps when I saw dark clouds blotting open space among thick jungle. I doubled our pace and suffer for that by walking barefoot a lot of the time.

Time was not on our side. The water level impeded our progress. Again, I will have to compromise and modify the itinerary by looking for another place to camp. It is not easy, this campsite. It took us almost dusk – at 17:30 – to find it. It is fifteen meters away from the edge of Biasong Creek and on a high ground. I have to consider those treacherous flashfloods. You cannot be too sure. We claim our bivouac site where there are trees to tie our hammocks to. We have only a few daylight hours left to set that up and cook our evening meal.

I am able to set up my shelter quickly while Jon was struggling with his. I boil water for coffee and enjoyed the natural sounds of running water and the sounds of dusk creatures. Then I remembered my late grandfather, who took me to these same places to learn the ways of the jungle. From him, I learned how bushcraft is done, the same idea that I teach people. Jon recovered from the stress of fighting off fatigue and taming his brain and settled down to fetch water down the stream.



We are both carrying a half-kilo of rice each, repacked in 100 grams inside plastic tubes that people used to sell ice or cold water. This 100 grams is good enough for one meal shared by two people. Jon dropped his first 100 grams into the pot to start the cooking of rice. Our fuel are denatured alcohol totalling one liter each which would be burned in our Trangia burners. Jon has two billy cans while I have a Kovea cook set. Our dinner would be Korean spicy noodles which would come from my own supply.

Dinner came at 19:30. Camp life is noticeable only within the range limits of our head lamps. There is no moon. The food was good. Spicy as always. A spoon of virgin coconut meal finished off my day, as I have done in the south leg. I squeezed into my hammock and it sagged closer to ground. The jungle sounds and the stream became a lullaby to my ears. Checked the phone signals of both my Cherry Mobile U2 and my Lenovo A7000. No need to waste battery power so I turned it off.

So was the Versa Duo 2-way radios directed to a repeater tower of Ham Radio Cebu. No signal. I have underestimated the distance from Guadalupe to Maraag Ridge just like I did on Day Seven. I was not tired but my brain got overwhelmed by the immensity of the country we walked in at a pace which was faster than usual, considering the weight we are carrying. We were fortunate we came this far at the edge of Sudlon I, Cebu City. Tomorrow would be harder. What we failed to take today would be added tomorrow.

Distance Walked: 18.58 kilometers
Elevation Gained: 718 meters and a low of 56 meters

Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer
Some photos courtesy of Jonathaniel Apurado

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