Aug 6 2014

A long hike at the Babag Mountain Range 2014-07-06

I always wanted to try a different trail. After studying topographic maps of the area, I can see there are plenty of interesting places to go to. So after setting a route, I invited my hiking buddy Siopao to join me in this long trail. Of course, I always get a local guide when exploring new areas. That’s just common sense. At least that’s how I was taught back in the province. It is always important to have someone with you who is local to that area for a lot of reasons, most of which are for your own safety. Ignore those people who try to be bad asses and blaze through so called “unfamiliar areas”.  That’s their version of fun. :-)

Anyway, let’s start walking…

The Napo-Babag trail


After around 30 minutes we got off the common trail and started following the towers. There are obvious trails but foliage has grown back and started to reclaim the path. Good thing we brought the right tools to cut down a path. Here we are taking a quick photo near one of the towers.

My hiking buddy Siopao and I near one of the power line towers along Mt Babag


As we hiked further it was obvious that this path is regularly used by the locals. We can see patches of farmed lands. Some of them were just recently cleared. This trail gives you a better view of Cebu City and a lot of cool breeze of fresh air.

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Someone left their toy here. :-)

Someone left their heavy equipment.


We got free mangoes from one of the workers in the area. :-)

Freshly picked mangoes!


We have reached our planned destination. This part seems to be a junction for a lot more trails to try. But most importantly, a very nice spot to observe and photograph the landscape during a sunrise and a sunset.

Our destination was the 6th tower. Here we took a break and had some snacks.


Here’s the view from this location.

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We had some quick snacks since we still have a long hike ahead. I know, these are instant food, not the freshly cooked ones. But we have other plans. There’s always a time for “gourmet” cooking and a time for quick insta meals.

Our snacks/early dinner at the Babag mountain range


From this point forward, it was already raining and it quickly got dark. I was no longer able to take a lot of photos but it was a long ridge hike. There were parts that our guide Manwel was no longer familiar with the area. Some parts we began cutting paths through thick vegetation.

The path we made through the thick bushes. Trail blazing through thick vegetation in Babag


After an hour of cutting our own path, it was becoming obvious that Manwel was no longer familiar with the path. I decided to take over and call the directions. We eventually got back to an established trail and went back to hiking the ridge as planned. Along the ridge hike I spotted some boot prints of other hikers. Some breaking off trail and some going the opposite direction. Happy exploring guys! Sorry no photos here.

As we got nearer to RCPI, our path was blocked by a raging bull. Like a final boss fight in a pc game, he was in our path. Lucky for us, the bull was tied to a tree and wasn’t free to chase us around. It gave a try though. We passed RCPI and walked straight down to Babag and continued on to Mountain View area where we took a motorcycle ride back to JY Square.

We ended our long hike with a dinner at AA Bbq.

Hike details.

DISTANCE: 11.86km
DURATION: 7:18:43 hours (This includes our breaks)
More details here: http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/634347379
All photos are geo tagged for reference.

Until the next one.

My trusty combat boots.


Jul 10 2014

The muddy trail – Leave No Trace (LNT) / Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC)

One of the guidelines in Leave No Trace (LNT) and Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) talks about staying on established or existing trails. It suggests to walk in a single file, in the middle of the trail even when it is wet or muddy.
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I have no problems with this when I’m using my combat boots. The insides of the boots do get wet eventually, but they go dry easily. These boots may be heavy compared to the well known brands of hiking shoes but these are so damn durable. I always bring a pair or two extra socks with me for cases when my boots eventually get wet. I just put on a fresh pair of socks and I’m good to go.

How about you? Do you stick to this rule? Or do you walk on the sides and avoid the wet and muddy trail?
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Jun 24 2014

My impressions on the Sandugo Helikon Sandals

first trek! with the Sandugo Helikon.
A hybrid between a shoe and a sandal. This product made by a local company can actually stand side by side against the imported counterparts. At a price of P1,900, this gear is worth every peso I spent. I used this crossing rivers in So. Leyte, in the rocky shores and caves of Camotes and the trails in the Babag Mountain range. It’s been a year now since I bought this pair and so far this pair has not failed me. Pair this with a set of waterproof socks and you are good to go! You do have to take note that this has holes or drains to help drain out the water whenever you dip these into the water. These holes can also work in the opposite direction which can get your socks wet in unexpected situations.

Trekked along the coast line of Poro, Camotes.

Pros: Affordable / Lightweight / Available locally

Cons: Drains work both ways so always take note of this when walking on trail. The soles don’t have good traction for mud so be careful when hiking uphill or downhill in muddy terrain.

Overall Rating: 8/10


Jun 9 2014

A day hike through the Napo-Babag Trail with my buddy Jake & Haiz

Just the usual trail taken by hikers. Packing light this time. I decided to ditch my main tripod for a smaller “gorilla” pod. That really cut down the total weight down to 12Kg.

A quick shot at the jump off point.
Off to Napo-Babag Trail

Not much photos to take. The day was really cloudy and light was not on my side.
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The goal just around a kilometer away.
the RCPI towers at Babag Mountain Range

The Queen City of the South as viewed near the RCPI towers.
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Mandatory group photo before hiking back down to the city.
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On our hike down through the road to Babag Uno, two gentlemen from RECON group offered us a ride back to the city. Thanks guys!

It was a good hike.
Dirty combat boots

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Jun 2 2014

Star trails – Chalet Hills, Busay never disappoints a landscape photographer

After almost 2 weeks of staying at home for recovery, my body finally healed and was ready to go outdoors again. After posting an open invite in the social media, I only got 1 response but he can only meet up at the campsite and could not join me in the hike along the Napo-Babag trail. So I decided to just push on for a solo hike and meet up with him at the camp site.

My pack weight 19.4Kg this time because I needed to bring more water, meals and the tent. Just when my mind was set for the solo hike, a friend texted that she wanted to join in the day hike. Well, it is always better and safer than a solo hike so I told her to meet up with me at the church gate.

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I really need to buy a 1 person tent for my solo camp outs. This should cut down on the total weight of my pack.

After 2 weeks of being inactive, the weight of the pack turned out a bit too much for me. I got totally exhausted when we arrived at the Roble’s residence. I asked Manang Emem if her son could carry my pack for me up to the RCPI towers but Manwel was out working. Emem offered to carry the pack for me since she was going the same route to buy meds for her daughter Juliet who was having a fever.
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For Manang Emem, carrying the 19.4Kg backpack was nothing. She didn’t even sweat carrying it.
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Here’s Haiz who joined me for the day hike.

We reached RCPI towers around 530pm and it was getting dark. We rested for awhile and continued on the trail to Babag I. Emem and I parted when we reached the store where she could buy the meds. I paid her for the help and gave her extra money for the meds she needed to buy for Juliet.

Haiz and I continued the hike to Chalet. From there I setup the tent and joined Haiz by the road as she waited for a motorcycle ride back to JY Square.

I went back to my tent to start cooking dinner and setup my photo gears.
Dinner time.

I really thought I was going to be alone up there. The only hope was that Chris would continue his plan in camping overnight at Chalet. But around 8:45PM people started to arrive and occupy the place. 5 people arrived and setup 2 tents in front of me. Then two more and was followed by another large group. I was now in the middle of their group. They were a friendly bunch and in just minutes I was already chatting with them. The most common trait you will notice about campers/mountaineers/hikers is their friendly attitude to strangers. And they won’t hesitate to help you if you need it. I was really glad for their presence or it would have been a lonely and depressing night. I have to admit, I can’t remember all their names but I definitely remember their faces. I hope to meet you all again in the future camp outs.

Of course I didn’t just go up there to get some fresh air and reflect on things. There’s always time for photography. The northern hemisphere was really cloudy but around 2:30am the clouds cleared out so I started snapping series for the star trails. I left the camera for 1hour and 30 minutes. When I got back it was already cloudy and I think I was only able to salvage around an hour of 30sec shots. Here’s the output. Some of the campers were still up having some drinks.
Star trails at Chalet Hills Busay Cebu City.

The next day we had our breakfast and break camp around 7AM. We started our hike back to the main road around 8AM.
Hiking back to the main road.

I was actually in a depressed mood the other day (personal reasons). I was hoping the solo overnight stay at the campsite was going to be a time for self evaluation for me or it could have turned out to be a night of feeling really sad and depressed. I’m very thankful for the campers who arrived that night. Their presence really lighten up my mood of what would have been a lonely and depressing night.

Also a big thank you to Haiz for joining me through the day hike. Thank you for the company.