Dec 22 2014

a Solo hike to the hills of Naupa, Naga and an overnight with friends.

June 19, 2014

I originally planned to go solo on this overnight backpacking trip. Later on the day, some friends decided to catch up but I still hiked the trail solo. It was a rainy day and there was a tropical storm. Luckily, it only glanced the northern part of Philippines.


As they say, there is always a first time for everything. And today, I somehow managed to reach the bus terminal, only to realize that I left my tent back at home. That was really stupid. I had to go back to home and get it.


After getting off the bus, I took a motorcycle ride to the jump off point.


The road was muddy and slippery.


By the time I started my hike, the rain was already pouring. Good thing I had my poncho. Approaching the first fork along the trail, take the one on the left.


More rain ahead


The second fork along the trail. Go right.


This is the last fork along the trail. Take the left path.


This area is your last water source.


approaching the campsite!


After an hour of hike, I got to the campsite. Setting up the single wall dome tent in the rain was a bit messy. Good thing I had dry clothes with me. After I settled in, I switch to my smaller pack and went out to do some scouting around the area. That yellow rain fly is my poncho which I setup as a rain fly so I would have some dry area where I can store my muddy boots and do my cooking.


Scouting the area, I found some good sites for tents and a small area for hammock users.


Caldereta!


Back at the tent for dinner!


A love chilli beans!


I’m warm inside my tent. I love lighting up candles when I go out camping. They serve as a light source and they help get rid of the insects that fly around at night. I stayed warm during the night. At 560masl, I can get by using an insulation foam as my sleeping pad, no sleeping bag needed. Just some dry clothes on. I stayed dry, warm and comfy inside the tent despite the strong winds and rain outside. Condensation was minimal during my stay was minimal.


Good morning! Just an advice, be careful when leaving your boots outside your tent overnight. You never know what kind of creeper crawlies that might end up staying inside it. They might find it really comfortable. I know I should have wrapped this in plastic before leaving it outside overnight.


Breakfast and a cup of hot coffee!


I forgot to mention that I have neighbors in the campsite. My friends arrived around night time just around the time for dinner. They had their tents setup next to my tent. I didn’t bring out my camera anymore because it was raining. Anyway, here’s the campsite at day break.


We did a quick scout around and had a group photo at the top of one of the hills in the area.


Of course a self portrait is mandatory.


Cow!


Break camp!


I’ll end this post with this rendered photo of a tree I found while scouting the area during day 1.


Until the next one, Thanks for dropping by!


Dec 19 2014

the Osmeña Peak to Kawasan Traverse

With the fast approaching holidays, I’ve been grounded to my daily routine of work and home. It has been 2 weeks since I last put on my hiking gears. I guess this is a good time to go through some backlogs.

This backpacking trip happened last August June 28, 2014. The trail is commonly called the O. Peak Kawasan traverse. Or at least that’s what I commonly hear from my peers. The trail we took was a moderate one and it was mostly downhill. My gps logged a total of 14.03km starting from our group photo at the O. Peak to the highway past Kawasan Waterfalls.


Day 1

We started the day by taking the bus that’s parked at at the gasoline station at corner Magallanes and Panganiban Street.


The bus left the city around 830AM. The bus ride from Cebu City to Mantalungon was about 3 hours and were full of interesting photo subjects.


We arrived at Mantalungon at about 11:30AM. Just enough time for us to buy supplies from the local market and have our lunch before we make the final hike to the campsite.


Osmeña Peak is a well known place for backpackers and it’s really important to be at the campsite very early so you can get hold of the prime areas for the tents. There are no trees in the area for hammock users. We decided to split the group. 1 smaller group to go ahead and secure the campsite while the main group stays and buys supplies.


I decided to join the lead group. This will allow me to setup my tent early so I can focus more on scouting for photo opportunities.


It’s nice to see wild flowers blooming in the area. Too bad the day was overcast. It would have been perfect if we had blue skies.


The main group arrived, setup their tents and get to prepping for dinner.


I decided to take the opportunity to explore the less taken areas. I’ve always wanted to climb this peak.


The view up the peak was different than I expected. It gave a panoramic view of the farming areas below.


A selfie! Don’t worry, this area is totally safe. The camera angle just made it look as if I was at the edge of the cliff.


Here’s KG, my photo buddy in this trip. He joined me in climbing to this area.


Turning to face west, this is our view. It’s similar to the view from the site they call Osmeña Peak, but without the crowd. We had this area to ourselves.


Turning to the Southwest, you can see the campsite and the Osmeña Peak in the background. It’s almost sunset and I really wanted to wait for golden hour. Unfortunately the fog has covered our view and is slowly creeping towards our direction. Time to descend now since the trail back to the campsite is not easy.


When we got back, everyone was has already settled and just waiting for dinner.


The fog cleared up. I should have stayed up there. Oh well, I just have to settle with this generic shot and try my luck later for star trails


Back at the campsite for some socials.


After a few rounds of drinks at the campsite, when most of the group has decided to call it a night. KG and I went back to Osmeña Peak for the stars!


Day 2

Being a landscape photographer is never easy. You rarely get enough sleep. Up early for the sunrise!


Group shot!


Now we are off to the main hike, the traverse to Kawasan Waterfalls. It was the humidity and the heat of the sun that was really wearing me down. The trail was mostly easy to moderate since it was mostly downhill.


We already had a designated stop at the water source. Here we had our lunch. We were already half way the trail.


Last break before we tackle the last few kilometers for the trail.


The last part was easy. Mostly paved roads.


Finally reached the Kawasan Waterfalls!


Overall, I had fun. I would like to try this trail in reverse next time. I bet that will be more challenging. There also a few areas along the hike that I wish I had more time to spend taking photos. Maybe a 3 days 2 nights hike would be better if it’s a group of hiking photographers.


For those interested, here are the technical details of the trail from Osmeña Peak to Kawasan.


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