Sep 30 2013

Solo Hike to Mt. Babag, Cebu

My first hike to Mt Babag was last September 09, 2013 together with two office mates and a few of their friends. You can read about it here

After that hike, I decided to go back. Solo or not, there were too many photo opportunities that I had to skip just to keep up with the group. I had to go back to this trail at my pace – the landscape photographer’s pace – this time so I can spend more time on taking photos, document the trail and get to know more about the locals in the area.

The usual assembly area is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Here you will usually meet other mountaineers waiting for the rest of their group before they start to move out to the starting points of their chosen trails.

I chose the trail I took before and it starts at Napo in this basketball court.
You need to take a motorcycle ride to this place. Fare to Napo is Php20.00 and you share this amount if you want another passenger with you.

From Napo, my hike starts.

It’s nice to see the bridge construction is progressing. I hope they finish this before the typhoon season comes in.
Bridge in progress

Sun drying is still the best way in my opinion. It saves electricity and the sun’s uv light kills all the remaining bacteria on your clothes.
Sun drying clothes is the right way.

There is a water source nearby just in case you want to carry more water for the long trail ahead.
Water Source

You will see small groups of houses along the trail. Good to know in case something goes wrong and you need help. As long as you stay on the path, someone will eventually pass by you.
Small groups of houses along the trail.

Like this little girl. She’s carrying drinking water for her family. I asked her where she got the water and she just pointed into the general direction and told me it’s just up ahead. This is the general answer you get if you ask for directions here. Everything is just a walk away for them.
Hand carrying their daily water.
To us who are not used to the mountain areas, the water source she was talking about probably translates to about 10 to 15 minutes walk for an average person living in the city. She does this every day for their daily water consumption. For a moment, I thought about how wasteful I was with the water I have access to in the city.

A few minutes later, I met these two kids, slowly pacing along the trail with their cargo.
Your pack should be around 1/3 of your weight.
When I saw these two, I was reminded by what I learned from basic mountaineering course. It was suggested that your backpack with all your gears should only weight around 1/3 of your body weight. This is to prevent straining your muscles and injuring yourself. It is cheaper to hire a porter to carry the rest of your pack than the possible hospital expenses repairing what body injury you might end up with. Yet, I can’t imagine the weight of these they’re carrying. No proper padding and support protecting his back and shoulders. Just a sack of charcoal. I asked these boys where they come from. They told me Kahugan (Cahugan?) and that they were heading for Napo. I later learned that Kahugan was actually half way the trail I was walking. I asked to try and lift his cargo and I can’t image reaching Napo from here before evening. But the most surprising thing, he wasn’t even carrying a bottle of water and wasn’t really sweating. I was sweating all over with my 40L backpack and I wasn’t even half way the trail.

Some have it easier.
Motorcycle transport
If you want it easy, you can actually hire a ride to Kahugan (spell check) with one of these motorcycles. From there, you cut your hike to the peak by half, depending on your preferred route to the top. Just be warned that the road isn’t safe and is mainly used for people, not motorcycles. It will be a rough ride.

The towers up ahead is my goal and I’m still hours away.
RCPI Tower up ahead

My first 10 minute break.
First stop

Just behind me I saw this.
Living near high voltage power lines.This tower will later hold high voltage power lines that can be very dangerous to the occupants of that hut.

Now here’s a good water source.
Water source
You can dig a hole at the side and wait for water to seep in. Then as the water clears up, filter it and purify before using it for drinking.

This is where I leave the main trail and ascend all the way to the house of Manuel Roble (nanay Emem).
the ascend to Manuel (Manwel) Roble's house.
Manuel’s house is a known stop over for mountaineers hiking this area.

It was a tough trail for me considering I was carrying a tripod and dslr.
Contemplating about this solo trek.Here I am, contemplating. Why the hell am I doing this? I gotta go back, this is just too much! :-)

Continuing the ascend I saw some hillside farming.
Hillside farming
I know some environmentalist are not going to like hillside farming and converting forest areas into farm lands. But these people got to make a living and they’ve been doing this for generations.

I finally reached Manuel Roble’s house.
Manuel (Manwel) Roble and Nanay EmemThat’s Manuel in the middle and Nanay Emem on the right. This place is a known stop over for mountaineers. The kid is actually a great guide for mountaineers who wish to explore the area. His mom is a very nice person too. I stayed for an hour and we just talked and I got to know more about their family. I bought 2 coconuts from them. I drank the coco water from one and stored the other in my water canteen. Although I estimated enough water for the entire hike, I wasn’t ready for the humid weather and drank too much along the trail I ended up consuming 2/3 of my water when I’m just half way.

For those of you who wish to stop over or in need of a guide, contact Manuel Roble. Here’s his contact number 0932-7653590. In case you need to contact him, please be considerate and just give him a call instead of texting him and waiting for a reply. Tell him you got his number from Brian Gerona and you need a guide.

Continuing my hike – Cebu City on the background.
Cebu City in the backgroundI am far away from home.

I’m walking under primary level trees now. With the heavy cloud cover and trees above me, my phone can hardly get a good gps signal.
Primary trees I really need to invest on a proper gps device like garmin for my future treks. Another one for gears acquisition syndrome!

A good spot for a horror move scene.
A good spot for a horror movie scene.This place is too eerie for me. I feel like I’m being watched. I have to increase my pace.

Water source!
Water sourceThis is a good water source. I’ll try and trace the source next time.

IMG_2392I have to increase my pace. I don’t want to be late for the golden hour. :-)

Finally! Just a few more meters and I’ll be at my goal.
There's the goal, only a few meters more.

Then heavy rain poured just when I reached the house.
A few meters moreI had to stay to keep my gears dry. I asked permission from the owner that I take shelter. People in this mountain areas are friendly and accommodating. They even invited me inside when the rain started pouring really hard. But I was really worried now that I might not be able to take photos because of the rain.

The rain stopped!
the transmitter towers at the peak of Mt. Babag, CebuAnd here it is, the transmitter towers at the peak of Mt. Babag. My goal!

Of course a few self portraits won’t hurt.
Cebu City in the background
Another one for facebook and google plus cover.
One for the cover.

And just when I thought I was done. It started raining hard over Cebu City.
where the forces of nature meets the creations of mankind.Where the forces of nature meet the creations of mankind.

This is what I love about landscape photography. Nature never fails to surprise those who have the patience.

I have found a new playground. And I am coming back for more.

Complete photo gallery here:

GPS Trails plotted on Google Maps:

View Solo Hike to RCPI Tower in Mt. Babag, Cebu in a larger map

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