Aside from life, there is no better teacher to a hiker than the mountain itself. In whatever form it takes – steep, rolling, rocky, low altitude or grand – the mountains will always be giving life lessons to whoever wants to conquer them. But the recent hike I had in one of Argao’s densely populated peaks taught me not so much about life, but on its survival.
A week ago, I once again tried Cebu City’s practice trail for those who are planning to go on a major hike – Spartan Trail. However, this time I decided to bring a complete load (tent, liters of water, sleeping bag, food, and everything necessary for camping) with me. Because it has been my fourth time to visit the place, I thought it would just be like any other hikes. What I was not prepared for was the first lesson: Never underestimate a mountain. Because its summer, the tall grasses that grew on the trail dried up giving the sun a wider scope to prove its power. The scorching heat of the sun became unbearable I almost thought I would faint. My heavy load added to my slow pace on the ascending trail. I really thought I won’t be able to finish the activity.
The day after that, I was invited by AJ of Wandering Soul Scamper for another hike in Argao – Mt. Binalabag. Aside from the fact that such mountain is new to me, I really wanted to make a revenge climb out of frustration of the previous day’s hike. With AJ were Gelai and Sean of His Hidden Letters.
We took the bus bound for Argao and had our lunch gate-crashing Lanz’s birthday with the rest of their group. I really enjoyed their company. It has been quite some time since I joined a hiking activity organized by people who I only knew on Facebook. It reminded me of the day hike at Calibasan, Toledo with Sagoy Outdoors. But more than just meeting people and exchanging thoughts about the mountains, they have changed a number of hiking hacks which would help me survive the heat of the sun and the wrath of trail.
HOW TO BEAT THE HEAT?
Aside from being picture-friendly, pastel colors absorb less heat than dark colors. It is also advisable to wear drifit shirts and avoid wearing maong shorts/pants.
2. Power up with the trail food.
Trail food makes every hike bearable. While chocolates and candies have become my usual trail food, I have recently learned that jelly ace are very good source of energy and hydration. Shameless promotion: Lychees are my favorite – the one with “nata” inside.
3. Be innovative.
I always thought that the reason why most hikers are bringing umbrellas with them is because they want to protect themselves from the heat of the sun. But while hiking to Mt. Binalabag, I have noticed AJ and Sean putting their umbrellas in front of them and then dragging it towards them back and forth. When I tried it myself, I’ve realized that it can give a similar cooling effect like the electric fan! Amazing!
4. Be resourceful.
For lightpackers like me, (Yes, I packed light this time) you can make use of the available resources around the trail like leaves of trees and plants. However, make sure to keep your trash along the way and to avoid picking leaves that are privately owned or totally destroy the plant just to prove your resourcefulness. Remember to keep holy the “LNT Advocacy”, people.
5. Pack light.
Yes, as much as possible, bring a small bag and pack only what’s necessary most especially if you’re only going for a day hike. Do not bring your whole closet for OOTD and a sari-sari store for your food. You can give assignments to your travel pals on who should bring the items needed for the hike. This way, you can share the load and avoid duplication.
But most importantly, you should be people whom you are comfortable with. No matter how strenuous or difficult the trails will become, as long as you are with kind and nice people, nothing is unbearable. In lieu with this, I’d like to thank Lanz and her family for the sumptuous meal that they provided to us. To AJ, Sean, Bmax, Gelai, Van, and the rest of the company, thank you so much for your hospitality. Hope to trek with you soon.
HOW TO GET TO MT. BINALABAG?
- Ride a bus bound for Argao. Ask the driver to drop you off at Candabong, Argao. Landmark: Waiting Shed near a chapel.
- From the waiting shed, you can hire a habal-habal to Barangay Jampang. You can either ask the driver to drop you at the jumpoff station or go directly to the peak. Yes, you’ll be trekking the same trail.
NOTE: Should you want to do the trek, please agree with the driver to fetch you after the trek. There is no habal-habal (motorcycle) that would pass there without reservations. Fare usually range from Php60 – Php70, depending on your haggling skills.
Enjoy the summer heat but bring always the essentials. Keep hydrated guys and wear sun protection. See you on trails!