If you were to ask me about the first mountain I have climbed, brace yourself for a long and detailed tale of a gutsy decision and misadventure. It’s difficult to forget a first time – same as first love, first boyfriend, first heartbreak, first… whatever. But more than the memories, it’s the lessons that we learned that makes those experiences worth remembering. And having been able to hike several mountains, learn from outdoor enthusiasts, and attend backpacking seminars, I have realized that probably it’s time to share what I know and pay forward the lessons that I have gained through hiking.
Yesterday, a friend persistently asked me to guide him to this so-called “Spartan Trail”. He has been hiking several mountains in the province but has been itching to test this practice trail that most hardcore mountaineers take before going on a major hike. I was hesitant at first but he kept on bugging me. For someone who’s blunt and short-tempered, it was a miracle that I didn’t get pissed off. Later then I realized why. I was perfectly on his shoe a year ago – persistent, curious, and wanting to test my own limits. I have gone through almost all kinds of travelers and I know this one is worth keeping. It’s easy to spot somebody who really wanted to join an event – persistence is the key. To make the story short, I agreed to guide him to one of Cebu’s killer trails – Spartan Trail.
We met at exactly 8:30am and started immediately the hike. Yes, only the two of us. But I was very certain that we would somehow meet other hikers along the way given that more and more individuals are enticed to go on hiking these days. And guess what, upon arriving at the Celestial Garden, we saw a group of individuals hovering around the area – the Cebu Freeflight Birds Enthusiasts. Curious, we got near them and discovered that they were actually training several types of Cockatiel and African Lovebirds.
After a short engagement, we decided to move forward and continue our trek – my least favorite part of the trail – the long and open trail to the construction site of Monterrazas de Cebu. I vividly remember almost giving up on this part of the trail the last time I hiked here when I was bringing a 10kilo load of camping gear, food, and other equipment.
Because of the scorching heat of the sun, my hydration bottle immediately got empty. This is the reason why I suggested continuing the trek so that we can arrive faster at the nearest water source in the area.
When we reached the water source, the woman who was washing her laundry shared that it was not so long that a group of hikers passed by. Upon knowing, we increased our pacing in hopes of meeting them. Sadly, there were no traces of them when we arrived at the Buhisan River. We just made the most of the time and took numerous photos in the area. We then labeled it as Phototrek (Photowalk + Trek).
I am not actually a good navigator. That’s why I don’t usually stay at the head of the trail when in groups. To cut it short, we made a wrong turn and arrived at an unfamiliar trail which ended up in an unfamiliar waterfall. Believe me, I almost thought the waterfalls moved. But, lo and behold, it doesn’t look like Badiang Falls. Good thing it was still early morning and we had enough time to go the other way.
After several minutes we finally arrived at the waterfalls I was talking about earlier – Badiang Falls. But instead of staying in the area we immediately continued the trek, again, in hopes of meeting the other group of hikers.
Since it was already past noon, we decided to again increase our pacing to arrive at Pamutan and finally eat lunch and drink Sparkle. But just when we were about to arrive at the highway that leads to Pamutan, thunder began to roar and heavy rainfall started to pour. This time walking faster wasn’t the solution, so we ran. HAHAHA.
Upon arriving at the carenderia in Pamutan, we finally saw the group of hikers which were ahead of us. They were having their practice climb for their upcoming Kanlaon hike by the end of September. We exchange short stories and found out that we have actually common friends. Yes, the world becomes smaller when you’re traveling.
After lunch and after the rain stopped pouring, the other group informed us that they will still continue their trek to Babag six towers. We, on the other hand, will be going to Bocaue Peak since the companion hasn’t set foot in the area.
By four in the afternoon, we decided to head home already. The driver we saw on the carenderia was very accommodating to us and waited patiently for our come back so he can send us to Punta Prinsesa. He was even so chatty and shared about the lives of the people in Pamutan and all other hacks that people like him do to be able to survive.
In all, it was an amazing day hike. What I did was not to actually guide a novice but to navigate all through myself. All through the trek, I shared things that have been shared as well by those outdoor enthusiasts to me back when I started hiking. And it felt good. Now I realize why they never ask for guide fees during hikes. Because more than what the beginner gets, they themselves get to learn a lot more about themselves, the trails, people, culture, and life. And of course, that is priceless.
To Jhon, thanks for being so persistent. Keep that fire burning and remember that there’s no stress that the mountains (and reflection) can’t cure.
And to all of you who would want to try Cebu’s trails, feel free to connect with hikers in the city. I’m just a chat away. Let’s learn more about the mountains. See you on trails!