I woke-up to freezing temperatures. After all, we’re still high above the mountain, only less foggy,
The night sky and the break of a new dawn tries to vie for time and attention. And then Balinsasayaw’s could be heard chirping. A sign that a day is about to start. A day to finally come home.
Tranquil waters as if still convincing you to head back to dreamland.
I headed by the lagoon to wash my face. The water was really tempting, inviting. I could hardly wait to take a dip and bathe. But that would be tantamount to polluting such a neatly designed creation by God.
Then we had breakfast. This time, it shall be something heavy. Something to fortify our already trembling knees and broken spirits. We’re still about to face the harshest conditions according to our guide. We’re just ready to face it.
Several minutes into the trail, another pool resurfaced. It is RAMS Lagoon.
And the streak of white plumes in the middle of the image is where Philippine National Oil Corporation is. They are collecting steams from inside the volcano to convert it to electricity to power homes in Iloilo. That’s where we are heading. That far!
A few more minutes into the morning sun, Mt.Mandalagan showed it’s own elegant range. And the usual celebrity photo ops ensued. Who will miss such time with a grand scenery?
As we deal with going down along the ridge and an almost 90degree 10foot downfall, we were given warm-to-the-heart heat from the sun. Nothing beats it after a shivering night.
The once dense jungle is now opening up, giving us hikers a more pleasurable trip down the mountains. The sun’s rays penetrating into the jungle floor littered with damp dead leaves. The sun kissing my wilted spirit, bringing back life, injecting me with much-needed hope.
Then the trail of the apes came.
The monkey trail literally put me down on my knees unheard of since my girlfriend had a fight. Which is why I failed to capture the place army training stuffs are made of. We have to fight our way with several logs. You crawl underneath. You pull yourself up over dead fallen trees and then crawl once more. A 4×4 experience! I once kissed the earth doing my best worm dance. Fulfilling!
Midday struck, with still plenty of gas left in the tank. The dreaded Hardin ng Balo peeked into the shrubs.
Hardin ng Balo or Garden of the Widow is a swampy area covered with living driftwoods. It is said that a Negros hero once wept here after losing her beloved husband.
But even before we can take ourselves into the garden, we had a time off at the NPA trail.
This is where some rebels pass through. No they don’t grab mountaineers. Normally they would let guys pass and probably ask for some food. But once suspected of being an undercover, they would interrogate you. And eventually release you into the wild unscathed.
Alas, the Hardin ng Balo junction.
What a relief for everyone.
Taking some time off amidst…
Tall trees and soft afternoon breeze.
Danlee counting his plants.
Joseph happily documenting Danlee’s little broods.
This might be the movie Avatar’s inspiration in creating their story setting.
But you dont want to be caught dead here once dusk settles in.
The happy group that we are. Smiles are the best weapon when everything else crashes in your life.
A farther 30 to 45minute trek ensued to Junction for our lunch with Mang Burn ahead of the pack. That’s the kind of hospitality guides and porters here in Kanlaon are most proud of. So we just cant wait to jump into the pot. It’s almost three in the afternoon.
Mang Burn cooking whatever is left on our supply. We couldnt care less.
After a nice lunch, top it off with a quick nap. Pinoy lifestyle, siesta!
We resumed trekking, river camp is our target and after almost getting lost due to a fork we wouldnt expect such host like the…
Almaciga Century Tree
This tree has been a steady of the Wasay trail. As the name suggests, it is already way beyond a hundred. The PNOC made it a pointo not to cut it down but instead have more trees planted in Kanlaon.
Just look at how we get easily dwarfed by the grand daddy.
Fast forward after a gulley, we reached river camp. Once complete, our guide made another game-changing decision. He saw the group and the sun still up. He pushed us to take it all the way to Mambucal in three hours or so.
After another hour of crossing a couple of riverbeds, we hit paydirt.
And as they say in the movie 3 Idiots, “All is well”
And so, we reached Mambucal. A nice Inasal dinner was prepared for us by a local diner. We spent the night at the famed resort and had celebratory drinks by the camp. Yes, we still settled for a campsite despite the onset of a more cozy airconditioned rooms and comfortable beds. This is nature, nothing beats it!
Our patch of heaven in nature.
One of the guest houses. That particular house had a government official for a visitor. They even had a catered meal. Is it public money used? Your guess is as good as mine.
Bats peacefully hanging by the branches.
The river where seven other falls eventually meet.
A typical bahay kubo or nipa hut adorning the middle of the resort.
Some of the colorful flowering plants being peddled inside the park.
Joseph sure knows how to have fun.
Where the steaming spring water pour for mere mortal ones like me.
And I am happy!