Last weekend was a back-to-back trek/run for me. Saturday, I was with some runners (Simon, Kian, Alex, Jose and Majo) who came all the way from Manila. 3 of them are running UTMB namely Simon, Alex and Kian. Starting from Crow Creek school all the way up to Miyamit and back with additional 4 kms going to the peak for a total of 26K. We had a blast especially at the Falls.
The next day I had to wake up early again to accompany Ronnel, JJ, Yob, Toto and Rocketbong to the same place except they had to go ahead since I with my trusted Aeta guide, Joseph Serrano aka Trail Director were originally scheduled to check out the race course for CM42 starting from junction going to falls and peak or a one-way distance of almost 16k or 32K total. We did just that.
My goal was to find out the terrain condition prior to race day, 22 September 2013. Last year, we were a bit in a rush to clear the trail from junction all the way up to the falls for CM50. So I did not want to have that stress again.
Below is an amalgam of bad and good news (for lack of better term) and will start with the former. Better to end this blog post with the good ones.
So the trek last Sunday was a revelation, short of a bit of bad news. For one, it is my job as RD to see the race course with my own two eyes and on foot. There is no other way of doing it especially with the kind of terrain in Miyamit. We had no access to a 4x4 vehicle which would have considerably reduced the time of our ocular inspection. Secondly, you can't help but wonder why in the world you're out there while the rest of the world sleeps away. Thought of my kids who would again wake up with no father in sight to greet them "Good morning", take care of their breakfast and remind them to sanitize their awful breath by brushing their teeth (yup, they have to be reminded sometimes).
And the finale is the huge task ahead of us how to clear the trail from junction all the way to the peak for a total of almost 8k of pure rugged wilderness in time for CM42! You should see it to believe it (picture below). It was thicker than last year and my head last Sunday just throbbed in pain how to solve the gargantuan task. When we ran last Saturday, we thought we took the right trail going to the peak but it wasn't until my guide, Joseph told me otherwise last Sunday. No wonder our group last Saturday was not gaining that much elevation and the trail was relatively clean. I brought Joseph with me to help us hack and slash our way through the thick overgrown plants and bushes. Good thing I was wearing a pair of long pants and sleeves. Otherwise, I couldn't imagine how my legs would be after the trek without some form of protection .
That is Joseph, the "Trail Director" and yes, that is basically the condition now.
Took us almost 12 hours to finish the course inspection!
Mt. Negron. Aetas called it "Mt. Abu" in the background. This is just beside the peak
Joseph pointing to Mt. Negron or Mt. Abu
The CAUTION tape, remnant of last year's CM50. This is roughly 2.5kms to the peak.
Now for the good news.
Joseph and I managed to find a solution which is none other than to manually clear and clean the place. (Did you know I even entertained the wicked idea of dropping Napalm bomb used during Vietnam war? That will make our work easier. But that is absolutely stupid and wrong). However, Joseph and I reckoned that it will take him and his crew at least 5 days to do the job. That means they will have to stay on the trail for such duration complete with provisions, tools and all (all their needs have to be provided by yours truly). He said it could be done and I trust they could. They have successfully done so in the past. It's just more work now. After that, I will have to check out the trail again to make sure everything is safe and in order. Most likely, some fine tuning will still be done but that is okay to me. By hiring them, I have provided some form of employment as compared to their tedious job of bringing down from the mountains goods as such as banana hearts ("puso ng saging") to trade for a measly amount of P/70 only per sack. To think, a sack full of hearts weighs roughly 20 kilos!
Another news is that I have gotten in touch with Ayalaland, Inc. (ALI) with a request if we could use their property in Porac, the venue of Explorac Run (http://explorac.ph/), as staging area for CM42. That will be very ideal for me as race organizer and convenient for runners (although it will mean a little additional race kilometers for them :). So folks, cross your fingers ... and toes too!
Overall, everything is panning out as planned. Now if we could only think of a way how to maintain the trail going to the peak throughout the year both for runners and trekkers/climbers going to the caldera of Mt. Pinatubo. Otherwise and to tell you frankly, I don't know how I'll be able to maintain CM50 since it just costs too much, time-consuming and very labor intensive. If you have good ideas, please let's have them.
On the way back, Joseph led me to a short cut or what seems to be a parallel trail to the race course. This one is rolling and relatively clean as it is what the Aetas used to ply their goods from the mountains to lowland. I have discovered new streams and a mini falls called Pagdatangan something (not so sure if I got the name right since we were tired and had no lunch yet by 2pm).
I drank from this and am still okay, so far :)
the mini falls
I have received some messages from runners who are willing to volunteer their time and 1 weekend. So thank you. Will just make a headcount and distribute the labor later.
Jon (whose last trail shoes got mutilated last weekend and is in need of a new pair!)