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(Mount Mago Boundary Trek – April 30 – May 1, 2016)

As most mountaineers cry to save mountains, I agree to disagree about it. Mountains do not need saving! They are not sick. But irresponsible mountaineers are!

Nature doesn’t need us but obviously we do need nature for survival. It is a common misconception to assume and say that we need to save mother earth from destruction. Come on people! Let us open our eyes to the naked truth that the earth doesn’t need saving, but we do! Let us save ourselves from what we have done with nature.

The earth is totally fine. It will continue to spin, wobble, and orbit around the sun according to all applicable laws of physics no matter what the inhabitants would do. The earth / nature has been always indifferent to the inhabitants who stride upon it.

Our ability to live on earth is exponentially diminished every waking day of our lives. Yes, it can’t be denied that our future on earth is finite and cannot continue forever. Wala ngang forever diba? 🙂

Forget about the earth or nature. It will survive. We should keep in mind that earth has stood still for about 4.5 billions years and is totally fine. How about us? we can not stand a chance when nature is at the brim of giving us back the consequences of what we have done.

So this time, the trekkers objective is not just to promote trekking for health and fitness, improve trekking skills of members, learn survival tips but with a monumental intention to disseminate the code that most mountaineers wanted for everyone to observe when communing with nature – the LNT code.

LNT (Leave No Trace) principles is an outdoor ethics or code. It is an awareness and an attitude rather than a set of rules. Leave No Trace Principle applies everywhere, in your home, your backyard, local parks and the likes. It should be in our hearts, minds, and actions wherever we go – always.

The principles of LNT might seem unimportant to some. We can only notice its implications until we combine all its effects. For instance, a single candy wrapper thrown by someone outdoors has a very minimal impact. Now consider the same effect if millions throw one candy wrapper on the same place. What could be the effect? Before we know it, the place will become a pile of garbage like smokey mountain (Smokey Mountain is the term coined for a large landfill located in Manila, Philippines). One instance may have little significance but thousands of such instances seriously degrade the outdoor experience for all. Leaving No trace is everyone’s responsibility.

Mount Mago
LNT sign from the previous trek was still there.

This month, we chose Mt Mago as the first mountain to spread the LNT awareness. How? The trekkers club will be posting LNT signs on its peak to share the code to every visitor on the peak, esp to uninformed outdoor visitors. Yes, we practice LNT within the club but what happens if those who are not practicing LNT or not informed at all, visits the place? – There is no way and no one to remind them of this outdoor code. Showing it by example is the best but leaving a reminder will do the rest!

There were two schedules of the trek both in Mt Mago. The first group was less populous and posted the LNT signs. The second and bigger group (big group) checked if the signs were still intact after a week. Everyone crossed fingers that someone might see it and be encouraged to practice the code by heart and be the next advocate to spread the awareness to others as well. The second group has a total of 38 participants. 31 Overnight campers and 7 day trekkers while the former consisted of 20 participants. The former group has 13 overnight campers and 7 day trekkers.

Mount Mago
Overnight campers
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Few who had the picture taken at the peak on day 1.  (some were busy preparing the fruit salad)
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The day Trekkers (-1)

Journey to the Jump Off: A bumpy ride!

Before we reached Mount Mago, we endured the bumpy ride going to the jump off at Sitio Binalbagan, Santican. From Carmen public market, right across Gaisano (opposite road), we hired motorbike drivers (habal2x) to haul us to barangay Santican (jump off for Mount Mago). The jump off is near the barangay hall and an Elementary school. Yes, the road was not only rough but was kinda steep and most parts were under construction (expect it to be dusty on sunny days). But the 45 minute ride to the jump off was worthwhile when we saw the mini-forest, pine trees and Lhuilliers properties along the way.

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Group picture at the jump off

The Climb to Mount Mago :

Mount Mago (700+ MASL) is situated in the vicinity of not just one municipality but 3. It sits along the boundaries of Danao, Carmen and Tuburan, Cebu. The view on top is not 360 degrees but beholding the marvelous mountains around feels majestic and ethereal. Yes, that’s right, Mount Mago is at its pristine state right now, so let’s keep it that way. So if you dream of being in multiple places at once, then visit Mount Mago. But please, keep the LNT code in mind.

Our journey to Mount Mago peak took us around 2 hours with long breaks in between. Supposedly we were to start the trek late in the afternoon, but to give time to the day trekkers to spend time at the peak and enjoy the view, we started ahead at around 1PM. The weather forecast said that it would be cloudy but what actually happened was that sun was fierce as ever, the sky was bluer than it could be and the heat scorched everyone underneath. (expectations vs reality strikes again)

The Trail:

About 1/3 of the trail is not that open as shades can be found in some parts but the remaining was an open one. Anyone who has been to Mt Pulag, could quickly say that some parts of the trail resembled that famous mountain in Benguet but smaller. The grasses in Mount Mago were also shorter in contrast to the former where grasses are long stemmed. The trail was fairly an easy one, what made it difficult was the scorching heat that made almost everyone wanted to rest every other step during the ascent. Everyone kept an eye for every shade along the way as the sun was really unforgiving despite the hats, scarfs, umbrellas, etc.

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(Commencing the trek

Mount Mago
This is the first open trail. No shades at all. All you can rely on is your hats, umbrellas, scarfs, etc else you will be scorched.
Mount Mago
Ascent on the open trail.
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The sun is so unforgiving. No clouds! It’s really burning hot!
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This clearing here can be the playground for adults. Next time we’ll play Frisbee here or kite flying?
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Mount Mago is that mountain visible from behind those coconuts. Some of the trekkers went ahead and look for tree shades along the trail.
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The part of the trail that resembles like those grasslands in Mt Pulag.
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The last uphill ascent before reaching the peak. Most of the trekkers find this as the most tiring  part of the trail.

The Camp:

Another reason why Mount Mago is worth a visit aside from its astounding, scenic, grassy trail view, is due to its accessibility. Most trekkers will opt for a day trek here. But to those who wanted more of Mount Mago can spend the night of course. On its summit were the freshly burnt grasses that were not caused by irresponsible campers of course but due to the owners of the lands burnt it to regrow the grasses for their cattle.

This time it is not conducive as a campsite, so the alternative was to set camp near the boundary marker or as our hired motrocycle driver suggested, anyone can camp on the grassy part of the trail resembling that of Mount Pulag but is a very open area. We chose to set camp near the boundary marker. Some group set camp on Danao area, some were on Carmen and the rest were on Tuburan side. Quick Note: If you are sensitive to cold temperature then better bring a warmer with you when camping at Mount Mago. It will be mildly chilly at late night until early morning.

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Camping on different places (Carmen, Danao, Tuburan)

The food, socials, hugots and games

We had enough time to prepare our food. As usual, food preparation is per group. It was really heart melting to witness the willingness of every member to do their part in the preparation without being told. Sense of responsibility and team spirits at its best! Kudos! We had a great meal, great food, great experience – and that is all because of the great company!

In big groups like this, possibilities of new joiners are a given and not all of the participants know everybody. This is the part where the socials come in. Thanks to the self introduction and hugot lines serye , it really broke the ice! Everyone seemed comfortable afterwards talking to anyone and seems everyone is on their funny selves. To add more fun of it, we played the werewolf game. It was commendable that the humans had won all (3 rounds) of the games! Guess the werewolves were more humane that time so better be wary next time.. haha..

  • The Socials:

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  • Food Prep

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  • Last pictorial before going back to jump off.

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The Jaunt To Mangitngit Falls

On day 2, the group went to Mangitngit falls for a quick dip. Mangitngit Falls is located near a newly opened resort in Carmen. Unlike Durano Eco-park that they said will be overcrowded at times especially summer season, I expected Mangitngit Falls as a less populous tourist spot. But to my surprise, It the resort is full of crowd even if it is not finished yet. Summer it is! Anyhow, the place is good enough to refresh after an exuding trek.

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Overall, the Mount Mago trek is one of the exhilarating experiences I had. Making new friends and forming new bonds on the mountains with the purpose of spreading LNT awareness is worthwhile.

Let’s spread the awareness! Let’s change our ways! And let’s protect ourselves from the results of all those bad habits we’ve done and yet to do to nature. Every simple gesture of loving the earth counts. I will act now to help extend my ability to live in this beautiful and majestic earth, do you?

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