Thru-Hiking the Cebu Highlands Trail

IT IS NOW DONE!

We have written about the Cebu Highlands Trail a year ago, a new hiking trail that will allow hikers to experience hiking the whole of Cebu from North to South or vice versa. Getting an inspiration from the famous Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail of the United States, the CHT is the tropical and shorter version. According to Sir Jing Lavilles de Egurolla who blazed the trail, it will provide a scenic view of Cebu.

(READ: CEBU SOON TO BE A MECCA FOR HIKERS)

And so a lot of mountaineers were excited to hear updates about the Cebu Highland Trails after it was finished late last year and then was test hiked recently (with the help of several Camp Red members), Sir Jing shares to us his thoughts.

Be a part of our conversation by reading on.

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Ven: How do you feel after the thru-hike?
Trail Hawk: Sad, happy, relieved, tired but nevertheless enriched by the experience. The fun ended but I just accomplished something that was deemed as a lost pearl in the minds of many people for so long. During the process, the weight of the responsibility of making good of my promise weighed on my mind, I had to fight every step of the way else I lose face if I failed.

Ven: Aside from the blisters you suffered midway which is common for long distance hikes, what major body pains have you experienced?
Trail Hawk: Nothing major, just the usual pain here and there but here are tips for 1) Feet:  no to tight shoes or unbroken new shoes and wet socks. If you get blisters, treat and cover it with band aid or bandage it immediately, change the dressing everyday and 2) Shoulders: no to non-padded shoulder straps.

Ven: Who were with you during the thru-hike?
Trail Hawk: Most of the time, Jonathaniel Apurado but some people hiked with us at Segment 5, Segment 6 and Segment 7

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Ven: What were the difficulties the team had to contend with?
Trail Hawk: Bad weather begun to pick up on the first four days and on the 16th and 17th days but it was no big deal. What got me worried was navigating the Doce Cuartos Mountain Range in Tabogon because it has no water source and the most unwelcoming terrain.

Ven: What major concerns do you foresee that thru-hikers may experience?
Trail Hawk: In a leisure thru-hike, bad weather should be taken into consideration but never a problem. Acceptance by locals of your presence will be something of a hindrance or a challenge but that would be interesting as well, how you would deal and make light of the situation?

Ven: When you started blazing CHT, what was your aim?
Trail Hawk: To prove that this project worked and although it had catch the imagination of many, it is an unknown territory and most people need something concrete to believe in my cause.

“The Cebu Highlands Trail will be my legacy to the next generation” – Jing Lavilles de Egurrola

Ven: We previously written that the distance of the trail is 275-280 km and would take a thru-hiker a month to finish the whole length, does it still stands?
Trail Hawk: I have not ascertained yet the actual distance from the mileage taken by my thru-hike but the estimated measurement is now at 408.29 kilometers. As for the number of days, I was in an expedition mode and it took me 27 days to walk Cebu from south to north, it can be done by a thru-hiker too. But for a leisure thru-hike, it would take them about 35-40 days because there would be no forced marches and they get to enjoy the view better.

Ven: After revisiting the trail, are there improvements needed on drop off points, camp and rest areas?
Trail Hawk: At this time, unless the Cebu Provincial Government and the LGUs improve on it, the setup I did during the thru-hike will prevail but a thru-hike is not possible as of yet and completion of the Cebu Highlands Trail will be done by segment hikes

Ven: You mentioned in our previous article that each segment will be delegated to clubs/groups who will be in-charge of maintain it, do you have several clubs on your list now?
Trail Hawk: I will call for a general meeting and invite outdoor groups soon. Most probably informal ones so they could be able to legitimize their existence and share to them the Cebu Highlands Trail as their own. They would be stakeholders along with Capitol, the LGUs and the communities.

Ven: You must be aware that several hikers are waiting for the opening of the trail, in your talks with the local government, have you already discussed about trail management and probably fees?
Trail Hawk: Not yet. Trail management and fees would be by the policy makers of the Provincial Tourism Office and it’s local counterparts and we will share it to the public when we have information. We hope that the fees would be kind to our budget and do not vary from one place to another.

Ven: What role would you play once the CHT opens to the public?
Trail Hawk: I do not know what would be my role. For sure, I could guide people in segment hikes. That is all. I could also give advice to people needing my opinions.

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Ven: What gears should thru-hiker prepare and any other insights you would want to share?
Trail Hawk: Walking the thru-hike is still a distant option but hiking the Cebu Highlands Trail in segments is a realistic possibility. It is a hike of 3-5 days duration.

Sir Jing suggest the following gears to bring:

  • Good backpack with shoulder pads and padded waist belts of 40-50 liters
  • Tent
  • Light sleeping bag (It is not that cold in Cebu)
  • Ground sheet
  • Cheap and light
  • Stove with fuel
  • Windbreaker or raincoat
  • First aid kit
  • Water purification system like Aquatabs and portable filters
  • 2 water bottles or 2 liters water
  • Food for 3-5 days; do not bring canned goods and instead aim for carbohydrates like
  • Korean noodles, iron-rich dried fish and dehydrated seaweeds
  • Trail food
  • Quick-drying hiking shoes
  • At least 3 pairs hike socks
  • At least 3 pairs elastic undershorts; salt crystals from dried sweat causes abrasions on inner thighs
  • Quick-drying t-shirts

Let’s have a glimpse at several photos Sir Jing shared taken during the thru-hike.

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Author’s Note: All photos that appear here are copyright by Sir Jing Egurolla. It is not meant for distribution by other parties in any form.

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