Archive for Hiking

Guy Lines: illustrated

Posted in Cool Stuff, DIY, Gear, Travel, Outdoors, Places with tags , , , , , on March 29, 2011 by AnakAmaGuro

I’ve been getting a lot of email requests for an illustrated photo of how to use a guy out line and how to properly tension them.

Well boys and girls, here it is.

 

 

Hope this helps.

Happy Trails! 🙂

More on the Apexus Tadpole Tent

Posted in Gear, Outdoor Equipment, Reviews, Thoughts, Travel, Outdoors, Places with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by AnakAmaGuro

There is not much information online about this outdoor equipment, so I decided to put in my two cents worth.

I tried searching for the manufacturer’s website but found nothing. I wish they would place their contact information on the box or something. An email address would help.

Anyway, so here’s my latest review on the Apexus Tadpole tent.

Material:

According to the information on the box, the inner tent is made of “breathable nylon”. It did not specify the type though. The sides, running all the way to the back are striped with mesh for better ventilation. It also has a double door that serves the same purpose. The eyelets are rustproof brass.

The rain fly is made of 190T PU coated Nylon. The seams are sealed with water-proof tape. Two double-runner type zippers run the front side of the fly for the “door” and all ten important corners of the fly are sewn with a strap and a shock cord for stability when properly pegged.

The poles are made of lightweight aluminum alloy – a far better material compared to its fiberglass counterparts.

No information about the floor material was provided. I’m guessing it is polyurethane coated nylon.

Rating: 3/5

Weight:

The tent’s trail weight is relatively heavy at 2.35 kilograms*. For a hiker or mountaineer who wants to pack it light, anything above 2 kilograms is a killer. Sure, the extra third of a kilo is considerably light. But not when you’re planning to walk for hours up a mountain with everything in your pack.

Rating: 1/5

Pitching and Striking:

Now this is where the “no-hitch-pitch assembly” kicks in to play. The tent is very easy to pitch; so easy, that one person can set it up in 2 to 3 minutes – from the bag to full on rain proof tent. Plastic clips on straps sewn to the tent make it easy to set up; even easier to strike. One does not have to go through the trouble of maneuvering the poles through narrow sleeves and running back and forth from one end of the tent to another.

The tent comes in its own bag. But I prefer to use a polyester-nylon stuff sack to keep it flat. I like it better that way, because I carry my tent (save for the poles and the pegs) inside my pack, not outside it.

Rating: 4/5

Stability:

Nothing rides out a storm like a tadpole. It’s very aerodynamic.

Rating: 4/5

Price:

I think it’s rather pricey.

Rating: 2/5

Others:

Vestibule – There is not much vestibule area. But there’s enough for your boots and slippers. You would have to sleep with your backpack inside your tent. Rating: 1/5

Pegs – Twelve aluminum pegs are included. Length: 6 inches (end to end including bend) diameter: 5 millimeters. Rating: 3/5 (hey, I would have given it a 4/5 if the pegs were 9 inches long!)

Tensioners – 2 tensioners (guy out lines) are included in the package. Each with its own plastic 8-runner.

I always have a little trouble with the 2-layer door. It does not have clips attached to the cord to hook on to the sides. So I end up having to tie it in a knot with the stitched loop. A minor setback for some, but not for me. Attention to detail is of great importance to me. So I opted to attach a pair of mini carabiners for each layer of door (one for the mesh, and another for the nylon door).

I may still have to add more information about the tent. Feel free to ask me a question by leaving a comment.

Happy trails!

Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but foot prints.

A mountaineer’ s creed

*Owner’s measurement. Weight information is not included in or on the packaging.

Mt. Manabu – February 28 2009

Posted in Places, Thoughts, Travel, Outdoors, Places with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2009 by AnakAmaGuro

I was invited by a former office mate and friend to climb one of the most beautiful mountains in the northern Luzon region – Mt. Pulag. It was set for February 26 to March 1, 2009.

I was really very excited that I filed my vacation Leave early – 4 weeks early.

The plan was to climb Pulag, then be back in time for the flower festival in Bagiuo City. A week before the event, I was hardly getting any sleep (due to excitement, perhaps) and was like a kid waiting for his Christmas present.

No one expected it, but sadly, the other group we were to join in the climb backed out.

A few days before the climb, Vic (the friend who invited me) had to back out too. He was forced to do so because he had to take the slack and all the work load that his officemate left when s/he resigned.

But Mother Nature has a way of communing with you. It’s like she knows that you have a date with her and must not cancel.

Right before my team cancelled, another outdoors buddy invited me to a minor climb down south. I declined because of the Mt. Pulag trip.

But when I sent him a message stating my interest in joining the Mt. Manabu climb, he eagerly counted me in and even asked if I was to take a few more friends with me.

I invited Will and he in turn, invited Vic.

And so it was set; Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9AM, we meet outside a convenience store along Senator Gil Puyat Avenue to take a bus to Lipa, Batangas.

Will and I met early and had breakfast prior to meeting the others.

My pack was heavy and was full to the gills. I made sure I brought everything I would need (or so I thought), left those that I didn’t, ran through my checklist (which I’ve had with me since my early years in the outdoors scene) twice and had iced water in my hydration pack ready to quench my thirst during the long walk to camp.

We boarded the bus at 9:30 AM and left Manila at 9:45 AM.

I wanted to make a detailed log of the trip… but being that I had only very little sleep the night before, I sort’a “forgot” that I wanted to make that detailed log.

Anyway, what happened the night before is a totally different story.

Back to the trip…

So we got to Lipa, Batangas. We then got off the bus and were following the bus conductor as he made his way to open the compartment area that held our packs. My backpack and another’s fell on the dirt as he opened the compartment door. I thought I saw myself hurting the poor bus conductor in my head. *snicker*

We then found ourselves at a tricycle terminal and were deciding if we should go by fours or by threes. I forgot to mention, there were eight of us in the group. Will, Vic and I took one tricycle. Aaron, Joms and Ivy took another, while Bokbok and Mau went to the local grocery/supermarket/mini-mall there.

Just before we were ready to go, I accidentally stepped on a gum on the hot asphalt (talk about luck). And like that was not enough, my backpack fell off the tricycle and hit the same gum I stepped on. Now my pack has “gummy webs”, because I forgot to put on the rain cover. I then decided, its time I put it on the roof of the side car. I hope no more accidents happen to my pack.

Well, so much for signs of good luck and a good climb. At least the weather was beautiful – sunny and windy at the same time, a burn waiting to happen.

And so off we went. I thought I was going to pass out when the wind hit my face the very second the tricycle started moving. I wanted to say to the driver, “kuya, happy new year!”

I thought I was the only one getting a dose of the driver’s acrid scent. Will and Vic confirmed that they too were feeling like they were being gassed to extinction.

I think the government should require drivers to wear deodorant…

Anyway, we then stopped halfway outside a barangay outpost to register. We were asked a small registration fee of PHP10.00 – to help the local community.

We had a few minutes to light up a cigarette and take a few pictures before we started driving towards the jump off point (its New Year’s all over again, Yahoo!).

At the jump off point, we met two groups of hikers (or was that three? I’m sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention). They left a few minutes ahead of us and while one group stayed a little while and chatted with us.

There was the routine stretching, and a prayer was said for thanks and guidance. We were last to leave the jump-off point and we took it easy hiking up the mountain.

We were going on a moderate pace and were stopping for a minute or two to catch our breaths. We took the non-traditional route; some call it the “grotto trail” because you will pass by a grotto where you may also stop to freshen up. Cool, clear, mountain water flows in a stream right next to the grotto.

We stopped there for about 10 minutes and moved on. Aaron chose this trail because it’s easier to hike up this trail than hike back down from the camp site.

The usual time it takes to reach the camp site takes about 2 hours, including breaks. We took 3 hours. We kept the itinerary open (actually there was no itinerary) and kept on an “easy groove”. When we got to the summit (I think that’s where it is marked by a cross), we stopped for a while and took some photos.

We then hiked down to the campsite and noticed that the 3 groups who went ahead up the mountain looked like they just got there.

“Hmm… The trail we took was indeed shorter” I said to myself – considering that we stopped a lot of times like we were first timers.

The camp site looked like a garden – almost like a golf course. It offered a 360-degree view of the neighboring mountains and cities. It was beautiful.

After selecting spots to pitch our tents, we then prepared to cook dinner. But it was still too early (we got there at around 4 PM). So I sat down, whipped a cup of coffee, enjoyed Mother Nature’s embrace and drank in her beauty.

The wind was rushing and offered a cool, soothing, almost balmy relief to a city slicker like myself. After a few more minutes, I realized that it was getting cold (time to get out of my wet shirt and change into something warm).

Still sipping on my coffee, I took some photos of the then setting sun. I wish I brought a better camera. You should have seen the sunset for yourself – magic was written all over it.

A mountain peak was slightly peeking above the clouds, there was still day light but the new moon has already shone her magical light. Hues of red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink and gray were weaving strands of light, a kick ass recipe for a beautiful sunset. “The magical hour” as Will had aptly put it.

As the cold night started to envelope everything around us, I fired up my lantern and prepared dinner.

I could not help but notice how big the stars were. It feels as if you are closer – closer to something powerful, something beautiful.

There were no words to describe how it felt at that time. I was awestruck.

You could see the entire constellation above you. And when you look down, you see the electric lights of the nearby cities. They seem like reflections of each other.

It made me want to lie on the soft earth.

There were ants. So I didn’t. :-p

We waited a while for the other members of the team to finish cooking their dinner, and then sat around our camp lights and talked about the climb. We even started planning about the next trip.

After dinner, was “the gathering” – fancy name for sitting around, talking and getting hammered. *Nyehehehe*

We finished 4 bottles of brandy chased with iced tea and a lot of stories. It actually helped in warming the body and I noticed that I wasn’t feeling so cold. Slightly numb and dizzy, yes, but cold no more.

12 AM: lights out.

Woke up at 6AM but I never got up and got out of my warm and comfy tent until 6:25 AM. Fired up my trusty stove and made delicious coffee (yes, I love coffee, especially when it freezing!!!). After about 30 minutes, I then made crab and corn soup (well, it was instant soup. So sue me), and shared it with my camp mates.

Reheated Left over rice from last night’s dinner was mixed with my 1 day old adobo – instant adobo rice! Plus margarine-fried dried squid and danggit = good old Pinoy breakfast. I think I finished two bowls of adobo rice. We had enough to go around and share, so I walked over to Joms and found him cooking tocino while Aaron was getting everything else ready for the day’s first meal.

After cleaning up, we then started to pack our stuff back into our back packs and got ready to descend the mountain. I was a little sad to leave all this beauty behind.

The other teams were starting to leave while we were reorganizing everything into our packs. We exchanged a few courteous greetings and watched them as they took the trail we used the day before to walk back to the jump off point. Everybody except our team took the grotto trail on the way back. According to Aaron (who has been here countless times), it is faster and easier to descend using the traditional trail.

March 1, 2009, 11 AM – the team was ready to head back home save for the pair (Daryl and Ghalle) who joined us a few hours after reaching the campsite. We stretched, took a few pictures and I led the prayer. At 11:10 AM, we started our way down. Just like Aaron said, it was indeed faster, and easier down this way.

We stopped a while at a hut along the trail and the people who lived there offered us water. We graciously accepted and I drank a glassful. We were still talking about the next trip, but we haven’t really agreed on anything yet.

The old lady of the house was inviting us in for coffee (tempting tempting!), but we opted to decline their generous and most hospitable offer. We said thanks and bid them goodbye and resumed our trek back to civilization.

We reached a stream and Vic reminded me that this was the same hut (next to the stream) where we stopped the day before. I said, “No” but later realized that he was correct. I didn’t recognize the hut from the back side, plus the brooms (made from stems of the coconut leaf) from yesterday weren’t there anymore.

We greeted the lady of the house who was then busy hanging her laundry on the clothes line to dry as we passed and were now back on the trail we took up the mountain.

A few more minutes down the trail, we were greeted by the local who was trying to sell us coconuts yesterday. We stopped to purchase what she had prepared while I was having flash backs from the last climb here in this same province.

They were selling their just-harvested eggplants and bucayo (strips of shredded young coconut meat caramelized in a coat of brown sugar). I bought two (small) bags of the local candy.

A plastic (8oz) cup of young coconut water (with its meat) was sold for PHP5.00. A good deal I must say, considering that it was freshly made plus they added nothing to it – just ice.

I think I had 5 cups (can you blame me? It was delicious!!!) Joms, Aaron and Bokbok filled their Nalgene bottles with the concoction and paid only PHP25.00 per bottle. That was crazy! In manila, you get a coconut for PHP15.00, sometimes PHP30.00 and it comes with the husk and shell. But here, you get nothing but deliciousness, and pay only PHP25.00! Now tell me if that wasn’t insanely cool!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.

Anyway, one of the teams that left hours before us were passing by as we got ready to get back on the trail. We not only gained on them, we passed them. We saved hours and energy taking the other way back. And get this, we stopped and rested at the hut by the trail for a good 15 minutes (estimated)!

An hour after the trek down, we were back at the jump off point; enjoying halo-halo and just getting ready to hit the showers. One would have to pay PHP15.00 to take a bath, but the water was at your disposal. Shower all you want.

It started raining while I was halfway done with my halo-halo. The weather was indeed kind to us – No baking in the sun while we were in the camp site, no rain during the entire stay on the mountain.

The group was a little worried for Daryl though. He walked down the mountain with us to buy supplies and potable water from the jump off point. Now he has to trek back up in this rain to the campsite where Ghalle was waiting for him. If I had extra supplies, I would’ve given it to him to save him the trouble. But the group carried only what was enough so that we were hauling it light. Tsk.

The cubicle I used (to shower) had three big plastic drums of water. It was like saying to me, “shower all you want for 15 pesos!”

Nah. I try to save clean water as much as I can. So I only used what was enough.

The team got ready to leave for the bus terminal. We opted to take a jeep this time and paid only PHP30.00 per person since we were joined by another team on the ride back to Lipa City.

It was still raining when we got there. The driver took us directly to where the buses were parked. Good man.

We chose a bus bound for Buendia and settled in. After paying the fare, I dozed off and later woke up in Magallanes.

Will and Vic had to go ahead while the rest of the team had an early dinner at the same burger restaurant the day before.

After getting our tummies full, we bade each other goodbye and took home memories of another great weekend adventure.

Click here to see the photos.

Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but foot prints.

A mountaineer’ s creed

Back from the highlands

Posted in Places, Thoughts, Travel, Outdoors, Places with tags , , , , on November 24, 2008 by AnakAmaGuro

About three weeks ago, a friend invited me to climb Mt. Maculot (LLA: 13°55’15″N; 121°2’30″E; 685 MASL).

I just got back and all I can say is, “wow!”

I have been to Mt. Maculot Twice. The first was in 1996 (or was it in 1997? hmm, I can’t clearly remember) and it was so very different then. There were no makeshift stores up in the campsite area where locals sell halo-halo and all sorts of lowland comforts that they can carry up the mountain.

This year, I (along with the group) took a different route. We traversed up through the “Grotto” trail. Along the way, there are prayer stations where the religious may light candles and say their prayers. These kept us on the right track and it took us approximately an hour to get to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. A slow pace, I must admit. I knew I should have trained and jogged everyday for at least a week before the climb, but I didn’t – I couldn’t. Or maybe I’m just too lazy. And I paid a costly price for not doing so. I had to stop at every prayer station (and often in between) to rest. My legs were screaming for me to stop and take a breather. I thought I could wing it – the mountain proved me wrong. It was high noon and the trail was only partly covered by trees and high grass. I was sweating buckets!

We stopped at the Grotto for 5 minutes to take pictures and celebrate (a quarter of the way is done!). The real test was about to start. Traversing the mountain and finding our way to the summit from the Grotto.

We hit a little bump on the road (or in this case, trail) and stopped. Bamboo was blocking the partly covered trail and it can’t be moved. Our Expedition leader dared not cut the growth down. So he decided that we go around it and hoped to find a different path that leads us back to the trail to the summit. I could sense that some members of the group were worried, but they know that our Expedition leader will pull us through. He is an experienced outdoorsman and has another in the group with us (Jovel). I, on the other hand, felt my old strength coming back after that 5 minute stop and welcomed the cool refreshing mist that the mountain offered. “It smells like rain” I whispered to myself.

Along the way, there were shrubs and trees that you don’t usually see just about anywhere but a forested mountain. Some members of the group hated the thorny shrubs and trees we encountered along the way. It snagged their head gear, clothing, even their back packs. It made me smile, because I was once like them.

Then it started to rain. It made the already slippery trails even more slippery. There were paths were there were no foot holds, not even a branch to grab hold on to, and when there was one, it was that spiny thorn plant. The group, being that there were 8 guys and only one lady, never really seriously complained about the task ahead. Instead, we kept things light and joked about, well, everything! We were even visited by the group’s unofficial 9th member – Eagle Man! We of course knew that Eagle Man was Marlon who pulled down his black bandana over his face, making sure that the eye holes were in the right place, to instantly become Eagle Man, but we pretended that we were awestruck and greeted him happily. Everybody was in to it and it made the trek so much easier.

And so, back to the rain; it kept pouring until the next morning, drenching everything that wasn’t water-proofed. I was trekking with a wet pair of boots and socks. Lucky, I wore gaiters, so it kept the scratches and the mud on my legs to a minimum to almost nothing. I have more mud on my hands than my legs because there were instances when I had to walk on all fours because either the ground was offering no traction to my boots and I had to grab hold of tree roots or rocks or I had to crawl to avoid getting snagged by the thorny palnts. As for the scratches… well, I forgot to wear my Lycra sleeves and now I look like I had a fight with a cat.

We reached the summit somewhere around 4:30 PM. We immediately surveyed the small camp site and pitched our tents, while Marlon whips out a thermos of hot coffee (talk about being prepared!). It was still raining and it was getting dark real quick. In a matter of minutes, Joy (our only female companion) was changing into her camp apparel in one of the 3 tents, trying to stay warm. Aaron (our Expedition Leader) and I, immediately cooked dinner. We were trying to keep everybody, especially Joy and Vince out of the rain (it was their first mountain) and wanted to keep them warm. So Marlon took out the pre-boiled meat and we cooked Sinigang for dinner. Oh boy, it was delicious!

After dinner, we had “Jenny on Ice”. Where did the name come from? Its Generoso Brandy mixed with a little water and a pack of powdered iced tea.

We exchanged stories, played some tunes and had what’s left of the Sinigang a la Maculot.

When it felt like I couldn’t take any more alcohol (or was it that I was tired?), I called it a night and retired into my trusty tadpole tent.

There were instances when I woke up in the middle of the night for a lot of reasons. One of them would be that I had to go and take a leak. But it was too wet and cold outside that I chose to dismiss the urge and just went back to Lala Land.

I saw no stars that night. *sad* 😦

I woke up the next morning at 5:15 AM and it was still drizzling. And you guessed right – I chose not to get up just yet. When I felt like everyone was about to get up, I got out of my tent, pulled up the fly sheet and whipped a hot cup of coffee while having my morning cigarettes. I then cooked rice, made sunny side ups, fried danggit and dried squid. Aaron also cooked rice and made cream of mushroom soup.

After the hearty breakfast, we took some photos, talked about who snored the loudest and joked around some more. We then broke camp after noticing that it stopped raining and made the most out of it and made ready for the trek down the other side of the mountain to the grassland camp site.

After making sure that we have packed or rubbish and secured it on to our packs, and left no trace of our visit to the peak, we then started our descent down the mountain. That was where I got most of the scratches on my arms (note to self: wear a stretch sleeve next time! You should know this; you have been up a mountain quite a few times!).

Although it was no longer raining, the clouds racing through the mountain offered either a soothing, cool feeling, erasing all signs of weariness, or its just plain friggin’ cold! Still, it was a welcome treat for a city slicker like me. One doesn’t get to breathe air as fresh as that, ya’know.

The trail down the peak to the grassland campsite was initially wet, muddy and slippery, but was surprisingly dry and comfortable when we exited the forest.

We couldn’t see the trail because the cogon grass bowed towards each other and blocked our view. Joven traced the path and suffered a lot of scratches on his face and arms the most. But that didn’t stop him and the rest of the group from reaching the grassland camp site. We stopped at about a good 15 meters from the campsite when we saw a clearing. We put down our bags, refilled water bottles and enjoyed a quick snack of garlic flavored crackers.

After a short stop at the grassland campsite, greeting fellow mountaineers who were then having lunch, we then proceeded to walk down the trail leading to the lowlands.

On our way down, familiar marks on the trail greeted me. The ground was dry and the sun was starting to smile down on us. I saw this big old rock where I would always sit and rest. I greeted “him” and said hello to an old friend. “It has been years, it’s nice to see you again”.

It was a quick trek down the mountain and we even had time to stop every so often and wait for the rest of the group. In one of the rest stops, I saw a huge blue ant. I never got to photograph it, my camera phone’s battery was draining low at that time and we were to continue trekking down. Tsk… Next time perhaps. So, we continued on our way down the mountain and I just had to stop at a station where two trekkers were sitting at, not because of them, but I saw a local woman, selling coconut water (with strips of young coconut flesh). It looked so inviting with all the cold beads of water precipitating on the outside of the container. Being that I was on the head of the pack, I unbuckled my bag, set it down next to a tree, and took out my wallet. I bought a glass of that cold coco water and I wasn’t disappointed. It was cool and refreshing; you get a healthy amount of coco flesh in every gulp. I even had a second serving! So when everybody caught up with me on that rest stop, I invited them to check it out. Marlon (a.k.a Eagle Man) had 4 servings, if I’m not mistaken.

We continued walking until we reached the jump off point. It’s a hut maintained by a local family that caters to mountaineers. They have your basic needs like a head, food and refreshments. Jovel, Marlon and I ordered lunch while we waited for the others to arrive. We then took a much needed shower, brushed our teeth, and repacked our back packs and waited for the tricycles that the lady of the house called via text messaging.

We paid thirty pesos per person for the tricycle ride to town and took pictures of the town’s marker arch, making the mountain a beautiful background.

A bus, ride to Pasay City, dinner at a hamburger chain, post – climb debriefing, took some more photos, said our good-byes and we called it a night.

As I write this, I look back at the experience with great joy and a sense of fulfillment. It felt great to once again commune with nature. To go out there, and just rough it out. It brings a smile to my face. *sigh*

Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints.

Apexus Tadpole Classic Tent

Posted in Gear, Outdoor Equipment with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by AnakAmaGuro

A dome tent is nice, but I chose to purchase a tadpole. I wanted my tent to be aerodynamic – with or without the rain fly.

Sure it doesn’t have much head room, and you’d have to sit with your back to the door or the other way around, with your legs out in the vestibule area… But that’s alright. I don’t need to stand in my tent anyway. I wouldn’t be holding indoor poker games with the entire camp in my tent. It’s my little private spot in the outdoors, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I can always upgrade to a “toad” or a “bullfrog” (as some may call it) should I need to.

Apexus Tadpole TentApexus Tadpole Tent in Alitap

It kept rain at bay and is perfectly breathable. The floor has a nice smooth finish and the indoor mesh pockets are big enough to hold your tent essentials. The poles are made of aluminum alloy, which are stronger, compared to its fiberglass counterparts.

Here are the specs:

Note: Most of it I got off the box; it doesn’t provide much information though. 😛

•Poles: Special Aluminum Alloy. Flexible, Collapsible

•Fly: Nylon 190T PU coated, Waterproof tape-sealed seam

•Inner Tent: Breathable Nylon, Nylon Mesh for better ventilation

2-layered door for ventilation control

•Eyelet: Rustproof Brass

•Dimension: 215cm x 130cm x 95cm

•Weight: 2.35kg (trail weight: including poles and pegs)

•Sleeps: 2

The tent is aerodynamically designed for high-altitude climbing to stand against strong winds. Clip provided for no-hitch-pitch assembly.

Full cover waterproof rain fly provides maximum protection and stability.

Extended vestibule for Kitchen and storage.

Elegant, lightweight collapsible aluminum alloy poles, interconnected by shock cords for easy pitching and striking.

Aluminum pegs provided (12)

Stuff sacks (for pegs and poles) and carrying bag included.

Investing on good equipment will guarantee you happy times in the great outdoors.

Happy Trails!

Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but foot prints.

A mountaineer’ s creed