Feeling undertrained for the trails as of late (my last trail run was the H100), I took to the road going up to San Mateo toward the Timberland area. The goal was just to keep running for 2 hours then return on the same route back to the house. I left at 6:20 am passing the villages of Rancho Estate, La Milagrosa, Meteor and the unforgiving Monterrey before reaching Silangan in San Mateo. Around 7:30 am, I noticed 4 runners going the opposite way – BoyP (Meljohn Tezon) flashed a smile and Jessie Llarena came into view. The other two (Glairol Racella & Ian Mabilangan) had joined the group going up to Timberland. It was an alternate route which led to the pine tree-lined area. So was I going to join along? You bet your arse…
Our pace was unexpectedly quite fast by my standards but soon enough, I was able to join along especially during the downhills. We had a coffee break + putos (and a grandiose view of Metro Manila blanketed in smog) before proceeding to another major breakfast stopover at the Giant eatery. It was sort of a mini gathering of some ultratrail friends led by Aldean & Wilnar plus some familiar road & trail enthusiasts. It was a good thing that I took in a lot of those spicy noodles for I had no idea that we would be out in the mountains, trails, rivers, etc. for the whole day.
The destination was Wawa Dam at Dulong Bayan in San Mateo but our group didn’t want to take the usual route from the Timberland area. So BoyP brought us along a trail which he thought would bring us there, albeit a longer and more difficult way. The pace was quite relaxed (still finding the time to stop by barrio centers for our liquid and solid requirements) but once someone starts to get enthusiastic (Glairol aka Uod for the uphills and me for the descents), the whole litter would follow along. I feel we were entering the heart of darkness, deeper into rivers, valley and mountain system few people have trudged on.
It became a challenge following the course of the river while clambering across black boulders and slippery slopes but we managed. We could have done this the whole day without even getting to the mouth of the river. Fortunately, a charcoal gatherer led us out of our endless labyrinth into a mountain whose inclination I couldn’t size up and fathom. We finally reached the summit after a dizzying ascent where one false judgement could mean disaster. And our trail newbie, Ian, throwing up from the eternal uphills.
After deciding against climbing the nearby summit (where are we to pass?) and waiting for Ian to recover, we began a descent where I had no choice but to move on all fours. I was with Jessie while BoyP was guiding Ian down, down, down. We reached a river paradise where the water was clear, the current silent & deep and nature at its most pristine. Welcome to BoyP’s playground and natural spa. We took into the waters like lost desert children while Ian recovers, again.
The final walk/run was a good 2 hours before reaching the twin peaks where Wawa Dam was situated. Needless to say, the sights were awesome and picturesque, like we were worlds away from Metro Manila. But of course, Rizal province has a way of ruining its beautiful landscape.
For around the Wawa river strewn with ultrawhite boulders the size of houses and intricately carved limestone hills lay human wastes of the 21st century – floating videoke bars in an Olympic-scale competition to pollute the quiet and the clean. And that’s just the start. I don’t want to get into details but Wawa river and dam has the potential of becoming one of the country’s tourist attraction, most definitely. Now if they can only clean up the area and dismantle all the blight and human structures all over.
We got to Wawa at 6 pm and headed to Montalban town proper for our Chic-Boy party – mine was Cebu Lechon, my prize for surviving another harrowing and fun adventure last Sunday. So when do we go back, BoyP?
Some photos courtesy of BoyPraning (aka BoyP & Meljohn Tezon) – sa uulitin!