Time to pack up and explore the outdoors
By N.S. Villaflor
THERE are plenty of reasons to stay at home. But there are more reasons you should explore the outdoors. Cebu has plenty of natural attractions yet many of us here think of leisure time as a trip to the mall, and not just on weekends but on weekdays as well. Too bad, because the beautiful outdoors always beckon, and those who love nature get all the fresh air and wondrous sights all to themselves.
On the other hand, when Cebuanos think of weekend getaways, they think of beaches. And yet the mountains with all their freshwater sources offer a different experience, the reinvigorating and refreshing kind. And the most rewarding activities in the mountains often involve camping and hiking along trails, both of which are gaining popularity in these parts. So, if you haven’t tried camping along with all that immersive hiking, now’s a good time to explore. Here are a few tips on how to get started.
1. Get ready for long walks
Camping and hiking doesn’t demand much, so if you can do some brisk walking without your knees hurting, then you’d be okay. That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t run out of breath especially during steep hikes, but the good thing is you can always set the pace, take quick rests, and enjoy the scenery.
2. The right mindset is key
You might not necessarily be off the grid but do know that you’d be far from the comforts of home when camping. It’s unlikely you’d find a power outlet to recharge, so better set those gadgets aside. It can also get pretty dark and oddly quiet at night, with unfamiliar chirping and rustling of leaves in your surroundings, so it’s important to keep your composure.
3. Pick the right spot
It would be good to have someone who’s familiar with camping and hiking with you, but if none in your group is a hardcore camper, that’s fine. There are places where you can do camping and hiking with a guide. A fairly safe spot, which opened its trails recently, is Foressa Trails in Cansamoroy, Balamban. There are a couple of camping sites there: one for beginners and another for the more experienced. The site for beginners has a row of toilets and showers where you can pitch your tent nearby. Roving guards also secure the vicinity. Foressa Trails also provides a guide for their hiking trails.
4. Pack the right stuff
The trick is not to overpack. Make sure that you’ll only be stuffing essentials in your bag. If you have children, pack like you normally would during regular trips, but make sure they have the right hiking gear and footwear (like you do). Umbrellas come in handy, but weatherproof gear would suffice. For camping, bring the following essentials: portable lights, flashlights (one for each), hunting knife, swiss knife, paper plates, power banks or batteries, and stainless steel mugs, among others. If you’re cooking, bring a grill, charcoal (or quality butane stove), small cooking pots, barbecue sticks, marshmallows (for smores), and cooking ingredients.
5. Organize your team
Children above six years old might be ready for some camping and they make for great company. Kids are naturally curious so they will find the surroundings fascinating, as well as the whole camping and hiking experience itself. Whether it’s making a bonfire, sleeping in pitch black darkness in a tent, or navigating the trails with so much energy and ease, children make the camping and hiking experience more meaningful as their enthusiasm is quite contagious.
6. Consider pets as company
A well-behaved dog, particularly breeds that are attuned to the outdoors like dachshunds, make good companions, too. Just make sure to bring their vaccination certificates with you, in case camp staff wish to check. And don’t forget their doggie food and treats.
7. Get adequate rest
This applies on days prior to camping and hiking. You want to be in the best shape for prepping and cleaning up the camp site, and of course for the long hike ahead.
8. Look forward to the outdoors
And hope for the best. The weather could turn ugly making for a wet campsite, or it could become unbearably humid in your tent at night. But as long as everything is bearable, there’s no turning back. Rest assured, the camping and hiking experience will be be a memorable and meaningful one.