Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Climbing Mt. Hamiguitan via Osmeña Trail in Governor Generoso

I was a dormant mountaineer for eight long months. My latest communions with the mountains were through trail running. It was only on November 19-20 where I retrieved my backpacking stuff and joined the Visit Davao Fun Sale (VDFS) group in Mt. Hamiguitan for an assessment climb. Over the weekend I rediscovered the mountain which I considered the most unique among all the mountains I climbed throughout my mountaineering years.

We are a team of veteran mountaineers headed by Sir Benjie Lizada, the Team Leader who happens to be the Executive Committee Chairperson of VDFS. I have been joining this group since February last year and with them I found a new company that resembles with my passion and ardour of the outdoors. Sir Benjie has also been looking at Davao Oriental as another destination to be included in next year’s version of VDFS for selling guided tours over the eastern parts of region XI.

We took the less-visited Osmeña trail in Governor Generoso, the one they fondly called “ligas-paka” trail because of the presence of some cliff portions and face-the-wall assault. For the inexperienced trekkers the trail could be very dangerous. From the trailhead we trekked approximately 12 kilometers starting from Purok 7 up to the Twin Falls, chasing the pristine Dumago-ok River where a lot of rock trails were traversed. Local tourism staff in GovGen even joked to me that their route is the “boulder face” of Mt. Hamiguitan.

Campsite 3 in the bonsai field is the convergence campsites for all trekkers be it from San Isidro or Governor Generoso. Some 2 hours hike from Purok 7 is the campsite 2, a usual overnight stopovers for GovGen trekkers. In our case we directly proceeded to camp 3 in day 1, but given with the difficulty of the trail our sweeper arrived in camp 3 around 11:30 in the evening. There were even two members of the team who were left in between camp 2 and Dumago-ok waterfalls which was accompanied by Tourism Officer Joey Gamao. They continued the hike the following day while we were already on our way down.

The two waterfalls along the trail which were vertically laid out into the rock walls of the mountain were incredible. The first one was part of the Dumago-ok river system and the other one, the more popular  Twin Falls, have maintained its radiance when I first saw it in 2008. The verdant setting of the environment has truly complemented with these water bodies that become Mt. Hamiguitan’s key attractions.

In a short span I also spotted several interesting flora and fauna in Mt. Hamiguitan. This mountain is considered to be a habitat of many life forms, some even endemic only in the area.  Most notable of which are the tropical pitcher plants and Lepidoptera.

I was the first to arrive in the bonsai field and although it was my second time in the mountain I was still amazed by its breath-taking scenery. As I observed, the bonsais were filled with life, not just ordinary life but life that dictates enchantment. I heard them whispering enthusiasm, conversing to me of gentle persuasions that they would continue living there for the rest of eternity as long as they would be protected and loved. Each and every bonsai that I saw had satisfied my urge to nature and everything else in the outdoors. 

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Mt. Hamiguitan deserves to be given full attention and respect. No other places in the country that has the same attributes like this mountain and just like any other wonderful natural heritage sites Mt. Hamiguitan should be preserved.

At this point I would like to thank VDFS through Sir Benjie for inviting me to that climb. Gratitude is also due to the Local Government of San Isidro for assisting us, especially to Tourism Officer Joey and staff Clinton. The porters in Osmeña are good enough in accommodating guests and they have been praying for the reopening of the GovGen trail sooner than later as it would be an income booster for the community.