Saturday, October 1, 2016

Walking in Baguio: C. Apostol Roundabout to Burnham Park

Farthest so far.
View my walk details here.

Late post!

It's been three weeks since my last jog/walk, and I didn't have time to post about it. I went home to Manila, then back to Baguio again, then my work schedule changed, then I got sick (must be my body rebelling against the midnight shift). I haven't figured out when I'll resume my walks--mornings really are the best time because it doesn't rain/drizzle much, but then again sometimes all I want to do is sleep after my shift. Afternoons are fine too, I guess--if it doesn't rain. Oh well, we'll see after I get rid of this cold.

That bright and sunny morning, I decided to just go where my feet would take me, with no set route in mind--my only plan was to stay hydrated and have some snacks around, so I brought my hydration pack and some biscuits.

I started my tracker at the little roundabout near Mines View Park. I figured since I was going downhill, might as well pick up my pace. I jog/walked along Outlook-South Drive all the way to Teachers Camp, where I walked around and learned a bit of history.

After Teachers Camp I crossed Leonard Wood and made my way to Brent, then to another street I haven't walked on before: Laubach Road, which gave me this view of the cathedral and the buildings nearby.

Then it was down to Gen. Luna, and I decided to check out the Aguinaldo Museum again to see if it was open. It wasn't. (I checked online and saw the museum days/hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 8am-4pm. I went there on a Tuesday and it was way past 8, so I really have no idea why it was closed. Renovations, perhaps? I'm really stumped.)

By this time it was getting hot, so I decided to head on to Burnham to cool down. I trudged my way up back to Leonard Wood then down again to Session and Mabini, crossed Harrison and looked for a nice spot around the lake where I could refuel.

Overall a nice walk, my longest for this project so far. Can't wait for the next (body, please cooperate)!

When it's rainy season in Baguio and the sun shines one morning, you take the laundry out to dry!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Walking in Baguio: Veteran Pine to Burnham Park

Burnham Park

The sun's out!

Baguio officially celebrated its 107th charter day yesterday ("officially" because the opening ceremony for the anniversary was held on Aug. 22), and by coincidence (or just sheer luck), the rains stopped sometime in the afternoon. All I could think about was Yes! I can finally walk in the sun again tomorrow!

The dilemma was where to go. There were still so many places I want to walk to, but I remembered there were some things I have to go buy in town. Plus I thought it would be nice to see Burnham Park on a sunny morning, so to town it was.

No umbrella needed! Details of my walk here.
I started tracking my walk at the Veteran Pine again and made my way to Leonard Wood Road via Romulo Drive. I turned right at Gen. Luna then walked toward the Emilio Aguinaldo Monument at the Happy Glen Loop. The museum was still closed (this was at around 8:30), and the general's monument had a group of skateboarders practicing their flips, so I decided to return another time.

Back on the road, I made my up toward the Post Office Loop then along Gov. Pack, where I surfed a bit among travelers getting bus rides and students heading to class at the University of the Cordilleras (UC). Down to Harrison and across the street to Burnham, then after a few more meters came the bicycles and of course, the lake. I went around the lake soaking in more sun and people-watching.

I learned that Milo was also having its Little Olympics in the city. Young athletes came to represent their schools (I think from Regions I-III?) and were lined up along Lake Drive, waiting for the opening parade to start.

I also learned that archery is one of the events. How cool is that?
Calm, collected, and seated. Conserving their energy, perhaps.
These birds were taking a bath in the small puddle. So. Darn. Cute.
I found an empty bench and sat while looking across the lake. It felt nice to just chill and feel the cool breeze.

I got my snack (peanut butter-filled biscuits!) and had a picnic. Little things like that give me immense pleasure--have I said how great it felt to feel the morning sunshine on my face again?

This man doing push-ups looked to be in his seventies!
I can't wait to hit the trails again. Just a little more sun!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Very Wet Dry Run with the Sandugo Eiger

The testing ground for my Sandugo Eiger shoes.
This post is full of photos of my shoe-clad feet, so if you don't mind that, read on.

I've planned on getting shoes I could use for trail running (I'm a beginner, please don't hurt me), shoes that aren't as heavy/bulky as the Merrell Azuras I've been using. The Azura is a waterproof shoe designed for hiking and not really for running up and down trails, and I wanted to try something more lightweight.

(I've worn my Azuras during a rainy day out and I assure you, the shoes really are waterproof. My jeans were wet up to my knees but my feet stayed dry!)

I've heard good things about Sandugo's line of trail shoes, so when a weekend rainy day sale came up, I decided to check it out. I had two models in mind: the Mudtrax and the Ourea. I didn't get either. Because of a really good salesman, I got this one instead:
Sandugo Eiger shoes
(Image from the Sandugo Facebook page.)
It's a top pick for rainy days because it dries quickly.
I got the black and gray version on sale at 10 percent off.
The Sandugo Eiger.

Its main selling point is that it's a water shoe, perfect for hikes where you need to cross a river. 

It's not exactly what I had in mind to buy.

I really wasn't sure about it at first, because I didn't consider river crossings at all: it must be the rainy weather, because all I could think about was 'muddy trail, muddy trail, muddy trail.' 

Based on reviews and comments I've read, the Mudtrax is best for muddy conditions, while the newer, more flexible Ourea is recommended for hiking or running on all kinds of terrain. 

And so I was kind of worried I got the wrong shoe: where are the lugs that would help me stay off my butt on slippery trails? (I'm really prone to slipping--just ask any of my USTMC batchmates and friends who've helped me up at one time or another.)

But ok, I know the ground won't always be wet and muddy, and I'm certain I'll have to cross streams and rivers in the future, so why not. I have experienced crossing small bodies of water during a hike before and I still remember the squishy, heavy feeling of having water in my shoes, no matter how hard I squeezed it out. 

I've also experienced hiking on a really sunny day. It felt glorious to take off my Azuras and socks after that and walk barefoot on the cool floor. 

The Sandugo Eiger's design, with the mesh uppers and outsole drainage system, is assurance that 1) water won't stay in the shoe, keeping it light; 2) the shoes and socks will dry fast; and 3) your feet will be able to breathe, keeping them from being all sweaty and smelly. Plus, the shoes were really light.

But the niggling feeling of having a traction-limited shoe persisted. Could I only use my shoes during dry season hikes with river crossings?

To find out, I took my shoes for a test run / proper break-in yesterday.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
You can see through the mesh of the shoe's uppers...
and the outsole too (I took the midsoles out)
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The outsoles and the midsoles--yep, no water's gonna stay in there!

I'm calling it a wet dry run because I am seriously planning on using these for getting started on trail running (hopefully someday soon) and it was rainy during my practice "run." I didn't really run--I only jogwalked on the road, but I did test the shoes out on wet soil.

On wet pavement, the shoes had good enough traction, but not enough heel support I think (for me, at least). As for the wet soil, I brought the shoes on a small slope in Camp John Hay. You can see it in the photo at the top of this post. It was just beside the road, so should any accident befall me, it would be easy enough to get help (being alone, so you can never be too careful).

The rain gave my chosen testing ground enough wet grass and pine needles, slippery rocks and roots, mud, and water to soak my shoes in.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
Simulating a stream crossing
Sandugo Eiger shoes
Rushing water and pine needles
Sandugo Eiger shoes

The Sandugo Eiger had good traction on wet, gravelly soil, but not on the smoother, mossy surfaces. Climbing the slight incline was made easier by the natural "steps" made by tree roots and rocks.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
The mud washes right off
Sandugo Eiger shoes
Cold! Thoroughly soaking the shoes now

Sandugo Eiger shoes
Stepping on rocks with water rushing down
When stepping on slippery rocks, it's really best to get a firm foothold first so you don't slip.
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The mesh uppers also serve as a sieve, so tiny rocks and bits of twigs don't get in the shoes
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The shoes dried more quickly than the socks
I have yet to test the Sandugo Eiger out during a trail run (Yellow Trail or Eco Trail) and a long trek (Mt. Ulap again?), but so far it feels good--I just need to be really careful on slick surfaces such as mossy banks, slippery soil, and this kind of floor:
Well, one should be careful on most floors when your shoes are wet, anyway.
I walked 4 more kilometers after the test. It was just a little bit uncomfortable because I'm not used to walking that far with wet socks on, but shoe-wise, I have no complaints. The socks would probably have dried after all the walking if not for the incessant rain, but that's wet-season Baguio for you. 

(Note to self: probably best to remove socks--or wear quick-dry ones--during river crossings in the future.)

Addendum (Sept. 3):

I was able to test the shoes on a "real" trail, albeit a short one. Because it rained yesterday afternoon, the grassy hill at Wright Park was wet, with some of the footpaths soft and muddy. The park gave me the perfect conditions to see how the Sandugo Eiger would fare. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos because I intentionally left my phone at home so I could concentrate on training (without worrying about losing my phone or breaking it, or both).

The Sandugo Eiger performed as advertised--meaning it really does well on dry trails, even those lined with rocks, and when you have to go from trail to river and back again. It also means no, it's not the best shoes to wear when you're tackling slick surfaces (like sticky wet reddish soil or clay). It does well enough on soft ground of course, and on pine needle-covered trails, but because the treads are not that aggressive, there is a bigger chance of slipping on an incline.

Not much of a problem on relatively flat muddy ground, but of course do expect mud to cling on to the shoe. (It's all part of the experience!) You can "go around" the muddy part, but only if where you're walking/jogging/running is also part of the established trail. It's wrong to "widen" the trail and trample the ground/make a bigger impact on the environment. ;)

On that note, I had to be careful with the mud under my feet. I'm still not that confident about running on squishy ground, so I took it slow in the areas where there was about an inch or two of soft soil, and the areas that had slick clay and moss. 

But while the mud didn't exactly suck my shoes in, my shoes were the ones that took in a bit of mud, through the outsoles where the drain ports are. I was able to get the most of it out by stomping my feet once I got back on the paved road, but some of it really stuck:

Sandugo Eiger
All this needs is a river!

Sandugo Eiger

Good thing these shoes are really easy to clean--I think some running water and an old toothbrush will do to get the mud (and possibly small rocks) out. You can also hose it down--even if water gets inside the shoe (again, through the drain ports and/or the mesh uppers), it gets dry really fast, so you won't have to worry about wearing wet shoes the following day.

The Sandugo Eiger may not have the extra grip needed for muddy conditions, but I can see how great it will do on river crossings and hot, dry trails. I'm glad to have it.

Walking in Baguio: Mile Hi Center to Baguio Cathedral

Camp John Hay
Some of the trees in Camp John Hay

This is part two of my Sunday walk (part one's here). All in all, I walked a little over 7 kilometers.
I was in Mile Hi in Camp John Hay looking through store windows (some of the shops were still closed), watching in awe at runners sprinting through the rain, and waiting for the downpour to stop, or at least lessen in intensity.

After a few minutes I finally decided to make good use of my umbrella so I could continue on with my journey to town via Loakan Road

A few meters past Mile Hi I remembered I had planned to test out my new Sandugo Eiger shoes on the ground, so I crossed the street and climbed up the little hill at the corner of Scout Hill Drive and Ordonio.

There's an oft-used footpath there (it's lined with rocks) and with the rain pouring down, I knew the area would be perfect for me to see how my shoes would hold up against mud, wet pine bristles, grass, tree roots, and of course, water running down the hill.

I paused my tracker and, umbrella in one hand and phone in the other, proceeded to look like someone hunting for Pok√©mon observe how my shoes behaved on the wet ground. I wrote about my first impressions on the Sandugo Eiger here.

Walked with wet socks on!
Details here.

When I had finished with my mini-test, I squished (anyone who's ever walked with wet shoes and socks on will understand) my way back toward Ordonio Drive and turned right at Loakan. Good thing my shoes had mesh uppers and drain ports so the squishy feeling didn't last long, but my socks were still wet. I shrugged it off and told myself, Well, you wanted to know.

It took a lot of willpower to stop myself from checking out R.O.X. and possibly wanting to buy things I don't need right now. What helped me look straight ahead is the thought that someday when I'm stronger and more capable of taking the trails on, that's when I'll reward myself with something to motivate me to move forward to the next level. For now, the basics, and hey, buy local whenever you can!

So, back to my walk. Somewhere along Loakan I got hungry, so I took out one of my snacks (some form of bread with custard filling) and relished the feeling of being able to eat while walking. This is awesome, I thought. I can do this every day.

It was my first time walking along this part of Loakan, so I enjoyed taking my time to look around. In a moving car you hardly get to see things for more than a second or two unless you really focus, and that's one of the things I like about walking.

Some of the things to be careful about while walking/running in Loakan (and in other roads) are narrow sidewalks, (drainage) breaks in the retaining wall and sidewalk, and vehicles at blind turns.

I wished I remembered more about the 'haunted' tree that used to be in the middle of Loakan. I first saw it many years ago when we visited friends staying at the then-Hotel Veneracion for a summer writing workshop. Based on a small tarp hanging by the covered walkway leading to the front door of the structure, it's now occupied by the Philippine International English Institute.

I know Loakan has its fair share of ghost stories, but at daytime I didn't feel anything unusual along this stretch of the road. Then again I'm not sensitive in a paranormal sense.
Upper Session-Military Cutoff-Loakan-South Drive roundabout
When I got to Upper Session I checked my watch--a little past 10:30--enough time to make it to the cathedral for the 11 a.m. Mass. I originally planned to hear mass in the evening, but since I was already there... I didn't think God would care that I looked like a wet duck.

When I got to the cathedral wasn't alonethere were other wet ducks huddled in their jackets standing outside waiting for the next mass to begin. I turned my tracker off, pleasantly surprised that I had walked almost 4 kilometers from CJH. The walk felt somewhat shorter.

Baguio Cathedral
The Baguio Cathedral with the gloomy sky as background.

And so ends my Sunday workout-walkabout. Where to walk next?

Map of Baguio
Never underestimate the raw power of a good ol' paper map!
Of course, you'll also need some basic navigation skills so that even when you go off-road, you'll know in which direction you're headed ;)
If it's on the tourist map of Baguio, you can walk it. I've covered most of the eastern side of the city, and I think I'll travel a little bit farther down south (more CJH, Loakan, PMA) next. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Walking in Baguio: Veteran Pine to Mile Hi Center, Camp John Hay

I categorized it under "Power Walk" because there wasn't an option for jogwalking. :P
Details of my walk here.

Walking to Camp John Hay from Mines View has been on my list of things to do simply because I know it's "near" (don't ask an avid walker what's near or far) but I've never gone there on foot. Whenever my friends and I would meet up at CJH to walk the trails I would always take a cab just so I can conserve my energy for the hike and save on travel time.

Well, I didn't have any friends to meet today and there was just the tiniest hint of a drizzle this morning, so I thought it would be the perfect time to see how long it would take me to walk from Mines View to the Mile Hi Center in CJH where I planned to have a full (second) breakfast. I had coffee and oatmeal and let my body digest it a bit before heading out.

I also decided to take the opportunity to field-test some new gear I got recently (very early Christmas present to self): a hydration backpack and a new pair of trail shoes.

The backpack (I got the Ascent from Conquer) fits water (of course! I'm using a foldable water container for now while waiting for my wide-mouth hydration bladder to arrive), a couple of snacks, a face towel, wet wipes, and my coin purse, phone, pocket Wi-Fi, and umbrella. It's great because the shoulder and sternum straps work to keep the pack steady so it doesn't swing from side to side while running. Though the bag isn't waterproof, I don't mind because I use zip bags for keeping my things dry anyway. It's the perfect size for me and for what I plan to do in the months and years to come. :)

Conquer Ascent Hydration Bag
The Conquer Ascent Hydration Bag
I felt like a sword-wielding samurai warrior whenever I had to get my umbrella.
I love this bag. Seriously. It fits everything I need on jogwalks near and far!
As for the new kicks (I never thought I would use this term), I mentioned in an earlier post about getting new shoes for trail running. Well, I was able to buy a new pair but not the one I originally planned on getting (the salesman was very, very good). Anyway, I wanted to see how the shoes perform on wet and muddy surfaces and I've already conditioned myself to be very, very careful and prepare for slips (I'm slip-prone and slick surfaces make me nervous). I'm dedicating another post for that pseudo-review (because I am hardly an expert) here.

It's a Sunday on a long weekend, and as expected there were already many people in Mines View by the time I stepped foot on Outlook Drive. I started tracking my walk from the nearby Veteran Pine instead.

Photo of the Veteran Pine taken last year
I initially planned to walk (because that is the point of this blog) but I couldn't stop myself from jogging-walking-jogging (jogwalking?) downhill along Outlook Drive (and all the way to Baguio Country Club) once I felt the shoes had enough traction on the wet road.

Good thing I did, because when I neared the Mile Hi Center, the drizzle started to become a downpour. While I did have an umbrella with me, I didn't use it anymore since shelter was only a few feet away.

I changed my mind about eating there. I wasn't hungry yet, and besides, I had snacks with me. I walked by the shops while waiting for the rain to ease up and had a quick water + bathroom break before continuing with part two of my walk, which I wrote about here.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Walking in Baguio: Mines View Park to Teachers' Camp and Back Again

A footpath at Wright Park

It sure feels good to be back in Baguio and walk along its roads and parks. There's really something refreshing about this city, especially if you need a break from the skyscrapers, crowded streets, and bumper-to-bumper traffic of Manila.

For this morning's walk, I started at the little rotunda at the other end of F. Torres Street near Mines View Park. Down Moran to Arellano Street and downhill again to J. Felipe via Baltazar Street. This brought me to Romulo Drive.

No overlaps! View the MapMyWalk details here.

Baltazar Street. The brick/brown building is the Philippine Treasures factory.
When I got to Wright Park across the Mansion, I took one of the footpaths that cuts across the grassy area. Wright Park is popular for its horses, and I suppose few know that there's this nice tree-filled park on the hill.

It's a really nice place, but it's disappointing to see pieces of trash here and there. I mean, why couldn't people hold on to their trash for a few more meters and dispose of it once they see a garbage bin? It's such a simple thing!

Anyway, once you emerge from the path, you'll find yourself wanting to join these ladies at their taebo session. Perhaps I will, one of these days.

I took the stairs down to the horseback riding area and saw one of the city's famed St. Bernard dogs waiting for fans to arrive and take a photo with him (her?).

Top three tourist places where you can buy potted plants in the city: the Orchidarium, Mines View Park, and Wright Park.

After Wright Park I continued along Romulo Drive toward Pacdal Circle and to Leonard Wood Road, and went in to Teachers' Camp, my turning point. I jogged whenever I could -- it was a downhill journey, anyway.

The track oval at Teachers Camp. I was able to try it out one summer morning several years ago and remembered how nice it felt then.

At Teachers' Camp Road going up to South Drive, I started to gain some elevation back, so I picked up my pace to make the most of the cardio workout. Yup, it's time to go back uphill! I jog-walked South Drive going to the corner of Ilusorio/Baguio Country Club Road and made my way to Outlook Drive (which seems to be unofficially the "practice driving road" in the city).

Mt. Sto. Tomas + Mt. Cabuyao (with the two radiotransmitters/ "ra-dar" in these here parts) viewed from Outlook Drive. The forested area is Camp John Hay.
I continued going up Outlook Drive. I stopped for a bit at Kiwi's Bread and Pastry Shop, but they didn't have pan de sal yet, so I just went ahead to Mines View Park, where I stopped my tracker and got a bit of rest before heading home.

Weather: bright and sunny. A cap is a must-have.
Note to self: if you're wanting to walk 6K (or more), Laurie, better start early!