Friday, October 27, 2017

SNEAK PEEK BEYOND THE REACH OF SIGHT - Part I: “Lake Viewing with Binoculars”

SNEAK PEEK BEYOND THE REACH OF SIGHT - Part I: “Lake Viewing with Binoculars
By: Ramon Q. Gayas Jr. (Ser Montaineer)

On my recent outdoor trip, I had an opportunity to try out some of my merchandise from Wild Discovery Department, Decathlon Philippines Inc. These are the Solognac 8x42 500 serie Binoculars and Binoculars Harness. It is a privilege given to us by the company, to use our product outside the store for testing purposes. I haven't tried bringing this kind of instrument in my several years of doing outdoor activities. However, I am aware about the enjoyment it brings, as I enjoyed using binocs when I participated in a guided birding trip at UP Diliman last month, where I learned the basic binoculars adjustment and ways of responsible bird watching. That's why I felt this first product testing as a great opportunity, gave additional excitement knowing I would do it for Lake viewing at the Lake City of San Pablo, Laguna, which I quickly planned with my PNU-colleagues Heide Banday and Erl Lim for my 35th Birthday.

On October 14, 2017 around 08:00 in the morning at the very familiar Jollibee branch in San Pablo, I found myself speaking with tricycle driver named Pablo Lauigan, arranging trike service in order to visit the available eco-tourists Lake in the vicinity. Though a bit pricey which costs P700, I grabbed his offer considering that we're still affected by the bad weather made by typhoon Odette and to look for other driver might be time consuming.

Our trike ride started at 0830 AM and we fastly arrived at our first target, in Lake Sampaloc. Unfortunately, it was very gloomy and rainy that time, I am unable to use the binoculars during the time we are in Sampaloc. However, I found the place nice for tree walk and birding activity. I saw some birds - mostly Eurasian tree sparrow and Shrikes - and some common Philippine Native Trees like Narra (pterocarpus indicus) Talisay (terminalia catappa) and Acacia confusa. Interestingly, the 4 KM road encompassing the biggest Lake of San Pablo is apparently potential for running and walking, as one of my companion - Erl - had tried surveying it before. Then, by the time we are preparing to leave Sampaloc, the rain has slowly stop. So I took this moment to prepare the harness and binocs for our next viewing.

Continuing on to the next lake, we had reached Lake Mohicap at around 0945 AM. After paying the registration fee (P10), we directly proceed to the marker for photo opt and descended the 105 steps downstream. Upon reaching the lake's shore, the caretaker warmly welcomed us and gave some information about the place.

Thereafter, we started to indulge the surroundings. The place looks refreshing, showcases greeneries and impressive view of notable landscape known as Imoc Hill. On the other hand, by the time I started using the Solognac Binoculars there, I enjoyed seeing the vegetation literally magnified, even the occasional raindrops, as if I'm closed to the features I am looking at. I can also easily adjust the binocs to clearly see every object I am spotting. While the Solognac Binoculars Harness is elastic, very manageable to use combined with the binocs. It makes me roamed freely, enables me to descend the shore, go up and down and go over the bamboo raft to get spotting position without requiring my hands to hold the optics. The harness securely compressed and hanged it on my chest. Furthermore, through using the Solognac Binoculars I was luckily spotted one of the bird species in the Lake, the Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica) locally known as "Layang layang", flying above us, chirping, playing and landed several times near to our standpoint.

It was past 10:00 AM when we left Lake Mohicap, aiming to visit the other lake next to it, the Lake Palakpakin. Short trike ride after, the driver dropped us at one small bridge. At this point, Mang Pablo told us that bridge is the only way to see the Lake Palakpakin. Since, there is no other access to get closer we only took short sightseeing then headed to Lake Pandin. Even though we are notified by the caretaker in Mohicap that Pandin is close to visitors due to right of way issue.

On the way to Lake Pandin, our venture commence at one community. One young boy - I named "Utoy" - approached us and offers a guide service, gave guarantee that there is a newly opened trail to reach Pandin. But I respectfully refused, hoping I could still track the landmark I've passed through when I visited the place as side trip of my Mt. Mabilog climb way back year 2011. However, many changes happened in the past six years. Infact, I got confused during the trek, but thankful that Utoy still following us when I did back trail. Then, I accepted his offer to guide us. Our trek resume at the ranch that is temporarily opened for Pandin visitors. This place is surprisingly beautiful; gave us way to see some cows roaming at the green grassy slopes, glimpse the views of Mt. Banahaw-Cristobal complex as well as Mt. Malarayat range. Though slightly rainy, muddy and slippery, we managed the trek to Lake Pandin within 20 minutes. Longer than the usual trekking time from the old trail, yet definitely more scenic.

At the Lake Pandin, we've been closer to the lake through our rented bamboo raft. The "bankeros" brought us to the opposite shore then we ate the food they served such as; grilled tilapia, okoy na hipon and fern ensalada. There, we are treated to witnessed the emerald green water section of the lake, we saw many small fishes they dubbed as "ayungin", joyfully tried the man-made swing, took photos, behold the refreshing air and the beautiful surroundings. I also had fun to spot the things behind us using the Solognac Binoculars. I saw some butterflies mostly white and yellow, birds like Grey Heron (ardea cinerea) and group of White Herons (ardea alba) flock over the lake. There is also one interesting bird we can't identify. This is different from the mentioned birds as its bearing short tail and white feathers with black spots. Yet showing capabilities same as the other migratory birds, that is impressively flying, wading and eat fishes.

Visiting Pandin is our main plan and we're glad to make it despite of weather disturbance. Though, we're not able to conquer the other Lakes (Yambo, Bunot and Calibato), Pandin experience rewarded us an exciting finale. Bringing all the good vibes and learnings from the lake viewing we had, we decided to leave the place by 3pm, and safely headed back to Manila.

Overall, bringing binoculars in my outdoor trip gave additional weight on my backpack. It cannot record the moment and sceneries we had at the Lake we've visited unlike the camera. Yet it has no charging requirement and I enjoyed using it to the fullest. Moreover, it gives considerable importance to me in seeing features from outdoor beyond the reach of my normal sight. I will surely not hesitate to use the Solognac Binoculars again and explore its diverse function in enjoying the great outdoors. Looking forward for Part II.


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