Thursday, May 19, 2005

Gunong Nuang

Gunung Nuang was supposed to be part of our training to get fit in time for Kilimanjaro, but apparently, you need to be fit pretty fit to climb Nuang as well! This mountain is rightfully termed the 'mountain of pain'..

We started out with a early morning meet-up at Woodlands checkpoint at 7.30am. Well, almost everyone was late enough such that TT managed to sneak in a 45min nap! Proceeded over to the car rental place (Hawk) in JB by 8.30am! Great stuff! Initially we couldn't didn't know where the rental office was and was about to hop into a cab when the driver gave us a disdainful look and pointed us RIGHT IN FRONT!!!! Not very good with directions eh?

After a nice slow breakfast of canai and thosai, piled into the Proton Wira and headed north! Our road trip begins! TT drove the 1st leg as Eric was too bamboozled from nights of no sleep. Ming and I were content to lounge in the back while the pile of snacks between us grew in mass... We're wondering where XJ would sit if she didn't have the fever and could come along with us.

A few wrong turns here and there and some instructions from helpful locals later, we finally arrived at the base in Hulu Langat at 3pm....1 hour behind schedule (Ulp!). We hurriedly repacked our bags and in my haste, a piece from my Leki stick flew into the air and landed in a pile of leaf litter in the carpark, never to be seen again... Ah well, nothing a round of duct tape can't fix.

We set off merrily along the infamous 'never-ending road', wondering what was so bad about it after all- the air was breezy, pine trees swayed overhead, bamboo forests and ginger flowers beckoned to us along this 4WD road. 2 hours later we reached the dam and the start of the forest trail, in half an hour, we were at Lolo camp, next to a swiftly flowing river.

Eric wanted to stop here for the night (after 2.5 hours of trekking), but we considered the possible 10-12 day the next day and decided to press on to Pacat. The trail got steeper and steeper, we made a couple of river and stream crossings (including one totally unnecessary one- missed the trail...duh...), and practically crawled into camp at 7.15pm.... Along the way, we passed two groups of hikers descending the mountain, who asked for food and water. Passed them some chocolates and my home baked energy bars...and some water. They looked damn shack....Moral of the story- Bring sufficient food and water!! The descent is very 'siong'!!!

Nicely for us, we were the only inhabitants at Pacat camp (means leeches, BTW). The water source was 20min away, so we brought all the water containers we had, our trusty Sebamed (biodegradeable- environmentally friendly!), our towels, eased our aching feet out of the boots and headed down a narrow path on the left of the campsite. After 15min of stumbling and sliding downhill (trust us when we saw it's narrow!), we started getting worried that we may be on the wrong trail. The path underfoot got spongier, and we saw no more trail markings.... Impending panic.... Then...all of us heard it! The sound of running water!!! Not too far away!!! We retraced our steps, saw the huge boulder by the path and wondered....Yup! The path went round the boulder! Finally!!!! The water source!!

And such a pretty stream it was too. Clean, clear, tumbling over rocks and entirely refreshing. Threw the frigid water at one another with much screaming, had an excellent bath, soaked our sore feet, and it was definitely the highlight of our day. Filled up all the water bags and bottles, and headed up again, slowly slowly...this time...to avoid sweating again after our precious shower!

Excellent dinner- pasta with cheese and fresh mushrooms, soup, and Pocari Sweat! Was in my hammock at 10pm due to a slight fever and a very sore back (strained it during Aikido previously), while the rest washed up and stowed gear. Promised to cook breakfast for them in return.

Woke up at 4am!!! It was DAMN DAMN DAMN COLD!!!!! Arrrggghhhh....we found out later that Pacat was 1300m high!!! Almost same height as summit. Wah lau! The wind came howling up from the valley and BLEW RIGHT AT MY HAMMOCK... I can safely assure you that a silk liner is simply NO MATCH. Finally got enough courage to step out from my hammock and shivered all across the clearing to Eric's snug covered hammock... The ensuing conversation:

Me: Brrrr....(teeth chattering)..... Eric?....
Eric: (snug in a long sleeved fleece)...Zzzzz.....
Me: Am very cold....Can I borrow your jacket? (Chatter chatter...)
Eric: ZZzzz....Hmmm?....ZZzzz....ya...
Me: (chatter chatter...) where is it??? (hint of frustration)
Eric:...In my bag lah....ZZZZZZZ..... (back to sleep..)

Ming just couldn't stand the cold anymore and decided to sleep on the ground surrounded by backpacks. TT had cold sockless feet. As for me, was curled into a ball covered by a jacket and my silk liner....Brrr....woke up at 6am finally as I couldn't stand shivering anymore.

At least breakfast was warming. We had pancakes with honey and cheese, toasted muffins, plenty of hot Milo...and Eric woke up at 7am and cooked instant noodles (which were super salty!!).

Off to the summit at 8.30am! We climbed and climbed and climbed....near vertical walls of roots and clay...and finally reached a ridgeline after 2 hours. What ho! We had to descend!! For almost one hour....and then climb up again!! Morale was pretty low then...and we were passed by a jogger and a brisk walker on the way (just their regular Sunday jog in the park activity...). It was with great relief when we finally arrived at the summit and saw the metal hut. Yay! 1500m!!

The hellish descent

Well, if we thought the ascent was tough, we were to find out soon enough that the descent wasn't any better! Eric demoralised a few groups on the way down by telling them at the summit is two more hours away (picture faces falling....). TT became known as the false alarm guy for constantly telling us that Pacat is just around the next corner...

At Pacat, Eric had to scramble down to the water source again as we were out of juice...Which provided the rest of us with an opportunity to snooze. My knees were hurting like hell from the steep slopes, but I knew there was more to come, sigh...

Another 2 hours of tramping steadily downhill and we reached Lolo, just in time for a nice swim break! Paddled for 15min, then it's time for the never-ending road again!

And we found out this time why it was termed that.... Metre after metre of steep monotonous downhills followed by equally steep uphills, rolling all the way into the distance. My knees were screaming bloody murder, head was swimming, back pain....not in a very good mood. Where was the bloody end to this road???? After 1.5 hours, TT exclaimed that he had spotted the first pine tree and we were close to the base camp! Luckily (for him), this wasn't a false alarm...we trudged out just as twilight lengthened the shadows around us and tumbled into the shed to sign out with the park ranger.

Post climb R&R
For some reason, my aunt agreed to take in 4 very smelly and unpresentable persons, and put us up at her home, and we could have a decent shower! This was followed by quite a lot of eating, a lot of sleeping, and a visit to a nice little spa outside Mid-Valley Megamall for a post climb massage... Very good massage...but...very...very....painful. Could hear Ming exclaiming from my room.

Eric felt like eating lok-lok so we took a detour from the horrendous jam of the N-S highway and headed to Malacca. The stall just heated up whatever vats of sauce was present on the table, and as we stirred the thick mixture, we idly wondered just how old the sauce was..and what sort of stuff lay at the bottom???

By the time we reached JB, it was already 1.30am. Spent some time looking for a Shell petrol station near Holiday Inn before finding out that the drop off point was near Tropical Inn (Either Eric misheard, or the rental office receptionist said wrongly...). Was pondering if we should cab to Larkin to take one of the cabs to Singapore...when a Comfort taxi swung into the station. Underwent a round of negotiations, and he agreed to take us across the Causeway and TT to his home. Great news as most of us could barely walk straight then...

Click on the photo for trip pictures!

Trek rating:
Stamina- ***
Technicality- **
Quality of rest stops- **(we didn't rest lah, walked nonstop...but the Lolo stream quite nice for swimming in)
Amnesia rating- * (painful and strenuous, but Pacat Camp is very nice, and the water source is soooo pretty!)


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