Recently, a group of seasoned hikers make a comeback after many years of being on a hiatus. The mountains of choice are three peaks situated on the Titiwangsa range known as Gunung Yongyap, Gunung Berhid and Gunung Aler. Interestingly, the average age of the team is 42 years old. As age is a factor, the organiser has been emphasising on the importance of training to strengthen the core muscles, glutes and hip as early as two months before the hike.
Although most of the line-ups know one another way back in time, I only know less than half of the line-ups. However, the bonding of the team begins from the four corners of my phone as most of them express their excitement of going back to the jungle after a long time. I can imagine the agony of trying to locate the long-forgotten hiking gears for I had suffered precisely that when I made a comeback for hiking last year.
The hikers are not the only ones excited for the hiking trip. Our friends who have hung their backpacks or retired from hiking are equally excited as they gather in dozens at the meeting point to send us off. Everything about the sending off brings back the memory down the lane when it was reasonable to meet hiker friends at common meeting areas eager to embark on a hiking trip during long public holiday. Trust me; it is tough to bid farewell to old friends who understand what it means to hike for miles for the picturesque mountaintop views and company of good friends.
For Topeq, Jay and I, the challenge begins from the Lojing Junction as our car could not pass through the huge pothole leading to Pos Renggil. Topeq has to reverse his car to the main road and after that, meet the latecomers at Masjid Lojing. We re-arrange for the vehicle to be parked at RNR Lojing and follow the others to Pos Renggil. We have to pay RM15 for each car parked at Pos Renggil, which is located within the orang asli settlement. At Pos Renggil, the organiser distributes rations for our four days three nights journey. After re-packing our huge backpacking which could easily weight between 15 – 25kg, we ride the 4wd for approximately 20 minutes to reach the trailhead. Of course, the younger hikers with better fitness opt to walk from Pos Renggil to the starting trail.
I have almost no recollection of the trail to Gunung Yongyap despite having been there some ten years ago. One thing sure about the trail to Gunung Yongyap is that there are one too many river crossings. For the first five rivers, I manage to keep dry my shoes. However, after Simpang Tok Nenek, screw the waterproof shoes and my journey in wet soggy shoes for four days begins. There is no way Gore-tex waterproof hiking boots can dry in the rainforest climate.
There is no significant elevation gained on the first day as the trail is long but flat. In terms of water points, there are plenty of water points to Kem Sg Jeruk. So, do not bother to carry heavy bottles of water. If drinking water safety and cleanliness is your concern, bring along water purification tablets. They are surprisingly so cheap.
For the first few hours, I am searching for that comfortable rhythmic hiking pace and a buddy of the same pace. I have not trekked with most of them, so I do not know their pace and fitness level. On the first day, I always find myself trekking with Atiq, Apek, Kudin and Ferol. Notwithstanding the importance of consistent pace, we take many trail breaks although the terrains are almost flat. Sometimes, I feel like the trail breaks kill my pace.
Trail wise, there are plenty of heavy bamboo groves leaning towards the ground requiring us to duck and be all fours. Perhaps, this ducking moment is the only moment I am grateful for being a short person.
Since we start hitting the trailhead at about 10.50am, we have to divert from the initial plan of camping at Kem Sg Jeruk, which is an 18km walk from the trailhead. Instead, we stop at Kem Agas, which is 1.5 hours before Kem Sg Jeruk. We would be able to reach Kem Sg Jeruk on the first day, but it is best not to push hard on our first day of the hike. Our bodies appreciate some adjustments, too, right? Most importantly, we should adhere to our guide’s assessment of the group as a whole. I reach Kem Agas at about 6.00pm, just in time to pitch the tent and clean up before it gets dark. As Kem Agas is situated by the river, it is most convenient to clean up and wash the dishes.
At night, some of us helped out at the main kitchen area to assist Atiq to cook tomyam. Any meal on the trail is a good meal. I met Atiq few weeks before YYBA trip for she was one of the cooking crew for Fjallravent Discovery Baha Camp 2019. An excellent cook and a fast-paced hiker. The mileage logged for Day 1’s trail is approximately 14km from the trailhead to Kem Agas.
Read More: Hiking Yongyap-Berhid-Aler 2019 (Part 2/3)
Read More: Hiking Yongyap-Berhid-Aler 2019 (Part 3/3)