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Friday, January 1, 2010

Climbing Gunung Nuang AGAIN!

Nooooooooo. That's what I smsed to Messner when he sent a text message to my mobile that Ledang was closed on the 1st of January and we had to make do with Nuang instead. I really dislike climbing Nuang.. Why? BECAUSE Nuang is famous for its BLOOD-SUCKING LEECHES.

I had already made up my mind after my first (and supposedly) last climb in Jul 2009, that I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER climb Nuang again. It was in my "been there, done that" list and I shouldn't even consider climbing Nuang. Only crazy people would give up their sleep over Nuang.

So, why did I find myself climbing this almost impossible to climb mountain on.. get this.. NEW YEAR'S DAY? Let me recollect...

8th November... yup, it was that fateful day when someone booked my plane ticket to Kota Kinabalu without MY consent!!! Anyway, that's another story.

So from that day onwards, I was part of the January 2010 Mt Kinabalu team. I don't really mind climbing Kinabalu again but what I really hated was the training part. December and January were my busiest months and I was afraid I couldn't get myself fit enough to climb Kinabalu. And what more, my sisters didn't want to go this time. :(. Again this is another story. Let me get back to Nuang. :P

The night before the climb I was at church from 9PM - 12.25AM. Yup, some of the climbers celebrated the beginning of 2010 in church. By the time I reached home, it was already past 1 AM. I had already packed most of my stuff for Nuang the day before but being a worrier myself, I tend to double check on what I had intended to bring and thought of what other things I SHOULD bring for the hike. By the time I hit the sack, it was close to 2AM!!! Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all, probably because I was worried about the climb.

I was up by 3.30AM and I really thank God that I did not have the lack-of-sleep-headache. I had 1/2 a cup of milo and some biscuits before someone picked me up to meet some of the climbers in the food court at Lobak. (I now know where to find food at an unearthly hour in Seremban :P). There we met DavidY and family. I shared 1/2 a bowl of yummy noodles with RW. We had to eat quickly because we were running late.

6.50am, 1.5 hours later, we arrived at Nuang and met up with the rest of the KL climbers.

Boey was in charge of this climb. First and foremost, he made a roll call. There were 43 of us and some of us met for the first time. (We should have made a colour tag or something for all climbers). The park entrance fee was RM1. I cannot remember paying anything the last time.

7.16AM - After a short briefing and a prayer, we started off. KK and Daniel were the point men. Daniel was also marking the trail by leaving 7cmX7cm papers with a fatman printed on it as he went. Boey and Calvin were the sweepers.

7.20AM - This is the beginning of the NEVER-ENDING-BORING-DIRT ROAD. It's about 5KM and some people say that this is the warm-up session for the REAL climb.

The dirt road is narrow and once in a while, locals riding on their scooters will pass us by.

7.30AM - I spotted the first whatchamacallit man-made-cemented stone. I remembered the last time while we were walking out on this road, Mrs Boey was looking out for this stone.
7.46AM - The first pondok (hut). Some stopped to rest but I didn't because I knew we didn't have time.

7.54AM - I don't know how to describe where this is because the shack (or whatever) is no longer there. What I do know is, this is the place where a pickup truck can make a three point turn. :)

Lots of bamboo trees.
8.07AM- 2nd pondok.

8.10AM - 3rd pondok.

8.36AM - Finally saw the 2 blue pondoks. Yes, we've reached the end of the 5km dirt road. In every climbing trip the organisers emphasized that no one should be alone. Each should have their buddies who would be with them at all times. Most of the time, this rule was broken mainly because of the differences in our fitness levels. Along this road, I was with RW, Francis1, Sirdar and ChooTH. Halfway up this road I had already passed my probably 5-kg bag to someone. I figured, with the lack of sleep, I did not want problems to look for me later. :P

Okay, just after the 2 blue pondoks, I started to head for the river. I almost reached the other side of the bank (with the help of ChooTH) when Mrs Boey called out saying that we were heading the wrong way. We should walk further ahead before crossing the river.

8.48AM - I crossed the 1st river.

9AM - Soon after the first river crossing, we could see the long pipes and then the old dam (and 2nd river crossing) came into view.

The last time I was here (Jul 2009) I didn't remember seeing the waterfall. We were above the falls and it was certainly a beautiful sight. :). If only I could stay here and enjoy the rest of the day listening to the falls... oh well... wishful thinking on my side. :(

9.10AM - Crossing the 3rd river.

9.17AM - Reached Kem Lolo and crossing the 4th river.

9.24AM - This part was a little tricky. If Messner had not shown us the way (turn left instead of going straight) we would have wasted some time looking for the trail. But then, we could have looked for the printed fatman paper.

This is something unique. It is some kind of plant growing on the bark of the tree. I've never seen anything like this before.

You can see lots of fungus or lingzi along the way.

The trail gets trickier after Kem Lolo. One had to be VERY careful walking along the trail. While walking along this path, I keep thinking.. what if I slipped and fell? ( I had this experience in Jul09). What if I fell into the gully? Thank God it didn't rain.. otherwise it would increase the chances of falling. Yup... all these negative thoughts came into my mind. This shows what a worrier I am. It was on this path when Sirdar left our group to try to reach the next checkpoint - Kem Pacat as quickly as possible.

More dangerous trails. Most hikers may not think so, but I was extremely careful walking along this path.

We walked like probably more than an hour on this stretch of orange-ee ground. The youngest of the Boey sons, Brendan came down to meet us. He encouraged the group saying that we were very near Kem Pacat.

We walked and walked and walked and walked and walked... and still had not REACHED Kem Pacat!!!!!!.

11.07AM - Some 10 or 15 minutes later we reached Kem Pacat. (aka. Leech Camp).

Walking further ahead of the Kem Pacat signboard, we stopped to rest. Many of us, including yours truly didn't want to continue. Due to lack of sleep, I was already in an auto pilot mode. I was constantly hungry too. I ate a bun right after Kem Lolo and was again hungry at Kem Pacat. I swallowed a piece of bread here, hoping that my hunger would go away.

Oh... we also met someone who wore 2 different shoes. One of his shoes must have given way and fortunately he had a spare pair of shoes.

Unfortunately for us, we were 'encouraged' to move on to the next check point -Puncak Pengasih. I knew that after Kem Pacat, the trail would get VERY steep. Physically I'm not up to it, but I knew that with some (a lot actually) help, I could reach Puncak Pengasih in one piece.

Look how steep it was. I needed help BADLY along this stretch.

RW spotted a beehive. (I am really amazed by people who see things which I will never notice.). Most of the time my eyes were glued to the ground, looking out for leeches.

It was during this stretch when Sirdar noticed how tired I was and radioed for a Voltaren pill. I didn't want to tke any pills (I don't usually) but I knew I was weak and so I popped one into my mouth. I still felt the same after that.... tired and sluggish.

More leg-stretching exercises and finally, at 1pm, we saw the Puncak Pengasih signboard. Calvin was sitting coolly on a rock as if he were there for quite some time. In my mind I was trying to recall when did Calvin, the SWEEPER overtake us? I gave up and just accepted the fact that he was much fitter than many of us. :P
What a relief, I thought to myself when we were approaching Puncak Pengasih. I was all prepared to turn back at this point. I figured I don't have to summit this time because I've summited before.

Sigh... somehow I got persuaded by Sirdar to head on to the summit. Like I had said earlier, I was on auto pilot mode. But then, I having been there once, I knew that it wasn't as steep anymore. It was much later that I realised that most of the group stopped at Puncak Pengasih and didn't even try to summit.

We didn't stop long at Puncak Pengasih. It was already time to turn back (Boey's instruction on the turnaround time was 1PM) but Sirdar wanted so much to summit. He radioed Messner saying that we are coming up. Poor Messner had to wait an hour for us. My stomach felt hungry again.. but I was told we could reach the peak in 45minutes. I was pretty sure my stomach could wait.

1.12PM - The Pahang/Selangor border stone just after the Puncak Pengasih checkpoint.

We saw a few of our team members descending. Some did not summit because they were conscious of the turnaround time.
I was YUCK-ing all the way to the summit because I had to step on wet muddy ground along this trail.

1.57AM - This is the ONLY nice view at Nuang. Funny, I cannot remember this view at all the last time.

2.01PM - FINALLY... WE HAD ARRIVED!!!!!!!!!

It was quite cooling up here. Messner was wearing his windbreaker. I thought the air was lovely. Fresh and cool. (Probably 24-25C). I had 2 pieces of bread from Messner. Bob, one of our team members had arrived not long before us.

Some 10 minutes later, we shooed Messner off so that he could implement Plan B. (Will explain in the later part of this post).

The Pahang/Selangor border stone at the summit.

A group picture of the last four to leave the summit.

A few pictures taken before we left the peak.

2.29PM - We left the summit. The weather was beautiful.

3.27PM - We arrived at Puncak Pengasih and Sirdar proceeded to make hot coffee for Bob and me. There was another climber not from our group who had a drink with us too. We were here for 20 minutes before packing our stuff again and descending.

5.40PM - We arrived at Kem Pacat. We met up with the same group of 5 climbers descending. Worried that the daylight would fade soon, we asked the other team if they had their flashlights. Apparently, they were as prepared as us to leave Nuang after sunset.

The two groups left together, but because I was slow (don't want to slip and fall due to carelessness right?), the group of 5 went past us and were not to seen till much later at the dirt road.

6.57PM- We arrived at the clearing near Kem Lolo. Here's a picture of a VERY TALL durian tree. We estimated it was about 40 metres tall or so.

7PM - We arrived at Kem Lolo. A few youths were setting up tents and preparing dinner. I really cannot imagine why they want to sleep outdoors donating blood to mosquitoes and LECCHES. Okay, okay, this clearly shows that I am NOT an outdoor person. :P

Crossing the rivers at Kem Lolo. At one point ,we were not sure which way to go. Thank God, we spotted a fatman paper left by Daniel. :).

7.21AM - Back at the old dam. YES!!!!! We are almost out. And oh, you should see the waterfall at this time of the day. The water was falling rapidly, even more than this morning and I must say, my compact camera didn't do any justice at all. :(. Let's see if I can upload a video of this waterfall.

7.41PM - Crossing the last river. It was so dark that I had to use the flash to take this picture. Three minutes later we arrived at the 2 blue pondok which marked the start of the dirt road. Sirdar was so tired out after the long climb. I guessed that this was due to the fact that he helped me a lot in this trip. He just wanted to rest here and wait for Messner to come with his pickup truck. This was Plan B. If any of the climbers needed help, Messner was to drive as far as his pickup truck could go to pick up the stragglers.

At this point of time my strength was renewed.... like as if I slept though the whole day and was recharged by the long rest. Bob and I suggested to walk on and meet Messner half-way. I walked as though I was in Mid Valley (shopping mall)... fast and sure. Sirdar was frantically trying to get through to anyone of our team at the base via the ham radio provided by Francis2. We could hear Francis2 communicating with Boey because he had a higher powered radio in his car but none of them could hear Sirdar. Mobile phone signals were lousy too. Learning from experience, I switched off my mobile phone throughout the climb to conserve the battery. There was no signal at all everytime I switched on to check. Not even at the peak!!!

At 8.20PM, we met up with the team of 5 climbers. They were resting at one of the huts. I guess they were really tired because they asked if they could hitch a ride out when we told them that one of our friends was bringing his pickup truck in. By this time we could get through to Francis2 and Sirdar updated him on our status.

It started to drizzle very lightly and Sirdar called my older sister to update her on what was going on. My older sister was at a family party and soon all my family members were so worried for me. I later had to explain that it wasn't as bad as they had thought.

We were told that Messner was on the way in and we had to look for a spot big enough for him to do a three-point-turn. We walked till we reached the shack which wasn't there anymore. We waited like for ETERNITY for Messner's car headlights and finally.. some ten minutes later we saw them. (YAY!)

9.05PM - We finally reached the base entrance. If it weren't for Messner, we would have walked for another 35 minutes or so.

We showered and were refreshed by the cold water. And guess what? It started raining heavily after I came out from the shower.

Most of the team members went off and as far as I could remember those who were still around when we reached the base were Pat and Doc KK (they car-pooled with Bob and had to wait for him), Francis2, Douglas and Karen.

Francis2, having collected all the ham radios went off on a 4 hour journey back to Kuantan. (Salute!). He reached Kuantan at 6AM, after stopping three times on the way to sleep.

Douglas was so kind to wait till the rest of us were safely down the mountain. (Thanks Douglas!)

The last four to leave the base were Messner, Sirdar, RW and I. We went to Semenyih to look for food.

We had our dinner at 11PM in this restaurant called Happy Restaurant. Messner looked SO tired and he knew he couldn't drive back to Seremban in this condition. In the end, Sirdar drove Messner's car, while Messner took a nap and I accompanied RW in another car. I had trouble keeping awake too.

By the time I reached home, it was probably about 12.30AM. What a LONG day. Comparing with the first Nuang climb, this hike wasn't so bad. The soles of my feet didn't really hurt and my leg muscles didn't ache that much.

I am so glad that this Nuang trip is finally OVER. Thank God there were NO leeches and the ground was relatively dry. Boey actually sent out a mail the day before the climb saying that Cheras had seen rain for the past week and asked us to be prepared for the blood-sucking mistresses!!!! Fortunately I didn't read his email or else I would have clung onto my nice cozy bed. :P

This was my reward for reaching the summit.

Bob, having seen me struggle, was surprised that I actually made it to the summit. He gave me this bar of chocolate when I reached the top. (Thanks Bob).

Later I found out from Messner that out of 43 climbers, only 20 summited. I wonder what happened. Probably because the turn around time was an hour earlier than usual.

Okay, I want to say this... NO MORE NUANG FOR ME.. PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME GO!!!!!!! I was fortunate that I wasn't bitten by leeches on both the Nuang climbs. If I go the 3rd time.. who knows, one may actually force me to give up some of my blood. No way Jose!!!!

Thank you to Boey and family who were pillars in this climb. Every once in a while we could see one of the Boey boys and they indeed were an encouragement to many of us. Thank you Messner who patiently waited for me to summit :P. (You owe me 2 Nuang certs now :)). And lastly, thank you Sirdar for helping me throughout this climb.. and also keeping your cool while I wailed the whole way down from Puncak Pengasih to Pacat.


Please click here if you want to read about my 1st Nuang climb.