Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Gunung Semangko - Mission Abort

This project kicked-off almost 2 months after Kinabalu. Should be well rested now, though the craving for high altitude air keeps on coming. Until a friend agreed to guide us, but cramping the normal 3 days 2 nights hike into 2 days 2 nights (first night at a mosque). Until halfway into the trail, we thought this could be slightly an ambitious project.

I can see that it is going to be a tough hike. The distance and the undulating terrain. Almost similar the distance between Pine Tree trail head to Twin Peak, but with more abandoned trails. Still, it follows the Selangor-Pahang border where one can always fine the boundary stones throughout the ridge.

I had a glimpse of the trail head from Twin Peak from my previous hike. The descending was super steep and slippery from loose pebbles at the beginning and endless of slippery dry leaves trail testing your shoes'  grip. The climbing back was never easy either.

19 of us which included 4 kids (two are mine) and 3 teenagers. We left home at 11.00 p.m. and headed straight to Fraser Hill. The Friday night traffic was pretty bad though it was already late. We reached Fraser Hill somewhere at 1.00 a.m. and as usual, chilling. The mosque was our official stay for the night, and so were a few more groups which we presumed hikers as well.

My kids and I chose a tiny spot at the veranda which we thought it was better to occupy just the outside of the main praying hall. Everyone snugged into their sleeping bags and dozed off into the chilling night.

We were awoken by the generous melodies of mobile phones' alarm all over the mosque. Then followed by the azan.

A quick breakfast, white rice and black pepper chicken, together with a few more pot lucks, we were fueled up for the task. We left the trail head somewhere around 7.30 a.m. And there were at least two groups started off around the same time, but perhaps only up to Twin Peak.

We managed to reach Twin Peak at 11.30 a.m. for a quick lunch. A final check and assessment by our guide for every one's condition before proceeding. The first challenge was descending quite a steep terrain. Slippery as well due to loose gravels. Then it goes further down with no roots to place our steps but only slippery dry leaves. With heavy rucksacks, I don't dare take any risk of running down this.

We hit a dry creak at the bottom. Very bottom. Then we climbed steep up again. And this routine continued on for a few more until we reached a junction. There's a simple laminated sign showing the direction to Gunung Semangko, turning left. This juncture may be a bit tricky when coming back since the sign only welcome hikers coming in. Be careful.

The trail that continued provided plentiful of more ups and downs through shrubs, fallen trees and the idea of getting to Kem Sungai Merah, which is supposed to be a low lying area with a river was never seemed possible. Maybe! The river flows against the gravity and up towards the peak of a mountain. Our minds started became clouded by fatigue and boredom.

Due to the lack of drive, energy and perhaps boredom, we only managed to reach Kem Sungai Merah at almost 4.30 p.m., which was a mere 4 hours from Twin Peak. We overshot the so called 'ambitious' target.

Kem Sungai Merah have a few campsites. The closest to the river is down right from the main trail. The other two lies just next to the trail, which are larger that can snugged up to 30 person per night. The one by the river is smaller and can cater up to 15 person, but we really had to squeeze between trees to piece together our fly sheets, hammocks and some single man tent.

We feasted like mad. Every bit of food in our bags were taken out and cooked and served. The idea of continuing onward to the peak Gunung Semangko almost disappeared together with the clouds of smoke from our stoves. We were more excited to be there instead of attempting the peak.

At 6.00 p.m. teenagers started to be a bit anxiety. They urged the guides to lead them to the peak. The peak trail will easily take 3 hours in day light. At pitch black night, that could be double. They left for the peak minutes after a quick light preparation.

The rest of the night was spent nice and cozy under our tents upon cups and cups of coffee. It was so nostalgic. I really missed the moment many years ago. We dozed off into our sleeping bags when there were no more gossips to share, I think it was still 10.00. It gets colder into the night. We were glad it didn't rain.

Later in the morning, we were told that the peak attempt was a no go. They found the trail to be difficult and the night was not helping either. They turned back after an hour and decided to ditch the idea.

We were glad that they decided that way, or else they will lost a lot of sleeping hours and the hike back to the trail head will become tougher.

The hike back took almost the same time though it felt a bit easier or perhaps familiar. We managed to enjoy the hike as compared to the day before. A quick lunch at Twin Peak and crawling our way back to the trail head. More weekend hikers hiking in to Twin Peak as we exited.

Mishaps did happen before where hikers lost their way through the maze of trails around Fraser Hill. A few cases did hit the news. There are lots of factors contributed to mishaps in hiking such as improper planning, fatigue, insufficient hydration and hiking essentials.

We came across a group on our way out. It was already 3.00 p.m. and they were no where half way to Twin Peak. They only had a bottle of 1.5 liter of hydration to share among 4 of them, no other food, no torch light which proudly stated they have their phones. Simply hipsters.

Final climb to Pine Tree Peak

One of the many interesting stops, the huge tree

Twin Peak

Masjid Fraser Hill check-in

Twin Peak. One of those peak behind is probably Semangko

The trail head

Bunga Semangko...?

Mountain range from Pine Tree peak

One of the state boundary stones


  1. alamak cerita tak abis....mana gambar bang? Yes, its tough...
    tambah2 ada budak, risau la pulak.

  2. alamak cerita tak abis....mana gambar bang? Yes, its tough...
    tambah2 ada budak, risau la pulak.