Gunung Datuk for the second time

Yesterday (November 12, 2012) I revisited Gunung Datuk with a few of my old high school (SMK Taman SEA) friends.

I’ve updated my first post on Gunung Datuk with new photographs and information, so you should head there if you’re interested in photos and information.

DISCLAIMER: This post was made in 2012. Information may be out of date!

I revisited Gunung Datuk on November 12, 2012 with a few of my old high school (SMK Taman SEA) friends.

I’ve updated my first post on Gunung Datuk with some new photographs and information, so you should head there if you want details on the climb.

It was a slightly different experience as it has been raining a lot, so the trail was quite wet and the stream at the start of the trail was about 12″/30cm higher than on my first climb (Doesn’t matter in terms of crossing as there’s a bridge). Luckily, we had much better skies this round, meaning that we got a pretty good view at the [false, I should say] summit.

All in all, a nice morning out, though I’m not sure I would normally drive almost 2 hours each way from PJ for such a short climb, especially with 10 people crammed into 2 cars!

Bukit Kutu (2nd time)

My 2nd visit to Bukit Kutu. This post is more of an addition to my first post on Bukit Kutu, to provide more thorough information on the Bukit Kutu climbing experience.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor, Malaysia.
Start point: 3.572510N, 101.738128E 289m a.s.l.
Summit: 3.543263N, 101.719998E 1092m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Moderate. No technical skills required, just a fair amount of stamina. The trail is not very steep, but it goes on for a fair amount of distance. Trail is easy to follow but has a fair number of obstacles (branches, fallen trees, etc.)

Date climbed: Fri 26 Oct 2012

This post is more of an addition to my first post on Bukit Kutu, to provide more thorough information on the Bukit Kutu climbing experience. I decided to revisit Bukit Kutu for a few reasons – a few of my friends wanted to climb it, I wanted to collect a bit more detailed information on the trail for a future climb, and also for the purpose of training (I decided to carry a 12kg backpack up).

As such, I’ll be starting with the GPS details

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail (interactive map)

Duration: 3 hours 57 minutes (including break at summit & ruins)
Length: 6.5km
Average Speed: 1.6km/h
Max elevation: 1092m
Min elevation: 285m
Vertical Up: 992m
Vertical Down: 216m

Times given are for a 3 hour ascent time.

Driving to Bukit Kutu

Assuming you know how to reach Kuala Kubu Bharu (either via Bukit Beruntung, my preferred choice, or Rawang, which is slightly cheaper), keep driving towards Fraser’s Hill. Soon the Sungai Selangor dam will be in sight. A few minutes after passing by a small rest area, turn right into Kampung Pertak. On reaching a small T-junction, turn right. Continue all the way until the road becomes a gravel road, and eventually you’ll reach the 1st bridge. There is some amount of space to park around here, though probably not for more than 5 cars (If not you’ll have to park further back along the road and walk further).

At this point, one can also go down to the river, which is also a great spot to freshen up once you return from climbing Bukit Kutu.

1. [00Hr:00Min, 0km (horizontal), 289m (altitude)] Bridge #1

The bridge crosses over a small stream. The stream can also be crossed without the bridge to the left, where offroad vehicles should also be able to cross, if needed (about ankle deep).

After crossing, follow the fairly wide path for a few minutes. (There are some good views of the river along the path)

River view

2. [00:07, 0.5km, 300m] Bridge #2 (Broken)

This second river is a bit wider and deeper than the first. The bridge has also been broken for quite a long time, but it’s still fairly easy to cross.

3. [00:11, 0.6km, 306m] Junction #1

Keep right. Going left will eventually lead to 2 waterfalls via a 3hr hike.

4. [00:14, 0.8km, 325m] Junction #2

Keep right. The trail will start to narrow after this.

5. [00:18, 1.1km, 311m] River crossing

Photo taken from 1st climb in August, with lower water levels

This is the one major river crossing you’ll have to make. On average, it is just below knee depth, probably between 1-2 feet deep. On my 1st trip, water was completely clear and not that deep. On this 2nd trip, water was about 8″/20cm higher and very slightly cloudy, just over knee deep. Removal of footwear is necessary.

BEWARE: This river can rise to fairly deep levels (estimated chest deep by checking erosion levels) and fairly strong currents, if there is heavy rainfall. When crossing, always face upstream and be aware of any changes in levels especially if it looks like it may be raining upstream. Don’t cross if water level is approaching waist depth or water is turning murky. Always be prepared to wait for levels to recede, it’s not worth risking your life.

6. [00:27, 1.1km, 320m] Stream #1

Comes almost immediately after the river crossing. About 2-4in deep. Unless river levels are high, doesn’t require removal of footwear. On both occasions we got across without removal of footwear.

7. [00:33, 1.2km, 344m] Junction #3

Keep right.

8. [00:37, 1.4km, 333m] Stream #2

Similar to stream #1, about 2-4in deep, and can be crossed easily enough.

9. [00:43, 1.6km 324m] Stream #3

Similar to stream #1, about 2-4in deep, and can be crossed easily enough.

After these junctions and river/stream crossings, the rest of the climb is straightforward. There are a few various paths, but they mostly lead back to the same place. Just watch out for the trail markers or “do-not-cross” markings.

10. [01:00, 2.4km, 419m] Tree shelter

Photo taken from 1st climb in August

A fairly recognizable checkpoint – a tree with a massive root system across the path. After this tree, the trail stars to climb a bit more steeply.

11. [01:06, 2.5km, 460m] Clearing

One of the few open places along the trail. Probably one of the few places you could camp if necessary.

12. [01:28, 3km, 602m] “Keep right” before CP4

Optional and obvious, as the left path rejoins the trail, but consists of a very steep climb. If you’re adventurous, you can go left. Otherwise, one would naturally take the easier right path.

13. [01:33, 3.2km, 643m] Checkpoint 4, water point

Photo taken from 1st climb in August

The only water point along the way to the summit. Don’t drink without treatment.

14. [01:36, 3.3km, 666m] “Turn left, go up”

Fairly obvious. If I remember, there’s a tape across the right path preventing people from going the wrong way. If in doubt, the left trail has trail markers (ribbons tied to the trees)

15. [01:40, 3.4km, 670m] “Keep left while descending”

I’m fairly sure that the right path rejoins the main trail, but there was an “X” marked by sticks across the right trail (as seen when descending). Clear in the daytime, but may be missed in darkness.

16. [01:55, 3.9km, 764m] Checkpoint 5, huge boulder

(My GPS signal went a bit wonky here due to the huge boulder) This checkpoint can’t be missed. Take a good break here and snap some photos. Be aware that there are some sweat bees around which may take a liking to your perspiration, but as long as you don’t squash/swat them, they won’t sting you.

The section of trail for 10 minutes after CP5 is fairly slippery, so take care. There is a small cord tied there to assist, but don’t put your full weight on it. Instead, try to find the best places to put your feet and only rely on the rope for extra stability.

Also, between CP5 and the summit, there are a few sections which require squatting down to pass under fallen bamboo. Be prepared to get your hands muddy if the ground is muddy!

17. [02:44, 5.5km, 926m] “Turn left and go up”

There was tape across the right path. Fairly clear.

18. [03:05, 6.1km, 1074m] Broken house

Just before the broken house (when you can see the chimney), when you emerge from the jungle, there’s an intersection where a well is placed. Turning left goes towards the house. Going straight goes on towards the summit.

Note: The broken house area has a few exits! I’m not sure where they go, so remember to take the exit which passes by the well.

19. [03:09, 6.1km, 1092m] Summit

After climbing up a few paths with wooden branch handrails, there are a series of ladders which reach the viewing point, which is the summit. Beware of a potential wasps nest on the first rock, on which the 1st ladder rests. There are a few holes in the rocks which used to hold a wasps nest. (It was active on my first climb, though I didn’t see any wasps there on my 2nd climb) Remember the rule of ONE person on a ladder at a time. You can probably only fit 4 people MAX on the summit at a time.

Summit marker before boulders. Ruins trail is to the left.

20. [+00:16, +0.4km, 1062m] Ruins

At the bottom of the boulders which lead to the viewing point, next to where the above [summit marker] photo was taken, there’s a trail which continues on to some abandoned ruins. The journey takes about 15 minutes each way. Just follow the trail markers, it should be fairly clear.

At the ruins, turn back the way you came from. (I believe the trail continues on all the way down to Kuala Kubu Bharu, which some people have taken before)

 Preparation

Notes

  • Poor/no phone coverage.
  • There are shallow river crossings (3 streams, 1 river knee deep). You’ll probably want to take off shoes to cross the river. Bring something to keep electronics/etc. dry.
  • In case of bad weather, injuries, etc., always be prepared for potential delays.
  • Petrol costs ~RM30-35 per car, RM10.80 [RM5.40 each way] toll from PJ (Damansara)
  • It’s the rainy season, be ready for rain and cold weather. I suggest packing an extra singlet or T-shirt to wear over in case.
  • Be prepared for leeches!

Essential Items

  • Minimum 2L fluid (3L+ recommended), isotonic recommended.
  • High energy snacks/lunch
  • Hiking shoes (good grip)
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Plastic/waterproof bags for electronics in case of rain
  • Emergency gear: Whistle & small flashlight/headlamp

To leave in car

  • Extra drinking water (1L)
  • Change of clothes/towel
  • 2 large plastic bags, one for dirty shoes, one for dirty clothes
  • Clean slippers/sandals

Recommended Items

  • Tissue paper
  • Insect repellent
  • Hiking stick
  • Extra T-shirt
  • Salt (for isotonic drinks / leeches / etc.)
  • Wristwatch
  • Small hand towel
  • Cap/Hat for summit, if it is sunny
  • Emergency Gear: Knife, fire starting kit, 1st aid kit, rope/cord, etc.

(See my personal packing list here)

Gunung Angsi (Bukit Putus & Ulu Bendul)

A short 5 hour excursion to Gunung Angsi, up via Ulu Bendul, down via Bukit Putus.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Ulu Bendul, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
Start point: 2.727418N, 102.0758E 177m a.s.l. (Ulu Bendul) AND 2.727351N, 102.0562E 293m a.s.l. (Bukit Putus)
Summit: 2.698775N, 102.047788E 836m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Moderate easy. The Ulu Bendul trail is a little longer and has one fairly steep section (Botak Hill), otherwise both are standard jungle trails of average steepness.

Date climbed: 20 October 2012

Most of what I have read about Gunung Angsi seems to imply that the climb isn’t that interesting, and that Gunung Angsi lacks views. While there is some truth to this, Angsi is still a place I wanted to visit at least once. There are (apparently) 4 trails which lead up to the summit – via Bukit Putus, Ulu Bendul, a third trail I don’t know much about, and an apparently disused 4th trail. To see as much of Angsi as I could in half a day, we decided to take the Ulu Bendul route up, and return down via the Bukit Putus trail, and walk back along the road to our cars.

3 of us from PJ joined the Seremban climbing group that we hiked with up Gunung Ledang. We left PJ at 6.15am, and after a smooth drive, arrived at the Ulu Bendul recreational park at 7.30am. If you’re not into climbing, the recreational park is ideal for quite a number of outdoor activities such as camping, picnics, playing in the river (there’s a swimming pool of sorts filled with the river water), etc.

Before heading up the trail, we had to pay RM5 per person. Not the cheapest as I don’t believe there’s much maintenance needed on the trail, but fine. (If I’m paying money, I’d prefer a place like Gunung Datuk as they actually do have to maintain the ladders.)

The Ulu Bendul trail is definitely harder than the Bukit Putus trail, as it starts over 100m lower down, and is longer as well. The first 4km of the trail is pretty straightforward, and does not gain much altitude at all. We had to cross 2 small rivers, which some of us were able to do by hopping from rock to rock (which carries the risk of slipping and ending up with wet feet), while the others removed their shoes (safer).

Shortly after the 2nd stream crossing, the trail begins to climb continuously, although never really steep. The terrain was reminiscent of Nuang – wide paths and clay ground. About 2/3rds of the way up, we emerged at Botak Hill, an open area with steep sand boulders. There were ropes fixed along the left side of the climb, however, a few of us (me included) decided to use the right hand path, which although lacked ropes, looked like it had better footholds. (I tend not to trust ropes)

There’s a final steep climb after the rope section after which we emerged at the summit, about 840m up. There weren’t any “spectacular” views from the top, but we could see Seremban to the west, and more hills to the east. The journey up took us 2hr 50min at a relaxed pace, while going down the Bukit Putus trail took us about 1hr 30min. Along the way down, we passed by Panjang’s Rest Area, where there’s a good number of chairs to relax on, and one of the locals apparently gives out refreshments there, though no one was there on the day we climbed.

After we reached the start of the Bukit Putus trail, we walked back along the main road – 4km in total, which took us about 45 minutes.

For me, Angsi was more of a training climb, as I was carrying a lot more gear than I normally would (about 11kg in total). I didn’t expect any great views (and as expected, didn’t get many), but it was still an enjoyable climb with good company. If you’re planning to visit Gunung Angsi only once, I do recommend trying both trails as it gives you some different views along the way (i.e. Bukit Putus trail has some open views, while Ulu Bendul has some streams/rivers).

Photos

A pretty big spider (about the width of an average hand) we found along the way
Looking down from Botak Hill after climbing up halfway
A small ‘cave’ we went through just after Botak Hill
View to the east from the summit
“Waterfall view”, though I’m not sure where the waterfall is. Along the Bukit Putus trail.
Reservoir view along the Bukit Putus trail

GPS Details

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail (interactive map)

Duration: 5 hours 10 minutes
Length: 13.5km
Average Speed: 2.6km/h
Max elevation: 838m
Min elevation: 135m
Vertical Up: 910m
Vertical Down: 909m

Preparation

Notes:

  • RM5 climbing fee
  • You may not be allowed to climb if you start late in the day (**unconfirmed**)
  • 2 stream crossings, for which you might have to remove shoes
  • Rain protection is recommended for any electronic items or clothing.
  • Moderate number of leeches
  • If you are prone to chaffing, apply vaseline/bodyglide/etc. as necessary.
  • Hiking stick is optional (may get in the way while climbing ladders/ropes), but can help on the way down

Checklist:

  • Minimum 2L fluid, isotonic recommended.
  • High energy snacks/lunch
  • Hiking shoes & extra socks for comfort, if you need
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Small towel (for sweat/etc.)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Small plastic bag to keep electronics dry in rain
  • Extra clothes (both shirt & pants), can leave in car
  • Plastic bags for dirty shoes/clothes, can leave in car
  • Slippers/Sandals to change into afterwards if shoes are muddy
  • Gloves (while climbing ropes)
  • Emergency gear: flashlight, whistle, knife, lighter, 1st aid kit, etc.
  • Optional: cap/hat, tarp/flysheet, cord/string, mat, water filter/tablets, etc.

(See my personal packing list here)

Gunung Rajah (Failed)

A failed attempt on the majestic 1683m Gunung Rajah near Chamang, Bentong, Pahang.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Not a full write up on Gunung Rajah – that will come when I climb Rajah successfully!

I decided to join the KL Hiking group for their Gunung Rajah climb on the 13th of October. I knew that it would be a tough climb – the longest and highest mountain I have done thus far, after Gunung Nuang. For those who don’t know, Rajah stands at 1683m tall, and the journey is about 26-32km round trip. It begins at Chamang waterfall, follows a logging trail for about 4km, a fairly easy jungle trail for 4.8km, a river crossing, another 1.5km uphill to Kem Lata Naning (then continues on to Kem Hijau, the false peak, rock face, and the summit, all of which I didn’t reach)

Even before the climb, I suspected that I would not be able to make it to the top, for quite a number of reasons:

  1. I was sick for the week prior to the climb. I only got well 2 days before the climb, and not having exercised AT ALL for 2 weeks (the last being my Ledang/Ophir climb), I was lacking my usual energy.
  2. I didn’t sleep at all the night before the climb – a problem I frequently face the night before climbs, but sleep was all the more crucial for this 12hr+ climb! Obviously, I just wanted to sleep the whole day!
  3. I was carrying more weight in my backpack than usual – 1.5L more water than I carried up to Nuang, plus a 600g tarp/flysheet and some extra stuff.
  4. My isotonic solution was more watered than usual. I was experimenting with reduced amounts of salt and glucose, but obviously it didn’t work out as well as I started cramping about 3.5hrs into the climb.

During the climb itself, I also didn’t hydrate as much as I would normally do as I was more reluctant to stop (being in a big group of 40 people, people don’t tend to stop when you stop for a break and you end up being left behind). And the rain didn’t help.

Yes, speaking of rain – the weather was fine when we started out, up until the 3hr mark when we passed Lata Naning, on our way to Kem Hijau. We were already prepared for rain as rain was forecast, so it was no surprise when it started raining (all the raincoats, rain covers, etc. came out). About the time the rain started, I also decided to turn back, between Lata Naning and Kem Hijau. I ended up staying with about 10 people at Lata Naning, before we headed back down to the river crossing.

When we had crossed the river on our way to the summit, it was ankle deep, and enough people were able to cross without taking off their shoes. However, when we got back to the crossing, the tiny stream had become a raging river about 8 feet higher than it was previously, with extremely swift currents. The crossing is where two rivers meet in a “Y” configuration, and this probably caused the depth to be even higher than normal. I was already aware of this possibility, and had seen and read accounts of this happening, but seeing it first hand was quite an awesome experience.

Obviously, there was no way we would cross in these conditions, so we set up my tarp/flysheet (which had also come in useful at Lata Naning) and waited. The river continued to rise a further 2 feet, and we waited for another 2 hours before the level started to subside slowly. After more than 3 hours, the level was finally low enough (waist deep) when 3 members of the team decided to cross and fix a rope to assist others. (Personally, I would still avoid any river more than knee deep, which is the highest ‘recommended’ depth for safe river crossings) However, they managed to get the rope into place safely, so we all crossed over and I got back to the car park just before 6pm.

I waited for the rest of the people in our carpool, the last who reached back around 8-9pm. Most of them managed to reach the summit, which was a great achievement!

What I learned from the climb:

  • Rest is VERY important before a climb! And don’t try a huge climb just after recovering from an illness…
  • Watch your hydration and nutrition on long climbs
  • BE CAREFUL around rivers and waterfalls, especially if there’s a chance of rain (especially upstream, which you may not see). Rivers can swell by many feet in MERE SECONDS, and if you’re not paying attention, you could be swept away and be killed. DON’T PLAY AROUND with swift/deep waters, they CAN and WILL kill you. I saw a river rise by 10 feet, and mind you, the rain was fairly short and not the heaviest.
  • Be prepared to stay longer than your allocated time. I myself was ready for this possibility, but not everyone else was… (especially if it had kept raining – the river could take a long time to subside)

Anyway, I’ll be back at Gunung Rajah at some point in the future!

River Dangers

Here’s a photo of how rivers can change with rain. The river we crossed (which rose by 10 feet) was a few km upstream from this (Chamang) waterfall. Mind you, by the time I got back to this waterfall, the water level at the crossing had already fallen by 4 feet, so I can only imagine how much higher the waterfall level was at its highest.

Difference in levels before and after a medium rainfall

As circled in the photo, you can see that the warning signpost in the left photo (taken 2 weeks prior to the photo on the right) has been ripped out, probably by water which was high enough to reach it. Given that rivers can swell in seconds, it would be pretty scary being at the bottom when the first flash flood arrives. BE CAREFUL AROUND WATERFALLS AND RIVERS!!!

Other Photos

Same photo of Chamang waterfall as above, taken on a lovely day
The logging trail at the start
Open area – turn right off the logging trail
Another lovely open area along the jungle trail
River at Lata Naning
River at Lata Naning, looking the opposite direction
Same photo as used earlier – Chamang waterfall after rainfall

GPS Details

Since I didn’t manage to complete a full circuit, I won’t be posting full GPS details, unless you want it, in which case leave a comment! (There are other full GPS trails available from other hikers) Here’s a photo of how far I got (I stopped recording at Lata Naning after turnig back):

Duration: 4 hours 43 minutes
Length: 13km
Average Speed: 2.8km/h
Vertical Up: 1245m
Vertical Down: 597m
Maximum Altitude: 896m
Minimum Altitude: 164m

Saga Hill

Saga Hill (Bukit Saga) is actually just one peak of many on a hill with a large, flat top, near Cheras. After the many mountains that I have been climbing, Saga Hill is definitely a very easy climb, with well maintained trails and a reachable summit of ~430m. There are many routes to choose from, which start from various sides of the hill. Saga Hill refers to the hilltop nearest the small town of Taman Saga, where the starting point is.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Taman Saga, Cheras/Ampang, Malaysia.
Start point: 3.113788N, 101.773276E 149m a.s.l.
End point: [Varies] Highest point – 3.111677N, 101.779017E 342m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Easy. Recommended for beginner hikers. The only danger is getting lost amongst the huge network of trails.

Saga Hill (Bukit Saga) is actually just one peak of many on a hill with a large, flat top, near Cheras. After the many mountains that I have been climbing, Saga Hill is definitely a very easy climb, with well maintained trails and a reachable summit of ~430m. There are many routes to choose from, which start from various sides of the hill. Saga Hill refers to the hilltop nearest the small town of Taman Saga, where the starting point is. (Another popular route starts from Cheras Awana, where the hill is called Apek Hill) Don’t expect any good views of the surrounding area, as there are always lots of trees blocking the view. If you want a view close to PJ/KL, I suggest Bukit Tabur or Broga Hill. It is actually possible to become lost at Bukit Saga due to the huge network of trails which join the various peaks and climbing routes together. A few of the major trails are marked, but it’s probably a good idea to remember which trails you go on, or, like me, use GPS to record your trail so that heading back is an easy task.

I’ve climbed Saga Hill twice in the past (I never blogged about them), but always took the same route. For this 3rd time, me & my friend decided to check out the waterfall, and take a different route down. I was there for a very relaxed hike as I had 2 big climbs coming up the next week, while my friend was there to train for Mt. Ophir (Gunung Ledang). Thus, he filled up his bag with 12kg of weights and water, so that we would get different amounts of exercise at the same pace.

The residents (many of which are more senior and like to climb every day) apparently prefer that climbers don’t park too near their houses, so the suggested parking space is a small park in front of a kindergarten (I think). From there, Saga Hill is clearly visible.

Saga Hill from the parking lot
Small waterfall near the entrance

After passing the small waterfall at the start, there are 3 routes to choose from.

Route A is the shortest, and possibly the most popular. Since it is the shortest, it is also the steepest, but has a huge amount of tree roots along the way, which make it easy to find places to step and does not become slippery. There is also a short rope climbing section (up some rocks), which can be bypassed.

Route A – View of Cheras
Route A – lots of tree roots provide natural steps
Route A – Optional rope/rock section

Route B – I have yet to climb this. I’ll fill up this section once I’ve done so!

Route C is slightly longer than route A, and is less steep, and in my opinion, slightly easier. However, shoes with decent grip helps a lot as the ground is bare, so it may be challenging at times to find grip (Similar to Broga Hill). I personally found no issues with my hiking shoes, climbing after a heavy rain, so I’m not sure why people call this ‘Route C-hallenging’.

Route C – View of Cheras

I can’t remember if there’s a Route D anywhere, but I think I remember hearing of it once.

Saga’s hilltop has no view, but contains a large number of benches/tables, exercise equipment, and even a ‘changing room’ of sorts. From there, you can head to a small waterfall, which is less than an hour away. Some people argue whether it’s worth the hike.

Small waterfall

Between Saga’s hilltop and Route C lies a beirut (I’m still not sure where the term comes from), which presumably marks the highest point of Saga Hill.

Beirut @ 432m

There’s much to explorer at Saga Hill, as long as you’re not interested in views which look out, which are pretty much nonexistent. However, Saga Hill provides a decent amount of exercise while still being relatively close to PJ/KL (Of course, driving there is not always as pleasant, in my experience)

GPS Details

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail

Duration: 3 hours 25 minutes
Length: 5.5km
Average Speed: 1.6km/h
Max elevation: 432m
Min elevation: 148m
Vertical Up: 557m
Vertical Down: 560m

Bukit Tabur East

A short excursion to Bukit Tabur East, the less known trail of Bukit Tabur, but just as risky.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Start point: 3.232641N, 101.749952E 85m a.s.l.
End point: 3.232116N, 101.75739E 345m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Very high risk, moderately difficult. Short, easy in terms of strength/endurance needed. However, very steep slopes (60-80 degrees), rocky terrain and vertical drops increase the risk and “scare” factor. Not recommended for people afraid of heights.

Back in May 2012, I climbed Bukit Tabur West with 2 of my friends. I never got around to blogging it, but while researching Tabur West, I also read a fair bit about the slightly more elusive Tabur East. It’s been quite a while since then, but I finally managed to make a trip to Tabur East.

Opinions on Tabur East tend to vary, with some saying it’s more difficult than Tabur West, and some saying otherwise. Regardless, the terrain is very similar to Tabur West, with similar techniques and care needed while climbing. The trail itself is shorter than Tabur West, but I think the slopes are slightly steeper (and go on longer).

The start of the hike is along the road with 2 big pipes running parallel to each other (see on Google Maps). After parking, this is the sight which greeted us:

Tabur East

Walking down the road, there is a small bridge which crosses a small river, after which the tarmac road ends. The trailhead is just a bit further (following the big pipes), on the right hand side. It’s marked clearly by a “Dilarang masuk tanpa kebenaran” (No entry without permit) sign, which we entered.

Trail head of Tabur East

The trail is immediately steep uphill, first through jungle terrain (sandy/soil ground), which is slowly replaced by rocky ground. Within 10 minutes of climbing, we reached the rope sections. (I do not recommend you use the ropes unless you have to – rocks almost always provide better grip, and they don’t swing around. Only use the ropes when there are no rocks to grip, or if you really need extra stability!

Shortly into the climb, there is a viewing point of KL and the dam, which I don’t recall being able to view from Tabur West (However, I climbed Tabur West in the dark, so I may be wrong).

First view of Kuala Lumpur
View of the Klang Gates Dam
View of Tabur West from Tabur East

After being stuck behind a group of about 10 people for 20 minutes, we decided to overtake them. Another piece of advice: find a safe place to overtake, and let the group know beforehand. Don’t pressure them to move faster than they are comfortable with! Not long after that, we emerged into more open terrain. There was no lack of viewing spots, providing great views of KL, forest, mountains and much more. Some photos:

View of the beautiful lake
Our goal – the summit of Tabur East, taken along the way.

Once on the ridge, the climb towards the summit didn’t take long. It involved going both up and down, over rocky area and through a short jungle section. Right before the summit is a junction – one apparently leads out (we didn’t take this path), the other leads to the final ascent: a steep and long 60-80 degree long section with ropes along the whole way. Again, I do not recommend the use of ropes unless they are really needed! It took us about 10 minutes to scale the last section, after which we emerged at the beautiful summit. The weather was beautiful, although it did make it really hot, with a scorching sun at only 10am! Here are some panoramas I took (click to view full size):

View from summit, to the east
View from summit, to the west

Just a few minutes further on, we came to the end of our journey, our progress halted by a high vertical cliff, impassable to any (except with climbing gear, perhaps).

End of Tabur East

Further peaks are visible – apparently they can also be climbed, if you google Tabur Far East/Tabur Extreme Far East/etc.. Perhaps I’ll try climbing them one day?

Summit of Tabur “Far” East, unreachable from Tabur East

Also visible for much of the climb were quartz formations. They were far more plentiful than when climbing Tabur West

Quartz Formation

We returned the same way we came from. In total, we ran into about 30 other climbers that day. Also, when we got back to our starting point at noon, the heavens opened and poured a TON of rain. I hope the other people who were still climbing were safe!

Tabur East is a good training ground if you want challenging terrain but lack time, as it’s very close to PJ/KL. In fact, my muscles ached a bit the day after (more so than when I climbed Bukit Kutu/Gunung Nuang/etc.), probably because of the much wider range of motion needed while climbing Tabur East – at some points the steps are extremely far apart! It’s not too challenging physically, but is much higher risk than any of the other mountains I’ve climbed in Malaysia. I have to say that I have not yet found any other place which is like Tabur, which offers an extremely interesting climb with stunning views. Just stay safe if you decide to go! And I mean that VERY seriously!

GPS Details (from start to furthest point)

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail

Duration: 1 hours 37 minutes
Length: 1.7km
Average Speed: 1.1km/h
Max elevation: 351m
Min elevation: 85m
Vertical Up: 311m
Vertical Down: 51m

Preparations

Warning: Difficult terrain!! Not recommended as a first hike or if you’re afraid of heights. Average hike time is 2-3hrs both ways.

  • Good phone coverage
  • No river crossings
  • Much of the terrain is exposed. Cap may be useful if it’s very sunny
  • Few/No leeches

Checklist:

  • ~1.5 liters drink, isotonic recommended.
  • High energy snacks
  • hiking shoes (or shoes with grip), extra socks for comfort, if you need
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Small towel (for sweat/etc.)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Small plastic bag to keep electronics dry in rain
  • Extra clothes (both shirt & pants), can leave in car
  • Plastic bags for dirty shoes/clothes, can leave in car
  • Slippers/Sandals to change into afterwards if shoes are muddy
  • Gloves (you’ll be on all fours a lot of the time. I ended up not using mine but they could definitely help a lot)
  • Emergency gear: flashlight, whistle, knife, lighter, 1st aid kit, etc.
  • Optional: tarp/flysheet, cord/string, etc.

Pine Tree Hill

A not-too-difficult 6hr round trip hike up Pine Tree Hill (1461m) near Fraser’s Hill. Beautiful view, and cool & refreshing trail, all above 1200m.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia.
Start point: 3.712077N, 101.728494E 1329m a.s.l.
Summit: 3.710520N, 101.697086E 1461m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Moderate. Mostly easy trail, but contains a fair number of tree trunks to clamber over/under.

Date climbed: Fri 8 Sep 2012

For a while, I’ve been interested in climbing Pine Tree Hill as it’s known to be a relatively easy hike, but most importantly it’s a cool hike as all climbing occurs above 1200m. Especially after climbing mountains like Gunung Nuang and Gunung Datuk which can be quite hot, I was interested to have some cooler hikes, hence Gunung Bunga Buah, and now Pine Tree Hill. The only reason why I had not made the trip to Pine Tree Hill previously was the amount of time it takes to drive up to Fraser’s Hill from PJ.

A group of us decided to make the trip last Friday, and we left PJ at 7am. After making a few wrong turns, loosing half an hour in the morning rush hour, we made it up to the top of Fraser’s Hill at 9.30am. We quickly registered with the Police Station (whenever there are authorities you can register with, even better for free, it’s always recommended!), and made our way to the start of the Pine Tree Trail, and entered at 9.55am, half an hour later than we had planned for.

Entrance to Pine Tree Trail

We had set our turnaround time at 1.30pm, so we would have to move fairly fast to make it to the top. The weather was beautiful throughout the whole climb – it was mostly cloudy with patches of sunshine, although at times we did worry whether it was going to rain!

Just a few minutes after entering the trail, we got our first ‘open’ view of the surrounding hills and valleys.

View of hills & valleys near the start of the trail

The trail is very well defined for the whole way, and we passed by (if I remember correctly) 3 rest huts – one right at the start, another about 1km in, and a broken hut (doesn’t provide any shelter) a little bit later on.

2nd rest hut & broken hut

In addition, we passed by an interesting tree root formation which one can crawl under. (Sorry for the poor photo quality)

Tree Root “Shelter”

About 2/3rds of the way, we got our first [not so great] view of Pine Tree Hill itself.

First view of Pine Tree Hill

Around the 3.6km sign, we passed by a sign saying “Water Point”. Presumably if one follows the trail, it’ll lead to a water source. (Otherwise, that would be a pretty mean joke!) On the right, there’s an upwards trail leading to a campsite.

Trail to water point, with campsite nearby

Just before the summit of Pine Tree Hill, we reached the famous ‘rope section’, where we had to pull ourselves up steep rocks and soil (About 60-70 degrees). I recommend against the use of ropes while going up (hold it only for support, not for pulling), and instead rely more on grabbing the rocks – the ropes are more useful when descending. Remember that only one person should be using the ropes at any time!

Rope Section

At the top of the rope section, the left path leads to the “summit” of Pine Tree Hill. I’m not sure where the middle path goes. The right path leads to another beautiful viewing point on the other side of the hill.

View from the summit. Mt. Benum (2107m) is barely visible on the right behind the clouds
The view back towards Fraser’s Hill
Panorama of the other side of Pine Tree Hill

We reached the summit at 12.50pm and ate lunch there. From the summit, one can actually go further on to the “twin peak”, which is a second summit close by, which should take about 1hr+ round trip. Unfortunately, we had to get out of the trail by 4.30pm (to get back to PJ by 7pm), thus we didn’t carry on.

Overall, Pine Tree Trail is a fairly beautiful trail to walk on – cool & refreshing. There are a decent amount of interesting plants along the way, although we didn’t manage to spot any of the pitcher plants we were on the lookout for. We did pass by a huge wasp nest on the way, although it didn’t look active (we weren’t about to test that theory!). Phone reception is fairly poor along the way, although at the summit of Pine Tree Hill you’ll get a decent signal. The one thing I’d recommend you watch out for is what you put your hands on when clambering over tree trunks – I put my hand right into a pile of dung which was covered with ants! It wasn’t pretty…

GPS Details (from start to summit)

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail

Duration: 2 hours 57 minutes
Length: 5.9km
Average Speed: 2km/h
Max elevation: 1461m
Min elevation: 1233m
Vertical Up: 648m
Vertical Down: 516m

Preparations

Hike is all within 200m height, but there are a lot of small ups and downs. Total ascent/descent both ways will be almost 1200m. Some steep sections with rope. Other parts have stairs, which makes it easier.

Average hike time is 3hrs to summit, 3hrs back. Going to Twin Peaks will take an extra 1.5hrs. Be sure to mark the trail well if you decide to go to Twin Peaks – I’ve read of people getting lost on the way back.

  • You can bring an extra labeled bottle of water and leave it halfway and collect it on the way back if you don’t want to carry it around.
  • Poor phone coverage
  • No river crossings
  • Temperature should be cool the whole way. Since we’re hiking you shouldn’t need a jacket, but you may want to bring an extra singlet/longsleeve shirt in case you get cold.
  • Pine Tree Hill isn’t famous for leeches, but there will likely be a few around

Checklist:

  • ~2 liters drink, isotonic recommended.
  • High energy snacks & lunch
  • hiking shoes (or shoes with grip), extra socks for comfort, if you need
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Small towel (for sweat/etc.)
  • Hiking stick
  • Insect Repellent
  • Small plastic bag to keep electronics dry in rain
  • Extra clothes (both shirt & pants), can leave in car
  • Plastic bags for dirty shoes/clothes, can leave in car
  • Slippers/Sandals to change into afterwards if shoes are muddy
  • Emergency gear: flashlight, whistle, knife, lighter, 1st aid kit, etc.
  • Optional: gloves, tarp/flysheet, cord/string, mat, water filter/tablets, etc.

 

Gunung Bunga Buah

My climb up the 1430m Gunung Bunga Buah. A nice day trip, not too difficult for seasoned hikers, but the trail is more like an obstacle course.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Gohtong Jaya (Genting Highlands), Pahang, Malaysia.
Start point: 3.395699N, 101.767510E 922m a.s.l.
Summit: 3.374284N, 101.740044E 1441m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Moderately Hard. Some steep sections, trail is mostly muddy with a lot of obstacles. Not recommended as a first hike, but doable for anyone who exercises regularly.

Date climbed: Sat 1 Sep 2012

Having not climbed any challenging mountains for 2 weeks (not counting my 4th trip to Broga which I found to be easy & relaxed), I was itching to climb something new. I decided on Gunung Bunga Buah as it is fairly close to PJ/KL, and doesn’t have a reputation of being too difficult. I was a bit apprehensive as I was bringing along 3 other people (a total of 4 climbers) to a new location, and I had not climbed with any of them before. Further more, most of them had not done half/full day climbs before.

I would like to quickly touch on the subject of group dynamics, which should be an important aspect to consider – if you climb with people you’ve climbed with before, you know each other’s level of fitness & pacing, and how to motivate one another. I have to admit that I (as the navigator and person who researched the mountain) probably didn’t lead the group as well as I could have, and was too eager to plod on ahead at times. However, I’m glad that we all reached the summit safely and got back out before sunset.

Gunung Bunga Buah stands high at 1430m, but is different from other mountains like Nuang in that you start at relatively high altitude. The trail consists of many ups and downs rather than a single ascent to the summit and back. The great thing about this is that the whole climb is done in nice cool weather. On the other hand, do keep in mind that the return time from the summit will likely take the same amount of time. (On single ascent/descent mountains, the descent is almost always significantly faster) From the research I’ve done, Gunung Bunga Buah is also well known for its leeches. While I’m sure they do come out in large numbers after a rain, we only saw a few around on this particular day, and none of us got any bites. Needless to say, go mentally prepared for these bloodsuckers!

We left PJ around 7.20am, reaching Gohtong Jaya at 8.30am. It’s up to you how close you want to park to the starting point, which is a small orchard/farm. I decided to park in front of a restaurant at the shoplots, just for extra peace of mind as there is a lot more activity going on there. (Hopefully less chance of anything happening to the car, although these days anything can happen)

You’ll have to find your way through the orchard to the start of the trail. It’s a bit hard to describe, so either (1) use the GPS trail I recorded, (2) ask the people at the orchard, who were very friendly, or (3) if you have neither GPS nor people to ask, you’ll have to make a turn around one of the buildings and head towards the slope. Whatever you do, please watch your step and do not step on any of the plants at the orchard, as the land is private properly and we are outsiders ‘trespassing’ on their land to get to the trail. As goes without saying, do not litter – that goes for the whole journey!

The first part of the climb consists of a ~20 minute climb through steep and potentially slippery slopes. If you’re not used to these type of slopes, don’t despair, since it’s only for a short section. You’ll soon find yourself on an old tar road (which used to be the old road to Genting). Keep a mental image of this junction, as you’ll have to go back down the same way when coming back.

Emerging onto the old tar road after climbing through the orchard

From here, keep walking along the road until you notice it bending sharply to the right. At this point, turn left into the undergrowth, and in a minute you’ll emerge at the well known old quarry, with it’s grand looking cliff. Honestly, the photos don’t do it justice – it’s a sight you have to see for yourself.

Junction towards old quarry. Go left here.
The old quarry you’ll emerge at a minute later

Keep walking along the road, which has been closed for such a long time that nature has already reclaimed most of it. Most of the time, you’ll be walking through dense undergrowth, and you’ll be “in touch” (literally!) with nature. As such, long pants are recommended (though not required), if not you may end up getting quite a few scratches and possibly rashes along the way.

At some point, you’ll find  yourself on the other side of the mountain ridge, and you’ll get your first view of Bunga Buah’s peak. It may look far away, but it’s doable! The viewing point also includes a great view of the valley. On our climb, we could hear the loud cries of what we assume to be gibbons – though we never saw any of them.

First view of Bunga Buah’s peak

Keep walking along the dense path (It’s hard to imagine cars drove here many years ago) until you reach the “real” trailhead which leads to Gunung Bunga Buah.

Trailhead to Bunga Buah

From here, there’s a short steep climb, followed by a long downhill section. It can be tiring going down, because you know that you’ll have to go up on the journey back! Interestingly, I tend to prefer going uphill as it’s always easier to find footing and easier on the joints. Those who have climbed Gunung Nuang will recognize the similar clay. Eventually, you’ll reach the bottom of this section, and begin the climb up towards the summit of Bunga Buah. While there are no extremely steep sections, what makes the trail difficult is the sheer number of objects lying across the path – branches, roots, rocks, etc., which you’ll have to either clamber over or crawl underneath. Some people say that Bunga Buah is tougher than Nuang – which may be due to the trail difficulty. (However, Nuang requires vastly more endurance and strength. Overall, I’d say that Nuang is still MUCH more difficult).

Along the way, you’ll come across a clearing with the word “AIR”. I assume that if you turn off at this junction, it would lead to a water source. We did not follow it this round.

“AIR” – highlighted in the photo. Probably leads to a water source.

About half and hour on, you’ll reach the start of the “Rock Garden”, which some say shares similarities to Bukit Tabur. It’s no where nearly as dangerous as Bukit Tabur, but provides a nice change in terrain. At this point, you’ll also be able to get the best view of Genting Highlands (if there are no clouds). We stopped here to eat our lunch. The ground around the rock garden is also oddly spongy. I’d strongly recommend you take careful steps – I don’t know how much weight the ground can take, or if it’s secure. The last thing you want to do is go tumbling down!

View of Genting Highlands (behind the clouds) from Rock Garden

The summit of Gunung Bunga Buah lies about 30-40minutes from the rock garden. There’s a large clearing you’ll reach, but this is not the true summit. Just walk about half a minute further on until you see the triangular metal structure, and here you can end your journey! (I understand that the trail continues further on, down towards Batang Kali/Jalan Sungai Tua, which is a LONG way away)

Gunung Bunga Buah’s summit

As of September 2012, the summit is infested with bees, so if you don’t like bees, you probably won’t want to stay at the summit too long! On my climb, we set the turnaround time at 1.30pm, which gave us ample time to get back to Gohtong Jaya. Always set a turnaround time and stick to it strictly!

All in all, Gunung Bunga Buah was an enjoyable, relaxed climb. I’m not sure I’d care to return to it anytime soon, but it’s not bad. We ran into about 20 people in total along our climb, including a big group who had camped up at the summit the previous night. I expect that not many people (if any) climb Gunung Bunga Buah on weekdays. As with any climb, let someone know your plans. There is hardly any phone reception (Maxis, at least) throughout the climb (except near the start and towards the summit).

I have to congratulate 2 within my group – PY and ZR, who completed the climb with broken shoes. ALWAYS be sure to wear proper footwear when climbing places such as these!

GPS Details (From start to summit)


Click for GPS trail map image

Duration: 4 hours 24 minutes (can be done much faster)
Length: 7km
Average Speed: 1.6km/h
Max elevation: 1441m
Min elevation: 922m
Vertical Up: 827m
Vertical Down: 310m

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail

Preparations

Average time: 4hrs up, 3.5hrs down. Plan accordingly. We started ~9am and set turnaround time at 1.30pm

  • It’s not a race. Stick together, and if any can’t make it, turn back together.
  • Depending on weather, may be cold.
  • Bunga Buah is very famous for leeches. Dress appropriately or bring insect repellent if you want to avoid bites.
  • Lots of shrubs/bushes, long pants recommended.
  • Trail can be slippery.

Checklist:

  • Minimum 2 liters drink, isotonic recommended
  • High energy snacks/lunch
  • Hiking shoes & extra socks for comfort, if you need
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Small towel
  • Hiking stick
  • Insect Repellent
  • Extra clothes (both shirt & pants), can leave in car
  • Plastic bags for dirty shoes/clothes, can leave in car
  • Extra slippers to change into afterwards, can leave in car
  • Emergency gear: flashlight, whistle, knife, lighter, 1st aid kit
  • Optional: gloves, tarp/flysheet, cord/string, mat, water filter/tablets, etc.

(See my personal packing list here)

Broga Hill for the 4th time

My 4th trip to Broga Hill near Semenyih, Selangor. Total hiking time is under an hour, and is suitable for beginners. The reward to work ratio is very high, as there are great views from the summit. It can be very crowded on weekends/public holidays, and unfortunately, garbage is littered all along the trail.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in 2012. Information may be out of date!

Location: Broga/Semenyih, Selangor, Malaysia.
Start point: 2.938412N, 101.901154E 105m a.s.l. (Opposite Rabbit Fun Land)
Summit: 2.950264N, 101.903020E 396m a.s.l.
Difficulty: Easy. No technical skills required. Trail is not steep, but can be slightly slippery especially after rain. Good place for beginner hikers.

Date climbed: Tue 21 Aug 2012

This was my 4th trip to Broga Hill, which is famous for its lack of trees (It’s also known as the “Lalang” [long grass] Hill), and its good view of the surrounding area, given the relatively easy climb. Unfortunately, its popularity means that the trail is very worn, and there is a lot of rubbish littered along the trail. Additionally, it can be crowded on weekends and public holidays. In fact, on my 2nd trip there, our group was stuck in a constant human traffic jam all the way up to the summit, which upon arriving was so jam packed that we had no place to stand.

On this particular visit, it was busy, but not the worst. I went there to show a few of my friends around. My friends are all good hikers, in better shape than me, but it was their first time, and one of them was to lead another group of people a few weeks later. The climb takes between 30min to 1hr to climb, and since it is an easy trail, we decided to bring along a bag of charcoal and some food (sausages and Ramly burgers) to cook on the summit.

Parking costs RM2, and is located just opposite Rabbit Fun Land. From there on, the trail is very clear. Just remember to keep right at the fork ~5min from the car park (It’s the path which goes up in elevation). From there, you’ll walk through jungle for about 15-20min until you emerge at a steep climb to the 1st summit. From the 1st summit, you can hike onwards to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th summit. The 4th summit requires a short rope section where you have to pull yourself up a few boulders. At the summit (396m), you can hoist yourself up the big boulders if you want to, or continue on to Gunung Tok Wan (which we didn’t). There are a few bees around the summit which you want to watch out for. In fact, on my 3rd trip there, one of us was stung and we were chased all the way down to the 2nd summit by other bees!

If you do climb Broga, please do other people a favor by bringing a few garbage bags and collecting the garbage on your way down. Yes, it’s not our garbage, but it will hopefully make the climb nicer for others.

The slope leading to the 1st peak after coming out of the jungle.
View from the 3rd peak
View of the 4th peak from the 3rd peak. The rocks require the use of a rope.
View from the 4th peak. KL (including the twin towers) is visible on a clear day
Cooking our breakfast. Photo by J. Ng.

GPS Details

Download GPX, KMZ (Google Earth)
View on EveryTrail

Duration: 47 minutes 53 seconds
Length: 1.8km
Average Speed: 2.2km/h
Max elevation: 396m
Min elevation: 105m
Vertical Up: 320m
Vertical Down: 32m

Malaysian Mountain Hiking Gear

A while back, I wrote a post on what I EDC (Everyday Carry). While that list included many items which I do find useful, a number of them are only useful in an urban area. Further more, when one is climbing mountains, any extra weight makes things a lot harder. Here is a list of the probably-still-more-than-necessary equipment I use while hiking. To be honest, I’m far from being an experienced hiker, but as someone who loves gear, I thought I’d still write this.

Clothing & Shoes

Top: Cheap & thin t-shirt (mostly the breathable sports type). Something I don’t care about if it gets dirty or torn. If I’m climbing high altitudes, I may wear a singlet underneath.
Bottom: I wear a pair of cycling shorts (tight), which prevents chaffing and leeches, and can also be used as swimming attire. On top of that, short sports pants mostly, but for high altitudes (or very narrow trails) I wear trek bottoms.
Socks: 2 pairs of socks for greater comfort, and if I’m going somewhere leech infested, I add 2 pairs of thin stockings in between the socks to prevent leeches from getting to my feet.
Shoes: A pair of Columbia hiking shoes. Lightweight and decent ankle support, though unfortunately not waterproof. It does have a few flaws: the treads are too close together to be effective in the mud, and wear out over time. In addition, there isn’t enough protection near the bottom of the sides against roots/rocks. I also have a pair of kampung adidas, which I have not gotten around to using yet.

Clothing. Clockwise from top left: T-shirt, cycling shorts, short pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of stockings, extra socks, singlet, long sleeve singlet, raincoat
Columbia Hiking Shoes

In addition, I carry the following in my backpack:

  • Extra long-sleeve single for warmth
  • Extra singlet
  • Extra underpants
  • Light (<1500m) or medium (>1500m) raincoat – Also for extra warmth if needed
  • Extra pair of socks

While most mountains in Malaysia don’t get very cold, if it rains heavily, summits can be EXTREMELY windy and cold, to the point where you start shivering badly. I’d estimate with wind chill, you may experience chills < 10 degree celcius. There are times I’d consider taking my lightweight down jacket or a fleece T-shirt, but generally a singlet + long sleeve singlet + t-shirt + raincoat is sufficient.

Navigation & Electronic Gadgets

  • Small compass – Only good for finding North/South/etc. Will replace this with a Suunto A-10 in the future
  • Qstarz BT-Q818XT Bluetooth GPS receiver – I found my phone’s GPS to be inferior. With AGPS, I get <10 second locks and <2m accuracy (with DGPS in the USA I get ~1m accuracy). 36hr battery life and makes my phone last longer
  • Samsung Galaxy S Plus GT-i9001 – Nav Software: Google Maps  & Navigation, GPS Essentials, Bluetooth GPS, My Tracks, EveryTrail, Compass, SkEye. The main reason I went with Android was the fact that I could easily use external GPS receivers and remove the battery (I carry an extra).
  • Casio Pathfinder PAS400B-5V watch – Technically a fishing watch; it’s rugged (nylon strap), shows moon phase, sunrise/sunset and has a silent (vibration) alarm
  • Topographic map of the area – Sometimes I get lazy to print it out, but honestly it’s good to do so, in case the GPS breaks. Although it’s next to impossible navigating in the jungle anyways, if you’re lost, unless you’re very experienced.
  • Digital Camera – currently I’m using a Canon Ixus 310HS which isn’t mine, but generally I let others take photos

IMPORTANT:My GPS, smartphone and camera go into waterproof pouches to protect them from rain & rivers/streams. One definitely can’t afford to have them die in the middle of a hike!

Part of my collection of waterproof bags & drypack

Flashlights, Fire, Signalling & Emergency

Light:


AA battery included for size reference

  • 4Sevens Quark AA (0.2 – 170 lumens) – Main flashlight. Small and powerful, I run it on a Li-Ion. Soon to be replaced with a dedicated headlamp, probably the Zebralight H51F[w].
  • 4Sevens Quark 123^2 (0.2 – 190 lumens) with headband – Secondary flashlight which I can also turn into a headlamp. I run it on a rechargeable Li-Ion cell with 2 spare CR123 cells in my backpack.
  • iTP EOS A3 (max 80 lumens) – Backup flashlight, runs 1xAAA. I hardly ever use this (it’s really small & light) but it’s there if I need it.
  • 4Sevens Quark Turbo X 123^2 (max 500 lumens) – I only carry this if I’m going somewhere I know I’ll need a lot of light.

Fire:

  • 2″ Firesteel / Ferro rod
  • 2x WetFire fire starting tinder
  • 2x simple butane lighters
  • Small box of matches
  • Candle

AA battery included for size reference

Signalling & Emergency:

  • Whistle (Fox 40) – It’s loud and works underwater, but it does require a reasonably strong blow, so effectiveness in an emergency is yet to be tested
  • Signalling Mirror – Good as a general purpose mirror but also features a sighting hole which shows exactly where you’re pointing light
  • Emergency Blanket

Tools & Knives


AA battery included for size reference

  • Benchmade 556 Mini-Griptilian – A small but sturdy 3″ knife. Personally, I find it on the heavy side, but it serves me well. I keep it in a drybag (or wetbag) as tropical jungle humidity can ruin even 154CM steel. Alternatively, a 2.5″ SOG Flash 1.
  • Spyderco Ladybug H1 – Backup blade, very small but rustproof
  • Leatherman Juice Multitool – Decent for its size, although I don’t really like the can opener and scissors compared to those in Swiss Army Knives. Recently, I stopped carrying this as I didn’t find the need for pliers that often.
  • Swiss Army Knive (Tinker)

These days, I generally also pack a small 10″ machete/parang, Chandong style. While it’s really not big enough to do proper cutting, it’s still ok in emergencies, or clearing the odd bush or branch. I decided that if I got a bigger parang, I’d never carry it because of its weight!

Depending on the length of the trip, I may bring my set of sharpening stones – 4″ DMT diamond stones (photo below). At home, I use the Spyderco SharpMaker, and so keep all my knives with 15°/20° edges.


AA battery included for size reference

If you’re going on an uncleared path or need to do any serious work, a machete is essential. Unfortunately, I don’t have one right now.

Food & Hydration

Food tends to vary a lot, but I try to carry carbohydrate-rich snacks, and fatty food. This tends to be foods like nuts (cashew is my favorite), peanut butter/nutella sandwiches, oat bars, dried fruit, etc.

Now and then, I carry a small alcohol stove I made (a penny stove), with about 60ml of methylated spirits and a small mess tin, however, I’ve generally found this unnecessary as I bring foods which do not need cooking and already carry a good amount of water treatment devices.


AA battery included for size reference

For hydration, I sometimes carry the 2x 1 liter bottles pictured above, but these days tend to just use the standard lightweight plastic bottles (600ml and 1.5L), to carry anywhere between 1.2-6L of water. I tend to sweat a lot, so all liquid I carry is isotonic (I make my own isotonic drink with 50ml ribena + 1/4tsp salt per liter of water). On long climbs, one may have to refill water, so I carry a few measured packets of salt, each to be diluted in 1 liter of water, and 30 grams of sugar, as well as 75g of glucose drink mix. If I don’t consume enough salt, I start getting muscle cramps.

For water treatment, I carry:

  • Small carbon water filter, good for 75L of water, pictured above
  • 10 chlorine dioxide tablets, each good for 1L
  • LifeStraw 0.2 micron filter, good for 1000L, pictured below.

One thing I lack currently is a proper hydration pack, which would make life much easier!

Shelter

I carry a 7’x10′ lightweight tarp/flysheet, to which I’ve attached 4m of mini paracord (2mm) to each of the 6 attachment rings. In addition, I carry a hammock with an attached mosquito net. With this lightweight setup, I can pretty much camp anywhere if needed. (I.e. in case I can’t cross a river due to high levels, etc.) Of course, it does add about 1.2kg to my overall pack weight.

Rope/cordage

I’m a huge fan of ropes and knots, and even though I don’t do any climbing, I always have cord with me. On person, I always carry 10m/30ft of orange paracord.

In my bag, I have:

  • 30m/100ft of green paracord (pictured above)
  • 7m/23ft of 15kN 25mm tubular webbing
  • Some amount of 25mm/400kg rated webbing for my hammock
  • 30m of rafia string (mostly for marking trails)
  • 7m of mini paracord
  • 2x 30kN lightweight non-locking D-carabiners

I’d love to carry a good amount of proper 6-8mm static rope for me (i.e. Amsteel Blue), but costs just don’t allow me to do so right now.

Other

I generally carry a wooden hiking stick, which has many uses besides being a hiking stick.

I use a medium sized 32L Columbia backpack which isn’t suitable for camping (for which I borrow my friend’s 70L pack), but works well for day hikes, and has good waist support. Inside it:

  • 1st aid kit (medicine, bandages, tweezers, etc.)
  • Small tub of Vaseline (for preventing chaffing)
  • Small notebook, mini sharpie, mini pen
  • Sewing kit
  • Fishing kit (courtesy Lee YK)
  • Glue (Superglue & small hot glue stick)
  • Garbage bag & zip-lock bags
  • 25 liter Deuter dry/wet bag
  • Tissue paper & small towel
  • Bandanna
  • Roll of gaffer tape
  • Extra eyeglasses & swimming goggles – For full UV/impact/wind protection and swimming.
  • Clip-on sunglasses
  • Insect repellent (I have 2 types – Mosiguard [lemon eucalyptus oil] & DEET) – VERY important in the jungle!
  • Garden gloves

There are a few other small items I carry around but they’re not really related to hiking so I didn’t bother mentioning them.

In general, my pack’s weight without any liquids tends to weigh in about 5-7kg. There are times when I imagine I’d be able to complete a hike much easier if not for the extra weight on my back, but honestly, I consider it good training, and it’s comforting to know I have most of the essentials on me.