By Lily Ho
This hike was initiated by an expeditor to celebrate his last G12 summit. He was unable to join the hike due to an unforeseen commitment, however, but we still continued with the plan. From a read-through of some blogs, this mountain was analysed as the toughest amongst G7 mainly due to its remote location. We would need to pass by few false peaks before reaching the summit of Gunung Chamah, a totally wild and less disturbed G5.
Therefore, being physically and mentally well prepared is a prerequisite for success. The itinerary as bellows:-
29 JULY 2016 (8km)
8.30am Register at Gua Musang Police Station.
9.30pm Kuala Betis, change to 4WD to Sg Simpoh
2.00pm Started the trek
6.00pm Reached Kg. Rekom
30 JULY 2016 (22km)
6.45am Kg Rekom
8.00am Kem Tengah
9.30am Kem Tongkat Ali
10.30am Anak Chamah
12.00pm 5th False Peak
1.00pm Chamah Peak @ 2,171m
7.45pm Kg Rekom
31 JULY 2016 (8km)
9.30am Kg. Rekom
12.00pm Sg Simpoh
4.00pm Kuala Betis – Gua Musang -KL.
Profile of Gunung Chamah G5, accredited to McHiker
We decided to travel to Ipoh a day earlier for an overnight stay so that we were not so exhausted. The rest of the gang also took us by surprise by coming to Ipoh the same night without informing us. We woke up early and departed from Ipoh by 5.30am, reaching Gua Musang by 8.00am.
During breakfast, we saw 3 bag-packing hikers walking across from town. They were the members who also joined the trip and they took the train all the way from Singapore. After the meal, our guide Sham helped to register us at the Gua Musang Police Station. Rations are distributed accordingly among the members.
After that, we all drive to Kuala Betis to change to 4WD to Sungai Simpoh. The 4WD owner is nice to let us park our cars at his home and before we depart, he made drinks as a toast to wish us a safe hike. It took about 3 hours to travel on the 4WD to reach the trail head. The weather was hot and some of the members started feel dehydrated after the long soak directly under the hot sun.
After lunch, at 2.00pm, we started the trek. Honestly this was not a good timing to start our journey with a big duffel bag as the first day’s trail is mostly open area (‘botak’) and not covered by any vegetation or trees.
The first day’s ‘trekking’ trail is not as simple as what we had experienced in Gunung Yong Yap, Gunung Ulu Sepat, Gunung Tahan, and not to mention Gunung Yong Belar. The trail was considered steep – about 20 degrees with few hills to cross. My husband walking uphill with both arms put on his knees; Manson walked quietly with emotion; we started to lose discipline and kept drinking water until running out of it.
And then we continued to lose our control by filling up water at a not recommended water source, which we were not sure on the hygiene of it. I also lost my girl’s reserve – applying water on my face, body, hair, and everywhere just to reduce the heat.
At the last river point, just less than 500m before reaching Kampung Rekom, we dumped our duffel bags aside, and soaked ourselves into the cold river water until the sun started to set.
Then it’s time to get up and walk slowly to Kampung Rekom. It’s the place where some of us take bath, set tents, and wait for dinner cooked by Shida. The first day we had finished ourselves with a good 8km brutal trek, and it’s time to rest and getting ready for the next day’s 12 hours climb.
As none of us wished to return to this tough mountain again, reaching the summit is a ‘must’ for everyone. Since we are not sure whether our stamina could complete the mission within the 12-hour cut-off time, we decided to wake up as early at 5.00am to start our climb.
However, there are certain things which need to be respected. Our plan to start climbing at 6.00am is not successful and all of us have to wait until the sunrise at 6.45am. I was aware thereafter that this is due to safety purposes as many trails are out of shape, so one mistaken step could be life threatening.
The first one hour trek from Kg Rekom to Kem Tengah was dangerous as the trail was attached to the very inclined slope of the hill and mostly toppled down due to a landslide. We are just leaning on the hillside to climb and step over via the exposed tree roots; need to be very focused and alert on each step we took. We were physically and mentally exhausted, even at the beginning of the climb.
I can feel at this point, if one of the team rises up to U-turn back, many will follow. Yes! Despite the fact that many of us are ultra-runners! Finally, our faces are smiling in consolation when the Singapore friends in front shouted that we had reached Kem Tengah after a one-and-a-half-hour hike; which was ahead of our schedule. So we decided to take a 5-minute rest.
Luckily the route from Kem Tengah to Kem Tongkat Ali (last water point) is manageable and some of us started to joke with each other.
punishing steep slopes before reaching Anak Chamah
The happiness moment is always short. The coming route awaiting us is the continuous steep hillside at about 50 degrees after Kem Tongkat Ali. Not long after the climb, Alex was kidding that he will leave our club after this trip – laugh out loud! The 50-degree hill is definitely not comfortable to our knees. Yet after all the painful work, we had finally reached Anak Chamah at 10.30am.
Mossy forest, the phenomenon on most Malaysian mountains due to the dense moisture; you see mossy, then the peak will not be far.
Five False Peaks ahead waiting to be challenged. We decided to take some food to replenish our energy first before this punishing trek ‘up & down’ journey section. The recommended food was the sticky rice (pulut), which is rich in carbohydrate and can last very long; a very “fuel saving” food.
At this juncture, we are basically at the shoulder, or neck, of the mountain, but we just walk in false happiness and follow by disappointment as the false peaks follow by one another. The roller coaster feelings!
After the 4th False Peak, we observe that the plant started transmute to mossy, so we know the peak is not far away from us. We started put down the feelings of tension and chat in relaxation until Henry shouted over, “ Chamah! Chamah!” Wow, we had reached the peak at 1.00pm sharp!
The descending way is not much different from how we went up; we were happy that we had finished our 22km trek and reached Kg. Rekom by 8.00pm.
The morning scenery before leaving Kg Rekom
The night we spent in Kampung Rekom after the hike was superb with the accompanying of a lot of stars with Milky Way clearly seen, and countless meteours too!. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring along the camera to capture this. I had already marked my footprint in all around the world, yet I find the most beautiful Milky Way the one we seen at Kg. Rekom.
We donated some new clothes to the kids in OA village, only to realise there were only 9 families! We start from small, and hopefully it creates the endless ripple effect. Very appreciative to know new friends like Ah Lau being a very knowledgeable navy; Robin a very helpful and informative man; XinHui a very shy and humble girl; Peter a very good time management leader. Hiking is not about who winning over who. Hiking is about – we achieve together!