April 22, 2013

A day at Gunung Ulu Semangkuk


It has been a while since we last trekked Gunung Ulu Semangkuk (must have been almost a year) … so it was a good change from trekking our regular or “favorite” mountains on morning of the 20th April, 2013.
At 6.00am, Ooi, Steven, Leong and I gathered at the usual meeting place in Puchong and from there we headed to OUG for breakfast … plenty of choices for good hawker food at the OUG wet market. After a satisfying breakfast, we headed towards Rawang to pick up two of our fellow trekkers.

95km to Kuala Lipis

First, for the benefits of those who have not been to this peak, let me give you some directions to the start of the trail coming from Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB). From KKB head towards Fraser Hills and after passing the Sungai Selangor Dam, you will come to a long winding road going up to Fraser Hills … this road is quite a challenge to drive (especially for me driving a van without power steering).
  
Dilapidated shop
Now, along the road, you will see milestone markers with blue sign telling you how many kilometers to Kuala Lipis … you keep on driving until you reached the milestone marker that says 95km to Kuala Lipis … here you will also see a dilapidated wooden shop … this is exactly where the trail head starts. You can find the trail head to Gunung Ulu Semangkuk beside the road just opposite this milestone marker … it is a bit obscure but as you get nearer you can see it … someone did put up a laminated sign calling it the entrance to Gunung GAP (and to Gunung Ulu Semangkuk).

OK, back to our trekking story … after picking up the Ah Seng and Ms Yap at Rawang, we drove leisurely towards Fraser Hills and reached the abandoned GAP Resthouse at 8.30am. Seems like we are the only group trekking Gunung Ulu Semangkuk that day.

Steven Chin ... slow & steady
After putting on our gears we started to trek into the jungle from the roadside. Trekkers will initially trek through a fairly large bamboo forest … in a few areas, one needs to ‘duck walk” under the bamboo trunks fallen across the trail … the trail is straight up all the way to Gunung GAP first. 

It was quite tough for Steven who has not trekked for more than 3 months … but the breezy cool air made it a bit easier. As usual Ah Seng and Ms Yap were the fast ones … just about 10 minutes into the trek, I could not see them in front of me anymore … by their speed they must have been at least a few hundred meters ahead. About 40 minutes into the trek, I reached the peak of Gunung GAP followed by Ooi … both of us took a short breather before proceeding to Gunung Ulu Semangkuk without waiting for Leong and Steven.

Fallen trees along the trail
The trail from Gunung GAP to Gunung Ulu Semangkuk is quite undulating … we have to trek down and up a few valleys. Some parts of the trail are quite flat and easy … many will take the opportunity on these stretches to relax a bit and catch their breaths before challenging other steep slopes.

Ooi ... happy as always
About 10 minutes from Gunung GAP, I noticed that Ooi was not behind me anymore … he must have slowed down a bit along this trail. I kept on walking slowly and clearing the way for those behind. There were a couple sections along the trail where fallen trees blocked the trail … so one will have to crawl under the fallen trees at these spots. Finally I reached the last valley … the “V” point as we like to call it … this is the last steep slope or the last stretch up to the peak of Gunung Ulu Semangkuk … the peak is just about a hundred meters straight up from this point. Trekking slowly and carefully up this final steep slope, I reached the peak of Gunung Ulu Semangkuk … just short of 2 hours in total. Ah Seng and Ms Yap were already enjoying their meals there … the weather couldn’t be any better … cool, misty and breezy.

Ms Yap & Ah Seng enjoying their meals
At the very top of Gunung Ulu Semangkuk
 A while later, Ooi and Leong joined us at the peak … finally about 20 minutes later, Steven made it to the peak … though tired but I can tell that his feeling of accomplishment was very satisfying. As usual we joked and laugh about experience along the trail. We rested for a while and went over to the other side of the peak where we can view the surrounding mountains and see the buildings on the nearby Fraser Hills. After about 30 minutes on the peak and we decided to descend … we know it will be a bit tough as we are all quite tired and have a few valleys to climb up and down again as we trek out but it was nothing we cannot handle.

All smiles ... group photo for the record
Elevation of Gunung Ulu Semangkuk ... sourced from the internet

A nice design by nature
It took us just about an hour and a half to get out of the jungle … slightly longer for Leong and Steven. All of us were quite happy to complete the trek and the next thing was to get cleaned up at a nearby waterfall. As expected, only a few of us dared to challenge the freezing waters … it was a good “freeze” for some of us and others just settled for swipes and splashes of the cold waters.

Only a few of us dared to challenge the freezing waters
After freshening up, our stomachs were already calling to be filled. Tasty food awaits us at Ulu Yam … a delicious steamed tilapia with pickled raddish, petai fried with ikan bilis and onions, stir-fried freshly picked vegetables, lala (clams) fried with garlic and chilli padi and of course a large bowl of special Ulu Yam “lor meen” with additional vinegar … YUM YUM !!!

On the slow relaxing drive back home, I can say we all agreed on one thing … can’t ask for anything better … a good exercise, a good outing to enjoy the nature, a great sense of accomplishment, good food and plenty of laughs on a good day spent with a bunch of good friends … that’s what life is all about !

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