Sunday, May 25, 2014

Conquering Mount Angsi... A 1st-time hiker's experience!

Mount Angsi (824m), 3rd highest peak in Negeri Sembilan, is considered a relatively easy mountain to climb among seasoned hikers.

See location map of Mount Angsi

I come to know of this mountain from a secondary school friend Bob who organizes outdoor sports activities with other like-minded peers. 

Already a regular amateur jogger and cyclist, I want to step out from my comfort zone and try something different! Hiking is something new to me. Out of curiosity, I agreed to go for the hiking trip! 

We rented a 15-seater van and set off from Lavender MRT station at 5 a.m. on a Sat morning. It was a 4-hr drive before reaching the destination for breakfast at 9 a.m.

After some admin, we started the climb around 11 a.m.

This gang consists of working executives. A friend's parents in their 60-ish joined us too.

The path is filled with exposed roots with gradual and steep slopes. 
As some steps are huge, it will be good to use glove-covered hands to cling on those thick hanging branches for support. The walking stick quietly aids in balancing too.

In between muddy and rooty paths, we need to cross some streams too.
You can skillfully leap between the rocks without getting your feet wet or take off your shoes and stroll in the clear and cooling stream.

The journey gets increasingly challenging as time passes. 

After two hours, the 60-ish couple decided to abort mission. I think it is a smart move as it is really not easy for them. Nevertheless, the gang commended them for their "garang" effort thus far!

Halfway through the hike, we met different groups descending. 
With a tinge of expectation in times of desperation, we asked how long will the journey be before reaching the summit. 

"About 30 mins…", they replied. 

30 minutes seems like eternity. 

At that time, my water supply has run out; only two sips of water left. And some dry bread and mini swiss rolls which I do not dare to eat as they will increase my thirst for water! 

Neither do I dare to take too long a rest as irritating sweat bees will swarm over intermittently.
The only way to get rid of them is to KEEP ON MOVING…

Along the way, the fellow hikers and I lost one another.

A mentally and physically exhausted body under the hot sun. I really feel like fainting! 

Mustering every ounce of leftover energy, I cried out a short prayer "God, help...! Give me strength."

Thankfully, some 20 mins later, a fellow hiker Chai Lee appeared. 
I asked for water. Not only she did selflessly fed me with it, she also offered milo packs!

Water and milo have never taste soooo good!!! 

With some rest and much-needed hydration, I continued the journey.

Along the way, both Chai Lee and I met up with a group of locals and start to ask, "How long to go up?"

The response this round… "45 mins!"

Huh? Isn't 30 mins over? You mean it takes another 45 mins to ascend?

In our groaning, there is a shared determination among fellow hikers. We have come so far. We do not want to make it a wasted trip by just giving up!
As a result, we decided to WALK ON!

Near the summit, you are greeted with massive sandy boulders which you have to hoist yourself up with hanging ropes.

An alternative… Use leg power and "wriggle" yourself up the narrow gaps.

After endless walk… we finally caught the long-awaited summit view… 
A "City" view on the left and a mountainous view on the right.

Honestly speaking, the view may not be that breathtaking but it is THE CLIMB that took my breath away! 

After resting at the summit for some time, we decided to make our way down.

The descent is said to be about 2-3 hrs but we took longer than expected.

At 7-plus, the sky was already dark and we found ourselves navigating in the forest using torch light! On two occasions, we lost one another. 
Left with no torchlight, no hp connectivity, no guide in direction, fears crept in… 

"Would I be able to make it back to Singapore?"

"Would I be spending the night ALONE in the FOREST?"

I cried out again… "God, help me!"

The fellow hikers and I found one another and decided to STICK together.
We went a wrong track twice and took detours in the dark.

It was around 9 p.m. when we reached the base and 10-plus before the last couple returned. 

What an ADVENTURE for a 1st-time hiker!!! 

Throughout the journey, I witnessed many of my friends suffering profuse bleeding from leeches' bites, scratches by protruding branches and falls from slips.

As for me, the takeaway injuries are only 7 mosquito bites and a light bruise from a slippery fall. Secretly, the "masochistic" me yearns for a leech bite to sum up a true hiking experience! *Punch me* :)  

There are many things that I have learnt from this hiking trip!

The important basics stay true…

Min. 3 litres of water (2 litres for ascent and 1 litre for descent)
- Some milo packs help!
- Energy bars and sweets
Trust me… They will give you the NEEDED ENERGY to go on!!!

- Good ankle-high hiking shoes (I bought Columbia Women's Helvatia Mid Waterproof for $120; no regrets!)
- Thick cushioned socks
- Light top
- Sweat pant (to protect your feet from leeches and mosquito bites, scratches from protruding roots/ sharp rocks/ muddy paths/ sandy boulders)
- Slippers for change after climb 

- Torchlight (comes in handy in case you cannot make it to the base before night falls)
- Gloves (there are branches with pricky spikes)
- Walking stick with rubberized ferrule 

Move in groups of at least 2-3 people (to cheer one another on)
- MP3 with songs and podcasts to lighten up your journey

Before the trip, I read up about the unfamiliar Mount Angsi from travelers' blog.
It benefited me in one way or another.

After going through this adventure, I hope my little contribution helps...