Monday, October 29th, 2007
Since my Gunung Tahan trek, I’ve decided to do different takes on some of mountains I frequent. While I still enjoy the company of people on treks, I have been thinking of heading up the mountains alone.
It can be dangerous, I know. It’s not like I’m walking through a sanctuary where I’d be protected from elements of danger. I’d be passing through the curtains of a civilized world into the Malaysia tropical forest. I’ve been warned that there might be beasts–tigers, bears, snakes, wild boars. When I said I’d want to go up Nuang solo, Amos reminded me of the black furry creature that Ian Wikarski saw years ago. I’ve been warned of slippery muddy paths and hidden ledges. I’ve been told about sprightly spirits roaming in the night. I’ve read of stories of faeries stealing human bodies.
Despite all these, the idea of being alone, in solitude, to take in and appreciate the beauty of what Nature has to offer is very attractive. To walk on paths I know rather well all by myself is something new and fresh altogether. I am sure the first few times I will walk with some trepidation and caution. But I am sure I’d be really excited, too. As such, I hope my forays into the jungles and up mountains will yield many merry memories.
I wanted to begin with Nuang. But unable to find a car to get myself to the foothill, I kept on postponing the trek. Without a group of people to manage, I could simply change the date and time to whenever was convenient to me. Two weeks back, I asked Amir to hike up the mountain together (on condition that he wasn’t supposed to talk to me). If I couldn’t do it alone, having one other person wouldn’t be too bad, I thought. That outing didn’t turn out too well when I was forced to turn back because I was falling ill (Thus I didn’t think it warranted a blog entry by itself). All the while, I was afraid that I’d hurt my knee. There’s something about this mountain that grips me in fear. But I was careful, and I came out all right. I did not reach the peak, and I do not mind that at all. I consider that a six hour exercise session. If I had reached the peak and returned, it wasn’t really a solo effort. Since then, I’ve been thinking of going back to Nuang again. Not once, but twice. Yes, call me mad. But it’s something I want to do.
Last weekend, I went for a walk up Bukit Tabur (Klang Gates) alone, and I found walking alone therapeutic. I went out early in the morning, and hit the trail fairly quickly. Without company, I was moving at a steady pace, and before long I was at the cave. But I didn’t bother to climb down the rope. Instead, I just balanced myself on the rocks and stretched to the other side. Then I sat down for breakfast–a muesli bar–on my favourite spot. As I munched, I kept the expanse of the lake and rolling hills on the far side in view the entire time. It was such a peaceful moment, and I loved it.
But Klang Gates isn’t really a mountain. The encroaching development of concrete structures in the surrounding valleys is robbing the place of it’s mystical feel. The eroding and crumbling crystals pains me. Today, I saw that others have forged new trails right next to badly eroded paths of old. In time, both paths will only merge and be a cause for concerns. I see myself not ever returning to save myself the pain of seeing a place I love lost in the progress of time. But that is perhaps some ten years away; I still harbour hope that this place can be saved from the ravages of human activities. For this time, I could still focus on the trail, and felt that hiking the circuit was too short a journey. My mind hasn’t tapped the core that would let my thoughts drift and rekindle memories. I only thought of few people and the other mountains I wanted to scale. I want so much more.
I can’t wait to go up Datuk, Kutu, Pine Tree Hill, Irau or Nuang. Solo.