To continue with our hiking and climbing adventure, I'm going to tell you about the time I climbed Gunung Nuang in Hulu Langat, Selangor. Well, the time I climbed half-way up Gunung Nuang actually. It was an impromptu hike. A hiking buddy of mine (Ah Tong) casually asked me one day to join him for a hike up Gunung Nuang. Being the adventurous guy that I am, I said yes in a heartbeat despite hearing that it is one of the more difficult hills to climb around. As a professional climbing guide, Ah Tong regularly take his customers for a training hikes before climbing real hills or mountains. And Gunung Nuang is one of his favorite spot. Today was one of those training hikes and I was joined by half a dozen of his customers at the heart of Hulu Langat jungle.
Ah Tong said to meet him at the Gunung Nuang entrance cum forestry department office and parking lot around 6:00-ish in the morning. As usual I woke up and left home an hour and a half earlier to make the journey. Besides, Hulu Langat and my home is not that far - about 30 kilometers or so. I got there first ahead of everybody else, even Ah Tong. So early that I didn't manage to grab any real breakfast to have before starting the climb. I meant to buy some nasi lemak or something but I can't find any stalls or restaurant open in Hulu Langat at 6:00 AM. In the end I had to make do with 2 buns of Gardenia's sambal bilis rolls which I found out later is definitely not enough.
Ah Tong's friend gradually showed up one by one but some of them didn't turn up until well past 7:00. He was certainly not happy with their (lack of) punctuality and if they weren't his customers, he'd start without them. Before starting the climb, we registered with the forestry department ranger and paid RM1. There were ample facilities provided at the entrance like parking spot, restrooms, prayer room and also some chalets and rooms for visitors to stay which costs from as low as 25 ringgit.
We started the climb around 7:30 in the morning. Gunung Nuang is said to be the highest peak in Selangor at 1,493 meters. If you're planning a day-hike, it'll take you around 6 hours up and another 6 hours down. The best time to start is before 6:00 AM, reach the peak by noon, rest a bit and start the descent by 1:00 PM. If you're quick, you'll reach the park's entrance before nightfall. Today, Ah Tong planned to go up until Kem Pacat (Pacat base camp) only which is roughly halfway up the hill. I brazenly said why not go all the way while we're at it? Ah Tong replied he'd gladly do so if not for his friends who hardly had much experience hiking or climbing. Still, he said I could always follow some other packs or climbers who intend to go there which we met a few. I said, let's see how the climb goes first.
The first 5 kilometers to the Lolo base camp was easy enough as the track was pretty straightforward and flat. There were a few huts (four to be exact) erected along the way where people can rest their tired legs. Just my luck, the first 5 kilometers two dogs seemed to follow me (us) wherever we go. It's not that I'm scared of them or anything, it's just that I'd hate to accidentally touch them because they seemed to have this habit of jumping from behind, playing hide and seek with me. According to the ranger, the strays originally belonged to the local indigenous people (orang asli) before they become strays. One thing for sure the dogs were really thriving with all the food left behind by the visitors. No wonder they look so friendly and domesticated (to my dismay).
Stray dogs aside, we reached the first base camp safe and sound. Along the way we encountered this beautiful bamboo forest with thick bamboo plants crisscrossing and lining the way. After about 5 kilometers and when you see this little hut next to a waterfall, you know you're near the Lolo base camp. The first of the two base camps available. The waterfall looks inviting enough but I didn't get a chance to have a dip since we had a schedule to catch.
The hike from the waterfall to Lolo base camp is about 1 kilometers where you have to cross a little stream twice. The good news is you don't have to get your shoes wet because you can easily hop between the rocks to get across the stream and while holding on the the ropes provided.
You know you've reach Lolo when you see tents and people camping all over the place. Located along the stream that we crossed earlier, Lolo is many people's favorite place to camp since water is nearby and there's a also dedicated camp site Lolo is also actually the starting point of your climb. It's all uphill from there on and that's when the real challenge begins.
I don't know whether it's because I didn't have a proper breakfast or I've been neglecting my exercise regime for the past week or so but the 2.2 kilometers climb between Lolo and the Pacat base camp felt like the hardest climb of my life. The last 200 meters before reaching Kem Pacat, I had to pace really slowly up the hill. My legs were aching and I was almost out of breath.
The Pacat base camp was not exactly what I had in mind. I was expecting some sort of camping site with running water, some chalets or even a basic restroom. There were none. Kem Pacat is basically a little clearing in the middle of the jungle with a little plank saying you're there at Kem Pacat. If you're a beginner or an inexperienced hiker, just reaching Pacat is an achievement itself. It's there that people would decide whether to go all the way or just call it a day and turn back. I was one of the latter because I don't think I could make it to the peak that day with my little supplies and lack of preparation - mentally and physically.
The distance from Pacat base camp to Gunung Nuang's peak is less than 2 kilometers but vertically that's like a 20 kilometers run. That's why many people prefers to camp overnight either at Pacat or at the peak before resuming their journey the next day. Here's some of the brave climbers we met along the way who plans to conquer the peak.
If the climb up was hard, the descent down the hill is even harder. As I said, I came ill-prepared and only had two bottles of 500 ml water in hand and some chocolate bunch which I hardly had the appetite to finish from my fatigue. By the time I reached Lolo base camp my legs were aching the final 3 kilometers walk to the entrance feels like eternity not to mention that I drank my last drop of water 2 kilometers from the entrance. Sure there were those huts that I mentioned earlier but they were almost useless because I can't rest in them for more than a minute before being swarmed by blood-thirsty mosquitoes. In the end I had no choice but to carry my tired legs and body non-stop till the end.
My Gunung Nuang may sound more like a nightmare than an adventure to you but maybe it's just me not prepared with the whole journey. Had I brought enough supplies and was more fit, I would think I should somehow finish the climb within a day. Yes, Gunung Nuang is not for beginners or those who rarely exercise. It takes a lot of stamina and determination to reach the peak and climb down the highest (and maybe the most challenging) hill in Selangor. Of course I plan to finish my climb and actually reach the peak one day, maybe at the later this year when I had enough training climbing other hills or when I'm more fit. If you're planning to climb Gunung Nuang anytime soon my advice is to come prepared and have an experienced guide to lead the way. You'll have the experience of your lifetime.