For our next excursion, my hiking buddies and I scaled the Pine Tree trail in Fraser’s Hill in Pahang. As always we had to seek the favor of my sister in law who works and live in Bentong to look after our kids while we’re away. This time around, we had two fellow hikers Bazli and Shameer tagging along.
After a good night’s rest in Bentong, we left for Fraser’s Hill early in the morning. Early morning as in 6:30 am. Our mission was to have breakfast and pack some lunch for the long (and possibly arduous) journey. Which we did at a mamak in town. There’s no other shop open anyway and the nasi lemak stall doesn't open until later in the morning.
The trip from Bentong to Fraser took us slightly over an hour. First thing first on this release. I mean first thing first we reported to the Fraser Hill’s police station. Basically we just wrote down our names, address and other important details like emergency contact just in case. The nice police officer in charge asked where we’re going and briefed us a little bit about the trail. He related the story of a group of hikers who didn't bother to check in at the station and somehow got lost around Twin Peak. They had to call Bukit Aman who relayed the emergency call to the local police station. The local police had to call the fire and rescue service who came to rescue the hikers. So while checking in is perfectly voluntary and optional, it’s a good practice just in case.
Armed with the little map that the officer gave us, we find our way to High Pines road past a place called Mallaig. Soon we found the landmark that everybody kept saying, the TM Resthouse (resort?) which is located just before the entrance to Pines Tree Trail. You can park your car outside TM Resthouse or a little bit nearer just outside Sri Pertahanan — a guest house for the ministry of defence staffs I presume. When we got there there’s no other car in sight, meaning that people rarely come there or we just came earlier than everybody at 9:15 am.
The first 200 meters of the hike was pretty straightforward and flat. It is immediately after that everything started going mostly downhill and then uphill. We knew exactly there and then that this is going to be a tiring hike because after so many descend we certainly are going to go up again if not immediately, later during the return trip. But that’s hiking for you. We didn’t exactly expect it to be a walk in the park, did we?
We reached the peak of Pine Tree Hill about 2 and a half hours later which is pretty quick by our standard. The police officer earlier said it should take 8 to 10 hours return trip from the entrance to Twin Peak and back so getting to Pine Tree Hill in less than 3 hours is a feat by itself. Anyway it was lucky that we had Bazli and Shameer along because we could have totally missed the path leading to the peak had we traveled solo. The two boys had never been here before but they did a little bit of research before about the area. I suppose it’s partly my fault cause I didn’t do enough research to find out where the peak is or watch some YouTube video of previous hikers. While the trail to Pine Tree Hill is clearly marked and straightforward, there were hardly any signboard or the usual red and white plastic trail markers that we usually find. That’s why if you haven’t been here before, I would highly recommend that you do your research first or better still, bring somebody experienced along.
Oh yes, before the final assault to the peak, we had to climb these rocks which looks pretty scary especially for newbies. I must commend my wife who carried on and didn’t chicken out during the climb.
At 1448 meters, Pine Tree Hill is one of the highest hills that I’ve climbed together with Twin Peak at 1507 meters. Despite the height, the climate is pretty warm just like any other place that we’ve hiked in the country. There’s no need for warm jackets and stuff, just a regular t-shirt will do because you’ll be drenched in sweat anyway in the end. Actually since Fraser’s Hill itself is already 1,000 meters above sea level, we actually had to hike about 500 meters more to reach the peak. But if we include the 10 kilometers trail of ups and down, it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds.
This way to Pine Tree hill
We hanged around Pine Tree Hill peak for 20 minutes or so before proceeding to the Twin Peak hill next door. In spite of the name, there’s not a single pine tree around and my guess is the hill got it’s name from the High Pine road that precede the entrance, that’s all. The view from the peak is quite pretty if not remarkable. At least we get a 360 view of the surrounding unlike Gunung Tok Wan before. That said, we got fog covering half our view which is the norm around these parts. Again we noticed there’s not a single signboard stating where we were or are we even at the right peak. None of those signboards that showed we reached the summit and the height of the hill whatsoever. It is only later when we compared our pictures with those on the blogs that we can confirm that we did reach the peak.
From Pine Tree to Twin Peak is 45 minute’s hike and this is where it get’s interesting. The track is covered by mud in several places and the trail forks out a few times though there’s still some plastic markers visible though not prominently. The view from Twin Peak is even more beautiful than Pine Tree and we spend more time there resting, having our packed lunch and just enjoying the view. Again we were the only one around. I half expected a few people reaching the peak before us like I used to in other hills and mountains. You hike alone with your group, not spotting a single person along the way and suddenly there’s a dozen people before you at the peak. Not here at Pine Tree and Twin Peak though.
Now the return journey really tested our resolve. Little that we knew it’s gonna be that though. Bazli and Shameer being about a decade younger than us, breezeed through the trail like they just don’t care. I could argue that I was slowed down by my wife but the truth is I was just as exhausted as her for the return trip. There were so many uphill climb not to mention steps to take that a few times I wondered out loud “what the hell am I doing here?”. That’s normal I guess when you’re a little bit fatigued and there’s no ending in sight. Your four hour return hike felt like an eternity.
While some people hated the sight of these artificial steps, I beg to differ. I think they’re god-sent. At least they’re sturdy and not mud-ridden like some of the paths we travelled earlier. You don’t like the steps take a hike through another route. At least upon seeing the steps, we were somewhat relieved that the ending/entrance won’t be far ahead.
At around 5:00 pm and 8 hours of hiking, my wife and I finally reached the entrance of the trail. Bazli and Shameer arrived an hour earlier (kids). We expected it to rain some time during the end of our hike and despite the slightly dark clouds in the sky, the rain didn’t come until a few hours later. Maybe we’re just lucky because it poured the day before.
We had a late lunch at the food court area near Pine Tree road before returning to Bentong. Remember to report back to the little police station before you leave or else they’d be sending a rescue party to find you. Pine Tree hill and Twin Peak was quite an experience for us. Overall I would rate it as moderately tough. Expect to walk for 10 kilometers in about 8 to 10 hours. Expect rain and muddy paths. Get ready for multiple ascend and descend down the stairs and hill slope. Prepare yourself for a long and tiring journey. Although I felt like no more hiking anytime soon after finishing this one, I’m sure I’m gonna miss hiking again a few weeks later, as always.
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For this trip I get to test the My Track app from Google. It basically tracks my hike and every other relevant information like speed, distance, altitude and elevation. Pretty nifty app for every hikers out there to record their journey. And it doesn’t use much power too, just 40% for my 4 hours hike.
One thing I noticed in this and my other hiking trips is how most woman have an exceptionally large bladder because they didn’t stop to pee even once even after a 6–8 hours hike. Seriously I had to pee at least once during that time or else I’d feel really uncomfortable. Maybe they’d rather hold it than to let it go in front (or near) other guys but really, that can’t be healthy.