Nike+ SportsWatch GPS review

Although I have bought myself my first smartwatch a few months back, it lacks one major feature that I want most — integration with Nike Running. I do run sometimes so currently I’m always using my iphone or android to track my run using the Nike+ app. It would be very convenient for me if I’ve got a watch that can sync with my Nike+ stats. And that particular watch is the Nike+ SportsWatch GPS.

After much thought, I put up my Samsung Galaxy Gear watch for sale and used the money to get myself a secondhand Nike+ SportsWatch GPS on Mudah. Just my luck, I found a red colored one in good condition for sale. That second watch cost me a cool 400 ringgit, not as expensive as a new one at RM550 but still the most expensive timepiece I’ve ever purchased.

The Nike+ SportsWatch is more of a digital wristwatch than a regular smartwatch. It has none of the fancy features of my old Galaxy Gear, just plain non-touchscreen LCD display with big numeral digits. The watchface is non-interchangeable so you're stuck with just one type. You navigate the menu by pushing the 3 buttons on the left side. There’s not much to configure inside the menu aside from clock, run, history, records and stopwatch. Some of the settings are set on the watch while the rest of them are set within the Nike+ Connect software available for PC and Mac.

The watch connects to a PC or Mac using a standard USB 2.0 connector that’s hidden under a flap at the end of the band. First thing you need to do is to download the Nike+ Connect software and sync your watch with your Nike+ account. After that you can control much of the settings on the watch like distance unit, time and which stat to display on the watchface (pace, distance, calories, lap etc).

The watch has a backlit LCD display but it only lights up when you give it a gentle slap on the display. Apart from that the watch is also water resistant up to 5 ATM but I have yet to bring it swimming or in the shower to test it.

Now how well does it work? The first day after getting it, I was alarmed on how it doesn’t seem to find a GPS signal on the watch. Powered by TomTom, the watch is supposed to track my run distance, pace and location using GPS technology. After some googling though, I learned that you can only use GPS with the watch outdoors. It will almost never work indoors. So I stepped outside and still can’t get the GPS signal to connect. It is only a few days later after I stand up perfectly still under a cloudless sky and point the watchface straight towards the sky then I did get a connection. So my Nike+ SportsWatch isn't exactly faulty, it’s just really bad at getting a GPS connection.

I found out later that I only get the watch to connect 2 times out of every 10 tries which is really disappointing to say the least. I asked around other Nike+ SportsWatch users and they don’t seem to have that much trouble getting GPS signal. A minute or two outdoors and they should connect fine. So either I’ve been really unlucky or my watch really hates me. Anyway, I can’t wait forever for a GPS signal everytime I want to run outside so I bought myself one of those expensive Nike+ sensor which you put inside your shoes and use that to link to my watch instead. Although it doesn’t trace the location or map out my run, at least it can track my distance without fail everytime.

In conclusion, I’m not sure whether I’ve got myself a bad unit or I’m not doing it right, my Nike+ SportsWatch can’t seem to do what it’s advertised to do — track my run outdoors using GPS. It’s kinda frustrating not be able to run with just my watch and nothing else. What’s the point of getting a GPS enabled watch if can’t use the GPS capabilities really. In any case, I’m not recommending the Nike+ GPS SportsWatch to anyone. Not when you can sync your Nike+ stats with Polar & Garmin GPS watches (among others) nowadays. In fact I might just sell my watch and get one of those instead.

Gunung Tahan - an epic journey of a lifetime

I started hiking approximately a year ago and my first hike was the modest Bukit Gasing trail in Petaling Jaya. Many months later I keep on improving, climbing even higher and more difficult mountains until finally late last year I signed up for one of the toughest climb I have ever attempted in my life. Climbing the highest mountain in peninsular Malaysia, gunung Tahan.

Climbing the highest mountain on the land naturally is no easy feat. I trained for months in advance, climbing several mountains including Gunung Telapak Buruk and Gunung Irau carrying full 14–15 kilos load on my back and also camping overnight at Bukit Kutu and Gunung Nuang. I must say I’m glad for all that training because it gave me ample preparation and experience to do Tahan.

The event was organized by none other than the Hiking and camping around Malaysia (HACAM) group. Led by the founder, MK Rahman in conjunction with Core Adventure professional guide service. The total cost was only RM260 not including travelling arrangement from KL to Merapoh in Pahang. The price is about right for such — expedition 4 days 3 nights, permit and food. Anything more than 300 ringgit is a ripoff (unless they’re serving gourmet dinner). When the first invites were sent out to everybody, there were no less than 70 goings recorded on Facebook. However as always, the real serious participants settled down at exactly 12 people including the 2 guides. We discussed car pool arrangement beforehand and in the end we were piled up in 2 cars and one pickup truck.

Declaring our stuff

The agreed meeting time was 8:30 PM at Gombak LRT station but since not everybody bothered to be on time we didn’t leave for Merapoh until 10:00 PM. I knew this was gonna happen and how it will affect my hike the next day but what can I do but grumble loudly from the inside. Traffic was heavy but still moving because of the school holiday and we stopped for a late supper in Raub. I was the fortunate one to hitch a ride in a Kancil so you can imagine the ultimate level of comfort and luxury that I experienced during the 4 hours drive. We reached the Sungai Relau National Park entrance around 4:00 AM. We tried to sleep on the benches inside the park but the guards only let us sleep outside the gates under some huts. Which is perfectly fine by me. I quickly take out my sleeping bag and got an hour or two of shut eye before daylight approaches.

First thing first, breakfast of course. The distance from the park to the main road is 7 kilometers so that’s how far we had to drive to get breakfast and other supplies from the nearest shop/restaurant. I had some nasi berlauk but didn’t pack any lunch because none of the menu on offering in the stall entices me (what can I say? I’m picky like that). We begin distributing our rations so that everybody carries an equal part. After that we began assembling in front of the park ranger’s office. It’s that dreaded time where we declare most of the things that we carry into the park. Plastic bags, butane gas canisters, clothes, batteries and stuff. It took a while before everybody is checked and ready. Next we listened to some briefing from the park ranger about the do’s and dont’s in the park. I was mighty relieved to here that If I’m injured I’ll probably have to drag myself out back to the entrance and no rescue helicopter will be sent to bring me out. The last time a helicopter did came by was to ferry out a dead body.

After the inspection and list-taking is done, we finally took the 4WD to Kem Juram, the starting point of our hike to Gunung Tahan. There’s a row of dormitories there at Kem Juram but they’ve been unoccupied for some time now. The only thing of interest there is the mahseer fish nursery at the adjacent river by the camp. Without further ado, we started our hike from the beggining of the hiking trail. We crossed about 5 streams before reaching the first pit stop at Kuala Luis some 5 kilometers away. We had lunch there before resuming our journey to our first camp site at Kem Kor which is 750 meters above sea level. The first day we hiked not more than 8 kilometers and since everybody walked pretty fast, we reached the camp site before 4:00 PM. We purposely chose a campsite next to water because it’ll be convenient for us to get water for drinking, cooking and washing and stuff. We set up camp — tents and stuff and our two guides cum cook prepares dinner for us that night and for the rest of our trip. We had steamed siakap (barramundi) with rice for dinner. I normally would not eat fish if I had other choice but since we’re camping and my wife was not the cook I can’t be really picky. The fish surprisingly was quite good (except for the pesky bones of course). After dinner we sat around a campfire and had an ice-breaking session to get to know each other better. We introduced ourselves and shared stories until late at night. We slept in a 3-men tent. As a rule of thumb, a 3-men tent would be comfortable for 2 person. 3 persons in a 3-men would be rather crowded with hardly any room to move. But since the tents are provided by the organizer we’ll have to make do. Besides, a bigger tent would mean a heavier backpack. We took turn to carry the tent, rain cover and the steel frame throughout the trip.

Temperature at Kem Kor was quite cold in the evening and also morning, cold enough to make you put on your jacket. There’s hardly any mosquitoes at the camp or on the mountains in general you’ll have to tolerate the pesky gnats. As cold as the temperature was at the campsite, I didn’t miss my morning bath even once. While some of my fellow hikers didn’t bother to bath, I braved the icy cold water to clean up myself and can’t imagine myself walking around smelly and stuff. After breakfast, we resumed of hike. The second day is one of the more gruelling part of the hike. We covered more kilometers compared to the first day, about double the distance. We crossed the stream next to our campsite and it’s all uphill from there. The monsoon season was definitely over so it was a hot and dry hike all the way. There’s little or no water point on the way to the peak so we’ll have to rely on the water supply that we carried ourselves. Actually there is one water point near Kem Kubang but we’ll have to hike for another 30 minutes to get there so nobody except for two people bothered to get water from there. Besides, we were told that there will be running water near Kem Botak, the last campsite before the peak.

Before Kem Botak, there’s Kem Bonsai. The hike to Bonsai was exhausting with 80° to 90° vertical climb at some parts. The hot scorching sun didn’t help our cause at all. Despite all that, we soldiered on and reached Kem Bonsai around 2:00 PM. The final hike from Kem Bonsai to Kem Botak was even more trying. After we left the cooling shade of the trees, there’s nothing but rocks during the final push to Kem Botak. The sun was shining directly at us and we have used up much of our energy for the day so it was a hard and slow ascend to the last camp site. Everybody did made it and we set up camp at around 5:00 PM. To our dismay, there’s no running water as advertised. What we did found was a couple of seepage water pool by the hill side which was filled with insects, tadpoles and stuff. I suppose water must have used to run there but has since dried up because of the dry weather. Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t dream of using that kind of water (what’s with rats running around the place and all) but we were kind of desperate. Either that or dehydration. So we used the water anyway for drinking and cooking. I get to borrow a membrane water filter from uncle Chuah which did made make my water safe for consumption but still the filtered water tasted and smelled funny. Water or lack of it is part of the adventure during hiking and camping I guess. I was told some mountain trails don’t even have any water points at all and people had to carry their own water throughout their 3–4 days journey. So drinking stinking, foul-smelling water is part of the experience so to speak.

Water issues aside, Kem Botak was definitely beautiful and peaceful. Temperature dropped to a cool 15°C in the evening. We get to catch a glorious sunset from the foot of the hill. And at night we get to watch a thousand stars in the sky. As always I retired early that night. Some people prefer to stay up and chit-chat till late. I just wanna rest and wake up fresh for tomorrow. A few of us planned to wake up early for a morning hike to the peak the next morning. I wasn’t so keen of waking up at 5:30 in the morning so I didn’t plan on joining them at first. But when everybody in my tent did woke up noisily at 5:30, I thought what the heck might as well tag along. It’s not often you get to see sunrise from the tallest peak on the land. Maybe once in a lifetime if I don’t ever return there again. The morning was naturally shivering cold but we braved the elements to begin the final push to the peak. From Kem Bonsai it was all rock all the way. Kinda like Bukit Tabur but twice the length. I was dressed warm for the occasion but as with any other hike, I got sweating in halfway through the hike so it wasn’t so cold after some time.

After huffing and puffing our way for an hour or so we finally reached the peak just before sunrise. Just seeing the infamous Gunung Tahan signboard and the majestic view of the surrounding made all our pain and suffering worthwhile. We prayed Subuh at the top of the mountain and then had coffee made from the seepage pool (no filter). It was probably the best damn coffee that I have ever tasted. We hanged around for another hour at the peak, took dozens of pictures while watching the sun rise from the east. I’ve seen one or two mountain-top sunrises before but nothing is as breathtaking as this one on top of Tahan. I tried to capture a timelapse video of the sunrise but somehow my iphone failed to focus on the horizon using the Hyperlapse app so it was mostly a blurry 20 minutes video. Should have adjusted it better. I did managed to make a call to my loved ones from the peak. Yes there’s actually good phone signal on top of the mountain but only for Celcom (Tunetalk) and Maxis. In fact there’s about half a dozen spots along the hike that we found places with good mobile phone signal.

For breakfast that morning, I had a pack of Brahim’s delicious lamb briyani rice. It’s amazing how they could pack such a delicious meals that would last for months. The wonders of modern technology (or preservatives). After the final ascend, it’s time to go down again. I know that this is going to be just as hard as the day before. Partly because there’s not enough water to drink. Yeah I did filter a bottle of water out of those stinking water but I was not so thrilled of gulping down that. The last few kilometers before Kem Kubang was the hardest. The sun was so hot and we were so dehydrated, even the stinking water was going out fast. When we finally reached Kem Kubang, I was determined to go seek the fabled water point and get fresh water from there. So me and 3 more of my hiking buddies hiked for another 30 to 45 minutes return trip to the water point. It was actually a little waterfall with water dripping from the hills. But the most important thing is, the water is fresh and you could drink straight from it. I drank about two bottles of that water and stocked up 3 more for the long journey back to Kem Kor. It was really a life-saver that little water point. I don’t think I could have made it if it wasn’t for that. Actually I would have made it anyway but it would be hell to walk for hours without any fresh water supply.

The water point 

We walked quite fast that day although I did fell a few times for some reason. Our guide Abe Zul was waited patiently for me or anybody else as who’s last. Sure they will hate your gut for being so slow but they won’t say it out loud or force you to walk faster or anything. If you’re tired or injured, you can always take your own sweet time to finish your hike. That’s how it is. On the way down we also met another group of Singaporean hikers on the way up. This group of 3 hired a local porter each to carry their stuff all the way to the peak. Each climber paid RM2,000 for their trip including porter and transfer from KL. While I can’t call them cheating, I can’t help but feel a little bit envious at those weaklings. Paying somebody to carry your luggage just spoils a real hiking experience. Everest or the Himalayas is another story but Tahan is not that high really.

We did made it to Kem Kor safely late that afternoon. Me. I’m just glad that the hardest part of the climb is over. I suspect everybody else felt the same way too. Back at Kem Kor, our old campsite is occupied by a group of Canadian hikers attempting to conquer Gunung Tahan as well. They were a friendly bunch although I can’t help but notice how they just simply cover their pile of poop with just leaves (totally gross). I guess that’s totally normal for them back home or something. Talking about poops, I managed to not do my business in the jungle for the entire 4 days. I suppose much of the food that I consumed got converted to energy that I don’t feel like defecating at all for the duration of my stay. It’s not for want of trying. I tried once on the 4th day, it just won’t come out. Maybe I’m just not accustomed to doing my business in the bushes. It wasn’t until the 5th day at home that I finally got to do it in the comfort of my toilet.

I slept early again on the 3rd day in the jungle. Partly because I’m exhausted from the day’s hike and also because I’m beginning to feel hot all over. Probably because of the heat. Thanks to a couple of paracetamols, I felt much better the next morning. We had a simple breakfast of kungfu kuey tow for breakfast, packed our stuff and clean up the campsite before making our way out of the jungle. We reached the trail head in Kuala Juram from Kem Kor in record time that day, 3 and a half hours only. Obviously everybody walked super fast, maybe we’re just excited to return to civilization again. At the last stream crossing, some of us took the opportunity to swim in the water. As much as I’d like to join them, I couldn’t be bothered to change my clothes. Amazingly, I managed to keep my shoes dry for the entire trip, 10 river-crossing and all. Yep, I actually took off my shoes on each and every river-crossing and wade barefoot in the water. We cheered and sang as we crossed the last bridge to the trail head. It took another hour for the 4 wheel drive to arrive and take us to the entrance. While waiting, a few of us cooked and finished their last remaining ration. I don’t have any food left after 4 days but I did get to have some hot tea which is more than I can ask. After 4 days of drinking river water, something sweet like plain old tea is like a luxury for me.

Back at the ranger’s office, it’s time to declare our possessions again. All throughout the journey we were constantly reminded to be mindful of our staff and not lose anything or we’ll be paying for our missing stuff. Something like 50 ringgit per plastic bag or sweet wrappers or something. What actually happened was, the ranger just checked a few essential items like plastic bags, butane gas canisters, batteries, your clothes and that’s it. I’m sure they could be strict and check everything if they want to but they’re just giving you a break after your long and tiring journey. It’s an effective ploy I must say because that way, all hikers that goes in would be less likely to litter and mess up the place. When that’s over and done with, we head out to a restaurant nearby for (a victory) lunch. Again, they served fish for lunch but this time since they also got omelets, I skipped the fish and just had that since I’ve got a choice now. A really simple lunch but truly satisfying after all that I’ve been through. Afterwards after saying our goodbyes we head home to Kuala Lumpur and so concludes our epic journey up the highest mountain on the land.

4 days and 3 night in the jungle, climbing one of the toughest mountain I’ve ever hiked surely taught me many-many valuable lessons. I learnt to appreciate how precious water is, how to clean and pack our tent among others. Food-wise, I learnt how not to be picky and just eat whatever is made for you. Actually I’m only picky if I know that there’s another option to the food that I don’t like in a normal setting. Given no other choice, I’d just take whatever that’s hand out for me, even fish. Soap, one little thing that I wished I’d bring along. Even if it's just those little hotel soap. Aside from using it to clean myself, I can use it to wash my plate and other utensils. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a greasy cup or pot or plates. I also wished I’d carry much more food, especially drinks. You have no idea how much energy you consumed while hiking and camping for days in the jungle. Sweet drinks give you energy to go on and food keeps you feeling full and not so hungry in between hike or camp (duh). I can’t stress enough on the drink part. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you brought that extra sachet of coffee or tea.

I learned to carry only the most necessary stuff in my backpack in the future. I think I did okay with regard to that although 2 heavy 11,000 mAh power banks is too much for my four days hike. It’s not like I’m going to text or call anybody much and the data coverage is non-existent on most part. Clothes-wise, I only brought along 3 t-shirts, one shorts, one sarong, a little towel and one pants for the duration of the trip. 1 shirt each for 2 days and on the second and third day, I wore the same (stinking) t-shirt because I’m gonna sweat and stink a lot anyway on those two days. Even that’s a lot compared to others. Some only brought two pairs of clothes! Let’s not talk about how much they stink. Not that anyone complained or anything in the jungle (nobody's judging).

I also need to invest on a good and genuine 75 liters or more backpack. I managed to borrow a 75 liter backpack from a colleague just the day before but unfortunately the bag was somehow lopsided. No matter how much I tried to adjust it, it simply would not balance. In the end I gave up and just wear the backpack as it is, lopsided and all throughout the trip. It’s no fun I tell you wearing a backpack like that. Climbing the steep hills and mountain is hard enough, try doing it with a lopsided bag — it’ll be twice as hard. That said, I just take it as another challenge in this epic adventure. Although I won’t advise anyone of doing it. Get a good, original branded backpack. Yes I know they’re like crazy expensive (RM700 or more) but they last longer and offer better support for your back and waist. Cheap replica bags just wouldn’t last long and doesn’t support you as good as the genuine article.

I’m glad that I brought along my mess tin and gas canister for cooking or making water. Those two are absolute essential when camping. I also should probably invest in a decent portable water filter. They could be a lifesaver. Most of all, I’m grateful for the great company that I had throughout my journey. I learned loads from them and all of them are a real good sport, friendly and very supportive of each other. I couldn’t ask for a better hiking partners.

Like I said earlier, it was one of the toughest mountains that I have ever climbed in my life. It’s the rooftop of Malaya, the highest point of the land. Just before I finished my climb that day, I don’t think I’ll be doing it ever again. Once is enough. Now a month later, I actually miss climbing a challenging and tough mountain like Tahan. Sir Edmund Hillary (that Everest dude) once said “it’s not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves”. I can’t agree more. Every mountain is a new challenge no matter how tall or low it is. Every experience is different in their own unique way. Now that I’ve conquered one G7 mountain, it is only natural that I attempt the 6 remaining more. The mountains are calling and I must go.

Gunung Nuang via Pangsun camping

In the early days of my climbing career, Gunung Nuang is amongst the first hard core mountains that I have attempted to climb. In June last year I followed a fellow climber up to Gunung Nuang via Pangsun but only up till Kem Pacat that is halfway up the mountain. Back then I was ill-prepared and under-trained. I have only climbed a few hills and kiddy mountains so my stamina was far from good. 4 months later I finally made it up the mountain but via the Janda Baik route instead which half as hard and much faster to finish. Naturally my life wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t try climbing Nuang via Pangsun at least once.

Turn right here

My chance came as I was training for my Gunung Tahan trip next week. I’ve hiked a few mountains such as Gunung Telapak Buruk, Bukit, Gunung Irau and camped at Bukit Kutu but a real challenge would be something like Gunung Nuang via Pangsun of course. So I called up a few guys (and girl) and set out to hike and climb on top of Gunung Nuang last weekend. Normally people would camp at Kem Lolo at the foot of the mountain and go for a day hike to the summit from there. But since I’m a badass-motherf*cker, I dragged my friends for a grueling climb straight to the peak and camp there instead.

A regular day hike up Gunung Nuang would take an average 11 to 12 hours for the return trip. Half the time if you’re one of those cray-cray type ultra marathon runners. But let us not dwell on what crazy people does (says the guy who climbs a stationery rock for no reason). Anyway since we’re planning to camp overnight, there’s really no hurry to start the hike. Many people would start early — go in at 6:00–7:00 AM and come out before nightfall. My merry band of hikers started at 12:30 PM. There we’re originally 8 of us but as always 3 people bailed so it’s only 5 of us in the end, 4 guys and a girl. The sole girl almost bailed out as well had we not volunteered to switch and carry her heavy bag.

After registering ourselves and paying the nominal 1 ringgit entrance fee, we set out for the long hike up Gunung Nuang. Like last time, we had to traverse the 5 kilometers logging road. This time around however, some parts of it is being paved with cement mostly the first 500 meters. Honestly I prefer the old dirt road compared to this hard cement. It’s easier on the knees and cement just looked wrong in the wilderness. Perhaps they want to make it easier for visitors to drive straight in to Kem Lolo or something in the future. On a regular day, I would have finished my 5 kilometers jog at home in 40 minutes. But this dirt road or the endless road as it is affectionately called feels like forever to finish. Okay, more like 1 and a half hours or so from the entrance to the first river crossing near Kem Lolo. Most of the people we met are on their way down from the peak. When they found out we’re camping on the peak most will reply with ‘wah’ or good luck. As I said, most would prefer to camp at Kem Lolo or at least Kem Pacat than carry those heavy camping equipment and load to the peak.

We stopped at Kem Lolo where the stream/waterfall is for lunch. On the second river crossing, I kinda lost balance (with my heavy backpack and all) and stepped into the river and wet my shoes. Nobody likes to hike with a wet boots but shit do happen and you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Just take off your socks and carry on like nothing happens. Sure your feet will be a little more sore but by the time you reach the peak, your shoes would be almost dry. After Kem Lolo, that’s where the real climb starts. Previously, you’re just warming up through the 6 kilometers hike. From there on the ascend to the peak would be ruthless. 4 kilometers of 60 to 80° climb at some parts would really test your strength, stamina and resolve.

We reached Kem Pacat, halfway up the mountain at around 5:00 PM. By then, our water supply was half gone. There’s supposed to be a water point near Kem Pacat but it’s hidden somewhere out of sight. Therefore we had to be really prudent with our drinking. Despite the name, Kem Pacat is mostly devoid of leeches unlike it’s namesake. Honestly, I would be more worried of the pesky mosquitoes than the leeches. And there’s a lot of mosquitoes during the hike especially between the entrance and Kem Lolo. 2 hours later we reached Puncak Pengasih also known as the false peak just before the summit. On my first hike up Nuang, I didn’t go further than Kem Pacat so successfully reaching Puncak Pengasih is a milestone in itself. I aimed to reach the peak before dark but since I’m the de facto sweeper, I had to wait for everybody to catch up. Everybody as in the sole girl member of the hike who was not as fit or fast as the others. Actually I was just about as slow as her, mostly because of the heavy load I’m carrying in my backpack (15 kilos). It’s a blessing in disguise really not to have to catch up with the others (who had half the load). In the end we only reached the summit around 8:30 PM, well into the night. It’s not easy hiking in the dark I tell you, especially on unfamiliar terrains and bugs flying to your face and into your mouth, attracted by your headlamp. Thankfully we only hiked about an hour or so in the dark.

We finally reached the peak at 8:30 PM, it was pitch dark and nobody else was there except for our motley crew of 5. We set up camp on a clearing under some trees and cook dinner and stuff. Since there’s very limited water, showering or cleaning yourself is out of the question. But it’s quite cold up there so we didn’t stink that much (that’s what we thought anyway). Azlina and I set up our own tents while the three boys slept under the fly sheet in their sleeping bags. After a little chatter we retired early that night since everybody is exhausted anyway. From the distance we can hear thunder and wind blowing but just like last time it didn’t rain at all while we’re camped at the peak. My theory is, the clouds are beneath us so while it may rain the foot of the hill and elsewhere it didn’t affect us at the peak. That said, I still woke up a few times at night because it was fricking cold in my tent especially my feet. Remember I splashed into the river earlier and got my shoes and socks wet? Yeah, having a spare socks is most important on mountain top camping trips. My skimpy blanket was simply not enough to warm every part of my body. I’ve thought of taking a sleeping bag along but my 50 liters bag is too small and there’s no space for anything else after packing my tent, stove, water, food and stuff. That’s why you need a big backpack for such camping trips, 50 liters or less just wouldn’t cut it. You need at least 70 liters or more for guys and 60 liters for girls.

The next morning I woke up early meaning to catch some sunrise on the peak. Unfortunately it was very foggy all around and I couldn’t see nothing let alone sunrise. Nevertheless, the morning scenery from the top is still gorgeous even without any spectacular sunrise. We took some pictures of ourselves and then made breakfast before going down. I get to try some Brahim’s fried rice. It’s amazing how they can make this food last so long. I bet there’s a liberal amount of preservatives added for that purpose. Although a bit expensive (at 10 ringgit a pack), they’re actually quite good and satisfying. Fried rice with some chicken bits thrown in. It’s a common ration for campers who don’t want (unskilled) to cook. Just boil in water for 5 minutes and they’re ready.

We left the peak at around 10:00 AM. Up until then, there’s still noone else at the peak whether from Pangsun or Janda Baik. We did met a few early birds on the way down. If they’re already near the peak by 10:30 AM I’m guessing they started very early, 5:00 to 6:00 AM the latest. The descend down the mountain was supposed to be less difficult and faster than the hike up but still with all those load on our back, it proves to be quite a challenge. We reached Kem Pacat in record time of 1 and a half hours. This time around we managed to ask a fellow hiker the location of the elusive water point which was only 5 minutes hike away. There’s two distinct clearing at Kem Pacat and you need to go to the higher one further up. From there, turn left and follow the hillside track to the water point. I’ve uploaded a short video showing the path to the water point for your reference. We were mighty glad that we found the water point cause our supplies are nearly finished by then. The water from the hill was cool and refreshing and you can literally drink straight from it. We stocked up on our water supplies before resuming our journey.

We reached Kem Lolo around 2:00 PM but not before it rained for 30 minutes or so on the way there. Even brief, the rain managed to make the trail all muddy and slippery and I managed to slip once onto the ground. Rain although would cool down the temperature a little bit, is the last thing any hikers want. It makes the track and dirt road slippery, may increase the water levels at streams suddenly and dramatically and it also may come with lightning risk especially when you’re at high elevations. That’s why if it’s been raining heavily a few hours before or if it looks like it might rain most people would likely cancel their hike or climb since the risk and/or difficulty is not worth it. At Kem Lolo we cooked dinner (of instant noodle, what else) and had a dip in the icy cool stream water. Nothing like dipping your tired legs in the cold water to refresh them.

From Kem Lolo to the park’s entrance took us another hour and a half or so. We didn’t stop much at any of the 6 huts along the way because the mosquitoes were merciless. Even while walking they’ll try their best to suck on your blood. After like 12 hours of walking and climbing since yesterday, we finally made it to the entrance safe and sound. Perhaps after going up so many mountains, this time I didn’t feel as exhausted as the first time around. Gunung Nuang via Pangsun is one of the harder mountains to climb so it’s not for everyone. Certainly not for people who just hiked Broga or Datuk before and probably not for less than fit people. Trust me, it will test your mental resolve, strength and also your stamina. Some people will make it up until Pacat, some halfway past Pacat. Not everybody will make it to the peak. But if you’ve been hiking and climbing regularly, Gunung Nuang via Pangsun could prove to be a fun challenge for you. There’s an extra satisfaction when you finally made it to the top, the same feeling you have when climbing similar tough mountains. Nuang via Pangsun is a good training ground to start your G7 excursion or simply before trying other higher and tougher summits.