Thursday, 7 April 2011

(Almost) LOST

I did something rather silly yesterday. I went up the hill. To be exact, the Bukit Mertajam hill at Ceruk Tokun. But going up the hill itself is not anything silly. Far from it. It's perfectly logical to go up the hill. It's good to exercise and it's good to sweat it out a bit. In fact, I've been hiking up the hill for years. So what silliness did I do yesterday by going up the hill?

Well, it's not that straightforward. There are several ways up the BM hill. The most obvious is Path A which is to follow the tarred road all the way past the 2020 station and the Tea House till I reach the top where the transmission towers are. But it's the most boring walk of all.

Path B would take me beside the stream and up a well-worn track which I can exit at a flight of steps after about a 25-minute walk. Path C continues from this point for another 20 minutes when I emerge at the Tea House.

On the other side of the tarred road, Path D takes me beside the Ceruk Tokun dam and then a 90-dregree right turn up a lesser used hill track. I could then emerge after about 35 minutes onto the tarred road somewhere between the Tea House and the 2020 station. But I could also continue further up the forest track along Path E for another 30 or 35 minutes before ending my climb at the telecommunication transmission stations. Yes, these are my four tracks up the BM hill. My choice would depend on my fitness and time. Needless to say, Path E is the least popular choice as I would then have to spend something like 2½ hours going up and down. So you see, there are various ways of getting from Point X to Point X (repeat: Point X, not Point Y).

My silliness - my wife would most probably call it foolhardy silliness - happened because I veered off-track yesterday. Quite dangerous actually, because I was alone, I had not told anyone and I didn't see anybody else along the way. It was that secluded and I was completely isolated.

What happened was, as I was walking beside the dam I noticed that it was filled with water. Just less than two months ago, the dam had been quite dry but yesterday when I walked the same path, there is was, filling with water. Curiosity got the better of me and so instead of climbing up the hill along Path D, I continued walking around the dam until I reached a certain spot that looked like an old abandoned barricade of sorts.

I said to myself that since I was already there, maybe I could explore the track for a short distance ahead. So I walked on. Came across some obstacles and without a thought, continued clambering over them. Never mind, I thought, I should be able to find my way back. Same direction down, what's so difficult about that? But it was difficult. After having climbed up over rocks and tree roots at 70-degree inclinations, I found that I wasn't so fond of climbing down the same way.

What to do? The only alternative was to continue going up and hope that the track would join up with Path D eventually.

I was wrong. The track did not join up with Path D. It just went on and on and on, or up and up and up. Many times, the dirt track would disappear and I had to climb over rocks and fallen tree trunks or go into the thickets.The only consolation was that the way was well laid out with markers. Every few feet, I came across red ribbons tied to tree trunks or paper stapled onto branches. At least, there was no way of getting lost: just keep a lookout for the next marker. But  I must admit that there were two or three occasions when anxiety crept in whenever I missed a marker. Once, I couldn't see a ribbon anywhere and that forced me to backtrack a few yards down, in my opinion, an impossible slope. But inevitably, I would pick up the trail again.

So silly me, knowing that it was almost near impossible to descend the same way that I had ascended, had to follow the markers all the way up the rest of the hill until at last....I saw something like a transmission tower hidden behind some trees. It was a great relief to emerge eventually from the thicket. It was a journey of about one hour 20 minutes one way, and it took me about the same time to walk down the tarred road to the car.

An ordeal? Not really. At any time, did I feel that I would be lost? Actually, except for those few anxious moments, I felt quite safe when I thought back about it. The only advice I would give is, if anyone wants to go up this way - Path F - it should be important to do so with a companion or two. Never be as foolhardy as me and simply climb up this relatively quiet way on your own. I was lucky; I emerged unscathed from the adventure.


stephen said...

Get a smartphone with gps! that way you won't have to worry about getting lost.

Quah, Seng-Sun said...

Doubt it will work. GPS doesn't work at all under thick foliage.

longkin said...

You are actually very brave to do that. Have to agree with Saw See that you are "silly brave" if there is such a term. Next time get a tracker like you see in thriller movies and put it on when you try this sort adventure. It will be easy for us to track you :)