My initial thought for a post title was “Conquering Gunung Datuk”. Then I looked at it and decided that it seems way too dramatic… it’s like giving too much credit for something this miniscule. Besides, I didn’t exactly “conquer” it. To be exact, an appropriate title would be “surviving Gunung Datuk”. My legs still hurt now, 3 days after the climb… lmao, but that would just make it seem more difficult than it actually was. Pretty sure the only reason why my legs ache so badly now is due to my pathetic fitness level. Anyone who does regular exercise should be able to handle this mountain easily (-_-;)
Saturday started off really early. I woke at like 4:45am to pack my stuff, grab a light breakfast comprising of a banana + a cup of instant corn soup, take a shower, manage my crops on FarmVille 2 and headed off to the taxi stand where I was gonna meet J. Thankfully J’s dad was driving her to the YMCA stipulated meet-up point (Woodlands Checkpoint bus bay, after immigration counters) & had agreed to pick me up on the way. Taking 170 that early is guaranteed to make me develop motion sickness. Meeting time was 6:45am. Ugh.
When I arrived at Woodlands & saw the group of people already gathered there, my heart kinda sank. Everyone else looks so fit & so “pro”. I was hoping that they wouldn’t go at a breakneck pace (which they did). Anyway, we took a public bus across the causeway, transferred to a private coach, stopped somewhere for breakfast (I ate a little dim sum & kway chap) then it was off to the mountain. It was one really loooong ride. Thankfully my dimenate knocked me out and I spent most of the 3hrs or so sleeping.
Have no idea what time we actually started hiking cos my phone was safely tucked into my waterproof pouch & was too lazy to take it out (I don’t wear a watch), but I’d assume that since the above photo of the welcome sign near the trail head is marked as being “modified on Saturday, February 02, 2013, 11:52:56 AM”… I guess that should be about the time we began?
We had to cross over a small bridge to the start of the trail. Whatever I read prior to going was true. It was quite a steep start, proving quite the challenge for n00bs & those who barely exercise (read: me). Just look towards the left of the picture for a gauge of how the elevation was like. Well thankfully, it was just a few minutes before we reached the first ‘stop point’… a HUGE tree. Just how huge? Well… look below!
That little speck of red is me, btw. LOL and yes, I’m relatively small compared to most people (about 1.53m) but that tree really put things into perspective huh? Anyway, the group stopped for a little while for photographs & to listen to the guide sharing about how one can actually hide in the space between the roots of a tree as such to protect themselves from the wind should they be lost in the forest. J was already visibly tired at this point of time, and I was pretty sure she was cursing me for dragging her there silently haha.
The trail after the huge tree just got worse. Rocks, rocks and more rocks. Am so glad that it wasn’t raining or that part could get pretty tricky. This was pretty much where the group got spread out. The faster ones going at their insane pace, the slower ones (I’m in this group) plodding along & the stragglers breaking off totally at the back. There were just 2 stragglers on this trip tbh, J and an aunty-ish female.
I did contemplate waiting around a bit for J, but eventually decided against it cos I knew that if I were to wait, I wouldn’t make it to the summit myself… and I DID want to get up there! Besides, there was a YMCA trip leader behind with the stragglers, so I felt she was in pretty good hands. Am glad I didn’t hover. J only made it up to Checkpoint 1, a couple of collapsed huts, at about 2pm… 2hrs after we started (=_=)
It got way easier after CP1 though. The elevation became gentler, the natural steps smaller and closer to each other. It was pretty much the same all the way thru’ the forest. Walk, walk, walk until…
THIS. If you see that, know that your journey is almost over. At the end of the ladder lie the summit, and with the summit comes a gorgeous view. Once again, yeah I was lucky. The weather was awesome; the sky was clear… giving a magnificent view way above sea level.
Had a simple ‘lunch’ of kit kat bars & a banana, drank much water, lazed around, took photographs… then it was heading down. Bleh. tbh this is the part of mountain climbing that I absolutely HATE. I don’t care what others think, but personally, the down is worse than the up. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I’m not tall. Going down takes a toll on my legs. To prevent taking too much impact on my knees, there were many points where I had to squat down at the top of a huge step, place one leg down slowly before pushing myself off with my hiking pole or hands. The result? Jelly legs, and my current WTFpainful thighs. The start of the trail was the worst coming up, and was the worst going down too cos by then my feet were hurting & my toes painful as well.
Reached the bottom at about 5:30pm, wiped up a little at the (horrible) toilet, changed my clothes then its back on the bus to dinner… and a long bus rider later, home.
One more mountain down ＼(~o~)／