Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pine Tree Trail in Fraser's Hill

Please click here to view 36 photos taken by KC.

“Hey! Are you having a Trekker’s High?” Mary was asking Wendy – who was leading the pack – after hearing her talking to insects. At about 30 feet apart, we could not hear what was exactly said. Ah... Ha! a Trekker's High! Being a runner, I hear of “Runner’s High” all the while and even experiencing it myself.
On Sunday 11 March 2007 while trekking up Pine Tree Trail of Fraser’s Hill, a trekker’s high was something new to me. The similarity was that both types of “high” enable an affect person to talk a lot. Located at 1,500 meters above sea level, Fraser’s Hill is indeed, quite high.
Stand: Ann, Ooi, Mary, Iris
Front: KC, Wong, Wendy.

We started our journey from Kuala Lumpur at 6:00 a.m. There were two MPVs each driven by Wendy and Ooi; four trekkers in each vehicle. The team members were: Wendy, Wong, William, Ooi, Mary, Ann, Iris and I. At Kuala Kubu Baru (KKB) new village, we stopped for simple breakfast at a residence-cum-coffee shop located just 10 feet from the road en route to Fraser’s Hill.

While passing through winding and mountainous slopes, we were enthralled by the morning mist and cool fresh air. We arrived at the start of the Pine Tree Trail at 9:00 a.m. When we alighted from the vehicle at a small vacant land in front of Admiralty Bungalow, it was quite cold and with raindrops keep falling on our heads. A close inspection at the surrounding, we realized that the raindrops were actually dews gathered on the leaves above us swaying and dancing to the tune of cool breeze.

After taking a few group photos, we began our trekking trip. I must be naïve to think that the start of the trail is a well-cleared path. To my surprised, the start of the trail was just next to a signboard, and it was cleverly and partially hidden by the scrubs.

The Trail

The trail leads through beautiful cloud forests filled with wild flowers amid refreshing cool breezes and drifting mists. The 6-km one-way trail here was mostly earth-based type of terrain covered with dried leaves and often, blocked by fallen tree trunks and branches. Depending on the obstruction, trekkers either squeeze underneath, or climb across. Most of the time, it was like strolling in the park, if a trekker is not in a hurry.

This path is not a continuous uphill trail from base to the peak. Instead, trekkers have to overcome a few hills that gave the opportunity to go uphill and then go downhill to reach the peak.

After two downhill, we passed by a dense scrubs area. The trail was almost overgrown with scrubs and the trail was not clearly visible. I presume if nothing were done to it, the trail would be vanished by the encroachment of scrubs and plants. Other than this area, the trail was clearly visible and side trails were thoughtfully blocked by other trekkers by placing dried branches across.

Wendy related to us a funny story that one of her friends in another earlier trip, upon seeing the dried branches, commented: “who is so inconsiderate blocking the path with dried branches”; removed them, walked into the blocked path, and only to realized the meaning later after encountering vanishing trail.

According to the brochures, there was a waterfall along the trail but we did not know the way. Anyway, that was not part of the objective.

I was trekking behind Ann, a Scottish lady. While we tackled those difficult uphill climb, she told us that her friend recommended her to come as “Pine Tree Trail is just like Gasing Hill in Kuala Lumpur, with one or two extra steep slopes”. We have a good laugh. We all know that Gasing Hill only have a few gradual uphill and the Pine Tree Trail is much tougher to trek.

While I was trekking behind her, there was one elastic branch with thorns blocking her way. So she has to flex and push it away but the rebound hit me at the right distance behind. So I fine-tuned the distance so as to ride on the same wave in case there was another spring back from thorny branches.

While I was up there being riveted by the abundance of cool fresh air, I did think of my runners’ friends who were running in tunnel competing for air in the SMART Tunnel Run (Kuala Lumpur) on the same morning.

After about half hours’ walk, I began to feel warm and started sweating even though the air was cool.

Wild Plants and Insects

There were many wild plants along the way. The one that caught our attention was a unique plant that shaped like a lollypop. When it was young, it is light green; but a full-grown plant was very hairy and grows as high as 10 feet tall.

There was one very short plant with only a bright red flower hiding among other wild plants. Another interesting plant that bears fruits that looks like pineapple.
We saw a huge millipede and a colourful centipede along the trail waiting there motionless.

Leech – surprisingly, only two were detected by other members. Wearing thick long pants, I actually could not know whether I was attacked by leeches.

The Peak

Many of the slopes are quite gradual and comfortable in climbing. However, the final ascent was steep and slippery with ground covered over with moss where one has to cling to roots and considerately provided ropes.

We reached the peak at 11:45 a.m., after a 2.5-hour’s walk. The peak of Pine Tree Hill is a small clearing surrounded by shrubbery with slight tapering at the tip, much like a bald-headed man with hairs at the side of the head. This spot can also be used for camping. It was fairly clean compare to peak of other hills with only a few discard plastics bottles and a little rubbish were dumped nearby.

It was quite a view to behold admiring the mountainous ranges. Without waiting further, we took out all our food for an early lunch. As usual, Wendy would assemble the burner and started boiling water. It was so kind of her to make drinks for all. Wendy’s lunch was most delicious as she packed the “kon lou mee” (noodle with black source) from the coffee shop that morning. And she cheerfully showed us the delicious noodle trying to entice our appetite. We spent about 45 minutes at the peak enjoying the sight, serenity and the good company.

The Smokehouse

The returning journey took longer time as one of the group members encountered knee pain. We accompanied him to give him the necessary support, and we have more time enjoying ourselves with the lively and humorous conversation. We returned safely to base at around 4 p.m.

After we washed and changed our clothes, we proceed to have our afternoon tea at The Ye Olde Smokehouse, about a kilometre downhill. Sitting at the garden with ambience that resembles the English countryside, it was indeed a nice and pleasant experience sipping tea, eating the famous scone with butter, cream and jam while relaxing and admiring the scenic surrounding amid laughter.
L-R: William, Wendy, Wong, Ann, Iris, Ooi, Mary.

This is a fun and challenging trail for those who enjoy trekking. It is not too difficult and it is good even for beginners who are fit.

I truly enjoyed myself in this trekking trip. This trip was truly memorable. I guessed it must be the mist, mountain coolness, abundance of laughter, good company and “trekker’s high” feeling.

I hope to return for another trekking trip there before we depart for the great Nepal 17-day trekking trip starting 23 May. Incidentally, the previous time when I went up Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia was the champion in Thomas Cup final – that was 15 years ago. And this time, Malaysia clinched the men’s double champion title in the All-England badminton. Yeah, I should go up Fraser’s Hill often.


Please click here to read "Invitation to a Great Trekking Trip in Nepal". Scroll down the postings to 10 January 2007.

Footnote on Trekker’s High: Wendy accidentally stepped onto a wounded butterfly and she asked for forgiveness, almost apologetically.

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