By Alicia Chan.
From the 22 to 29 July 2014, a team of 16 people comprising Commanders and Expedition Rangers set off to conquer the tallest peak and one of the most difficult trails in Peninsula Malaysia, Gunung Tahan via the Kuala Tahan route. It boasts of 2187 meters in elevation and a total trek of 110 kilometres in the time span of seven days.
22nd July: We gathered at Calvary Convention Centre at 5 am and headed off to Taman Negara, Pahang after a word of prayer and bidding farewell to our families. We stopped to rejuvenate ourselves with a carbohydrate-loaded meal along the way before continuing to our destination and reported to the Taman Negara office. Before embarking on our trek we had to declare the amount of plastics, cans, clothing and batteries we are carrying during the expedition to account for it when we return to ensure we didn’t leave any trash on the mountain. After all that was in place, we departed on the 5 hour journey to Kem Melantai where we spent the night.
23rd July: The second day of our expedition and our spirits were still high. We climbed 27 hills and waded through 7 strong currents rivers. Some of the hills’ names were worth noticing, such as Bukit Jepun, Bukit Jerman (which has cellphone reception for 012 and 019 users), Bukit Malang, etc. At 8.30 pm, we finally reached Kem Teku exhausted and called it a day.
24th July: In the morning we were greeted by a swarm of bees indigenous to Kem Teku. The unfriendly intrusion of the bees had forced us to pack our campsite quickly and start hiking. The journey to Gunung Pangkin, our campsite for the day, was a challenging one. It did not only test our physical strength, but also our mettle. We relied heavily on branches, tree stumps and ropes to climb up the boulders. Thankfully at 2pm, we were able to settle down for the day, taking the opportunity to refresh ourselves and relax knowing the next day would be a greater challenge.
25th July: We started off the day very punctual, ready to hike at 5.00 am. The first break of dawn was ornamented with stars before the sun rose, garnering our attention on the top of the hill. We climbed up and down 15 ladders along steep areas, scaled up Bukit Rezkit and soon reached Gunung Gedung to savour our lunch. The climax came on the final kilometres to the summit. En route, we passed by the World War 2 plane crash site at Padang. At 5.00 pm, we are proud to say that we have become conquerors of Gunung Tahan!
26th July: After spending a bone chilling night on the peak, we began to head down Gunung Tahan. At 6pm, we settled in at Wray’s Camp.
27th July: We descended further and found ourselves back in the humid, tropical jungle! After crossing 7 rivers, we camped at Kem Puteh while being overjoyed at the sight of the calm, moving waters of the river where we could bathe. Recognising that it was the Lord’s Day, a short service was held after dinner with Commander Horr Wai pointing out the reflection of God as our guide in our lives and that we should trust in Him more.
28th July: All excited to head back to civilisation! It was another long day of trekking starting at 5.00 am and at 6.00 pm we reached the entrance of Taman Negara. We were welcomed with a hearty BBQ dinner with the Taman Negara Adventure group.
29th July: Arise and shine to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at the Resort restaurant before the officers from Taman Negara came to inspect our trash. At 12pm, we bade farewell to Taman Negara and headed home.
We Thank God that throughout the whole expedition experienced perfect weather and there were no severe injuries to the team. A big thank you also to the Commanders and expedition members for their dedication and perseverance during the whole expedition. This is certainly an expedition not to be forgotten!