By Ili Aqilah
Perak is blessed with many hills and mountains that attract hikers and adventure seekers. Even intrepid foreigners come here to try their luck at navigating our “treacherous” terrain. Incidentally, many 2000m-plus peaks are found along the Main Range (Banjaran Titiwangsa) which forms the backbone of the peninsula. Gunung Korbu is the highest peak in Perak and is visible from downtown Ipoh forming a stupendous backdrop to the capital city. In this issue of Ipoh Echo we endeavour to find out what prompts these “outdoor junkies” to trek and hike?
Malaysians are Beginning to Love the Outdoors
Gunung Korbu, at 7164ft, is only 12ft lower than Gunung Tahan, the highest peak in the peninsula. Korbu is quite a challenge for novice mountaineers like you and I but is a breeze to seasoned climbers. It is a member of the “Group of 7 Club” or G7, the figure “7” represents seven mountains which tower over 7000ft.
The remaining six in the august club include Gunung Tahan (Pahang), Gunung Yong Belar (Kelantan-Perak border), Gunung Gayong (Perak), Gunung Chamah (Kelantan), Gunung Yong Yap (Kelantan-Perak border) and Gunung Ulu Sepat (Kelantan-Perak border).
Hiking and trekking are as old as time itself. However, of late they have become a hobby among Malaysians along with rock climbing, rappelling, white-water rafting and others. The craze cuts across sex, age and race. No one sex, race or age group can claim the majority. Malaysians are beginning to love the outdoors and this is encouraging.
Silver State Hiker (SSH)
Mohamad Alif Ahmad formed Silver State Hiker (SSH) in September 2016. This group is unique because members not only get to climb hills and mountains but learn to appreciate nature at the same time.
“I love hiking because of the challenge. You get to see the beautiful flora and fauna along the route. But I felt bored because besides scaling the hills and mountains there is little to learn. After a while I thought that perhaps I should form a group of like-minded people who share the same interests,” said Alif.
According to him, SSH is now focused on teaching members, especially the new ones, the basics of hiking and caring for the environment. “I love what Mother Nature has given us and preserving this treasure trove has now become an obsession, of sorts.”
The most challenging hike organised by his group is the 3D/2N up Gunung Korbu and Gunung Gayong. Both are located next to each other along the same ridge. Climbers often complete the two in one trip. He recalled one memorable hike up the two mountains.
“On the second day we’re drenched to the skin by a heavy downpour. Since the weather was bad, we had to slow down our pace. It took us 25 hours to get from Seroja, the base camp, to the summits of Korbu and Gayong and back. When we arrived our campsite was a complete mess,” said Alif.
Scaling Korbu and Gayong is the hardest because the track is narrow, treacherous and far from water points. Climbers need to ration their food and water if they want to arrive in one piece.
Readers keen on joining SSH hiking trips can do so by contacting the group via Instagram: www.instagram.com/silverstate.hiker or contact Alif directly on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mohamadalif
Geng Gunung Kuala Kangsar (G2K2)
Established in 2014, G2K2 was founded by eight friends who share the same passion; recreational sports especially hiking. Their first trip these youngsters had was in 2009 up Gunung Bubu at the tip of Bintang Range near Kuala Kangsar. It was after this outing, plus a few more, that prompted them to establish the group.
“There are many reasons why people hike. But for us, hiking is a form of challenge. It’s a chance to be up close and personal with God’s creations namely, the flora and fauna. We hope more youths would hike rather than spending time at shopping malls and on the streets,” said Mohd Ikhquwan, 28, a founding member of G2K2.
“My one simple advice to those wishing to hike, prepare yourselves physically and mentally before embarking on your journey. Make sure you bring a first-aid box filled with essential stuff inside. You need to know some basic living skills such as how to make a fire and how to erect a tent. And most importantly, how to work as a team and not to be selfish,” said Ikhquwan.
The most memorable hike by the group was one crossing the Bintang Range via Gunung Inas and Bukit Hijau. The trip was difficult because there were no proper tracks to follow.
Geng Gunung Kuala Kangsar can be reached via Facebook: www.facebook.com/genggunungkualakangsar
Anak Perak Hikers (APH)
Founded by two ladies, Anak Perak Hikers was established in 2016 by Nor Liyana Mohd Nor (Ron), 28 and Masyitah Abdullah, 34.
“I was looking through a Facebook page for a hiking group to join in Perak. There was none so I made an online inquiry. I received many replies for fellow Perakeans who were looking for one too. We then decided to create our own group. That’s how Anak Perak Hikers was formed. It wasn’t easy but the challenges were the catalysts that pushed us forward,” said Ron.
Ron was an overweight 126 kg when they first started. She could not climb Bukit Kledang via the tar road. But that did not stop her from trying and coupled with her determination to lose weight hiking soon became an obsession. She hiked and explored more.
“When hiking, you’re closer to Nature. You get to appreciate the beauty from a different perspective, something you won’t get anywhere else,” said Ron.
When asked what the best moment she had with APH was, she replied it was when they successfully managed to get heavier hikers to the summit.
“It is important for hikers to know that they never hike alone. Always find someone who walks the same pace as you and don’t leave anyone behind. The most crucial step is to have proper training before hiking. Brisk walking or jogging could help shape you up.”
Readers keen on joining APH to realise their hiking dreams can do so by contacting Ron via her Facebook: Nor Liyana Mohd Noor or call: 010 550 2515.
Silver Outdoor Sports (SOS)
Sports fans should be familiar with the Silver Outdoor Sports or SOS. Established in 2000, SOS was among the first that offered hiking trips at that time. According to founder Muzafar Mohamad, 42, the majority of groups and companies offering such services today are managed by former members or clients of SOS.
Muzafar’s first hiking exposure was up Gunung Hijau, Bukit Larut Taiping in 1995 after sitting for his Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM). He chose hiking as hobby because it was something not common among teenagers at that time.
“While many might say hiking is a passing fad, I beg to differ. With the advancement of technology these days, people are getting more interested in Nature. They want to see the beautiful greens with their own eyes and not in pictures and on TV screens. Hiking is not an expensive hobby. It’s easy to find the equipment and attire for hiking,” said Muzafar.
With over 20 years of hiking behind him, Muzafar said the one journey he could not forget was the one up Gunung Korbu in 1999. He saw one hiker die of exhaustion while trekking up the mountain. After the tragedy, Muzafar and his friends formed the Persatuan Malim Gunung Malaysia (PMGM) and the Mountain Search and Rescue Society Malaysia (MOSARS) in 2016. The groups provide emergency services such as finding missing hikers and climbers anywhere in Malaysia.
He admitted that scaling Gunung Inas and Gunung Titiwangsa while traversing the Bintang Range in 2005 was the most challenging hike he ever undertook. His team had to crawl under bamboo clumps and had to do a three-hour detour in order to avoid a herd of wild elephants at 5000ft above sea level.
Readers keen on joining SOS hikes can contact the group at its Instagram: www.instagram.com/silveroutdoors or its Facebook: www.facebook.com/SOSNOLB/ or through their website http://www.silveroutdoors.my/.
Proper hiking gear
Hiker Mike Chu, 28, feels that hikers should have proper gear and equipment for hiking. He therefore set up PTT Outdoor, selling affordable outdoor equipment in November 2016.
“Since I am a hiker too, I feel it’s crucial for hikers to dress appropriately. You can’t enjoy your hike if you are not properly attired. It may seem okay to wear jeans and baggy T-shirt, but jeans are inflexible and repeated knee movements during a hike will restrict movements resulting in knee pain,” said Mike.
Don’t know what to get for your first hike? Mike and his team are ready to assist new hikers. Readers can visit their website for queries: pttoutdoor.com.
Be a responsible hiker
A few months ago one of our readers, Dave Spence, sent us an email about an irresponsible individual dumping rubbish along the track leading to Gunung Korbu. Piqued by the guy’s action, Dave asked why he was doing so as the location was frequented by visitors. “The man laughed at me dismissively. He thinks it’s perfectly alright to dirty the place,” Dave lamented.
Ipoh Echo called the Perak Forestry Department to check who was responsible to clear the illegal dumpsite. It took them awhile to own up. They promised that action to clean up the area would be taken soon.
A few days later this scribe went to the site and found that it was indeed cleared, as promised but a fresh pile of rubbish was visible. It is obvious that someone is making use of the place as his or her private rubbish dump. How irresponsible can such people be?
The Malayan peninsula was once a lush and beautiful country but with all the developments, much of the once pristine jungles, hills, mountains and waterways are gone. They can never be replaced no matter how hard we try. So whatever that is left should be cared for with tender loving care, as the generations after us want to enjoy them too.