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Backbreaking on Bumpy Benom 15-17 May 2011

Height: 2107m asl, the 10th tallest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia
Location: Raub, Pahang

Level of difficulty: Level 4.8 / 5 

Lata Berembun - LWP campsite: 1st 1 hour access by crossing waterfall river and trails mostly flat until reached a waterfall.  Steep for 3 hours till campsite. Lots of leeches and sandflies near waterpoint areas.

LWP campsite - Kem Bulat: Steep, and minimum 3L extra water supply carried was a killer. Can see giant pitchers on the way to Kem Bulat. 

Kem Bulat - peak: 1st 2 hours going down and then, gradual steep & 4 hours steep with ground softer. Many crawling and climbing over fallen trees or boulders. The last 30-45mins, can see yellow markerboards on the trees leading to Peak.

Peak - Kem Mayat - Kem Tikus: 18 ascend & descend hills, descend is longer. First 3.5 hours is muddy at 1650m & 1750m level.

Kem Tikus - Lata Berembun: 3 unclear jungle area- need to chop with parang, Steep descend. River crossing and another 50m more out of jungle.

Team: 6 of us - Katak, Hor, PP Ho, Woo, Shang & I (3 guys & 3 gals!) 
Guide: Ben Loh
Cost: RM50 for 4WD return ride, RM20 for shared portion for petrol& toll, guide fee by dinner treat as appreciation of fren's favour, RM25 for dinner.  
Why I choose G. Benom: I heard it was tough and few guides would take us there, and friends who went there found & took treasure there; ie the GPS (Tee). Since I had not done g. Tahan, I use g. Benom as my preparation benchmark. 
1) Weather is good during sunrise but at night it is windy.  It rained at 1.30pm, 530pm and 12.30am each day. 
2) Campsite at summit was scenic, flat ground, no sandflies or leeches but grasshoppers and spiders, plenty of trees around to hang hammock.
3) My stamina was okay and my rucksack weight is less by 1kg than normal 15kg. This time, I carried own tent & food. Overall, the trip was organised and the team members have same wavelength as good meal eater, sunrise seeker, and nature lover. Since Benom is tough and I came on my own, the team members always asked me if I am okay, what food I eat, what I used, etc. That made me mentally and emotionally strong all the time.    

Our actual intinery:G.Benom (2107m) is claimed to be the toughest climb after g.Tahan! There are 4 trails to go to g. Benom- Lata Berembun, Ulu Cheka and Jakin. The last two trails are longer.  (Updated on 26/2/2012) As enforced by PERHILITAN, G. Benom can only be accessed via Ulu Cheka with permit from PERHILITAN and any entry other than Ulu Cheka is in contravention of Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716). However, for hiking purpose and NO HUNTING, entry via Lata Berembun is allowed with permit from Raub Forestry Department.)

At 6.45am, we arrived at Bentong for breakfast, and took another 45 minutes drive to meet the 4wd drivers who spotted in army t-shirts at coffee shop. The driver took us to the Market & Buddhist Centre where we parked our cars and do our last business at the clean toilets. There were durian selling from direct seller to dealers as well as tour bus arrived at same spot. I wonder why? The aunties joining us in separate 4WD also leh! The tourists were going to Lata Berembun for day trip by 4WD at RM200 for return trip. For us taking 3D2N trip, it was RM300 return trip. 

Our journey began with 45 minutes on mini 4WD along the open hilly plantation and the jungle towards to Berembun waterfall.  The 4WD itself has no side doors, but it was safe for two gals sitting in front with the driver, while the rest of members had to squat in cramped 4WD each time there are tree branches coming to their way. Puddles and muddy terrain made the 4WD ride a rodeo life.   

On our way in narrow 4WD trail, we came upon 1st obstacle- TWO 4WD.. got place ah to move..They reversed to the side for us to pass. Thank God can pass! 

I mumbled, "Wonder why so early leave the place wor.. Now is only at 11am?" 

Our driver telling the passer by- "Ade beberapa trak penuh dengan Aunties belakang saya nak lalu, tolong give way!" 

Later, 2nd obstacle: there is Leopard skinned 4WD opposite our side! Dang, we had to reverse instead cos no place. As he passed by, I could see loads of MTBs at the backseat. The ride was still bumpy nevertheless.
It turned out that this 4WD route is famous for off road mountain biking, mountain cycling, and picnic/camping at the pristine waterfall deep inside, besides extreme off road ride.

3rd obstacle: A group of three or four 4WDs with people setting out tents and food along the trail. Our driver was asking them to repark as there were two or three big 4WDs loading 15 female tourists (namely "Aunties"). After the tents, we crossed a river over the metal bridge with its bent fence "opened wide".

4th obstacle:  The incoming road after passing the 4WD campers was blocked by fallen trees.. how ar? I doubted if we could cross?? Our driver waved his parang to chop the tree bark and in few minutes, the road was cleared.


650m - 1300m 5 hours include 1 hour break DAY 1:
Started hike at 1130am. First 1 hour trail was flat & gradual, next 3 hours steep hike average 250m per hour. There were full of leech and sandflies. Scores of sandflies attacking my face & hand (so was Shang) at the 1st campsite. It was raining heavy at 5.30pm when we were about to collect water. And rained again at 1230am with thunderstorm. Temperature 25 degree Celcius, but we shivered that nite, mostly due to strong wind and wet bed.

1300m - 2100m 8 hours 20mins include 1 hour lunch break & wrong turn DAY2:
Started hike at 930am. I prayed to God that the 2nd day suffer hike would not be raining heavy or at least to postpone till we reached campsite. It was tough cos we had to carry minimum 4.5L water (I carried 4L as I can retain water for long hours) for 8 hours on the trail that were mostly steep especially the first 2 hours. It was a backbreak ascend with 17kg rucksack, so I took slow climb.. We found the 1st giant pitcher that we eagerly look for, finally. Ben was ahead of us and not seen or heard though we called him as we took Hi-5 for photo with Nephenthes pitcher and lunch. I took quick shot & bite, leaving the rest to look for Ben, and 10 minutes later found him making campfire at Kem Bulat. The altitude was 1650m. After half an hour of another photo session at Kem Bulat (we found tennis ball at a tree branch there that a blogger quoted the place as Kem Bulat), we made a right turn to one of 5 routes. The route brought us to beautiful mossy land, and 10 minutes later Ben realised it was a wrong route and turned back. He did not notice there was a raffia marker to mark the correct route.

Woo & Shang saw a fresh, young giant pitcher in bright, pinkish red. It rained heavy for an hour throughout our 4th hour steep climb, and it gave me strength instead of despair cos the thought backbreaking for 8 hours mademe feel like want to give up. The team waited at each break stops and PP Hor swept me, so it was encouraging mentally to hike. We also found an animal footprint near the boulder. And soon, we passed a number of rock boulders in last 2 hours at altitude 1850m and above. 

Everyone was excited as we were 300m away to peak. We kept close to each other as the trail has many obstacles to climb and crawl due to fallen trees. Ben used a lot of energy to chop clear the route, and at altitude 1950m, we took a Hi-5. I saw a bunch of white orchids at where we were resting. As we continued trekking, the trail was softer and the air was cooler. There were many yellow board markers at the trees to direct us to the peak, taking us 45 minutes trek.

Finally, we came upon a trigonometry marking G. Benom and its surrounding were soft, black mud even underneath it! I did not see anything nice around, so there must be a peak viewpoint. On the left of trigo, is the clean, flat campsite "down there". I went down, and followed trail that brought me to a secondary campsite as belowmentioned photo. A further trek took me to open peak viewpoint. We were excited and relieved, that our ordeal was over (not yet 3rd day, and rewards of sunrise would come first!). It was 6.20pm when I arrived, but we were waiting for a last person cum sweeper, PP Ho. Katak mentioned he brought tripod. What?? Cannot be lah... And he really did when he finally appeared!

At 7-8pm, we quickly set our tents and hammock at chilly campsite. The weather was cold, misty and it drizzled. My fingers shivered tying and untying the hammock & flysheet. For dinner, I cook pasta at 9.00pm but vomitted. Earlier I had felt uneasy. I confirmed that I have caught chills, so I took mushroom soup, Chef PP Ho's long beans with raw onions & MILO instead. Still cold though under my fly, so I made a small fire out of 2 fuel tablets (there was no dry branches around) to warm my hands and wet sleeping bag. By the time I am done changing, dinner and doing business, it was 1130pm! A late sleep but thank God, there was small rain at 1230am (no storm or strong wind.) Temperature was still at 25 degree Celcius but it was less chilly than the wet nite on Day 1.

2100m - 650m 9 hours include 1 hour lunch break DAY 3:
I woke up at 1.30am couldn't sleep till 3am. The weather getting colder, and I looked at my watch several times to make sure I woke up for sunrise in time. I woke up at 6.30am but found the campsite quiet. I walked to the peak viewpoint alone, and found PP Ho in shorts and short sleeve with his DSLR and ipad to trace Milky Moon and Stars. There were streak of orange sunrise, though the sky was dark. I turned back to campsite and woke everyone up. Sunrise view 630-730am. 

Started hike at 1000am. It was super duper challenging though my rucksack weighted about 12 kg, the bumpy 13 hills tested my stamina for 5 hours. Instead of expected 8 hours, we took 9 hours to come out (include 1 hour break). Hor & PP Ho who carried the most weight at 19 and 18+4.2kg DSLR each (and me at 14+kg, but I was steady) was exhausted. First 3 hours trail was terrible muddy, at 1650m & 1750m height. 13 hills trekking is crazy but had we took this trail for ascend, it gonna be super duper tougher than when descend as longer trails weighted at descend instead of ascend.

It rained when we left Kem Tikus, I was last behind and my team were in front unseen. I managed to trace the leftover paper markers among the ruins, as I paced quickly. It wasn't that hard to descend as earlier because now it was less hilly. I finally saw my teammates crossing at the river, so I followed suit, and soon I was out..walked towards them and saw Ben leg's bleeding... and he told me to check for leeches at my legs... ArGh... the tiny blood suckers must have caught us from the river! What a reward - receiving welcome hugs and kisses from leeches...~~

At Lata Berembun river, we cleaned up while checking for leeches sucking to our skin. Though I wore double socks and double pants, nevertheless I still had some leech attack that I suspected from the last river crossing at waist level (the current was moderately strong). We were even surprised to receive a pandan coconut each from the driver. Night came when we were drinking & eating coconut till full stomach. 

I wonder if it was dangerous to take 4wd in the dark by then. But the driver was experienced and my, I enjoyed the tranquil ride while my bodies was moving in respond to bumpy ride. I hear sounds of puddles, gibbons and insects amidst the darkness with a 4WD light in front of me. This ride reminded me of my 3D Motion Adventure at Genting Highlands. Soon we were in the open trail along plantation.. and I saw a beautiful, bright moon shining above the mountain range. It was awesome night.. 

G. Benum boasted its giant pitcher, and the 45mins 4WD ride is worth as an extreme off road ride with scenic landscape. And so is the beautiful campsite at summit. I rated it a memorable backpack hike worth also to attempt, despite the backbreaking and war with desperate leeches. ~~


1 comment:

  1. Hi,coud you tell me where to rent a 4WD?