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Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, and Mount Baha

Baha's Camp - Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, and Mount Baha - Stong Waterfall

Hiking to the Peaks


The group had split with Taner, Jenna and I eager to hike to the three peaks whilst the others decided to stay behind and explore the waterfalls. By the time the three of us set off from Baha Camp it was already 10:26. We made our way to the crossroads that lay just outside the campsite quickly to avoid any guides that may still be lingering around the camp just in case they tried to prevent us from heading up to the summits 'unguided'. Once we arrived at the crossroads, we turned left following the signpost that said 'Gunung Stong. Gunung Ayam'.


Difficulty Rating : 4.6 / 10.0 (Class 6 - Fairly Challenging)


*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.

Stong Signboards

The trail began with a gentle incline of about 20-30 degrees with a yellow (and occasionally almost pinkish) clay-like terrain that plateaued after about 20 minutes or so just before a short descent to the 'Sungai Rantai' river that was used as the first checkpoint (CP1). The combination of the several relatively deep pools along the river, the crystal clear water, and the humidity made the thoughts of just jumping in very tempting. Having only just covered 820m, we quickly discarded the notion of swimming and proceeded along the trail. 

We passed through several sections that had heavy bamboo growths as primates hooted in the distance. The sounds were somewhat similar to the sounds that are made by the Dusky Langurs (Trachypithecus obscurus) that can be found found along the Tabur trails but after checking (after the fact) I found that the two primates that can be found in this region are the Banded Leaf-Monkey (Presbytis femoralis) and the Southern Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina). The trail lead to a clearing of ferns after about 45 minutes of trekking (distance of 1.88 km) before opening up into a cleamring that could potentially be used as a campsite for up to 20 people, that could only be the 'Benta Balak' campsite. Approximately 10 minutes of trekking after this clearing (2.24 km) brought us to the the main junction with the right turning proceeding up to Mount Ayam, and the left to Mount Stong. Interestingly enough on the way up we found the left turning to Stong barred by a long log of sorts, whereas on the way down from Stong several hours later we found the right turning to Ayam barred instead with the same log. 

Stong River Crossing

After taking the right turning that continued on Northwards, we found our pace severely reduced as we were caught behind a large group that was progressing very slowly. Fortunately we were very close to the river crossing at CP3 (Sungai Baha) and were able to overtake them here. The trek down from the crossroads to CP3 had taken us approximately 15 minutes (distance of 2.39 km and an elevation of 842m). We stopped for a while at the river crossing as some of the guides asked us a few questions. They seemed concerned at first until I mentioned the fact that Taner had traversed the Titiwangsa range alone from Cameron Highlands to Mount Yong Belar and Mount Korbu and out through Ipoh in only 2 days. The fact that we also took just over an hour to reach CP3 from Baha Camp and that we had two GPS devices amongst us seemed to pacify any fears or concerns that they may have had remaining. We followed the river due West for 20 meters or so before turning right once again to head back into the jungle.

Stong Fungi

Stong Trees

Next : Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, and Mount Baha (Part 2)


The Peaks of Mount Baha & Ayam


The incline from this point increased suddenly for a short span of climbing up and over roots before leveling off slightly before the trail began to veer North-West. As we reached an altitude of about 1400m, I noticed a marked increase in the prevalence of epiphytic plants such as moss. We reached the rather unremarkable peak of Mount Baha (elevation : 1450m) after covering a distance of 4.47 km which took 2:35'34. 

Mount Baha Peak

D7K_8183 Since the peak of Mount Ayam was only 700m away (20 minutes or so of trekking) from that point, we continued on after a short break and found that there was a viewpoint to the right just after the peak of Mount Baha with views of Mount Che Tahir (one of the peaks on the G100 list) that lay to the North with it's rather conspicuous rocky patch on one of it's faces. 

There were a few trails around the 4.83 km mark that branched off and diverged from the main trail and seemed to head in the same direction that we were to take on our way back that lead down the saddle of Mount Ayam and up the side of Mount Stong. There were also numerous smaller trails that diverged that could possibly be animal tracks, most of which seemed to converge back on the main trail after a short distance. Some of the larger paths had been blocked off by branches to ensure that trekkers didn't head down the wrong path by mistake.

There was also supposed to be an LWP (Last Water Point) somewhere between the two peaks of Baha and Ayam but we never managed to locate it. We found an area that could have potentially lead to the LWP but after following the trail that branched off for some distance, we only found small isolated pools of water (practically puddles) and nothing substantial. Pairs of Hornbills (Family: Bucerotidae) flew above us on several occasions but were hard to identify as only their black underside were visible. The noise that the flapping of their wings made suggested a fairly large wingspan which meant that they could easily have been from the Buceros genus.

We reached the peak of Mount Ayam (elevation : 1500m) after just over 3 hours of trekking (covering a distance of 5.25 km) and found to our dismay that the peak was just as unremarkable as the peak of Mount Baha had been. The only difference was an over-turned tree with exposed roots and a shattered green summit marker. 

Mount Ayam Peak

Mount Ayam Campground

The peak of Mount Ayam did not have enough flat ground for camping but we found soon after that continuing just 3 minutes along the trail would lead you to another much larger clearing that had obviously been used as a campsite before. 

Next : Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, and Mount Baha (Part 3)


Mount Stong


We made our way back to the crossroads where we turned right and began to head South down the saddle of Mount Ayam. We descended a total of 260m to reach the low-point of the saddle which had an altitude of 1239m after 3 hours 47 minutes of trekking and after covering a distance of 6.61km. The ascent began immediately after that amongst a tangle of trails that converged and diverged as we made our way up Mount Stong. The name 'Stong' is reputed to have been derived from the word 'stone' and that the Kelantan manner of pronouncing words that end with an 'n' has caused the word to be spelt with an 'ng' instead. 

The peak of Mount Stong (elevation : 1420m) was reached after 4 hours and 15 minutes of trekking (7.29 km) and consisted of a large dome-shaped granite boulder that had apparently been dated to more than 500 million years old. Jenna and I almost walked past it had it not been for Taner who had gone on ahead and had let off a snicker as we passed underneath.

The climb up the boulder was done using little niches in the rock for footholds and exposed roots for handholds. The summit itself was a bare patch of earth surrounded by a ring of strange trees with twisted branches and was surprisingly serene (despite the lack of a view) that we all just lay back for a while to take in the atmosphere.

Mount Stong Peak Mount Stong Trail

The descent from the peak began with large swaths of  flat stony slabs that eventually made way for tangles of roots. At this point I was almost devoid of water as our previous attempts at locating the LWP had been unsuccessful, and as such water was one of the only things on my mind as we quickly made our descent. After approximately 8.90 km we fortunately (and to my immense relief) came across a small stream where we all stopped for a while to restock our water supply and re-hydrate. 

D7K_8311

Mount Stong Cave

We came upon the cave where we had intended to spend the night in the original plan (which was known as 'Gua Bogor') after having trekked a distance of 9.06km. The cave was not actually a cave as it was just a space in-between two very large boulders that were propped up on each other. There was also a river running to the side of the so-called 'cave' which would have made it an ideal place for camping. 

We reached the original junction between Mount Stong and Mount Ayam after 5 minutes of trekking from the cave (which funnily enough now had the Mount Ayam fork barred), and reached Baha Camp half an hour after that. The total time spent trekking was 5 hours and 57 minutes and we had covered a total distance of 11.29 km.

Next : Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, and Mount Baha (Part 4)


Overview


I also noticed that there was a gross overestimation of trekking times (and difficulties!) from point to point from both the guides as well as online sources. For example,

1) Baha Camp to Sungai Rantai (CP1) was estimated to take 60-90 minutes but it took us only 22 minutes.
2) Sungai Rantai (CP1) to Benta Balak (crossroads) was estimated to take 60-90 minutes but it took us only 25 minutes.
3) Benta Balak to Sungai Baha (CP3) was estimated to take 60-90 minutes but it took us only 15 minutes.
4) Baha Camp to the peak of Mount Ayam was estimated to take 6 hours but it took us only 3 hours.

The times that were given must have been based on the times that the slower, unfit trekkers take. I just wanted to point this out as the estimated times that were given were so conservative as to be almost unrealistic. 

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

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Movescount-047

The information from the Suunto Ambit for the trek up can be found on my Movescount Page.

For those who also have a Suunto GPS device and would like to use the move as a route, please click on the following link : 

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Mountains of Malaysia
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