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Mount Tok Nenek (Single)


The Descent


We began our descent at 09:30, and passed back through the mossy forest. This time we could actually see our surroundings. Epiphytes completely dominated this elevation, with large, thick layers of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp.) padding every surface, making everything feel soft and fluffy. The sun was still fairly low in the sky then and the rays produced magnificent beams of crepuscular light whenever they found an opening.

Crepuscular rays

Crepuscular rays

Tok Nenek epiphytes

Tok Nenek epiphytes

After approximately an hour of hiking, however, I noticed that the mossy forest had melted away (the altimeter on my Suunto Ambit gave a reading of 1600m). The descent had become steeper and the terrain more tricky, so we were forced to watch for footholds instead as we continued downwards. There were plenty of epiphytes still around, just different species from those found at higher elevations. A lot of them were much larger though, such as the ubiquitous birds nest fern (Asplenium nidus). The descent gradually tapered off as we met the plateau of the ridge-line. There were periodic gaps in the vegetation around here that allowed us to peer down to the canopy below, where we noticed plenty of colour patches of the late February blooms spotlighted by the splashes of sunlight whenever there was a break in the cloud-cover.

Colours of Tok Nenek

Colours of Tok Nenek

The relaxed pace of the descent allowed us to immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of the jungle, and allowed us to pay more attention to smaller organisms. Tiny green sprouts growing from their seeds were frequently seen on the forest floor, amongst scuttling arthropods, like the rusty millipede (Trigoniulus corallinus). We also spotted small and moist red orbs emerging from some of the plants. The orbs turned out to be Rafflesia sp. buds, an obligate parasite that possesses no leaves, roots or stems. In fact, they do not even photosynthesise, the process that nearly all plants use to produce energy, having lost the chloroplast genome at some point in its evolutionary history. Instead, they latch on to another species and steal all the nutrients from their host vine. The Rafflesia is probably best known for its tremendous size (some species having a petal-span of over one metre), as well as the terrible smell that the flower produces. The smell is an example of carrion mimicry, where the smell of rotting flesh attracts flies that aid in pollination. The flower takes up to nine months to emerge after pollination, but only lasts a week when they finally bloom.

Rafflesia Bud

Rafflesia Bud

It took us about two and a half hours to make the 3.3 km descent back down to camp and there was plenty of time to spare. We took our time having lunch and breaking camp and only set off after 2 hours at 14:45. We reached 'Kem Kicap' after an hour, and Simpang-Y an hour and a half after that. The pace was so slow on the descent that the final section was hiked in the dark. I don't think anyone was looking forward to the long drive home by then!

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

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The details for this part of the hike 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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