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Mount Ulu Semangkok & Mount Gap


Difficulty Rating : 3.4 / 10.0 (Class 4 - Fairly Straightforward)


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Mount Ulu Semangkok


Mount Ulu Semangkok is located in the Ulu Tranum Forest Reserve that lies in-between the states of Selangor and Pahang. A lot of people seem to mistake Mount Ulu Semangkok for Mount Semangkok which is a completely different mountain with a summit that lies at a much higher altitude and a trail that makes for a much tougher trek. The trail that we took leads to the summit of another mountain called Mount Gap, which lies at an altitude of 1183m, before continuing on to the summit of Mount Ulu Semangkok (elevation : 1394m). 

Getting There

The start of the trail lies at the side of the road just before the Gap, which is a base station where the road branches off to the windy 8km narrow road that leads up to Fraser's Hill. The trail entrance is somewhat hidden and very inconspicuous and will probably be hard to locate unless accompanied by someone who has done the trek before. The GPS coordinates for the start of the trail are 3.690908,101.749572 and it lies just opposite an old abandoned house just before the structure known as the 'GAP Resthouse'.


Location of the start of the trail

The group that had gathered was fairly large (consisting of 25 people) and was lead by a veteran trekker called MK Rahman from the Facebook group Hiking & Camping Around Malaysia and with whom I had trekked with before. We set off at 09:13 just after taking a group photo and made very slow progress (almost to the point of constantly stopping and starting) due to the sheer size of the group combined with the narrowness of the trail. Some of the trekkers found the inclination and the terrain to be difficult as the mud made the path that was already criss-crossed with bamboo shoots (Subfamily: Bambusoideae) somewhat slippery. The Timberland Earthkeepers Cadrad Leather Waterproof Boots that I was wearing had very thick soles with deep treads that were perfect for this kind of terrain. 

Ulu Semangkok Trailhead

The initial steep section of the trail that was abundant with bamboo shoots seemed to come to and end after about 10 minutes or so, which must have been a relief for the shooter who had to hack away a path with the machete that he was armed with. Bamboo is known to be one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth (because of their subterranean rhizomes) with some of its 1000+ species having been found to grow at rates of up to 100cm in 24 hours! The terrain changed to the more common lowland equatorial (evergreen) rainforest that is found throughout Malaysia. The inclination carried on however and after 1.12km (which took us only 42 minutes to cover even with the slow pace), lead us to the peak of Mount Gap (elevation : 1183m) where the group stopped to regroup. The peak was basically a small clearing without a view, that was dominated by a stone marker right in the middle of the clearing that functioned as a marker for the boundary between the states of Selangor and Pahang. We also met another smaller group at the peak that went by the name of SOM trekkers who were also waiting to regroup.

Ulu Semangkok Sign

360 Panorama

Next : Mount Ulu Semangkok & Mount Gap (Part 2)


Ups & Downs


The faster half of the group continued on our way to Mount Ulu Semangkok at 10:20 as the rest of the group were taking too long. The trail immediately began to descend (as one would undoubtedly expect) after the summit, and was  followed by a series of flats, descents and ascents that carried on for a further 2.2km. The pace from this point on was still slow and relaxing and I was able to immerse myself in the sights and sounds of the dense jungle. We happened upon large areas that were swathed in moss and fungi and would occasionally come upon small pitcher plants (New World pitcher plants (Family: Sarraceniaceae) since they grew from the ground instead of from tendrils at the tips of leaves) that dotted the side of the trail. The mist that would roll in every now gave the entire scene an almost ethereal feel.

Ulu Semangkok Pitcher Plants Ulu Semangkok Trail

The summit of Mount Ulu Semangkok (elevation : 1394m) was reached soon after at 11:55 (total of 2 hours 16 minutes of trekking from the start of the trail). There was a small section with an almost vertical drop-off followed almost immediately by a vertical ascent just before the summit. The section was equipped with some thin ropes however for the purpose of assisting the ascent (and descent).

There was a divergence to the path a meter of so before the summit that branched off to the right that lead to a small unobstructed clearing that was almost carpeted with ferns (Class: Pteridopsida) on one side. Despite the view being relatively unobstructed, the mist made the views less than impressive. The path that branched off to the left lead to what Malaysian trekkers call a 'beirut', basically a small metal structure in the shape of a square pyramid (a pyramid having a square base), and as the rest of the trekkers arrived and regrouped, I made my way further down the trail that led to a simple maze of sorts of interlinking paths surrounded by the temperate mossy forest (also known as cloud forests). At 12:34 after having delved into our provisions, we made our way back, feeling satiated and very content.

Sphagnum Moss

Fields of Ferns

Ulu Semangkok Triangulation Point

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

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4

The information from the Suunto Ambit for this trek 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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