Mount Tok Nenek (Single)
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.
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.
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 giant millipede (Order : Spirostreptida). We also spotted small and moist red orbs emerging from some of the plants. The orbs turned out to be an obligate parasite called fungus root (Balanophora fungosa). Fungus roots, unlike their name, are not actually fungi but are rather seed plants. They do not contain any chlorophyll however, and instead grow on the roots of trees in order to 'steal' nutrients from their hosts.
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!