Mount Ulu Semangkok & Mount Gap

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 2.2 km. 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 forest. The mist that would roll in every now gave the entire scene an almost ethereal feel.

A cobra lily (Arisaema sp.)

The summit of Mount Ulu Semangkok (elevation : 1394 m) 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 metre of so before the summit that branched off to the right and led to a small unobstructed clearing that was carpeted with Matonia ferns (Matonia pectinata). Matonia ferns seem to sprout in open areas with light shade and thin soil, and have, in A.R Wallace's words, "large spreading palmate fronds on slender stems six or eight feet high". These ferns were abundant during the Mesozoic era (from 66- to 250-million years ago) and lived on every continent. These days they are limited to South-East Asia and have only four extant species.

Matonia ferns (Matonia pectinata)

Despite the view being relatively unobstructed, the mist made the views less than impressive. The path that branched off to the left led 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). We began to make our way back just after 12:30, feeling satiated and fairly content.

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Mountains of Malaysia