Q: What do C2R and GEAR volunteers do upon the completion of a successful season?
A: Why, they get themselves all beat up on a 6-hour hike through the wilderness of Gunung Ledang National Park, of course!
This was a purportedly relaxing Volunteer Appreciation Hike organised by Prem Kumar for the Care2Run and GEAR volunteers, to thank us for our time and efforts. Yep, relaxing and easy for Prem and a battalion of Spartan soldiers, maybe.
Still, the great company and breathtaking scenery made up for the physical exertion and wrong turns.
I last visited Gunung Ledang 6 years ago during our climb to the summit following the Malaysian Nature Society AGM. I had mentioned even then that the National Park may soon be closed to hikers and the public. This proved to be true, and now the public no longer has access to it. Perhaps it is for the best, so that the local ecosystem may be better protected.
The plan was to hike using the Tangkak trail up to Kolam Gajah instead. We came prepared with a picnic in our backpacks.
Hamming it up in the parking lot.
Smaller waterfalls at the lower levels.
We don't want to be assholes like the Hash House Harriers who leave bits of paper all over the trail. We marked our trail using only flour. We also picked up litter all the way down from the trail.
A well-camouflaged walking stick insect.
Orange bracket fungus.
Stopping by a rainbow-filled waterfall to stock up on rainbows. Cheesy photos seemed to be the order of the day here.
We arrived at Kolam Gajah, a spawning ground for Ikan Tengas (Copper Mahseer) and Ikan Kelah (Mahseer), after a 2-hour hike.
We prepared lunch for the hungry hordes at the picnic area. I helped to slice beans and other vegetables. So happy to have the two dudes cooking for us.
Prem cooked a huge saucepan of vegan aglia olio with four-angled beans just for me! It was delish. Look how stoked I am. Everyone asked to have a taste of my pasta. I ended up with less than half a plate but it was still a sizeable portion, and very satisfying. Very grateful and touched. I haven't had a man cook for me in months.
Time for some post-lunch shenanigans. Some of the others swam or splashed each other with the icy cold water from the waterfall. I decided to play with the fish spawn. It was fantastic. I stood there and waved my arms and said: "Come to me, my loyal subjects!" and the fish totally swam to me and watched me, as if in a trance. I have no idea why they would bother listening to me at all but it was very funny. Could they sense that I wouldn't hurt them? Or maybe they were curious and have no fear of humans in the first place. They couldn't very well be expecting food since not many people come here.
Time to hike back down.
I somehow got a long bamboo splinter in the ball of my left thumb and tried to remove it by making a incision in my flesh. Prem came to the rescue and got it out for me. Thanks, buddy!
We got back to the foot of the hill within 6 hours of when we first started climbing (this includes the 1.5-2 hour lunch and picnic break), unloaded all our filled rubbish bags at the rubbish disposal area, showered in the horrible rundown public restrooms, played a round of coconut football at the car park and had dinner in Tangkak Town before heading back to the city.
It was a perfectly enjoyable day trip and microadventure, and I hope we get to go on many more microadventures together!