Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
|At the start of the hiking trail|
It takes quite a strenuous physical effort to get to the top. And the trail isn't meant for beginners. It's steep all the way up with only rocks and tree-roots as your steps. The group was queued up in a particular order before the hike began so that each could keep a track of the other. I was to be the second from the front. The 4 hour early morning train ride and the bare minimum sleep we all got the previous night did not stand in way of the excitement we all felt standing there.
Within about 30 minutes however, the excitement was over and I started feeling what any beginner would too on that trail - shortness of breadth and heavy palpitation. The 50L haversack was not helping either. I decided to take a break and drink some water, which by the way was to happen several times along the way, we were all sweating like pigs!
|And that's me! Queen of the Jungle! :D|
I can't stress enough on how much it helps to go with the right people! The support and encouragement and the numerous squeals of laughter I drew from my companions are what reduced the feat to a mere trifle. We took about 3 hours to reach the camp site.
The climb wasn't over because we were yet to reach the summit. Having pitched our tents and sheltered our luggage (it was about to rain), we started mounting the steel ladders and ropes that were to bless us with the most breathtaking view of our lives!
|The Summit (and it was raining!!)|
Later that evening, we had a delightful experience (calling it "dinner" isn't fitting enough). We had enough food with us to last us for a day and a half. With an assortment of noodles, rice, chicken nuggets, sausages, baked beans, soups, marshmallows and fish balls, we started putting together a decent meal. By now everyone was familiar with everyone else, it hardly needed any amount of coordination for us to work in sync. The dishes were being served around and sometimes fed by hand as and when they were prepared. That night those people felt closer than family.
The stomach's were full, the night was young. Some of us (including myself) climbed back to the summit for some star-gazing. The wind was at its ferocious best, while we were mere specks on those rocks. I was reminded of the movie horton hears a who! and of how little we were before the grand scheme of things. The sky was so clear and the stars were so bright, we laid down flat on those rocks and it felt like I could almost see the entire universe. It was an overwhelming and humbling experience.
|Our failed attempt at lighting those lamps (it was wayy too windy)|
We got back to the camp site around midnight, I was planning to wake up early in time to catch the sunrise next day so I slid into my tent and called it a day. I would be lying if I say it was a comfortable night. It was freezing cold and many of us did not carry our sleeping bags to avoid the weight. Result? I was curled up in a ball the whole time.
A little movement and noise from outside woke me up at around 6. Some of the people were up for sunrise-viewing. I had a tough time deciding if I should join them or go on sleeping for a few more hours. I finally gave into the temptation and dragged myself out of the cozy tent. We climbed up to the summit once again and...I'd say it was worth it :)
|The Early Risers|
|So happy I wasn't a lazy bum for once!!|
So around 8 am we got down to the camp site and started preparing breakfast for ourselves and the other lazy heads who were still sleeping. We had bread, nutella, canned tuna, rice balls, milo, sausages and all of last night's leftovers!
|On the mountain..or under the sea..nutella with us forever will be..lol|
By 10 am we had packed everything and were ready to start our descent. Now normally people would think that going down is easier. It is in the sense that you don't get as tired and it's faster but at the same time you have a lot more tendency to slip, fall, get hurt, scratch your knees, sprain your ankle or twist your elbow..I did nearly all of those, but it was all in the spirit of adventure, like wounds from the great war that people show off..haha
|This is me on my way down|
|This is me slipping|
|This is me finally reaching the start! YAY!|
There were shower facilities nearby (which I wasn't aware of earlier so I didn't have any spare clothes to change to), but we all got fresh, took cabs and treated ourselves to a well deserved KFC meal.
It was a short walk from there to the railway station, and then another 4 hours in the train back to Singapore. It's hard to recount everything that happened in this short journey, but it certainly gave me memories and friends that I'll cherish for a lifetime :)