"Never underestimate a mountain"

Mountains have always fascinated me. Once upon a time, I used to describe climbers and trekkers as people who have nothing better to with their lives. But it changed over time. As I have written before, every time I am on a mountain, I feel like I am a different person. It all started when I first stumbled up on Mount Bromo, Surabaya for totally different reasons. After that, I got hooked on the idea of being at a summit to watch sunrise. That's when I started searching for mountains which are doable with my level of fitness (beginner).
As with all good things, trekking a mountain needs time and money. So I was determined to find a mountain reasonably tough, but at the same time cheap and nearby, so that I can finish over a weekend. After spending some time in the net, I read about Mount Ophir (Gunung Ledang) in Johor, Malaysia. Information was hard to come by, numerous blogs talk about finishing Mt Ophir as a day trek. Since my main goal is to be at the summit for the sunrise (and of course, photography) I didn't want a day trek. That means, camping at the mountain before going up early in the morning.
Thanks a lot to my crazy friends, especially Jen, who was persistent to find all the details for such a trek, starting from the the contacts of the park office to what kind of diet we need during the trek. The itinerary she came up with was exactly what I wanted to have, a 2D1N with camping and lots of fun. Also, I wanted this trek to be done as a preparation to our upcoming Mount Rinjani trek (more on that on a later blog).

The rough itinerary from Singapore is as follows.

Day 1, Saturday
6:00 am: Start from home towards Woodlands checkpoint. Thanks to my dear friend Andrew, who picked us up from home and dropped us at the checkpoint.

7:00 am: That was our meeting point. After immigration we took an SBS 170 towards Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

The group that rocked Mt Ophir

8:30 am: Since my friend Yao had bought the tickets to Segamat earlier, we just had to reach Larkin terminal to board the bus. We had our breakfast there too. We reached the bus station around 11:30 (~3hrs). We asked around to find a nice restaurant (apparently very famous for their beef) for lunch. Then we got a taxi from the bus station to the park office, gate B for RM10. 

 Gunung Ledang Park Gate

The Gunung Ledang Park office and resort

Since Jenn had done a thorough job of arranging everything (including our camp, cooking stove etc), all we had to do was to fill up some forms with the details of the stuff we were carrying, get our camping stuff and walk on.

A guide explaining the route

2:00 pm Our guide was a bit late, so we started our hike around 2:00pm with another guide.

Starting our trek

Check Point 1

On our way through the jungle

 Using ropes

Our plan was to hike up till checkpoint 4 (CP4) and camp there.

Setting up our camps

4:30 pm We reached and put up the camps. After a short break, we went to the nearby twin waterfall. Its a steep descend and using slippers can get very slippery.

Relaxing by the waterfalls 

We had a great time in the waterfalls. The water was so cold that all the tiredness will go away with one dip there. We also went up to the bigger waterfalls, slightly up hill and stood directly under the falls to get a free back massage.

Cooking dinner by the camp fire

7:00 pm Reached back at the camp and started boiling the water. We had cup noodles and a lot of extra food. After dinner, we spent some more time chit chatting with others. By 9:00pm, I retired to the tent as I wanted to get as much rest as possible before the start of the summit hike

Day 2, Sunday
2:00 am: We woke up to find that it was drizzling. So our hike got delayed by an hour.
We started the hike through the dark and thick jungle around 3 am. Now all I could remember is the long hike through the steep and tough terrain, sometimes climbing almost 80 deg surfaces at KFC on tree roots, walking up top over rocks using ropes, dodging protruding rocks and tree branches etc. I couldn’t take any pictures.

5:00 am: We had our last stop for break here.

6:00 am: As usual, I had to rush the last 20 minutes to reach the summit in time to get the sunrise. The path was narrow and getting crowded with people posing for photographs. However, I managed to reach up top with enough time for me to set up my gear. Even though we were still under the clouds, we got a gorgeous sunrise. People rested for around and hour (except me, who was busy clicking)

 One of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen

The group

For the record - Yeah, we did it

8:00 am: Started our journey back through another “supposedly easier” route. It was just another treacherously long route through thick forest. The only good thing was, we were protected from the sun at all times due to the thick foliage.

I never thought the supposedly easier path will look like this

Using all fours to climb down

Yeah, we had enough water supply from the springs.

Another 40 more grueling minutes to our camp 

Preparing quick lunch

11:00 am We reached back our camps, had an hour of rest, took a quick bath in the river nearby and had our lunch.

2:00 pm: We started our journey back from CP4

4:00 pm: Reached the park entrance, had a quick shower and boarded our van (thanks to Yao who arranged it) back to SG. On our way back to SG, we had a short stop for our dinner.

8:00 pm: Reached back home with lots of great memories (& photos) and the satisfaction of bagging yet another mountain.

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