Initially, I wasn’t planning on visiting the Cameron highlands, and that’s not because I was underestimating that area’s beauty – no, by any chance – but because I had in mind a far more extraordinary great adventure. I was planning on conquering the summit of the neighboring Mount Korbu, a wild mountain which receives almost no visitors. I had done quite some job the preceding days to prepare myself, practically and mentally, for that great solitary expedition, and a fair morning, bearing my backpack on my shoulders filled up with all the necessary supplies, and an exceptionally merry mood into my spirits, I was approaching the foot of that imposing mountain. However, as my fortune was not that high as my spirits on that particular day, I didn’t make it any further than the foot of the mountain due to… let’s say force majeure. I had heard of a special permission being necessary in order to get to the mountain, which of course I didn’t possess, nor, for various reasons, would I take any pains to acquire it. So my expedition finished in its very early stage when I got caught by the rangers while trying to sneak myself by the last traces of civilization on the way to the trailhead. I tried to be bold against them, I beseeched them, I tried to bribe them… nothing worked out. So, with my mood razed and my nerves enraged, I had to start walking back.
An alternative was needed, so I chose to head to the Cameron highlands and mount Irau instead. After a lot of walking, changing three buses, and some long waiting intervals in between, around 6 o’ clock in the evening I was getting off the last bus at Brinchang village, located up in the highlands at 1500 m of elevation. It would soon be dark, so, without lingering at all, I got the trail which starts at the east verge of the village and heads north towards Brinchang peak. The trail is a very easy one, going up quite smoothly for the greatest part, only becoming a bit steeper at its last part. Moving fairly fast while venerating and contemplating the marvels of the jungle, after about an hour I had made it to the top of mount Brinchang, at 2032 m. There I encountered a big enclosure hosting some communication installations. The trail continues for a while along the fence till it reaches the gate of the facilities, at which point a paved road, coming from the opposite direction, terminates. There I saw an old metallic watchtower to which’s top I climbed to get a glimpse of the magnificent view around and the sunset. And I was quite lucky I managed to do this, as some ten minutes after I got onto the tower’s top, a fierce wind hustled from the east and cast a mantle of thick fog over the jungle, which would not allow me to see the sun again till I finally got down late the next day.
For that night I found refuge at a little kiosk by the facilities entrance. I put my tent there and I slept heavily until early in the morning, when I got woken from a group of young Chinese people babbling and bawling right outside my tent – Or that’s when I got partly woken, I didn’t wake up fully until one of them started to jolt my tent shouting “hee buddy, hee buddy!”, whereupon I couldn’t help it not becoming frustrated and get out to oust them away… so to say, impolitely. Anyway, I got my mind working properly and I started to prepare myself to leave. While I was enjoying my breakfast I got the company of a very nice Malay man, who was working at the facilities and came to inform me that it was not allowed to camp where I had, and that I should pack up quickly before any authority happen to come, whereat I’d put myself at risk of getting fined. I followed his advice and then we stayed there talking merrily of various stuff till I finished my coffee and I had to say goodbye.
I put all my rainproof gear on and I left that kiosk for the rainy jungle. I followed down the road for some 700m till it led me to of the beginning a boardwalk crossing through the mossy forest, where various eerie, bulky, ancient, tropical trees were constricted by abundant masses of fat moss, the greenishness of which was glittering through the blur of the white haze. That part of the forest was one of the most spectacular forests I have ever seen in my life, I may say, indeed, the magical qualities of which may allure one’s fantasy into hallucinogen reveries. The boardwalk finished soon and that’s where the trail to peak Irau starts. The trail is quite obvious and generally an easy one, though it is imperative to use hands, so to grasp rocks and roots to climb up the steeper parts, which coincide quite often as the trail goes continually up and down throughout its entire length. Though it was mainly the rain, which kept pouring steadily that day, that rendered the whole thing much harder than it actually was, as it was making every surface slippery except the few even parts which it had turned into deep puddles. Combining swiftness and cautiousness the best I could, I, after all, made it to the top about two hours after I left the kiosk. Unfortunately, due to the fog, I didn’t get to see any view – which I bet would be amazing otherwise – nevertheless. It’s always a great feeling conquering a peak. I stayed up there about half an hour eating some snacks, smoking a cigarette and meditating while enjoying the privilege of having the peak for myself, and down I headed again.
After another couple of hours, I was back at the kiosk wherefrom I had started earlier that morning. There I lunched and I started descending the same way I had come up yesterday, which, according to the plan, should lead me back down in about an hour. However, the plan did not progress well, it turned out when, being in a state of absent-mindedness for some unknown period of time, I found myself facing a spatial vacancy from the rim of vertical cliff, whereupon I realized that I had been heading east instead of south for… who knows how long time. That wasn’t very bad in itself, but it became bad when I found out that the GPS was kaput under the dense forest-roof and the even denser fog. So, if I wanted to get out of there, I had to go traditional and use my INS (i.e. Intuitive Navigational System). Many routes I tried going back and forth and undertaking arduous climbs on the slippery muddy slopes, many times I found myself fighting against those damn bidding rope-like branches, and outpouring a profusion of coarse cursing against the ones bearing thorns…till at the end, after about two exhaustive hours, I had made my way back to the trail. An hour after I was finally back to the valley, where I got some fresh water from the stream and sat down staring at the sun, which just shone through a hole in the sky, and contemplating the contentment of yet another adventurous day.