When my hiking family and I agreed to attempt this hike, it was because of the self-drive option-we were assured to beat the 9 p.m. curfew. Having been to Elephant Hill before and the uncertainty of mountain weather, the group had agreed to a turn-around-time of 1:30 p.m.. Whether one had summit by this time or not, they had to turn back.
Early rise and we head off by 5:20 a.m., getting to our destination 2 hours later. The first team arrives and we hit off for the trails by 7:45 a.m.. It’s 10 degrees but it warms up as we start our trek, despite the perpetual raindrops. On a normal day, this would be a slow hike, allowing hikers to acclimatize due to the high altitude. We however had to keep moving and only took a short break an ‘Energy Point’ before getting into the bamboo forest.
It is a daunting hike as we slide our way through the wet floor only stopping at the ‘Point of Despair’ to re-energize. I was tired and the thought of the descent kept creeping in my mind, giving me cold chills. The last time I was here, I stepped on a slippery rock and landed on my behind – for a week I was in utter pains. The most strenuous bit for me is normally from the Point of Despair to ‘The Tail’ because of the steep elevation. Taking in as much oxygen as I can amidst controlled breaths, I keep moving. I have a heavy bag which is a mistake as it weighs me down.
Hubby takes my bag after The Tail because high altitude and I are not friends- it was a fast paced ascent. We keep resting as often as my body called for it and summit by 12:10 p.m.. I’m exhausted but happy at the same time because we beat our turn-around-time by over an hour. One of the signs of mountain sickness is lack of appetite. I skip lunch, sip on orange juice and after a few photos, we start our descent.
On our way back, we meet a lady who fell and injured her knee. We administered first aid and she’s willing to keep moving to the summit. It is not okay that she is injured and by herself . We say our pleasantries and move on. With the wrong shoes and socks, the descent can leave your toes screaming. We have our gloves on as we get into the Bamboo Forest in anticipation of the ‘battle’. To avoid sliding and falling, you have to hug the bamboo trees and clutch onto vegetation that can hold your weight :-). We run our way through the thicket after exiting the wet bamboo, completing the hike at 3:28 p.m.
Tips to Hikers
- You can self-drive. A 4WD car is recommended due to the rough road leading to the hill. With mountain weather, rain is normally unannounced.
- Carry your gloves. It can get extremely cold as you ascend and they also come in handy at the bamboo.
- Do not overload your day bag. That weight will weigh you down.
- Hydrate hydrate hydrate. This will help ease any altitude sickness.