I finally did it!
No .. it’s not that! Or the other thing. Or that thing I was thinking to do .. hmm there are still a lot of things that I have not done yet.
I finally tried hiking!
Thanks to the friend who has been gracious with his repeated invitation, I decided to take up the opportuinity to try a little bit of hiking for myself this past weekend. Honestly I was a bit worried that this particular friend of mine had swore off trying to invite me to join his hiking group given that I have declined his invitation twice before. That’s why I was very grateful that he did which gave me the opportunity to check that activity out in line with the goals that I have set up for myself this year.
First obstacle to overcome was waking up very early in the morning. I am by nature not a morning person. It takes me at least 15 minutes and 3 hits on the snooze button to get me out of bed especially when it’s 5 am in the morning. Good thing that I have packed all that I needed to bring along the night before or else I would definitely have left some things behind that morning. After a quick shower and breakfast, I took a bus to the Asia Jaya LRT station where I was suppose to meet him at 7 am. Fortunately I did not have to wait long for the bus and actually reached the meeting point at 6:45 am.
My friend picked me up not long after and we were on our way to the Bukit Gasing Educational Park which is located in the heart of Petaling Jaya. I have heard of the place before but always thought that it was located outside of KL. I never imagined that such a place existed in the middle of a long established residential area. That just goes to show how much small things like this can be a pleasant surprise for me since I have been living close by the area almost all my life. It took someone from another country to show me that it was there!
We waited for a little bit before the rest of the group arrived at the base of the trekking route. It was just 5 of us that Sunday which consisted of 3 group regulars and 2 newbies, myself and 1 other person, who would be joining them for the first time. I was a bit apprehensive in the beginning since I was not sure what to expect. The last time I went hiking was in Janda Baik Forest Reserve back when I just finished my college prep school and I was definitely in much better shape then than I am now. I was also unsure if the regulars meant that they would be running all the way through the trek route ala the Hash House Harriers which would definitely scare me off.
Thankfully, running was not in the books that day, unless of course one wanted to (not me … no thank you). In deference to the newbies, the group decided to choose the “milder” course that they feel that we could managed on our first time out. Of course, “milder” was quite subjective when it came to this group of people gauging by their fitness levels so I wasn’t that convinced but I was determined to go through it. I would not know my own capabilities if I don’t push myself and this was a golden opportuinity to try it in the safety of a group that I was sure would be looking out for me.
The course started fairly easily at first then became a series of increasingly challenging climbs using both man made steps set in the ground as well as natural steps created by conveniently located rocks and roots. I initially found myself struggling to keep pace with the lead (yeah you … geez you were really moving that morning) but I soon realized plus was told that I didn’t have to. I should go on my own pace and there will be someone bringing up the back so the group didn’t get separated too far. Once I started to get the hang of tromping around in the secondary forest at Bukit Gasing, I found my own pace that I could handle and occasionally push to raise to the next level.
The trek itself was fairly varied. We went up and down through clearly marked paths that was surprisingly was not as slippery that I had thought given the rains that came down the night before. Some of the slopes were fairly easy to go up while there were a few which presented much more of a challenge. The one that I was most excited during the hike about was the one that had an almost 70 degree incline that was the most difficult to go up. I definitely felt the burn in my calves, hamstrings and glutes trying to climb up that steep incline which was much more intense than any workout I had in the gym for the same muscle group.
Needless to say, I was huffing and puffing so loudly that I’m sure that I would scare off any animals within a 2 mile radius of the area with the sounds of my labored breath. I was soaking with sweat from top to toe but I was really enjoying the experience. I was outdoor enjoying the fresh air that I rarely get to and I was in the company of supportive people to always checked back to make sure that you were doing ok. The trek was also filled with the sound of people wishing others “Good Morning” as they pass each other which added to the surreal feeling of it all. We had people of all ages, young and old, all there to enjoy their surroundings and work out a good sweat while doing it. This provided me with a feeling of camaraderie that was unique to the experience which added another layer to be cherished.
When I reached the end of the trek, I found myself feeling both elated that I’ve accomplished something new that morning and hopeful of doing it again sometime soon when I get the chance. I’ve proved to myself that I was again able to do something that I thought I could not and I gained something new from the experience. I would definitely set new goals for myself in terms of pace the next time I go on this hike but I know not to rush it. Maybe do that when I get in better condition and more familiar with the trek. I also met a set of new people that I could add to my list of acquaintances which is always good to do in my book.
After the hike, we walked back to where the cars were parked but not before stopping to watch a whole troop of wild monkeys coming out in search of food by the roadside. We proceeded after that to a nearby mamak place to have breakfast which gave me another opportuinity to bond with the group. Leaving after breakfast that Sunday morning, I was fully convinced that hopefully I would be able to do it again with the great company I had that morning. The whole experience was not only something that I could cross off my list of things to do this year but also an eye opening experience of finding out something that I could enjoy doing on a free weekend.
Unfortunately the Bukit Gasing Educational Park is currently being threaten by developers who planned to clear part of the land for property development. The path that I hike through on that Sunday may not be there for long and everyone should take the opportuinity to enjoy it while it’s still there. Better yet, one could get involved with efforts to conserve the area against developer encroachment which I unfortunately did not get details of how to. I saw some notices at the entrance to the park so I believe that the details on how we can help should be listed there.
My first Sunday hike through Bukit Gasing Educational Park would definitely rank in one of the more memorable things I did in 2008. It’s still early though but I can say that it is still one of the most memorable things I did this month at least. I would definitely recommend it to other who like me initially thought that they would never be able to survive it. You’ll be surprised at what a little bit of determination and support from a great set of people can do for you.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I finally did it!