Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bukit Kutu: A New Perspective In Hiking

Bukit Kutu directly translates to louse hill and when someone names a place after a tiny insect and a hill, it would be instinctive to think that it is an easy climb. 

Humbled By A Hill

The whole day hike will take about 7 to 8 hours to complete according to the information provided by the organizers. "No big deal", I said to myself since I've hiked a few mountains before that took about the same time so this ordeal should just be the same. You ascent, you reach the summit, you take a deep breath, you pat yourself at the back for a job well done, you take pictures, you descent, you eat a lot, end of story. I even stayed up late the day before the hike because I did not think that this hill needs a lot of preparation.

Halfway the trail, I realized that this is not the hill that I had in mind at all. Bukit Kutu resembles Mt. Cristobal's steep ascent but worse. A part of the trail was almost like a never ending assault, we even had to rest almost every 15 minutes to recover. Here I've had the most take fives I've ever had in a single day.

And the ascent was actually the easier part for me, the descent had always been my weakness and Bukit Kutu is no different. This is the first time I ever complained out loud. Though I think I had a better strategy in not slipping down, I found my knees wobblier than ever and I know that I'm losing balance not because I am scared to fall but because I am extremely tired. 

Much to my dismay, I found myself exhausted and questioning, "Am I not putting enough yoga hours? Am I getting old? Am I not good enough?"

Not The Hunger Games

The team that I went with are mostly men and when I do physically challenging activities with men, I have a tendency to be stubborn and to compete. I would rarely ask for assistance, I would try to keep a fast pace and appear lively even though I'm dying of exhaustion. Maybe it is my competitive self but I get this satisfaction when I outdo the opposite sex, now I know that it is not good.

Whenever the guy in front would reach out his hand to assist me in getting through an obstacle, I would feel slightly offended because I feel like I am being underestimated and I would hesitantly accept or completely reject the help. 

I started asking myself, why? Why am I refusing other people's help? Why do I feel like I am less of a person when I allow others to make my life a little bit easier? Why do I feel the need to compete and perform better than others?

Hiking is not a game where there should be winners and losers. It is a recreational activity to appreciate this amazing planet that we live in, to know that there is more to life than our office cubicle, to accept that we are vulnerable and small in the face of nature, and to bring people together and realize that we are interdependent.

A New Perspective

Bukit Kutu taught me that I should stop hiking and living life like a competition. It is okay to allow other people to help and take care of me. Doing so doesn't mean that I am a failure, it is just how life is. We all should help each other in reaching the summit and making our lives better. 

It is not who completes the trail first or who reaches the summit. The beauty of hiking and life is indeed in our personal journey, how we were able to go beyond our limits, how we were able to power through and learn in times of weakness, how we extend a helping hand. As they say in surfing, I think it could also be applied in hiking, the best hiker/surfer out there is the one having the most fun.

Ok enough of the emo.

Hike Tips

1. On the way up after crossing the river (without a bridge) you will encounter a fork, take the path to the right. The path to the left will also lead you to the Bukit Kutu trail but there will be more forks, the second group from our team took the left trail and got lost for an hour.

2. On the way back you will again encounter the most confusing fork that both have a ribbon marker. One path is more paved and the other is blocked by bamboos, both will lead to the river but I'd suggest you take the one in the left which is blocked by bamboos if you want to keep your shoes dry.

3. In my opinion, the trail is not properly marked and you will encounter a lot of forks along the way so do exercise caution if you are going here for the first time. 

4. Do not always trust the paved path. There is a part of the trail where you will have to crawl in a sort of a tunnel of fallen bamboo trees and at first you might think that it is the wrong path but it is indeed the right way.

5. Most of the trail is covered with trees so you won't be under the unforgiving sun except in the summit but because of the constant assault, this is a very tiring day hike. Make sure you bring enough food and drinks. 

P.S. I do not own any of the pictures in this article (I really should get a new camera).

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