These two words appear innocuous when I first came across the name of the waterfall in a local hiking group website. I have never been to this waterfall until October 2014, and I got more than I bargained for from this hiking trip in Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia.
It turned out to be an intense hiking experience as we trekked through the treacherous rainforest and river crossings to the Cemerong waterfall and back to the base camp. The hike up towards the summit through the jungle started well at first, though we soon found it tiring and tricky to navigate the steeper slopes along the narrow trails that were criss-crossed with tree roots. Upon finally reaching near the summit around early afternoon, we stopped to rest and eat lunch and watch with admiration at close quarters how the waterfall flows from the top down the mountainside. Just as we started to pack up and head back, it began to rain torrentially, and the already slippery moss-covered or algae-covered ground became even more challenging. We were glad to have brought along gloves and raincoats or ponchos, which were perfect for such wet weather conditions. Our progress slowed to a crawl on many parts of the track as we had to gingerly take one step at a time, so as not to trip over the protruding tree roots and lose our balance, especially when we were climbing up or down steep slopes. It was also a wonder how we made it across the river (with the help of ropes) back to the other side, as the river had become swollen from the rain and the water level came up to around knee level at some points during our crossing.
Before long, it became dark in the dense forest as night fell, and we were still some unknown distance from the base camp. The trails weren’t always obvious or well marked, and we decided to put our whistles and torch lights or headlamps to good use. At some points, some of us were lagging behind, and if not for the whistles, we probably would have lost contact with one another in the shroud of darkness in the forest. Strange sounds from nocturnal creatures in the rainforest began to ring out in the silent air from time to time, adding to the whole surrealistic atmosphere. We summoned every last reserve of our energy to persevere throughout the journey and kept going forward, and it was only when we finally reached the stony main path that leads to the base camp that we collectively breathed a sigh of relief.