Dos and don’ts in hiking


Mindful steps: Hikers climbing a steep slope up Bukit Wawasan in Puchong, Selangor, which is a popular hiking destination. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

IT WAS supposed to be a short hike up Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, for Derek Francis, 47, his wife and their two boys, aged 12 and 10.

But what was to be a 45-minute stroll turned into a two-hour ordeal when they got lost after Francis veered off their usual route.

“It wasn’t my first time hiking there. By taking a different trail, I was hoping we could enjoy more scenic views,” he recalled.

Francis said they only brought one bottle of water and no food, further compounding their panic.

Bukit Wawasan in Puchong, Selangor, is a popular spot among hikers. — Photos: ART CHEN, YAP CHEE HONG, CHAN TAK KONG and KK SHAM/The StarBukit Wawasan in Puchong, Selangor, is a popular spot among hikers. — Photos: ART CHEN, YAP CHEE HONG, CHAN TAK KONG and KK SHAM/The Star

Their luck turned when a dog approached them at a nearby stream.

“It wagged its tail as if telling us to follow it. After following it for about 10 minutes, we found ourselves at the trail leading to the hill’s entrance with other hikers,” he added.

Francis and his family were not the only ones who got lost during a hiking trip.

In recent years, many cases of missing hikers have been reported. While some were rescued, others were not so lucky. (See infographic).

Between 2018 and 2021, some 850 cases of missing hikers were recorded nationwide, according to a Forestry Department study.

The study titled “Management of Hikers in Peninsular Malaysia” reported 40 cases of injured hikers and 51 deaths, with the remaining having been found safe and uninjured.

Ensure enough supplies

Two regular hikers spoke to StarMetro about their experiences and the do’s and don’ts when hiking.

Avid hiker Adrihazim Rashid, 29, said bringing adequate food and water was important to keep one fuelled throughout a hiking trip.

Adrihazim, who is also chairman of Friends of Bukit Dinding (FoBD), a non-profit advocating for the preservation of the hill in Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur, regularly treks up hills and mountains in Malaysia as well as overseas.

“Staying hydrated is crucial to maintain your energy levels. Don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink water every five to 10 minutes.

“The amount of water you need to bring depends on the hiking duration. Generally, 500ml per hour is a safe bet,” he said.

Adrihazim also recommended that hikers pack snacks and electrolytes such as energy bars and energy drinks.

Adrihazim: Don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink water every five to 10 minutes.Adrihazim: Don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink water every five to 10 minutes.

He recounted a panicked situation when a friend passed out due to low blood sugar during a hike in Bukit Tabur, Gombak.

“Luckily, we managed to revive him after giving him some sandwich biscuits and isotonic drink,” said Adrihazim.

He also reminded hikers not to eat wild fruits in the jungle as it could cause an allergy.

Another hiker, Lee Seng Poh, 58, said keeping up one’s fitness prior to a hike was paramount.

He took up hiking as a way to stay fit after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

“Hiking can be physically taxing and those who want to do it should step up their exercise routine and be more consistent,” he said, adding that those who led a sedentary lifestyle tend to overestimate their fitness level.

Lee also said that finding hiking mates with the same fitness level was important to ensure everyone moved at the same pace.

He normally hikes in a group ranging from four to 15 people.

To get an idea of what to expect during a hiking trip, Lee suggested that hikers look up information about the location prior to their trip.

“YouTube is my go-to as it has plentiful information from other hikers on the hiking duration and trail conditions,” Lee added.

Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya attracts visitors and hikers across all age groups.Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya attracts visitors and hikers across all age groups.

Brush with supernatural

Apart from the physical and logistical challenges, some hikers are also wary of supernatural forces in the jungle.

In January 2017, a lost hiker rescued in Broga Hill, Kajang, related his experience of being “hidden” from people’s view.

Mohd Azarul Mukhriz Abd Rahman, then 20, was found by a rescue team after being lost in the jungle for seven days.

His uncle, who told the story to the media, said his nephew had refused to elaborate on his ordeal.

For Adrihazim, the presence of mystical entities such as orang bunian (supernatural beings resembling humans) should not be discounted.

“The jungle is home to myriad mysteries, which I believe are yet to be explained by science.

“Until logical explanations for them become available, it is best to remain vigilant and respectful when we are in the forest,” he said.

Lee echoed a similar view, citing his experience when hiking alone in Bukit Saga, Hulu Langat in Selangor, some years ago.

Lee says regular exercise is crucial to keep one’s fitness level prior to going on a hiking trip. — Photo courtesy of LEE SENG POHLee says regular exercise is crucial to keep one’s fitness level prior to going on a hiking trip. — Photo courtesy of LEE SENG POH

He had gotten lost despite being equipped with a GPS.

“I circled the same area for two hours and it felt like the air was getting heavier.

“It eventually dawned on me that I might have been restrained by something,” he said.

When Lee recalled a belief among his relatives that loud noise could drive away evil spirits, he lit up some firecrackers and was able to ‘break free’ from the spell and found his way out of the jungle.

As for Francis, he said his wife believed the mongrel they encountered was a spirit.

“As we were exiting the hill, the dog was nowhere to be seen. Other hikers also did not see it,” he said.

He had hoped to see the dog again during his subsequent visits to Bukit Gasing, but it was not to be.

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