Sungai Terengganu Mati Merdeka Trip Day 4

Sg Terengganu Mati

Well, we did what they said couldn’t be done. We brought not one, but two pickup trucks to the top of Terengganu Mati! But as there were more than 100 people at the campsite, we did not want to risk camping by the river. Instead, we camped at the top of the hill looking down at the river and campsite. It rained heavily the evening before and the trail had turned very muddy and slippery.

We had a very simple breakfast before starting on our journey back down. Our young but highly experienced trip leader went down first, making it look very easy as usual. One by one, the other rigs followed, with wheels sliding in the mud most of the way.

A short way down, we reached the part where the side had been partially washed down the ravine. Again, the narrower Land Cruisers made it through without much issues, but the broader and heavier trucks had to make a number of adjustments to their lines as the weight of the trucks and the mud kept sliding the tyres closer to the edge. But everyone made it through safely.

The journey down the first steep hill was much faster going down that when we went up, and we were making good time. Soon we reached the first stream and decided to stop there to freshen up a bit. Further along the track, our friends from the other group that were camping at the river, caught up with us. As their rigs were faster, we pulled to the side to let them pass.

When the trail started to climb, things were very different. The ruts were much deeper and at some parts, were filled with water. There was hardly any traction and winching was the only option if we wanted to get up this slope. As it was a long stretch, we had to reposition the anchor points three times. And when we got through this challenge, the trail ahead was laid out with even more obstacles. The mud pools were the worst as there was no traction and the mud created more resistance as it piled up in front of the rigs during winching. By now, everyone’s reaction was automatic each time any of the rigs got stuck. Everyone except the driver would get out and do what they do best, getting the stuck vehicle moving again in the shortest time possible in the circumstance at that moment.

The track was hardly recognizable as the same track we used to get in just the day before. Mud replaced sand on most parts and our progress was poor. There was one part we came to in the later part of the afternoon where the track was flooded, and it was too deep to get any traction. Next to this was another option. The ground was flat but was also covered in soft mud. We thought that we had a better chance using this option to get more traction. Driving off the main trail was impossible without the help of a winch. It was just too slippery. The lead car made an attempt to drive through but was stuck after only about 15 meters. Winching was also impossible as there was no tree close by for us to anchor from. At this point, there were two rigs stuck at the same location. Without an anchor point, the only thing we could do was to do some track repair.

While the younger guys continued with their task of filling the mud with rocks and branches, Alicia and I decided to start preparing a very late lunch. The boys would be tired and hungry with all the work they were doing. After about two and a half hours, they decided to take a break and have their meal. Got to hand it to these guys, with all the hard work and being covered with mud, they were still laughing and joking. They were glad to see the food we had prepared, consisting of smoked duck fillet with fries, buns and some vegetables.

After dinner and a short break, they were back at it again, trying to free the lead car and get it onto solid ground so that it could be an anchor for the rest of the rigs to winch from. But a half hour later, a few of the guys came from the campsite in their modified buggies. They managed to cross on the other side and we persuaded them to give us a hand by allowing us to winch using their vehicles as anchor points. The first attempt was a disaster as our lead car was stuck fast and the other vehicle was only sliding towards the mud pool. They decided to anchor the first buggy to another behind it, and do a triple line winch pull, but both the buggies were sliding forward towards the mud pool. Then they anchored the back buggy to a tree and tried again. Finally, we were making progress and after a while, our lead vehicle was on solid ground. The other group decided to leave and we thanked them for their help. One by one, we got all the rigs out and, on the way again.

It was one mud pool after another and before we knew it, it was already dark. We decided to push on until we came to a river where we could stop for the night and have a good wash to get rid of the mud on our bodies.

When we arrived at the log bridge, the first two rigs crossed without any problems. But when the white Ranger had its front wheels on the bridge, we heard a loud crack. One of the logs had broken. It was time to replace the old log with a new one. So, we looked around for a tree that was of the right size for the bridge log replacement. After cutting one of the right size, we replaced the old log and secured all the logs with old motorcycle chains and nails. The two trucks managed to cross and when it came time for the last Land Cruiser to cross, another log broke. Fortunately, three of the tyres were on solid ground and prevented the rig from falling into the ditch. A simple tow and the convoy was on the way again trudging through more mud and water.

It was just after midnight when we finally reached the river. What a relief that was to finally see the clean, cool water where everyone could soak their aching bodies. After washing the recovery equipment and ourselves, it was time for a simple dinner. And again, we didn’t have time or the strength to get out the tents or tarps. So, it was sleep in the car or in the open on camping chairs.

In the morning, while the whole country would be celebrating our National Day in their homes, we would be celebrating it in the jungle.