Sungai Terengganu Mati Merdeka Trip Day 5

Sg Terengganu Mati Merdeka 2020

Today is our Independence Day or Hari Merdeka in the Malay language. After a good night’s sleep, everyone was in high spirits and ready to tackle the challenges this day would bring. We prepared a hearty breakfast as we were not sure when or if we would have time for lunch. This stretch of the tracks were the toughest when we came in. If yesterday’s changes to the trail was an indication, things would be very tough today.

Just about 200m away from where we had spent the night, we faced our first challenge of the day. We were back at the mud pool where we had cut a new track to avoid and even worse mud pool next to it. As usual, the vehicles were winched through one by one and whoever was not driving at the time were stationed at different spots ready to shift the winch hook from one anchor point to the next as the rigs slowly crawled through the mud. 

When the white Ranger reached one of the drier spots on a higher level, we found that a large tree stump that was buried three days ago was now protruding from the ground as the rain had washed away the soil that was covering it. The Rangers were not high enough to pass over this stump and the differentials would hit it. So, out came the chainsaws to cut away the top of the stump. Clearing the mud pool and the tree stump took more than two hours of our time. As usual, the guys were their cheerful selves and were even joking and imitating the antics of another group that had passed us at the top two days ago.

Things were better further down the trail as we reached drier ground. But the challenges were still there. Again, the ruts were much deeper and tire lifts were common. But this is how we get our thrills and enjoyed every second of each challenge. Later we came to the gully crossing next to ‘The Rock’. As usual, the shorter rigs made the crossing easily, but the longer trucks had to make some adjustments.

Most of the trails were headed downwards so we managed to make up for some time. Now, this trip was planned for a total of 5 days, one day each for the trip in and out, as well as three days that was supposed to be spent at the trail’s end camping by the river.

Today is the 5th day and we were still a day’s worth of travelling before we exit the jungle trail. There was WIFI signal only at one spot and as soon as we reach it, those who were supposed to be working the next day, grabbed their handphones to apply for additional leave from work. As everyone was rushing to get out as soon as possible, lunch comprised of some biscuits and cakes with water.

At some parts, the ruts were so deep that we had to do some digging to prevent the differentials from running aground. On one occasion when we were recovering a truck up a steep slope, another winch rope snapped. This was the third winch rope to fail in 5 days. Fortunately, we don’t use wire cables or we might have had some serious damages or injuries.

We carried on travelling until late at night. There was this stretch that was going up a very steep hill that also had our vehicles slanting to the right. There were hill faces to the left and right of the vehicles and we only had walking space between the rigs and the hill. All of a sudden, we heard on the radio that the lead car had stalled and the driver could not get it to start up again. Everyone headed up to the front of the line to see what we could do. Even though we had two mechanics in the group, all their efforts could not get the car to start. We decided that we would spend the nigh here and try again in the morning. If it still failed to start, two of us would walk out and try to get help as none of the vehicles could pass the lead car. So, we got into the vehicles and tried to sleep even though we were leaning to one side. Two of the guys decided to sleep on the bonnet of one rig, but the roar of a tiger in the distance got them quickly scrambling to get inside.

This was some day. We were stuck at a steep slope on a narrow stretch of track with the front rig facing mechanical problems. The was no river nearby where we could wash up and no space to cook a meal. Dinner would have to be biscuits and cakes, again. We’ll just have to see what the morning brings.