29 September 2008
Ferns and clearings
The terrain had gotten extremely difficult. There were just patches of ferns and ferns everywhere. Shoulder-level ferns. Initially, Tony and I had to avoid the ferns as we deemed them impassable. These were the open areas that we had on the printouts of the photos from Google Earth. Clearing? It was the worst sort of terrain. Dense undergrowth and exposed to the sun.
Along the way, we were trying to read the contours of the land. There were certain slopes that were going up and there were ravines. We had not spotted the huge water tanks that measured from that 50 metres in diameter, 10 metres tall and was at least 30 metres above the ground. The dense foliage had made it impossible to spot anything beyond twenty metres.
The heat was getting unbearable. It was 33 degree celsius from 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm.
Tony and I were heating up really fast and we were making frequent stops to rest and drink. Our heart rates were over 100. Pounding. We could no longer maintain a punishing pace as before.
We had to bash throught the ferns that were chest level. The 'parang' and shears were absolutely useless. I was stamping the foliage down. At times, I pitched forward with my body to flatten the area before we could proceed. We took turns just flattening the foliage. I thought our progress was about 50 metres per half hour at best. I had expended over 3 litres of water now.
At this point, we were heading directly south. We had decided to make it out, forcing our way through whatever terrain we encountered, however difficult. We were also heading upslope. And we figured there was a possibility of the tanks nearby. We had heard noise of a diesel of some sort in distance. We could also hear many piston-engined trainers in the skies above.
Then, I spotted the water tank.* We scrambled straight up. 2:34 pm. We were finally out.
*Water tank in the photo above. Huge water tank. 50 metres across and almost 10 metres tall. Can you see it? The terrain we were forcing our way through was worst than that depicted in the photo. The visibility was less, hence also the lack of photos.