Located in Hulu Langat not far from the turn off to Gabai Waterfall, the hike up Gunung Hitam is akin to a condensed version of a hike up Nuang. Shorter by 5km, it must be steeper too, because what it lacks in distance it makes up for in calf-shredding inclines.
Having parked up on the road between Kampung Ulu Lui and Kampung Paya Lebar, our journey began along a tarmac lane by a fishing hole-slash-barbecued fish joint.
Black water pipes followed us as we wound our way past houses and a rubber plantation, the sound of burbling water growing louder until 20 minutes on we crossed a bridge over the gentle cascades of upper Sungai Lui.
There was a small parking area here. Had we known some of us might have opted to drive in, but we would have needed a 4×4, as the road is uneven and potholed.
The trailhead lies to the left (to the right is a home). Narrowing down to a single track, it passes over a rickety wooden footbridge, and after a stream crossing, takes us through a towering forest of bamboo.
The trail ascends after this, until we eventually came to an abandoned orang asli hut. We looped around the back of it.
The going starts to get tough here. Thin nylon rope is strung up in places where the slope is particularly steep or slippery. For the most part, the inclines are no less than 40 degrees, and any chance of catching our breath is slim as flats are short and few.
It had just turned 10am (2 hours after starting out), when the trail evened out. The relief was short-lived at only 5 minutes but long enough for me to fantasise about cracking open some champagne to celebrate.
Not long after at the 2/3rds mark, we passed a series of boulders. The worst was over now and while the rest of the journey was not without its challenges, the mountain had finally relented.
The hoot of gibbons previously heard had faded behind us and aside from the constant hum of insects, a lone hornbill cawed somewhere overhead.
At approximately 1100 meters in altitude, white nothingness began to swirl around us. The forest floor was wet and the gnarled twisted tree trunks were covered in moss.
It wasn’t far now – 100 meters according to my Garmin. On flat land I could probably sprint it in about 30 seconds (9.58 seconds if I was Usain Bolt), but on a mountain there was no telling. Of course checking was a mistake. Counting down the meters was like clock watching when you just wanted to get out of the office – it couldn’t happen fast enough.
Then just when I thought I had no more energy, Gunung Hitam threw a few final obstacles in our direction. We had to crawl under several fallen tree trunks, which I accomplished by sinking to my knees and dragging my body across with my bare hands. Ugh….
It was only in the last 10 meters that I was able to pick out the sounds of voices, a sure sign that the end was near. Tiny white flowers lined the path as if to cheer me on.
Surrounded by tall skinny trees, there was no view at the peak, but I could finally flop down, inhale an 100 Plus and eat my packed lunch of Johor Laksa. Muna – 1, Mountain – 0.
8.05am Start hike
8.25am Cross bridge and enter trailhead
8.35am Stream crossing
8.55am Orang asli hut
10.15am Arrive at boulders
11am Make the peak
11.20am Start return journey
11.50am Back at boulders
12.40pm Orang asli hut
12.55pm Stream crossing
1.05pm Reach trailhead
1.30pm Back at starting point
Altitude 1220 meters.
Time and distance Approximately 7.5km one way, 15km return, the Gunung Hitam hike should take an average of between 3 to 4 hours up and 1 1/2 to 2 hours down.
Rating Though relatively short – if you start at 8am you can be on your way home by 2pm – Gunung Hitam is anything but sweet. KL Hiking rates it “Hard”.
Facilities None. But there are loads of eating places in the villages along Jalan Sungai Lui and there’s a Petronas petrol station along the main road.
Getting there Just after Batu 18, turn right onto Jalan Sungai Lui. Park up immediately after the turn off to the left, 1 1/2 km after the junction to Gabai Waterfall.
GPS coordinates 3.14981, 101.91166