Dec 3, 2008

The Mysterious Pasir Kramat

In the 17 years I have walked at the foot of the twin peaks, I never once set foot on Pasir Kramat, a wooded ridgeline between two ridgelines that we often trod -- Pr Pancawati (in route B2) and Pr Pondokcateng (in route B1). From afar we thrilled to view the thick forest and hear the shrieks of the Javan gibbons (owa) on Pr Kramat, but never ventured into that jungle. The WIPA surveyors visited Pr Kramat some years ago. They told of a steep climb, a prime forest, and a holy place (tempat kramat).

Last month, Robert Baldwin, who lives in Kmp Pancawati, began asking about the mysterious pasir and my interest was piqued. We left his house early on Monday, 1 Dec, and headed up Pr Pancawati, as for the B2 route. After vainly exploring a turnoff to the right near the forest entrance, we proceeded to the junction shown on the map above 1200m. Thence, around 10 a.m., we veered right and contoured around the head of a small valley to reach the upper end of Pr Kramat. The crossing was easy, but the trail became hard to find. As we worked our way down the ridgeline, a faint trail began to appear on the left side at around 1190m, with some mysterious holes dug beside the trail. The forest here is in excellent condition, consisting largely of rasamala trees that may have been planted as long as 30 years ago. The ridgeline lost altitude very slowly as we proceeded "down" it to the WNW. Not until much further along, when we had descended to 1060m, did I notice a small stump had been cut by a sharp tool, meaning that the forest above was untouched by woodcutters.

Soon after, we began to hear the shrieks of the bands of owa, annoyed, we supposed, by our intrusion into their remote kingdom. Below 1000m, we crossed a notch in the ridgeline and climbed to a flat spot with some graves, said to be of holy persons. We then resumed a descent along the ridgeline that became very steep in places -- the very reason so few villagers venture here. By 2 p.m., it began to drizzle. We reached Kmp Pancawati at 4 p.m., our strength much depleted by a strenuous but very satisfying trek.