Batu Lawi - Gunung Murud 2002

All pictures of the trip

This is my third trip to Murud. The mountain has a certain fascination, and there were some unresolved issues re the parentage of n. murudensis and n. "spec. B" that I wanted to clear. The second trip took place in 1998 and was a catastropy (thanks to an unprepared well known travel agency - write me for details). On top of this climatic conditions had changed and plant locations had disappeared.

As usual, departure from Miri and, surprise, our guide is Veno, who was the first guide I had back in 1991. Took us some time to recognise each other.
Take off to Bareo, which has a solid runway now so planes can take off and land regardless of the weather. After a meal at the local inn we take a car (time changes!) to the next longhouse, pick up the porters and leave for Batu Lawi at 14.15 hrs. One hour later we get rain and shelter at a farmer's hut. We progress and at 16.15 hrs we arrive at a small stream (1140 meter) where I remember camping the first time.

Next day we cross river (having chased five wild boar to the chagrin of our porters who didn't have their guns). At 12.00hrs we are at the top of the white cliffs at 2050 m, with a good sight on Batu Buli (target for next trip?), we break for a meal and continue. We find n. lowii, n. pilosa and/or n. stenophylla.   Progress is good and around 15.00 hrs we strike camp at 1900 meter, having descende through the bed of a small river. Again I think this is close to the place I camped previously, so n. veitchii can't be far away. I still remember the sight of plants clasping the trees in order to get up in the canopy. So we take off along the path and look out for them.We see n. pilosa (much more than the first trip, where we saw tree plants) but no veitchii. My notes say "5 minutes from the camp" but we walk one hour and get out of the mossy forest, seeing the descent towards the Pa'Mano river.Did the path change in all those years? I don't know, and we backtrack. Just before the camp we find clusters of n. tentaculata.
Next day we walk back to the ridge among orchids, n. lowii and n. pilosa, flowering ginger (plus the leeches) and arrive back at Pa'Ukat at 15.00 hrs where we stay in the longhouse. Again it rains.

We only have a short walk to the next village, where we will pick up the porters for the trip to Murud. We follow the "buffalo-highway" which is a track caused by sledges drawn by buffallo for transport between villages. Halfway we get at krangas forest and yes, there we see nepenthes: n. stenophylla (or n. fallax for the purists) and n. reinwardtiana. Funny enough some of the n. reinwardtiana do not have the typical "eyes". Next spot of krangas has red n. reinwardtiana. We finally arrive at Pa'Lungan for the daily dose of rain...

Next morning we leave with mixed feelings (clouds all over..) crossing rivers (Love it when it rains and suddenly the river rises) and back in the forrest. We see silverleaf monkey and flying squirrels. We arrive at Long Repong way ahead of schedule and decide to continue. Veno claims he knows a short-cut to a bamboo hut, and this short-cut is one of the worser ones: the mud pits are separated by mud pits. We pass a Kelabit burying place, where people are burried in  a line of clay jars along the path.  There is also a large boulder with petroglyphs where nobody knows the age. We make a large crossing (don't count the small ones, we must have been 6 times across the same river) on a big tree and arrive at a bamboo shelter called Labaru Idang. This must be a good omen, as the translation is "Sunlight Corner". Of course it rains. We have gained no altitude and are at 1260 meter.

The next day starts well: a gibbon hangs around the camp and calls. We break camp and (guess what) cross the river. This will happen at least three more times, and this time the river is swollen. At midday we get confused, think we are going towards the east side of the mountain and find ourselves on the track to Batu Lawi! Luckily one of the porters takes off and finds the track to the west ridge. After the relatively hard treck of this morning we now have to make up for the lost time and take a steep trail at 1500 meter. We manage another thre hours and miraculously camp 2 appears at 1940 meter, with enough place to pitch the tent. The place is humid, nothing dries, the sleeping bags smell, my clothes smell and I smell (there is not enough water in the brook).

Now this is it: we leave at 07.30 for the ascent of Gunung Murud via the back side. After half an hour we hit the mossy forrest. and almost immediately we find n. tentaculata, followed by n. murudensis and n. lowii. N. lowii will be with us for most of the remaining of the trip. Two hour later we arrive on a ridge that is much more exposed than on the east side of the mountain. Batu Lawi and the highlands are clearly visible. There are some plants here that look like a back-cross of n. murudensis. N. "species B" appears and suddenly at 2300 meter we find a plant with a two-eyed pitcher. Unfortunately this is a single plant only. Is this n. reinwardtiana? Or do we see n. murudensis with one of the parent characteristics? I do not know, and will have to come back and spend more time at this location (thanks to GPS we will find it back). At 13.00 hrs we arrive at the summit (roughly 2500 meter) and take a break in the clouds. We still have three hours to go to Chuch Camp. First we cross Rock Garden, a large sloping summit plain with orchids, n. lowii in full bloom and a large variiety of terrestial orchids. Past the garden we walk trough the forrest and see many spec B that were not there years before, so the species seems  to thrive as many are realy small plants, less than five years old. We keep on losing altitude till the last steep climb and arrive at Church (2175 meter) at 16.50 hrs, just in  time for the rain......

Stormy night with temperatures around 12 deg. C. Woke early and left at 07.30 in the clouds. The small ridge going  east lost most of the nepenthes, we only found small n. tentaculata and two n. lowii. Down the Wall (difficult as always) we find some red globulous nepenthes we saw yesterday, and then surprise. To facilitate access  to the Church a plankwalk has been built!! The way cuts straight through the nepenthes populations and we find n. muluensis, n. murudensis, n. "spec. B" and n. lowii. Unfortunately the patch of n. reinwardtiana which I found back in 1993 is still covered with long grass, habitat changed and no nepenthes to be seen, so I miss part of the confirmation of the n. murudensis parentage. One n. reinwartdiana is not enough I think. Last n. tentaculata are seen at 1800 meter, and it is a downward - upward - downward long walk. After the river crossing (my God, a bridge!) we are now on the logging road in the burning sun. We hit 1600 meter and a bulldozer drags a log across the road. We arrive at the secondary ridge at 1400 meter and then there is Ba'kelalan. There are cars in the village, proof that the logging roads have arrived here. This is it. A loud village after the silence of Murud. I like it, I know some people there, hallo Murad, hope you read this sometime when you have electricity and telephone and internet and you don't have to worry about getting the rice in, thanks for the friendly reception after so many years.

Conclusion: super trip, I have to go back in 2003, as I am still wanting to find n. reinwartiana at high altitude and maybe n. veitchii on Murud. Special thanks to Veno and the porters Larry,  Nelson, Steve and Rick, without them the trip would have been Hell.

Bold items indicate pictures in the summary.