Seven of us left the Park HQ around 7:30am with the sounds of Black Hornbills calling overhead. We hiked through the forest, bypassing countless streams, streams that came in different sizes, widths, depths and colours. Fringed by lush vegetation, all of them ran happily towards the sea, as if they couldn’t wait to go home.
Some streams were shallow and clear, filled with boulders and fallen logs. Some went a little bit deeper and therefore cloudier so we couldn’t see all the way to the bottom. Some had white sandy beds, the water was crystal clear but had the colour of tea. Some were decorated in green mossy rocks; others were narrow, bubbling along and covered with abundant river ferns.
The bigger and deeper streams on the other hand had the colour of milky tea, they flowed slowly, almost still, making one wondered whether there were crocodiles lurking beneath, hmmmm . . . . . worry not though, the Park has put up footbridges which provided safe passages over these water channels so there's very hardly any need to wade across murky waters.
Even when a bridge was taken down by a fallen tree in one particularly heavy storm about a week ago, the Park quickly intstalled a temporary log bridge for hikers. We found out later that we were the first group of tourists testing out this bridge. A rope had been fastened from one end to the other to assist the hikers, but wow, crossing log bridge definitely counted as the most exciting part of our hike, requiring a huge dose of courage, concentration and balancing act from all of us!
The 9.8km forest trail to Golden Beach followed the coastline closely. The sounds of the crashing waves accompanied us most of the way. Sometimes through the dense vegetation we could catch a glimpse or two of the lovely coastlines and sandy beaches. The temptation to stop and explore these places was great but we had to press on.
The forest along the trail was mainly lowland mixed dipterocarp dotted with pockets of kerangas trees. Selunsur trees were sighted lining some of the river banks. They were easily recognisable from the others by their smooth and orange coloured tree trunks. Fungi were abundant too. One of our greatest finds must be the dramatic looking stinkhorn fungus (Phallus indusiatus) with veil-like netting hanging down its hollow stem.
En route to Golden Beach, we stopped by the 2 turtle beaches at KM6 and KM7. There were reports of Green Turtles nesting on these beaches. We couldn’t find any turtle tracks, perhaps the nesting season was well over.
We reached Golden Beach, another 3km hike further on after 1pm. The beach is so named because of its golden sand, which appeared to have a high content of small and transparent quartz crystals that sparkled under sunrays. Unfortunately, most of the rocky shoreline was submerged under high water, so we didn’t get to explore that part of the scenic rock formation here. That we have to leave it for another day.
We did managed to check out sections of the sandstone cliff by the beach and found a small cave full of bats!
Despite the gently undulating terrains, Golden Beach was still a demanding trek due to the distance and dense roots which we had to step over, concentrating on not tripping over.
As dusk approached, the last of the group members finally crossed the suspension bridge over Likau River, and limped into Park HQ.
We were mighty glad to make it back to Park HQ just before nightfall. Congratulations to all for another great hike and looking forward to another outing to Similajau National Park!
In the midst of giant trees.
Delicate moves across murky waters.
A row of slender selunsur lining up a section of a meandering stream.
A subdued view of Golden Beach, the coarse grain sands here have a high ratio of silica content. The rocky crags harbour a myriad of interesting life of the intertidal zones.
Write-up and pictures by Sara Wong, MNS Miri Branch, Sep 2009