District 21: The Sky Trail

I finally had a chance to get on the Sky Trail in District 21! Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a camera or a GoldPro, so I didn’t get any pictures of the challenges, except for this video which a friend took for me:

The sky trail is one big loop of challenges with two short-cuts that allow you to get back to the home base more quickly. Since I wasn’t sure when I would ever get the chance to do this again, I was determined to make it all the way through.

According to the District 21 website, there are 23 challenges, but I honestly cannot remember half of them. The only ones that really made an impression on me were the ones I struggled with – like the tyres. There is something mentally unnerving to watch the two people ahead of me attempt the challenge only to bail halfway and take the shortcut passage home. By the time it was my turn, I had to question the wisdom of getting on. Then again, who knew when I was ever going to get another chance at this. If I didn’t at least attempt it now, it could be a whole other year before I got another chance at it.

The first thing to go wrong was that my shoe got stuck and I couldn’t pull my foot free to move forward. By the time I made it to the next tyre, my other shoe was stuck despite my best efforts to step with the finesse of an elf. I was more than halfway across when the tyre I was on started spinning around in a circle, tangling my safety rope. If I didn’t spin back, I couldn’t move forward because my safety rope would be snagged. So I waited for the tyre to complete its arc and return me back to the original position. Except it didn’t. It stopped moving and I was a like a boat caught in a dead calm unable to move forward or backward.

It’s funny how your brain stops thinking when you get scared. Even though I could have let go of the tyre completely and hang by the safety rope as I untangled myself, the thought never occurred to me while I was stuck in that predicament. After swiveling around for a bit, I managed to get enough momentum to swing back and move forward. There was a point when I considered backtracking except that I was more than halfway across and I would have less to cover if I continued moving forwards.

Image Source: Timeout

Image Source: Pinterest District 21 - Tyres District 21 - Rope web

District 21 - Rope tunnel

Image Sources: Pinterest, Timeout, Youtube.

The other memorable challenge was the one with the pulley system. It was one of the last challenges where you have to step on a board and pull a rope to move the board across to the other side. The difficulty with this challenge was the stiffness of the pulley. If you pulled too hard, the board would jerk and you could lose your balance. If you didn’t pull hard enough, the board wouldn’t move.

Now that I’ve ticked the Sky Trail box at District 21, it’s time to stretch the boundaries yet again and move on to the next target – the Extreme Challenge at SkyTrex. They say that fear keeps you alive. Well, I feel alive because I feel the fear. It feels incredibly empowering to face the fear, go through it and come out the other side.

“I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Dune

Related:

Jungle Janes: The Return to Bukit Tabur West

Can it be nearly 14 years ago that I last hiked Bukit Tabur West?

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Hiking Permit

A new regulation came into effect a couple of years back and you now require a hiking permit to hike at Bukit Tabur (East and West) which you can get from the Forestry Department in Cheras:

  • Address: Km 11, Jalan Cheras, Cheras, Selangor, 43200 Kajang, Malaysia
  • Phone: +60 3-9075 2885
  • Opening hours:
    • Mon to Thu – 8am to 1pm; 2pm to 5pm
    • Fri – 8am to 12.15pm; 2.45pm to 5pm

Tabur West Starting Point

Park your car here. There is a concrete platform marking the trail entrance.

About Bukit Tabur West

Bukit Tabur West is both physically and technically challenging. It is not a hike for the acrophobics so if you are afraid of heights, this trail is not for you.

There is no warm up. The trail launches straight into a relentless ascent that takes you through 6 mini peaks before the round trip descent to your starting point.

Hiking time depends on how fast and fit you are. We are average hikers – we are neither iron ladies or a sedentary bunch and it took us about 4 hours.

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

At the Final Peak

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Final Descent

There is a patch of mossy forest near this part that you can check out before making the trek home.

Jungle Janes at Tabur West

Workout Tracking with the Apple Watch

I’ve been using the Apple Watch to track my activity levels and workouts for nearly a year now and the convenience and ease of use has been great. Two weeks ago, I went to Bukit Tabur East and the Apple Watch recorded this:

Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch

Only 248 calories on a 3 hour hike? Surely something is amiss? So I did a test workout using the Polar Beat alongside the Apple Watch:

Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch

Wow… 429 versus 232 – that is a big difference!

Hiking

The difference in calorie burn are even more significant when I tracked my hike to Bukit Tabur West:

Workout stats Workout stats

2296 versus 390! Can this be right? Is the Polar over-calculating calories? Is the Apple Watch under-calculating them? So what is it? Can I treat myself to a whole tub of Haagan Daz or am I only allowed a little scoop?

Pilates

When I tracked a Pilates workout, the differences weren’t so significant (Polar vs Apple):

  • Active Calories – 160 cal vs 189 cal
  • Total Calories – 236 cal vs 265 cal

Except that this time, it was the Apple Watch that recorded the higher energy expenditure.

Polar or Apple?

According to Livestrong, Polar monitors are generally pretty accurate when it comes to energy expenditure. It also seems I’m not the only one who thinks the Apple Watch may be under-calculating calories. It turns out, I need to calibrate my Apple Watch for improved workout and activity accuracy. In the meantime, maybe we should just stick to the Polar Beat.