Even Penan get lost sometimes

On the way to Bario 2

Day five in the forest is long, and full of surprises.

Soon after starting walking we reach the top of a hill covered with an open forest of thin and low trees. The ground is covered by a characteristic white, thin-grained sediment. It is a Kerangas, or tropical heath forest. I can see the bue sky and the running clouds, and I realize that I haven’t had such a sight in days. The sunlight hits me directly, without the filter of the forest canopy, and warms my skin.
Soon the digression is over, and as we walk down the hill we dive back into the thick, shady rainforest. We start following a meandering river, and my guides seem uncertain about the way. I know Bario is not too far by this point, conversely Ukau and Luat are far from their usual hunting territories and their memory of this last bit of the way is not without speckles. Eventually, and unexpectedly, we hit an abandoned logging road. The unbelievable has happened: Penan, the forest experts, lost the trail. For a while we follow the logging road, but Ukau is not convinced. Moreover the Sun is cooking us. Despite my and Luat’s doubts, he just cuts back into the forest besides the road to intercept the trail. From a clear spot he aims at Batu Tamabu and Mount Murud to triangulate our positions, then he proceeds at cutting a passage in the untouched forest without a doubt. Just as my trust is fading and I am ready for a discussion, we see one old earmark on a tree, then others. Ukau proved his skill again, we are back on the trail.

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