In the last few weeks, our team took two long days to explore the ring route in Cugenang, from Kmp Tabrik to the Gede tea plantation. There were four of us on both occasions: Me, John Hargreaves, Jody Randall and Chris Starkey. Dave van Dyke joined us on the first occasion. We were blessed by good weather both days –no rain on Saturday, 6 June, and a short and light afternoon rain two weeks before that.
The ring route is largely the same, but some of the recommended connections have changed. From Tabrik, it works out better to ascend the ridgeline for a few hundred meters before crossing to Pr Panon. From Pr Panon, it works out better to follow the pasir all the way down to a T-junction near its bottom, then go R to cross back over the river before going L on the lower leg of route E3 to make the traverse to Kmp Baru Kusuma. From Kmp Baru Kusuma, the crossing to Pr We above Cijoho is the same, except that the trekker may prefer a lower crossing of Ci Legokkuray if it is wished to visit the charming Kmp Loji Kolot. From Pr We to the Gedeh Tea Plantation the crossing is as shown, but be aware that the descent from the contouring path to approach the waterfall (Curug Leunca) is extremely steep – some of us preferred to slide down on our butts for a good 50m descent, believe it or not.
The crossing of the tea gardens is as shown until point 1314 at a water tank in block C’14. From there, however, the trekker will do well to diverge from the ring route on footpaths and instead follow route E2 on stone roads to an intersection with a major up-down stone road in block E’16, marked with a tea-shed symbol. Trudge up the long ascent on the stone road to rejoin the ring route at an elevation of around 1475m, then traverse to the tea shed symbol at the foot of Pr Culamega, in block I’13, shortly before “10 rasamala trees”.
During our crossing of the Gede plantation, I was surprised by the disappearance of familiar tea sheds that had long served us as reliable landmarks, including those in block B’16, block I’13 and block I’17. They appear to have been cannibalized, perhaps no longer needed. But the scenery remains stunning, particularly on the high traverse of Gede. In the two days we walked over 35km, but that included some backtracking. Actual distance on the ring route, from Tabrik to the was probably 25km or less.
The ring route is dynamic and needs an fresh guide from time to time. Such a guide, complete with GPS waypoints, may soon be under preparation by some members of our team.