Preparing for the 36Km Singapore Coast-to-Coast Trail Hike
If you intend to embark on the 36Km Singapore Coast-to-Coast (C2C) Trail and complete it within one day — like what I am planning to do — and will not give up half-way through the hike, read on and be prepared for the challenge.
The Hiking Route
Before embarking on the C2C hike, I need to know how I am going to get to the starting point, walk the trail, and return home from the ending point. I retraced the C2C trail on Google Map to understand what I am in for.
Some points to note about the 36Km C2C Trail:
📌 From NParks website, there are 10 checkpoints (CPs) in total.
📌 Measuring the distances on Google Map, the full trail from Lakeside MRT Station to Coney Island at CP9 is about 38Km, excluding CP10 at Rower's Bay. From Lakeside Station to CP1 is 2Km, CP1 to CP9 is 35Km and a 1Km trail to nowhere in Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park.
(I guess the "36Km" refers to the distance from CP1 to CP9 plus that 1Km Bishan-AMK park connector but it doesn't add up — the starting point of the C2C Trail is supposedly at Jurong Lake Gardens.)
📌 If I were to walk on that 1Km trail from CP5 to one end of Bishan - AMK Park and back to CP5, it will be a 2Km walk. So, the 36Km trail has a nett total of 37Km hiking distance. To omit the 1Km trail, the total distance is only 35Km.
📌 CP10 is about 6.4Km from CP7 or 7Km from CP8 (I routed this path myself). A round trip from CP7 to CP10 and then to CP8 is about 13Km. If following the stipulated C2C Trail using PCN strictly, a to-and-fro trip from CP7 to CP10, U-turn back to CP7 and then to CP8 will be 16.8Km. Just this loop alone is more than one-third the distance of the 36Km C2C Trail and brings the total hiking distance to about 50Km or more.
📌 Since I live in the west of Singapore, I will start at somewhere near CP1. Chinese Garden Station is closer to CP1, but that will exclude the Jurong Lake Gardens segment. If I start the hike at Lakeside MRT Station, there will be the 2Km walk to CP1.
📌 The mid-way point is near to MacRitchie Reservoir between CP4 and CP5, where there are restrooms, water refilling points and a cafe. (Note that during COVID-19 Heightened Alert period, dine-in is not allowed, so be prepared to have snacks for lunch only.)
📌 At the end of the hike at CP9, I will need to get to Punggol MRT Station. That means I will have to walk another 1 Km to get to the bus stop for Bus 84 to the MRT station.
📌 There are some on-going construction works along the C2C Trail at the point of writing this post and detours may be required. But the differences in distances are not much.
Update: Improvement works on Ulu Pandan Park Connector had already been completed.
📌 The 36Km trail uses the Park Connector Network (PCN), which comprises mostly of shared paths with cyclists and portable mobility device (PMD) riders. This is one risk factor to take note of as there were cases of errant cyclists knocking down pedestrians, some had been fatal. For own safety, no headphone or earpieces.
Reference: NParks website
In summary, the route that I plan to embark on will be from Lakeside MRT Station to CP1 to CP9 to the bus stop in Punggol, excluding CP10. The total distance will be about 38Km — or 40Km if I decide to take that 1Km trail in Bishan-AMK Park depending on my progress.
Note: The distances are based on measurements on Google Map. I will be able to know my actual walking distance from Apple's Health app after the hike.
The Return Trip
Hiking 38~40Km to one end of Singapore is one thing, going back is another. I am not going to hike another 38Km through the night to get back home.
My last checkpoint will be at Coney Island. There is bus service 84 near Punggol Settlement to Punggol MRT Station on the Northeast Line. Then, at least 2 trains to the west side and followed by another bus to my residential estate. That will be 4 transports in total taking approximately 1.5 ~ 2 hours! Who said the journey ends at Coney Island!
If I choose to start at CP9, I will need 2 hours to get to Coney Island super early in the morning — I will be crazy to do that!
I can't possibly just wake up one fine day and say I want to do a 36Km hike within one day and expect it to be accomplished effortlessly — if I do, I must have bang my head against a wall the night before. I will definitely need to train for the long hike.
Below are some training sessions that I worked out before embarking on the C2C Trail:
This is my regular weekend hikes. Average about 2 hours or less to complete.
Not a difficult trail. Took 2.5 hours to complete.
This took me 6 hours and 20 minutes to complete one round excluding a lunch break of 1.5 hours. And I had leg cramps and was aching all over the body the next day — the drastic jump from 10Km to 26Km was too great a leap. I should be increasing the distance gradually to avoid over-exertion.
✅ 13Km @ MacRitchie Reservoir
After the strenuous 26Km just one week prior, this loop around MacRitchie Reservoir was done at a slower pace. Took 4 hours to complete.
I will need more trainings and at least one more go on the 26Km Bukit Timah - MacRitchie loop, then I will be ready to start the countdown to the final day.
Based on my track records on the above hiking trails, I should be able to go at 5Km/h on average on flat ground. Taking into account fatigue factors and resting time, I will probably need about 10 hours to complete 38~40Km.
Things to Prepare
The weather has been quite unusual recently with more rains even in the supposedly hotter months of August and September. But the month of October seems to be getting hotter with intermittent rain. I will need to prepare for both shine and rain conditions in order not to cancel the hike due to unfavourable weather. I do not mind walking in the rain but hate it when rainwater gets into my shoes as they add weight and can slow me down considerably.
I will probably not be taking lunch as at least 1~2 hours' rest is required to avoid having abdominal pain from walking after a heavy meal. I will pack some granola bars or bread to quell hunger while on the go or when taking short breaks. It will not be difficult to get some light snacks on the way too, especially at the cafe in MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
To prevent getting into a low blood sugar condition from possible over-exertion, I will standby a small packet of sweets. I had not encountered any low blood sugar symptoms (dizziness, lightheadedness, etc) myself before when on long hikes, but I had used the sweets that I carried to help others on two occasions. As this is going to be my longest hike in life so far, it will be good to be prepared.
Lastly, I will need a fresh change of clothings to get out of my sweaty attire after the hike for the return journey.
Checklist of items to wear/bring:
sun protection: long sleeve running shirt, cap, sunblock
rain gears: raincoat, rain cover for shoes
waterproof case for phone
a set of clean wear, towel
1 litre of water (can refill along the way)
granola bars, bread
a small packet of sweets
face mask & hand sanitiser! (COVID-19 is still lurking around)
I also downloaded the NParks C2C mobile app. It has a map that will be useful for getting back on the trail if I wander off-course. There are reward points also for checking in at any of the checkpoints along the trail. This can add some entertainment to the otherwise monotonous hike.
And I will be using my own IPT MapTrail app to map this long trail, which I did for all my hikings, and extract the relevant step count and, more importantly, the walked distance (for the hike only) from the Health app.
Update 1st June 2021: IPT MapTrail app now comes with a feature, called Hi-Trails, that includes a series of hiking trails in Singapore. The "Singapore Coast-to-Coast Trail" can be downloaded, add to the tracking map and simply follow it while mapping your own trail. (It comes with a price though as I need to pay for hosting and development services.) Download and try the app for free!
Hiking in Group / Solo
As COVID-19 pandemic heightened recently, it will not be a good idea to join groups of like-minded hikers on the C2C Trail, not to mention it is against the law too. So, the hike can only be done with family members or close acquaintances, limited to 5 persons.
I am planning on taking one Friday off work to do the hike. And the chances of any of those closed to me who are regular hikers, can do at least 36Km walk, and on a Friday is almost nil. So, I will be doing this solo.
The Final Day
As mentioned, I will plan the hike on a Friday with the following Saturday and Sunday as backup days in case of foul weather in the morning. I expect to have muscle aches after the hike, so at least one day of rest will be needed.
I will need to reach Lakeside MRT Station by 7am and start the hike. My target is to reach Coney Island latest by 7pm — allocating a full 12 hours timeframe.
I hate to get up very early in the morning, which is why I intend to complete the hike regardless of rain or shine once I started. There will not be another day that I have to wake up so early again to re-attempt the C2C Trail!
I planned to succeed, not to give up half-way and re-try.
YES! I conquered the C2C Trail on 6th Nov 2020:
(Any plans can go wrong, read the post and find out more from my actual experience.)
Update: And yes, I am planning to re-attempt the C2C Trail again.