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Kinabalu Mountain Madness

Trekking up Kota Kinabalu is tough, add rain and it's even tougher.

rain 75 °F

“Thanks for the ride mate! See you tomorrow as I flag you down for a lift back to the city!” That’s how they do it up in these mountain parts. It was nearly 5pm as I arrived at D’Villa guesthouse outside of the famous mountain. I managed to get a “dorm” room for the evening. I know, I do not like sharing but sometimes you have to suck it up for the sake of saving money. Besides, I just needed a place to sleep and get an early start anyway. The moment I walked into the room I could smell stale clothes and if you don’t know what I mean imagine walking into a guy’s dorm room in college. I claimed my bed and went to get some soup from the restaurant. The crisp cold and wet weather made me want to hop into bed that very moment and cuddle up to a nice book. Why didn‘t I bring a book?

After dinner, I had a quick chat with the roomies from Holland and began to count sheep at 8pm. I must have dosed off around 930pm praying for good weather and woke up by 6am to hit the mountain and find my guide. Call me lazy or “running late” but I caught a lift to the office and was told I had a 50/50 chance to make it to the summit due to the rainy season and the danger on the mountain, especially as you progress upward and into more clouds. I was on a time crunch to make it to the 6km hotel point by noon in order to continue up to the summit. Great! My guide, Joseph, was late by 30 minutes also. Have no fear as we will push it into high gear and do our best to make it up in good time.

As we were driving to the starting gate, well, it began to drizzle but I had a rain jacket on hand. It was just myself and Joseph for ages as I was the only “day climber” registered. We did run into volunteers and it reminded me of the Grand Canyon and how I missed PSAR volunteering this year. I will not get into all the details of this colossal hike but will say it was more of a climb. Wow! I like to use the word “fun” as much as the next guy but that was NOT the “f” word that I was frequently using during this difficult time. The first few kms felt endless and it continued as we headed up the mountain. Torture would be a good word, or prison perhaps. Yes, now that I think of it I wondered what I did to deserve such a sentence. It was hard to believe that I actually, willingly, signed up for this and even paid them! That is just crazy talk.

Time was a ticking and even though it was brutal our only break was for me to make a quick toilet stop along the way. We made it to the 6km hotel spot in time and were giving the okay to continue upwards. I managed to scarf down a plate of rice with jam (my new carb loading concoction) before we were off again. Now, we were not only climbing but using an attached rope on the steep, slippery slopes.

Guess what? Somewhere between 6-7km the weather took a turn for the worse. In a matter of minutes the sky went from little visibility to none and the rain began to fall. One moment I could see Joseph 3 feet in front of me and the next it was clouds. I had to video my guide so it didn’t look like I was giving up but he said it was unsafe to continue. Besides, if we did I would see nothing but more white clouds. I see why people usually do this in a 2 day period because as the day goes on, the clouds come and the rain follows. I mentioned the grueling pain, the endless battle but it was very much worth it to push myself and keep on trekking so to speak. Yes, we had 1 km to go but mother nature didn’t want us to go and you can’t fight with her, she is stubborn.

I took a few photos of the white clouds and no view at the 7km mark before we had to come down. I was glad to have the rope this time as I could basically slide on my bottom down the rock…and I did a few times on accident. No I did not give up! Although it was brutally hard I would have continued onward but felt no point to go 1 more km up when the weather was getting bad due to our height in the clouds. We had zero visibility and rain, not to mention Joseph said we couldn’t continue. Danger could very well be my middle name but I didn’t argue with him. We proceeded to make our way down the slippery rock and back to the 6km rest house to drop off the keys. What goes up, must come down but why is down so much more fun? It is equally if not harder on the knees (mine hated my guts). My attitude changed like a women who just found her favorite pair of jeans. You know, when you are all sad and grouchy then you find the “perfect” fit and all is ok.

Anyway, I was feeling the love and spreading it to all that I encountered on the journey down. I didn’t sugar coat anything and informed them of the insanity at hand. I even posed for a photo with some randoms. People love photos with Americans. We had to keep moving and had to be down by 4pm and I had to be ready to find that van of mine to head back to the city at 430pm. I didn’t want to be stuck in the dorm for another cold night.

Amen! We made it down by 4pm. Over 8 hrs of pure climbing/crawling/hiking and 5 minutes of sit down time. This girl is exhausted but couldn‘t stop just yet. I was on a mission and walked back to D’Villa to change and do a “shower” in a bottle so to speak (hand sanitizer and a napkin). Next up, I hit the road in search of the local “van” bus to bring me back to civilization. Within minutes, I was able to flag him down and off we went. No front seat for me but I can’t be selfish all the time.

The darkness hit before we made it back to the city of Kota Kinabalu and I couldn’t wait to get home. I walked back into the Asia Adventure Lodge and my very same single room was waiting for me, that and my clean clothes. I swapped out my dirty ones and it was off to get a much needed foot reflexology and a body massage before some nightly grub. It was a long day but tomorrow was fast approaching and I needed to prepare for the next adventure…Survivor Island!!!

Jk livin’

The Dish is out :)

Posted by Dishtravel 06:41 Archived in Malaysia

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