Today I am continuing relating my Mount Kinabalu experience. For more information on the mountain click here.
I have to admit, when I first started the hike I was pleasantly surprised. When the first sign appeared I was tickled pink. 0.5 kilometers already! So far I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. That first bit was a breeze. Only 5.5 kilometers to go.
Uh, wait a minute. What’s up with these stairs?
This little guy was cute!
One kilometer done and people were still smiling. I was feeling confident. Smug even.
And it was so pretty.
That looks ominous. We better put the pedal to the medal. The last thing I wanted was to get caught in a downpour.
But it was getting tougher.
People were slowing down.
Some were losing their smiles and we were only 2 kilometers in. 4 more to go.
That’s the trail! That isn’t a trail. It’s just a pile of rocks. And they are wet and slippery.
Yippie! 4.5 kilometers. Only 1.5 to go. Wait, what is this crap?
Then the rain came.
We tucked the camera away in the waterproof bag so unfortunately there are no more photos for the last kilometer. It just didn’t rain. It poured. I had a rain jacket on, but I wished I didn’t since I was hot. I kept lowering the hood since it was making my head hot and it was obstructing my view. Yet each time I removed the hood the water blurred my vision. I couldn’t win. The last bit included hiking a rocky surface straight up (actually the entire hike is straight up) and now that it was raining the water gushed down. I felt like I was fording a river upstream the entire time. My socks and shoes were drenched. My pants soaked through. The bag on my back was getting waterlogged and heavier. My legs were shot. Each step was killing me. Not only was I exhausted, but the climb was treacherous with the slippery rocks. The last thing I needed was to fall or twist my ankle. I couldn’t turn around since I was only 1 kilometer away from the resthouse. If I wanted to throw in the towel, I had to hike down 5 kilometers. I could only walk a few steps at a time and then I needed rest. The rain was getting to me. The pain was excruciating. And it was getting harder for me to breath. Should I mention that I was no longer having fun? This was no longer an adventure of a lifetime. This was something I wanted to survive. At the moment I didn’t know if I could. Why in the hell did I decide to do this?
The Better Half and guide let me take my time. They were also keeping their distance. I’m sure my face told them everything. No one said a word every time I stopped in the torrential downpour to rest. Each would stop and look away.
I wish I knew how long the last kilometer took. It felt like hours. Finally we reached the resthouse. All of us were soaked. And if you don’t remember from yesterday, the place isn’t heated. Now that I was no longer moving, I’m frozen. They showed us to our room so we could change. Thank goodness our clothes were in a waterproof bag. Wait—why aren’t the socks, gloves, and hats in the waterproof? For those who want to experience this climb, I don’t recommend packing your bag after having a few beers. You may make a stupid decision. We changed into dry pants and warm shirts. As I sat barefoot in the dining area, not the big dining area so there is no heat, my hands shook as I guzzled cup after cup of hot tea. Since I kept removing my hood in the rain, my hair was drenched and water kept dripping down my back.
Other people meandered in. Many of them didn’t have any dry clothes to change into. One poor woman’s passport was waterlogged. This made me feel slightly better. I wasn’t the only idiot who didn’t put everything in a waterproof bag.
After a short rest, we put our wet shoes on and headed down to the main dining hall for dinner. The food was plentiful, but not great. No worries, I was too tired to care. The soup felt good. One woman at our table tried to strike up a conversation with me, but I was too exhausted to say much. She smiled at me, understanding that I didn’t mean to be rude. At least I hope she understood.
Dinner didn’t take long. The two of us headed back to our hut around 7 p.m. We had to be in bed at 8. Our wakeup call the next morning was 1:30 a. m. Yes, the rest of the climb would take place in the dark. The goal was to reach the summit before the sunrise. I felt better knowing that it was only 2 more kilometers. I had just completed 6. That was good and bad news. Yes I did it. But it wore me out. I needed rest. We went to our room, which we were sharing with six other climbers, and slipped into our sleeping bags. I can’t remember the last time I slept in a sleeping bag.