Why did I sign up for this?

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?


How do you walk on this trail?

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.

Lights out!


About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast (lesbianswhowrite.com) with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (iheartlesfic.com), a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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91 Responses to Why did I sign up for this?

  1. Apologies if this is a repeat as on my phone and it’s being odd. Wowzers what an experience

  2. Really enjoyed reading this! How was it reaching the summit? Shame it was pouring with rain! Sounds like a real experience although maybe a bit frustrating at times, i know what you mean. I was kind of raging the whole way up :p

    • TBM says:

      I plan on writing about the summit bit tomorrow–it was interesting that’s for sure. raging–that’s a good word for this climb. Glad you made it safe and sound.

  3. Wow!!! And you found it that hard after all the running you did in training for this climb? I am sooo proud of you! I could never have done that, especially since I have a bit of asthma. I’ve got to go lay down now – you’ve made me tired LOL :).

    • TBM says:

      I would have been in serious trouble if I didn’t train at all. Have a nice rest.

      • It would be nice, but I can’t. We just had the best long weekend ever, and now I have to get my butt in gear and get ready for work. I went to a bookstore all by myself and wandered around for as long as I wanted, visited a garden place and bought all my flowers, planted all our gardens including the veggie garden and mulched my flower gardens, cut the grass, fertilized the grass, went to see the new Star Trek movie (awesome!), and then sat and read ALL day yesterday. In fact, I read a whole book :). It was an awesome weekend!!

      • TBM says:

        cut out the gardening part and it all sounds wonderful. I’ve never been a fan of dirt, especially getting dirt on my hands. Not sure why I was called Princess when I was little. Oh and I spent time in bookstores as well. Might as well confess the book ban had an emergency halt in Malaysia. I only packed one book. It was a mistake since I finished it before my flights home. I can’t travel without a book. I just can’t. So I had to buy one. Then for my bday the Better Half treated me. Probably should put the book ban back in place and pack better next time.

      • I actually don’t really care for gardening much myself. That’s why I’m ecstatic when I can get it all done in just one weekend and then just watch it turn pretty all summer. I even put mulch in my gardens to smother the weeds so I don’t have to spend any time weeding :). As for books, why the heck didn’t you take your Kindle??? Then you would never run out of books :).

      • TBM says:

        That’s great then. One day–boom done! I didn’t bring any electronics except my camera since we were traveling in the rain forest. I can only bring so many waterproof bags. And I don’t like carrying extra weight which is why I only brought one book. Such bad planning. I knew I had three days on a beach at the end of the trip.

      • Oh ya, I never thought about the rain forest. Oh well, next time you will know :).

      • TBM says:

        Don’t worry, I’ll figure out a way to mess up packing. Each time I fix one problem and create three more. Two trips ago I forgot to pack the better half’s glasses. Fortunately there were no contact lens mishaps but we always try to wear our glasses part of the day to give our eyes a rest. By the end of the trip the better half’s eyes were so red and sore looking. I felt horrible.

      • So, what you are saying is that I shouldn’t ask you for packing tips??? LOL

      • TBM says:

        I would advise against it. I can say, make sure your dry socks, hat, and gloves are in a waterproof bag whilst hiking in a rain forest. I learned that one.

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Great pics … but your writing makes me feel the agony!

  5. bocafrau says:

    Wow. Sounds crazy. I couldn’t even imagine. I would have hated to be stuck in the rain, especially when it’s cold!

  6. samokan says:

    I feel u. I know how it feels climbing under the rain, mine was a few years ago but my backpack was literally empty and the climb was short less than an hour so I can just imagine how you are feeling at that moment.

  7. nrlymrtl says:

    You are a crazy woman. But I admire your stubborn streak. And I like living vicariously through your posts. I have never done a hike like that at all.

  8. rain! that’s such a shame 😦 what happens to the poor folks who crash and burn and can’t make it to the top?

    • TBM says:

      They have mountain taxis–a porter carries you down on their back. I have heard that one man paid for a helicopter to get him. It was only 300 bucks–If I knew that at the time I would have ordered one.

  9. bulldog says:

    I feel your pain… turn back,, and your never going to be able to say you did it… continue and reap the rewards… only one choice… but I certainly feel for you…

  10. Guilezilla says:

    Even though all these happened, I want to experience it!

  11. I admire you, I would have stopped after the first .5km!

  12. vinnieh says:

    What an amazing journey you went on.

  13. wolke205 says:

    So so so many stairs 😀

  14. poppytump says:

    Stairs … ooh a real thigh buster ! Go on TBM ….

  15. I guess stairs are better than rocks, but that would wear me out in a heartbeat!
    The way you wrote this, I felt like I was slogging right along with you. Now I’m exhausted. 🙂 I do admire your fortitude, TBM.

  16. Carol says:

    Sounds miserable. But you did it! and it looks gorgeous.

    • TBM says:

      I will admit, it was miserable for me. A shame really, the area is beautiful. But I had my head down most of the time.

  17. It was very interesting reading about your climb in the rain. A few years from now you will wonder what that fuss was all about..it was just rain…not like it was lava or something pouring down the slopes.
    Not meaning to scare you, but I hope there were no leaches in the rain forest. LOL.

    • TBM says:

      We didn’t see leaches on this part of the trip, but we did encounter them a week or so later. I’m not a huge fan of them and they do creep me out. But more on that later.

  18. Fergiemoto says:

    Oh my goodness! Pouring rain as well as a difficult climb (or impossible, perhaps, for me)…that’s not a good combination. I can feel your pain as I read your words. Yet you accomplished it so far! YAY!

    • TBM says:

      There were times I thought it was impossible. Thank goodness the guide was patient and at times told me where to step and where to hold on.

  19. Robyn G says:

    Just Wow!
    I’m so glad you decided to write about this.
    It could be a movie script.
    Waiting for the next instalment.

  20. But YOU DID IT! 😉

  21. fgassette says:

    An amazing accomplishment. I would have stopped as soon as I saw those steps. CONGRATULATIONS FOR HANGING IN THERE! WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!


    • TBM says:

      The stairs were brutal and seemed never ending. Then it just became a rocky path that was even worse. I missed the stairs. Thanks Francine.

  22. pattisj says:

    This sounds like torture! I had to translate kms to miles to get a feel for your distance. But there’s no accounting for trails that disappear, slippery slopes, wide temperature swings and verticle climb. I’m glad you made it to the summit, though, after all that.

    • TBM says:

      The guide kept saying, 100 meters and you can rest. At first I was like, cool. Runners complete 100 meters in 10 seconds, how far can it be. Um, far. Those runners are amazing and I now really appreciate the 100 meter dash.

  23. Pingback: Mostly Mental | 50 Year Project

  24. Madhu says:

    That required guts! You really are a superhero girl! 🙂

  25. Valentina says:

    I felt your stress and your pain. You have courage no doubt.

  26. Pingback: Don’t quit now | 50 Year Project

  27. Caroline says:

    I really like these pictures, the little guy soooo cute and the vegetation just wonderful, so lush and green. i would have enjoyed this part of the hike. Maybe not the steps though.

  28. thirdeyemom says:

    Sounds like quite a climb! Rain just adds to the fun. Same thing happened when I climbed Machu Picchu. The stone steps were not only brutal but very steep and small because the Incas were so short.

    • TBM says:

      How many days did you climb Machu Picchu? I’m thinking of doing that within the next year or so.

      • thirdeyemom says:

        I think four. It books up very quickly so I would look into it soon. Google has good tips on travel outfitters. It was a fantastic trip. Now they limit the number of people who can go is why I think it may be a year wait unless you go with the right company.

      • TBM says:

        I have heard that they limit the number of people, which is good. They need to protect the area. We still have over a year before we plan on going and our group has started the serious “talks” so hopefully we can get it sorted soon and get our spot booked. However, we haven’t decided the whole itinerary yet so this may not make the final cut. I’ll do it at some point though. Thanks!

      • thirdeyemom says:

        Ah….you have to do it! It is one of the best hikes I’ve done and priceless!!!!

      • TBM says:

        Good to know! I’ll let the group know. Everyone who is going has hiked Mount Kinabalu so I know all of us are in shape. Now we just have to stay that way.

  29. Novroz says:

    my mountain climbing/hiking days.
    I love the photos you have taken.
    The rain is quite common in this part of Asia 😉

  30. Bravo! i’m so impressed with your tenacity. how good you must feel to have accomplished something most of us wouldn’t even attempt. great writing too. I felt the humidity and the rain and i’m reading this in a cool sunny spot.

  31. Oh, I’ve been so busy this week but couldn’t wait to read your post about the climb, er, hike. My goodness. You deserve to wear one of those t-shirts that say I hiked Mount Kinabalu and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!
    Shall we call this “character building?” Ha.

    • TBM says:

      I like the phrase character building now, but when people said that to me when I was a sullen teenager I hated it. But I hated most everything then 🙂

  32. niasunset says:

    seems that it was a beautiful exxperience to be there… I loved your photographs. Thank you dear TBM, Love, nia

  33. fendikristin says:

    Oh My God! The rain made it worst 😦
    I can feel the cold that you feel at that time brrrr…. and it’s good that they have a rest home in that kind of height, when I climbed Mount Gede we must sleep in our sleeping bed with no roof at all, our roof is the sky. Luckily the rainfall is not as bad in Kinabalu.

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