We rose from our slumber at 6:00 am, got dressed and packed. We were being picked up at 7:30am to begin our ascent of my second mountain in under three months and Karine and my first together. Wandering down to the restaurant for breakfast we caught our first glimpse of the mountain. It had snuck out from behind the clouds just long enough for us to be awestruck, intimidated and overwhelmed all at once.
Breakfast was average to say the least. It comprised of very sweet sugary white bread with sweet seedless jam and more sugar than any westernised health organisation would allow. It was not really enough to sustain us for the six hour first day we were about to embark on. Sustenance is something you really need to have when you are trekking in high temperatures with high humidity at high altitude.
We arrived at the Mount Kinabalu World Heritage Park and were welcomed by our tour coordinator. He organised our registration and introduced us to our guide Frendy. Frendy was only just back from his Xmas break and was feeling a little heavier because of the Xmas feasting. He weighed about 62 kilograms at best and I laughed to myself……..hehehehe.
Once we were registered we were off on our adventure to climb a mountain. An invisible mountain at this stage as it had not fully exposed itself to us, only glimpses and sneaky peeks. Arriving at the starting point we signed the book and headed out into the rainforest. The altitude was about 1800 metres above sea level (ASL). Walking past some of the most beautiful flora I have ever seen. It was everywhere. There are more plant species in this park than in Europe and north America combined. There were 30 types of bamboo in 500 vertical metres of elevation.
As we moved further up passing each rest hut we began to notice the pain kicking in. Our legs were fatiguing from all the stairs. We were walking past areas that had been affected by the May 2015 earthquake (5.7 magnitude). Huge landslides had wiped out the trail that we were ascending and they had to be rebuilt to accommodate the trekkers from around the world. We were now at hut number 5 and still had 2 huts to go and then some to reach our overnight stop.
Karine and I were both enjoying walking through the rainforest and taking photos of some of the more exotic plants, some actual carnivores…….or at least they give off some sort of scent that attracts flies and other little flying beasties into their clutches. Taking photos also took our mind off the ever increasing fatigue in our bodies and inspired us to keep moving…..palum palum……up.
Passing hut 6 saw us walk into an new vegetation zone. We were now in the alpine forest. As the rainforest disappeared and a more robust arid type of foliage began to emerge, I noticed the temperature drop quite sharply. It was like we had reached a certain altitude and it was suddenly cold. Hut 7 was at approximately 3100 metres ASL. This was our last chance to rest before we headed up to 3292 metres ASL and our final stop for the next few hours.
Arriving at Pendant Hut, our home for the next 12 hours was blessed relief. We had reached our rest point and just in the nick of time. Our legs were killing us and the weather was starting to turn bad. We rested and slept for a couple hours and then woke to have our dinner. great meal too, really enjoyed it. the food at the big hut was sensation and we over indulged with enthusiasm. It was now 6:30pm and we were off to bed sleep as long as we could.
We witnessed the most beautiful sunset before dozing off to sleep.