Mt. Kinabalu Trek Travelogue

Well its been quite a while that I am back at work and has been busy these days with loads of work and hence couldn’t do this earlier. The experience I had in KK I am still on a high. It was an unforgettable experience. As I have already given the details about my drive experience and the preparations for the trip, I shall directly go to my trek in this post.

Arrived Mesilau at around 8.50AM and then I started the trek. The guide for the climb was 40 year old man by name Dalios, a very friendly guy and could speak a little English. He was an informative guy and have already reached the summit more than 800 times. Yes you have seen it right, more than 800 times. We asked him as how much time it would take for us to reach Laban Rata. He said we can reach by 4PM if we are fast enough. Our group as everybody were youngsters we thought we may reach by that time or earlier. Dalios said that the slowest person would dictate the pace. He also said that he would remain with this group until we come back to head quarters.

The trail was just a single path all the way till the top with all the sign boards hear and there with no hope of getting lost. As we started off, I forged ahead at my own pace ahead of all my friends. Once we reached the 500m mark in just 20 minutes we were all delighted and took some pictures with the sign board. From here on for every 500 mts we could see the change in the expressions on the faces of the group.

Just before we reached 1KM mark we came across a very beautiful scenic place where we could see the donkeys ears peak through the clouds far away. We all thought it would be the KK summit and were afraid to see it so far and asked Dalios if that was the summit. To our surprise he said we cannot see the summit from there and its far away from there. Now we knew what was in store for the rest of the day for us. Hence from there on deliberately we were all holding back and taking it easy one step at a time and not getting tired by doing some heroics. At about 1KM Nagaraj and Mahesh gave their bags to Dalios to carry as they were not able to do it by carrying the bag. I took some luggage from Santosh to make it lighter for him.

The stretch from 3KM mark to 3.5KM mark was the toughest in the whole trail till Laban Rata. Everybody was so tired that we took more than 10 minutes break at this point of time. Similarly at every 500 mts from here we started taking small breaks. The whole trail was not just climbing a single mountain, but it was climbing up a mountain twice and descending down twice and the climb the third one. Hence because of this we were exhausted a lot through the journey.

We had about 4 km left to cover and we reached Layang Layang which was the intersection point for the Timpohan and Mesilau trails. From here on we all were feeling the effects of the altitude slightly and this was slowing up in my group. From here on it was like resting around every 100 metres or so. All the way I took charge and tried motivating the group to move faster and take less breaks. 2KM was left and I could push everybody till then and from here on Mahesh slowed down and was stopping for every 50 steps he was taking. I asked other to go ahead and tried motivating Mahesh all the way up to Laban Rata. The path was treacherous in some places so we had to be very careful with our footing.

During our way up we heard somebody running down. When looked up we were shocked to see one of the guys from the Park running down the mountain. Now you might think anybody can do it, but then this guy was carrying an empty gas cylinder strapped to his back. We just couldn’t believe our eyes. Here are struggling every 50 metres with a small back pack and there was a guy with a gas cylinder on his back and running full tilt down the same track. I tried showing those guys and some fit old people climbing with ease to Mahesh and tried motivating him. But it was of no use as Mahesh took his own sweet time to go up to Laban Rata. We reached Laban Rata at around 18.30 hrs, the rest of my group arrived at 18.15 hrs.

Mahesh was literally shivering because of the temperature on top and also because of the cold breeze. We took a wise decision to take extra jackets and hence rented 5 jackets. We had our dinner there. Nobody was in a mood to actually eat anything but then we need something to start oru early morning trek that night. Dalios to came to us and asked if we are going to come for the supper at 2AM. I and Surya were the fit guys then and hence we volunteered to come down again from the lodge which was 200 mts ahead from this place and get the food.

We tried for a warm room at the reception for Mahesh as he was not at all in a position to again come into the cold night. As there were no rooms available we had to move on and reach the lodge 200mts away. We were not sure how the rooms were. We just knew that they are not warm rooms and were scared of the temperature there. We reached the lodge and saw that it was just a small room with 4 bunker beds. We 5 people adjusted in that 4 bunker room itself. We slept after having pain relief tablets, headache tablets and some pain relief cream and spray.

Alarm woke me at around 01.15 hrs from a very deep sleep. If it was any normal day then I would have definitely turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. I bet quite a few people did just that. But I was determined and had got this far and in another 3 hours or so I would be at Low’s Peak. So I forced myself out of bed and woke up Surya and we both left for getting supper for other 3. We went down had some hot coffee before and after our supper which included bread and egg. We packed the same for Nagaraj, Mahesh and Santosh. We went back to room and woke them up to have their supper. There was a stage when Santosh said he will not be able to make it and he would sleep there. But we all motivated him and finally made them get ready and started off at around 2.30AM.

Everybody virtually started the climb together in the pitch darkness. It was a wonderful sight to see all the torches and head torches ahead and behind us snaking their way up the mountain. From here on I have seen something common with all the groups going up. Everybody have started off slow and were going very slowly with very less stops. Our group were able to make it to the first stop at a single stretch which was 500mts away. At this point we stopped and saw everybody climbing the rock marked out by a rope. I was excited to see that as we have to do some rope rappelling all the way for more than 1KM. We started off and as Surya, Santosh and Nagaraj climbed, Mahesh got a little scared and did not want to climb up catching that rope. I had to shout at him a lot and convince him. He then started off after me keeping a hand behind him all the way just to make sure that I am with him.

We climbed for certain distance and reached the check point where we were asked to show our registration card and the number. The guy sitting there noted and asked us to show once we descend down. All this morning trek I was feeling very energetic and did not got any issues with the altitude. Nagaraj was literally down with headache because of the altitude change. I had to take charge and had to literally push him along the way for some distance. Just after I was able to see the summit, my back started aching and I was hardly able to walk up.

As it started to get lighter as day broke I was beginning to see the mountain and surrounding areas in all their magnificent glory. On arriving at the edge of Lows Peak there was many people at the summit. I waited until Nagraj and Santosh also reached that point. Then we took some pics with the beautiful sunrise behind the mountains. From there it was around 200mts to reach the summit. This was yet another tough trail in the whole journey. Mahesh, Nagaraj and Santosh did not dare to come up while me and Surya wanted to reach the summit and hence started going up. We reached at the top and took some pics and video at the top.

Then it was the long decent back down to Laban Rata. Coming down in the daylight gave us a view of what we had climbed in the dark. It was quite scary. At this point Mahesh was yet again tired and Nagaraj was suffering from severe headache and I was suffering from severe back pain, we were slow in coming down the trek. On the way down we decided to take a short nap of 15 minutes and then leave for the descend. We reached the room and slept for a 20 minutes and then started off with all the luggage and checked out of the rooms.

We took some breakfast and also took some pics with the surroundings. As there was water available at all the rest houses we just took 2 small bottles along with us. Yet again I had to carry the heaviest bag after Dalios as he was carrying Nagaraj and Mahesh’s bag.

On the way down we saw something different to what we saw during the ascend. We saw all the people on their way up and we offered some encouragement. There were questions being asked and answered. The only way I have been motivating people was by telling them just 30 mins more or 1 hour more and its easy just go on. Seeing the local men and women climbing this mountain with three or four rucksacks, seeing them climb with all the provisions for the Laban Rat was just amazing, the fitness levels of these guys is truly amazing. But what absolutely took my breath away was seeing these guys carrying up the full cylinders upto laban rata. I just couldn’t believe it.

On the way down Santosh cramped his leg very very badly but did not stop anywhere. We were astonished to see his determination to finish the trek and not to make the things slower. We made very poor time going up when compared to coming down according to our guide. We reached the bottom at around 18.30. Land Cruiser came to pick us up from the Timpohan Gate ot the head quarters. At the head quarter we picked up our certificates and gave our guide his very well earned tip.

Everybody was tired and we planned in such a way that we should drive directly for dinner and then go for a good massage so that we can reduce all the pains. Surya yet again drove the car all the way to KK town. We had dinner at Anjappar and then went for a nice Thai massage for 2 hours which proved to have a great effect on all of us.
All in all this was an experience of a life time and something that will remain in my memory for the rest of my life. What more can I say. It is not easy but the end product arriving at Lows Peak makes all the effort worthwhile. All in all, two memorable days.

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