It is around 4 in the afternoon, and Vikki and I are drinking coffee in the restaurant at Laban Rata, the mountain hut complex where we will be staying this evening before we make a go for the top of Mount Kinabalu
to watch the sunrise there early tomorrow. Today we finished the first day of our 2 day trek up Mount Kinabalu
’s first UN World Heritage Site located in Kinabalu National Park
here in Sabah
. At 4095 meters (13,345 feet), Mount Kinabalu
is the highest peak between the Himalayas
and Papua New Guinea
We got an early start today when our tour operator sent a taxi to pick us up in Kota Kinabalu
at 6:30 a.m. to take us to Kinabalu National Park
. The nearly two hour drive went by quickly on the smooth sealed road. After registering with park authorities and obtaining our guide and permit, our driver dropped us off at the Timpohan Gate in the park. Here we began our walk on the Summit Trail. The Simpodohon Gate lies at 1866 meters, so we were already fairly high above sea level when we began our trek.
Today’s 6 kilometer trek was tough! While I had not expected today’s trek to be an easy one, the walk turned out to be nearly all uphill at a consistently high gradient. We had to walk up some 2500 stairs on the trail and step from rock to rock countless times as we slogged our way up. Quite frankly, today’s hike on the slog scale would be near the top with respect to any other 6 kilometer stretch I have hiked on my travels since last November. It would be interesting to compare the gradient here against other previously walked stretches.
A couple of other factors contributed to today’s slog factor as well. I also had the largest pack of any of the tourists I saw, as Vikki and I had pooled our gear into Vikki’s trekking backpack for me to carry. During recent treks, we had almost always had pack animals carrying our bags, leaving each of Vikki and I only to carry relatively small daypacks. I know, i’ve been getting spoiled on all of these supported trekking trips. We also had to endure hot and humid hiking conditions, and twice I changed my sweat-soaked shirt en route to Laban Rata. So the tough trail, pack weight and humidity combined to add an extra level of discomfort today.
As I look around the restaurant at the lodge right now, I can only marvel at how this place is absolutely packed with tourists also en route to the top of Mount Kinabalu
. There must be 200 guests staying here tonight. I can imagine it will get mighty crowded tomorrow - first, en route to the summit, and thereafter, on the actual summit itself - as some 200 or so of us tourists pose for photographs at the summit.
Although it is only late afternoon as I write this, I suspect tonight will be a very early night. As breakfast begins at 2 a.m. and we leave for the summit at around 3 a.m. tomorrow, we want to have some shut-eye before embarking for the top. Not to mention that i’m definitely exhausted after today’s slog to get here...