MT. KINABALU: Challenge Conquered! (Part 1 of 2)

MT. KINABALU: Challenge Conquered!

Mt. Kinabalu, known to be the highest summit in Southeast Asia, located off the shores of Sabah, Borneo Province in Malaysia. 

Just months after Mt. Arayat, my dad was like tara let's go hike Mt. Kinabalu! So being the Yes-girl that I was, very naive to these mountains and its difficulty; all I know I was up for an adventure! I also thought Kota Kinabalu sounded familiar I just didn't know where I heard it from. No doubt I said Yes! 

September 2014: This was the start of a real thrill I only get from hiking and visiting natural parks such as this beauty!

Let the wandering begin! 

The whole trip was planned by my dad and brother, so again, I only knew some parts of this trip. I just tagged along the whole time haha! One thing for sure was we let Amazing Borneo, their local agency, handle our tour. So we had to check in with them upon arriving at Borneo, to make sure everything was set for the hike next day. 

On Day 1 of the hike, a van from our tour package picked us up from our apartment at about 5am. Packed some snacks to eat for breakfast and along the trail. First check in was at their main station, the one with the gift shop (see pic below). We took another bus provided by the park so we can head to the jump off point. There, we met with our park guide where he gave us a quick briefing and our identification laminates which must be worn at all times.

An important thing that everyone planning to trek Mt. Kinabalu should know --- the non-stop steep upward ascent! Some were in wooden stairs form, and some were big rock boulders. Look, I had no idea what to expect with mountain hiking back then (so naive!), so I just pushed myself because I knew there was no turning back. Clearly, I surprised myself I was able to do it (again, thanks Shaun T's Insanity program!)

Fresh New Balance trail shoes! It's this pair's first hike, and I was glad I chose them! Not only did the bottom got traction, but also the mesh top was so light, it didn't feel like I was dragging heavy feet! 

Mt. Kinabalu's hike was a total of 8 kilometers, plus the remaining distance of Lowe's Peak Summit area. In Kilometers 1 and 2, excitement was rushing through my veins. My brother and I went ahead of our group because the more we stopped, the more it felt tiring. 

The lower area of Mt. Kinabalu was surrounded with trees and it was a bit more humid. In terms of outfit, something light would be more comfortable --- leggings, long sleeves, scarf. Later on, the rain-proof jackets would be useful. 

Upon reaching Kilometer 3, I got hungry so packing some light snacks came in handy!
A slice of bread with peanut butter, folded in half.
Peanut butter for the sugar and protein, and just a slice of bread for the carb.

As we ascent upwards, it started to drizzle, the ground started collecting puddles of water which turned to mud. This was also the part where we had to put our raincoats on because as we went upward, the weather was getting cold especially it was cold raindrops! This was also the part where my shoes were perfect because even if it got submerged in water, it still dried up quickly so I didn't have to worry about soggy feet. 

And the more we reached higher grounds, the wooden stairs turned to giant boulders. Big step for each one. Working out your quads and legs would be essential for this kind of trek, in my opinion. So better work them squats, girls! 

Two more kilometers until we reach Laban Rata, the quaint little cottage for sleep and rest for the next day's early hike!

Our Laban Rata's cottage booking was also part of the tour package which made this trip even more convenient! Imagine you're dead-tired and you just want to lie down in some warm bed, but you forgot to book a cottage! A disaster, right? So better book your tour packages rather than going there making a DIY itinerary of your own. 

Kilometer 5, and we were almost there! Oh did I mention that Mt. Kinabalu park was hiker friendly, that they made small huts for people to rest until they get enough energy to conquer the next kilometer! So yeah, my brother and I were already dead-beat but also gotta push some more!

The view was spectacular! Beautiful in its own muddy, rainy, foggy way! Climate was also getting chilly fast.

After spending the last 2 kilometers with our feet submerged in cold running muddy water, we finally reached Laban Rata, the 6th kilometer spot! Time check, it was around 3:30-4PM. Not bad for our pacing.
Day 1 hours to Laban Rata lodge: 6-7 hours

With this type of weather, having a protective raincoat for your backpack was a great way to keep your clothes dry. But this is not always fool-proof because the water can find its way through the straps of the bag and into your belongings! Best thing to do is to wrap your belongings in a huge garbage bag before placing it inside the backpack. Hiking hack!

After checking in and changing to fresh warm clothing, a buffet spread welcomed us! I still could not believe, not the hike, but the amount of food I devoured! 
Rice + noodles, carbs
Veggies, of course!
Meat with eggs, protein
Large mug of hot chocolate, sugar
3 small bananas (señorita), to avoid cramps
A bowl of taro soup, sugar and carb
A slice of bread and banana fritters, carb

Everything was communal in the lodge so better if you prepare your bag for the next day and get to bed early before the other hikers start to socialize. Also, no hot shower for this hike! The water was too damn cold and the weather was already freezing, so best you can do is wipe yourself with a damp towel instead. (A towel which you submerge in water and wring, not a freakin wet wipe!)

Call time for the next day was 2:30AM breakfast, and 3AM we should already be out and about! 
Mt. Kinabalu Day 2 post soon!

Mt. Kinabalu Check List

To wear:
  • Leggings
  • Long sleeve top
  • Sports bra & underwear
  • High socks
  • Trail shoes
  • Knee support (just in case)
  • Light cotton scarf
  • Weather-proof jacket
  • Fitness watch (optional)
  • Backpack (for clothing to be used the next day)

Inside backpack:
  • Snacks
  • Water (about 1L was alright for me)
  • Camera & phone
  • Sleepwear (Dri fit shorts and tshirt would do, pack light!)
  • Leggings (for Day 2)
  • Dri-fit shirt
  • Sports bra & underwear
  • Compression high socks
  • Toiletries
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Garbage bag