Monday, July 10, 2017

Pen's Travels: Respecting Mount Kinabalu

“If you disrespect the mountain, nature will disrespect you” warns our worried-looking guide, Felix.

The earthquake on Mount Kinabalu that killed 19 people two-years ago, was attributed to the disrespectful actions of hikers two weeks before.

Deeply superstitious, the local people blamed the tourists, who stripped naked for photos at the summit for the subsequent seismic movement.

So, following a lengthy briefing on respecting the mountain, what to do in an earthquake, danger zones (after which I couldn’t get the soundtrack from Top Gun out of my head), slippy rocks and AMS (really?), we set off to climb Mt. Kinabalu.

The trail is just 8km long from the mountain park gate but has 2,000m ascent to the 4095m summit.

We weave our way up through the rainforest passing waterfalls, trees dripping with moss and ferns, clambering over rocks and climbing up steps.

Thousands of steps. It is humid. Really humid. By 1km we are dripping with sweat.

I look at the porters quietly carrying their loads up the mountain. Apparently the regulation weight for porter loads is 10kg and they must be at least 16. They look too young to me.

The Bornean porters bear similar massive loads to the porters on Kilimanjaro but they are much better equipped.

I ask a group of porters if I can try to lift a load. I don’t get it off the ground. It is definitely heavier than 10kg! The porters laugh at my feebleness. I am in awe of them.

We pass a couple of giggling Korean girls on the trail and then spot their bight yellow suitcases on the back of a young lad.

Each member of our team carries everything we need for the two days ourselves. It’s only two days – you don’t need that suitcase!!

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