I reached Mt. Kinabalu’s Lowe’s Peak at around quarter to 7am, meeting several of my (fast) team mates just below the final push who were already going down. We started joking around, took turns at taking photos and then parting ways.
I looked at my watch thinking I need to make the cut-off time at Sayat-sayat for the Ferrata, so I have less than an hour to get down to km7 or known as the checkpoint. Can I make it on time considering the steep descent, rope segments and my knees?
Thankfully, I did not suffer headache, a symptom of altitude sickness and it meant I was able to adopt with the altitude.
The signage at last!
Gratitude, joy and a sense of self awashed me all at once.
I asked a fellow hiker who was already going down to take photos of me with the signage, which he gladly obliged. He even asked me if the shots he took were okay, I smiled and said “yes, thank you” and he left me to catch up with his buddy.
I was left alone at the peak.
Looking at the vast granite floor in front of me was like looking at a dead landscape, stone laid out in a flat fashion smoothed by elements of nature. No trees in sight, beyond that are mountain ranges that composes the Kota Kinabalu National Park.
The sky felt so near that if I decided to reach out I can touch it. I looked at the other side and saw a huge caldera and the rising boulders and I wish I could stay a little bit longer. The beauty was so eerily captivating and euphoria is taking over my being.
My team and I were extremely lucky and thankful that the mountain allowed us to see its summit and beauty that she is. The sun was shining, the sky was in its most beautiful shade of blue and fluffy clouds are floating with no intentions to move.
What more could I ask? I stood there in awe and at that moment every damn thing in my life was perfect.
But 10 minutes was gone too soon and I had to start my descent. Before the final push to the signage of the mountain, I met several of my friends, I congratulated them and said “I need to get down for the walk the torq” since they won’t be joining in. I was in a rush that I forgot to take a photo of them, a photo of us, to celebrate with them the joy of reaching the top. I think I would always regret that and it was a lesson learned.
I started running down the slope from km 8, stopping once in a while to catch my breathe. I am thankful to the traction of my shoes and the rough surface of granite stone. The ropes were a lot of help too.
In my mind, a small voice was shouting for me to decrease the speed, one wrong step and I could tumble down to the waiting nothingness and then the rocks below. Call it the recklessness of youth or just plain stupidity.
At 10 minutes to 8am I reached the checkpoint, the guy manning the registration smiled and offered me a hearty congratulations and then registered me again for the ferrata or known as “walk the torq”.
And there I discovered my fears. One segment almost brought me to my knees and I would never forget how both almost turned to jelly but the rest was fun.
I am thankful to have lived this far to experience this mountain.
Life has too many experiences to offer, it doesn’t end when a relationship ends, it doesn’t become worthless because a dream didn’t come true or it doesn’t become meaningless because of several failures.
One thing I’ve also came to realize was that: it is not the physically strong who survives, most often it’s those who are strong emotionally, it’s those who stand up (always) even after a defeat.
Take a glimpse at several snaps I took and I hope it will encourage you too to take the journey.
How to arrange a climb in Mt. Kinabalu? There are three ways how to do it, read it here.