A Slow Slow Climb – Sabah Trip #3

November 25, 2015 at 12:36 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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A note from Itchyfingers:
This is another long-overdued post. During our stay in Penang this June for the Pisang Relay Run, we learned from the TV about the Sabah Earthquake. 😦  Like most people, we did not expect earthquake to happen and could happen in Malaysia. Though Itchyfingers did not attempt the climb to Mount Kinabalu when we visited the park last June, we could almost feel the helplessness of those climbers who were injured or stranded on the mountain. It was even sadder to know that 18 primary school students from Singapore died on the mountain. Hence Itchyfingers thought it was inappropriate to post our trip during that sad period. Itchyfingers had a minor accident when we were in the park, but it was really nothing compared to what these earthquake victims had gone through. May these young souls rest in peace.


One of the reasons for visiting the Kinabalu National Park was to look for the montane pitcher plants. Tisu Boy read that we were supposed to be able to find the largest pitcher plant, the Nepenthes rajah, at Mersilau Resort. That was why he decided that we should stay here and not at the other resorts nearer to the Park HQ.

Remember we mentioned about this path along the covered walkway to and from our room? It led into the forest and had a DO NOT ENTER sign. After reading the guidebook we realised this was the path to see the Nepenthes rajah! But it seemed like we would need some permit to enter….

We confirmed at the ranger station that it was called the Nepenthes Trail and was indeed the path to see Nepenthes rajah. Unfortunately, it had to be temporarily closed due to a recent landslide! :O

There are two main starting points for the climb to the Summit: the Timpohon Gate (located 5.5 km from Kinabalu Park Headquarters, at an altitude of 1,866 metres and the Mesilau Nature Resort, which was where we were. It was supposed to be the more challenging one cos the starting point is slightly higher in elevation, then crosses a ridge, adding about two kilometres to the ascent and making the total elevation gain slightly higher. The two trails meet about two kilometres before Laban Rata, where climbers usually stay for the night.

Trail map from the official website

Since we weren’t prepared and didn’t book any guide to climb the mountain, we were told that we could still walk up the trail as far to the Layang-layang Hut. But a return trip may take us about 5hours! The gate would also be closed at 4pm. It was already close to 10am. Not really possible for us to finish the whole trail and return before gate closes without rushing, or unless we do not take any photos. We decided that we would just walk a portion of it for the experience.

RM10 per person for this loop trail

Some other people with itchy fingers arranged these flowers in a heart shape outside the ranger office. We had lots of these flowers outside our room!

A hairy caterpillar was spotted when we began our ascent slightly after 10am

Looked like a pretty easy walk from here!

But slowly, the steps got higher….still manageable!

Knowing that we would not be able to finish the whole loop before the gate closed, we took our own sweet time taking photos…

Lots of small montane orchids

So pretty!

So small were some of these orchids that one could easily have missed them unless you slowed down and look around

The whole trail was 5.5km, and at every 500m there was supposed to have a marker. But since we were at our snail speed taking photos….

It took Itchyfingers 40minutes to reach the first 5oo metres! Incredible! :p

The trail was mostly quiet, as all the climbers had already left early in the morning after their breakfast. Hence we were not in anyone’s way climbing up so slowly. There were only another Indian couple who came up later than us. They didn’t carry any big bags with them and were not taking photos, so very soon they passed us.

Quiet except for the sound of cicadas….

More and more steps…Bag getting so heavy…hahha

Looks like wings! 😀

As we went higher, we could see mist coming in. Could feel a bit more chilly too…Wonder if we missed the next 500 meter marker?

Closed to two hours after we started our climb, we finally reached 1km! Record breaking slow! Haha!

We heard some sound and thought we had caught up with the Indian couple. Soon, we reached a pavilion and saw a Caucasian couple resting there instead.

It was really foggy now especially when we looked across the valley.

Time for a selfie! 😀

Nice colours!

These flowers were quite common up here!

We were lamenting that until now there were no pitcher plants to be found…Then…

We spotted a pitcher! But these looked like the Slender Pitcher we have back home…

Then we spotted more pitcher plants! They were so tiny, about 4cm tall only! :O

A closer look…We spent a fair bit of time admiring and taking photos…

Getting tired and hungry…It was already quarter to one in the afternoon…

Aiyo, so rocky….The Indian couple were nowhere to be seen…Don’t think they could finish the loop too cos they were panting really hard even without heavy bags…

More pitcher plants! 😀

Begonia leaves

We spent so much time shooting the pitchers and other plants. Finally we reached the next distance marker!

1.20pm! Finally reached 1.5km!!

It was around this time that we finally saw the Indian Couple again. They said they walked to the 2km marker – it was supposed to be down all the way there. But that also meant that we would have to climb up all the way on our return trip. They told us they saw something, but we couldn’t catch that properly. :p

We took a look at the terrain ahead….

Looking at the time, we decided that we could not afford the time to the 2km marker. For most people, going downhill is easier than going uphill. But for this clumsy Itchyfingers, I always have a problem going down cos of a phobia of slipping down…That went  back years ago when I went trekking in Nepal and slipped and fell on the first day of the trek! Hahah….embarrassing! So, although going uphill is more tiring, I think I still prefer that… :p Anyway, with my kinda speed for going downhill, I don’t think we could reach 2km fast enough for us to turn around and make it back to the gate at 4pm. We were really getting hungry. So we decided to head back to the pavilion for a rest and snack.

Back at the pavilion, the fog had cleared up a bit…

Could see some waterfall! :p

Tisu Boy was busy taking photos of the waterfall while I was already sitting comfortably in the pavilion munching my muesli bar…So engrossed that he didn’t notice the roof of the pavilion and just jumped down, knocking his head against it quite hard! 😀 Hahahah!!! Now who was the clumsy one?? 😀 Good to be shorter sometimes…hahaha 

It was already half past two when we took our snack. So we had about 1.5hr to return to the gate…But Tisu Boy was still taking photos of plants that he missed along the way. 😮


And this clumsy Tisu person was having weak knees negotiating the big rocks down….Gotta use the tripod leg as a walking stick…By now, Tisu Boy was also feeling the burden of his camera and bag and had to use the makeshift walking stick too…

The sky was getting a bit dark, seemed like going to rain anytime, so we had to hurry! By the time we finally reached the bottom at the gate, it was already 3.40pm! The caterpillar was still on the same piece of leave! :p Made it in time! But I think we also made it as the slowest people to climb this trail and still unable to finish it within 5 hours! Hahahah!!!!

Also see related posts:
> A Different Garden – Sabah Trip #2
> So Near Yet So Far – Sabah Trio #1


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