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Mesilau Trail Experience, Mountain Kota Kinabalu

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4 April 2013
Our hiking team consists of 14 team members. Due to the different of flight schedule, 9 of the team members travel to Kota Kinabau from  3 April 2013 to 7 April 2013. We called them Group A(GA). The rest of us (5 team members include me) is Group B(GB). Terry is in charge of GA too. Since GA arrive earlier than GB, Terry helps us to register and take name tags from the Kota Kinabalu Park HQ. our tourist guide, silver help us to pack food for GB as supper.

We arrived late around 12 midnight. The night before the hike, we stay at Mesilau Nature Resort, Bishop Head 1. The room was great with all the facilities well equipped.I was very excited to see the sky is full of stars.After supper and bath, CS and me have great star gazing session from the car park.

5 April 2013
I only get a few hours sleep before the hike. Reasons were we arrive late to Kota Kinabalu and not able to sleep well due to coldness.In the morning, I was so excited that we are going to hike the mountain soon. After a great breakfast, we took our own lunch package from the hotel too. The cook prepared 2 bananas and 3 triangle shape sandwich for us.

8.30am, we were introduced to our mountain guides. They are Ah Tong, Willy and Adin. Ah Tong briefed us on the safety guideline of hiking the mountain. He advice us not to wait for any slow team members.It will jeopardize the whole team speed from reaching the Laban Rata Hostel. Normal people will hike 1 km per hour. He encouraged us to go faster. Since Mount KK is high in altitude, no mosquitoes can be found here. Mesilau trail starting point to Laban Rata Rest House is around 8km. He assumed us travel at normal speed, should be able to reach by 5pm.

Porter fee
Timpohon trail 1 kg = RM8
Mesilau trail 1kg = RM9

Mountain Taxi 
This mean a hiker is injured or out of energy but still have high determination to reach the peak. Porter can carry the hiker up by charging RM350 per km. There are different rate too. If uphill journey, porter may charge more which is RM400 per km.

Porter fee was paid before the journey start.  We paid RM450 for a total of 50kg (if not mistaken).

At 9.00am we start to hike the summit trail from Mesilau Gate. The first 1km, I do not feel any difficult in climbing. I was quite happy as i only used 30 minutes to complete the first 1 km.

As I proceed the second km and third km, I started to feel tired but still high in spirit. At each rest house, I dare not rest too long. The longer you rest, the harder you get up and walk again.

Then I start to forget to record the timing of my speed and distance. Between the 3km and 4km , most of the road is downhill. I have bad experiences with walking down staircase before. The shadow of the bad memory kept playing in my mind. Each steps I took, I prayed  very hard. CS was beside me all time helping me to walk each steps. His warm hand lighten my stress a bit

As I experienced coldness, I wore up my windbreaker and rest at one of the rest point. Willy began to notice my weird behavior when travel down hill.  He started to trail behind us to ensure our safeness.

Around 1pm, we met up Ah Tong at one of the rest point. While having lunch, Ah Tong shared with us  some stories happened in Mount KK (Please refer to "Stories told by Mountain Guides"). We met a guy from Air Asia Flight Operation department. During lunch time, I was having great time chatting with others and enjoy my meal. After lunch, my worst nightmare occurred.

It was raining. I exchanged my rain coat with CS as my rain coat was smaller in size. I wore Ah Tong spare rain coat as it was big enough to cover my whole body include my small back pack.  The rain began to fall more heavy as we hike higher and higher. I started to feel shortage of breath. I kept have buzzing sound in my eara due to the higher altitude.  Dizziness began to take over me. My eye sight turned blurry. I was very scard. Willy kept asking me to rest longer. I lied to them by saying I am just fine. My speed was dragging everyone behind. I forced myself to keep moving forward.

At 4.5km, I feel nausea. I tried to vomit but only air and saliva was out.  Willy kept asking me on my health history. This time, CS and Willy forced me to rest longer as I was very pale and my body kept shivering. I took a really long rest then start to walk again. CS requested me at least make it to Laban Rata Rest House.I wanted to meet my friends in Laban Rata too.

When we start walking again, it was raining heavily. My shoes, socks and pants were very wet. I felt terrible cold. I began to trembling. Each step i take, my body felt more heavy. I faced difficulty in lifting my legs. My eye sight was very poor. I can't see the staircases properly. Willy forced me to sit down on the staircase under the big rain. I was shivering terribly. I was very scard and worry. I didn't meet CS's expectation.  Willy and CS tried to warm my hand and head by rubbing them. After some time, I felt better and start walking again.

At the last 600m to the Laban Rata cross road, I not very sure how I walk. CS and Willy had been dragging me toward the cross road. The rain never seem to stop. All I knew was cold. Very cold. Very dizzy. Very heavy.Once I see the signboard, Right to Laban Rata and Left to Timpohon Gate. I flopped down on the floor. I was breathing so hard. My body was trembling and shivering uncontrollably and vigorously. Willy was rubbing my head hard. I felt numb. My head was spinning.

I not very sure how the shivering stop and how I gain back my conscious.I felt clear again because I felt wind gushing around me. I was awake then when I realised Willy was carrying me downhill at incredible speed. I was requested to spend my night with the park rangers at Layang-Layang park ranger hostel. Thankful to CS, he abandon his goal and accompany me there for a night.

While resting in Layang-Layang hut, Willy explained to me that those symptom were hypothermia. Everyone have a limit to altitude. As the higher I go, my body can not adapt to the environment change. Oxygen not able to reach my brain on time. Therefore, I kept feeling dizzy. Willy and Adin left us when they see my condition more stable. I slept early that night. I was very grateful that park rangers shared their heater for our room.

6 April 2013

I felt so good like nothing ever happened before. 8.30am, we bid goodbye with park rangers and start to hike down Timpohon trail. This time, It was only me and CS. CS kept motivated me walk toward the end point. It took us 6 hours to hike down as I walked very slow. We were very happy when we saw "welcome back to Timpohon Gate" We were so happy that we forget to write our names on the log book. We proceed to take shuttle van to Kinabalu Park HQ.

Around 5pm, our teammates began to reach Kinabalu Park HQ. Our last team member reach around 7pm. Due to CS and my carelessness on forget to write name on log book, Ah Tong and Adin need to spend some time drink coffee(explain situation) with park rangers.  Park rangers really worry that someone went missing in the mountain.

Once I back in town, I checked online. My symptoms meet the hypothermia description perfectly. I was having moderate hypothermia. If my symptoms turn worse, It will became severe hypothermia. CS warned me not to hike Mount KK again. He thought I was going to die when reaching the crossroad. Mountain guide was quite optimist in this case. He want me to have full body check up and training. Willy mentioned that I only can hike mount kk again if I have doctor approval letter.

Lessons  I learn
  • have body check up before extreme outdoor activity
  • do not over push physical limit
  • donate your raincoat and walking stick to mountain guide if you did not wish to bring home
  • respect the nature 
  • I read wikipedia on hypothermia. Rescuers only want to save so some time we misunderstand their action. One of the rescue technique is keep rubbing chest using plastic bag. At one point, they keep looking for plastic bags but fail. As plastic bag is a good heat conductor when rubbing chest part. In the end, they only rub my head, hands and legs in order for the patient keep warm.

I love the beautiful scenery of mount KK. However, due to this experience, I need to be more prepared when travel to high altitude place.

1 comment :

  1. So sorry to read about your experience with hypothermia during the hike! thanks for sharing the experience though - I just came back from the climb, and it was useful to have read experiences like yours, so I knew what to look out for! Thanks!


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