Hiking matters #149: From Timpohon Gate, the rainy march to Laban Rata

After a sumptuous buffet breakfast at Promenade Hotel, the 30-man Mt. Kinabalu Expedition Team took the 90-kilometer trip to the Mt. Kinabalu Park, and after meeting our guides and getting oriented, we began leaving Timpohon Gate at around 1010H. The instructions were clear: we have the whole day to reach Laban Rata; we can take our packed lunch along the trail, the trail is easy but since it was raining, some parts may turn treacherous. We donned our raincoats and ponchos before setting off for the climb.
It would be a 6 kilometer hike to Laban Rata. The trails are straightforward – too straightforward for some – and continuously ascends to reach over 3200 MASL – an altitude gain of over 1400 MASL or twice the height of Mt. Maculot’s Rockies.
Although the trail is very well-established, with wooden planks, distance signs, and pondoks every 500-700 meters, it is still fairly challenging, considering the steepness. And it becomes more difficult with the rains. Deprived of views that would have showed us the splendor of Kinabalu’s granite summit, we instead looked around for fauna and flora – and were rewarded handsomely,
Before nightfall, everybody had arrived in Laban Rata – the highest hotel in Southeast Asia. I was very pleased that, as expected, the buffet dinner had a lamb meal – and I got for myself a generous serving. The charm of Laban Rata is the cozy feel of everyone gathered in such an altitude – and indeed the only thing that kept us from fully enjoying it was the apprehension over the summit bid the next day. We prayed hard that the rain would stop and the team will reach the summit…

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