A Message to Mt Kinabalu, Regarding a Truly Terrible Hike

Dear Mt. Kinabalu,

You may be the highest peak in South East Asia and maybe you’re used to hearing people say how beautiful you are, and how your views are stunning – but sometimes you need to hear from the people who you beat down, whose will power you took so easily, as though it were a muffin from a buffet table. 

I’m sure on a normal day, hiking the 6km (as the crow flies) up to the lodge would be doable, and beautiful. It would be a day filled with clouds, giant trees, sunshine and sweaty people. 

But, this was not a normal day – today you decided to pour out rain as though this were a rainforest plagued with a drought and you had one day to fix the problem. 

Today was the day you made me question my faith in dry bags and anything sold as “water proof”. Today was a day that would have had weathermen named “Storm” out in giant yellow ponchos to report on the extraordinary amount of rain and interview the 105 climbers on whether (ha) the rain was a factor in them being cold: “do you think you would be this cold if it werent raining nonstop for five hours?” And then say, “now, back to the studio, where it’s dry as a hay stack in summer.”

Today was a day when it became obvious that cotton dries slower than synthetic material, and that all the cotton I had brought, that is now slowly dripping down the bannister in the rest house will not dry in time for the 2:30am climb to the summit – estimated temperature at 1am is -1C. 

And so, based on the fact that my shoes and my clothes are not going to dry, and I don’t want to pull myself up (by rope) to an icy peak while infact, turning to ice – I have decided (and I’m sure my parents would approve) not to summit 

Instead, I’m going to sleep in and retreat the 6km (more like 16km walking) down to the bottom after breakfast. 

Kinabalu, I hate you, you defeated me. My feet are still cold. 

Outback: I Will Always Love You…

Two weeks of driving through The Outback have sadly come to an end – I would cry tears but every part of my body has dried up and started cracking…

It’s been hours of driving between Road Houses – looking at the scenery change from light dust to dark red dust, from yellow tufts of dried grass, to great big trees with white bark (which somehow manage to stay so white they look like the guys who invented Oxy Clean practiced on their bark).

It’s been even more hours of sleeping in awkward positions due to lack of a head rest and a full cramped van of 22 people.

It’s been many nights drinking out of the cooler in the back as we chugged along at 60kph, belting out songs at a volume that could be heard and rejected by all The Voice judges around the world, crossing our fingers that we would get to our hostel before morning (pitstops alleviated aforementioned drinking, and came with statements like “it’s a snake!” which struck fear into everyone’s bladders until statements were corrected with “it’s a stick!”)

Predictably, what brought our group together was our shared incarceration in Coco The Van (we love you Coco, even though you did try to ditch us, twice)

Once joined at the hip like a chain gang, we went swimming with Manta Rays, attempted to swim with Whale Sharks, practiced our best “Elephant Seal” impression as we tried to pull ourselves back into the boat….and hysterically laughed over nothing as we snorkelled, and then chocked from inhaling salt water.

We also hiked through gorges, wading through water so cold we all kept our hands up as though keeping our elbows dry was really going to prevent hypothermia, and saying “oh it’s so cold!” as though something could be done about it, as our guide said, “watching you guys is LOLs, I love watching backpackers suffer”

Here’s to a fantastic trip with fantastic people: there is no one else I’d attempt “I Will Always Love You” with (#returnwhitney because we are terrible). And also, no one else I’d let call me Grandma.