Category: #hiking

Update: Operation #savethenail

Like so many NGOs that valiantly tried and failed to keep a country together, Operation #savethenail failed to keep this person together. 

After two months of hoping that My Kinabalu had merely claimed my spirit and my ability to  walk down stairs like a normal person, I have to face facts – it also broke my body. 

The civilan led effort of “Googling home remedies” and constantly applying iodine only succeeded at delaying the inevitable – my toenail, bruised from hiking downhill for 12hrs, is about to peel off. 

Currently loosely held together on the left hand side, the nail now flaps about a bit in the wind, and flutters around in the water, which feels a bit like a fish is nibbling at my toe. 

The nail will make its last stand in Cambodia, so while My Kinabalu can definitely claim it as a victory, the actual body will be claimed far away from its jagged edges. 

Rest in Peace, nail, thanks for keeping it together  this long- hopefully I treat your offspring a little better. 

Operation #savethenail!

One of the effects of “extreme jogging” is that your toe nails could fall off, which is definitely the excuse I’ll be using if I ever get a personal trainer who believes in the activity. 

When you Google “bruised toe nail”, jogging is the second thing that comes up, right after “subungal hematoma.” Mountain climbing, despite being a sport people die from, doesn’t seem to rate on the “toe nail” issues scale.

If you haven’t already guessed, one of the effects of climbing Mt Kinabalu is that my toe nail could decide to vacate the premises. 

Generally, you should always cut your toe nails before climbing a mountain, and I did, but when you hike downhill as though you’re a baby giraffe, your nails just naturally ram into your hiking boots, making you squeal in pain like a baby pig, who knows it’s being slaughtered. 

At first, I thought I had escaped the Fate of Four Nails; I just assumed everything was bruised and that a night of “feet up” would solve it. There was another woman (hi, Donna) in our group whose nails were purple as soon as she got to the bottom of the mountain – so, if mine hadn’t turned, surely it was vampire rules: make it past dawn and you’re still part of the living. 

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like fiction. 

Two days later, my toe still felt like an anvil had dropped on it. To relieve the pressure, I gently trimmed the nail. Yellow puss oozed out, followed by blood. But, it felt good, like everything was deflating for the better. 

And then it started to turn purple. 

And then I borrowed some solutions from Donna and we started a “dress the nails” club – as part of the pedi-cure, only one polish colour was offered – Iodine Yellow: good at killing bacteria, fungus and even herpes. 

The last update on Donna’s nails was that she was having a fun time wiggling the nail off the toe…

Meanwhile, I’m still on a mission to #savethenail, because if it died, the odds of my actual toe surviving South East Asia would diminish by a lot. 

I’m 99% sure it will be successful – seeing how the nail no longer hurts in shoes, seeing how it has crossed into a different country (moving location solves problems, right?), and seeing as how my brain has stopped worrying about it enough to have returned to regular service and enabled me to stub it three times, it must be okay. 

Also, factually – seeing as how it is way less purple, and the purple bit is only concentrated in one area, it must be okay. 


Alright, I know, the toes are not looking very attractive, but you try constantly being on the move for six months (little toe injured from snorkeling flippers)

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.