So, it’s 7.15pm and I’m in bed! The reason is that I’m halfway up a mountain with a 2am start tomorrow morning!
This morning started at 6am with our alarm going off and an hour to get ourselves ready to leave our lovely suite!
At 7, we met up with everyone outside our suites and managed to get some great views of the mountain that we’d be climbing. It really didn’t look very far and we were all excited, if not a little nervous about the task ahead.
Our big bags (although not so big now as we’ve got our day packs packed up) were loaded onto a van to be taken to the park HQ while we walked the 10 minute walk there. At the HQ we had to complete a short form of disclaimer and we then headed to the buffet breakfast.
We were given our packed lunches which added to an already large bag which includes more than 3 litres of water, as there is no running water at our accommodation this evening and we need enough water for the trip up and down the mountain. My bag was 12kg and Ed’s 10kg without his camera!
We walked back to the HQ and we given our passes for the walk. We then took a van ride about 4km along the road to the starting point. The walk today will take us only 6km, but we will ascend from 1866m above sea level at Timpohoh Gate to our accommodation at 3272m above sea level. (Almost 1:4 gradient)
After signing into the park at 9am we were on our way… down! The first part of the trail took us down some steps for about 5 minutes to a valley and past a waterfall. From here we started the climb up.
There were markers every half a kilometre and shelters about every one kilometre. The first part of the journey was a steady uphill and seemed to do the first km quite quickly. We have three mountain guides for our group of 11, and our tour leader. This means that everyone can go at their own pace. Ed and I stayed fairly near the back and aimed for a slow and steady ascent.
The route was a mixture of wooden planks, stone paths and steps, but the general direction was always up!
We stopped write a few times to ‘admire the scenery’ or to ‘take photographs’ and the stops became more frequent as we climbed.
We saw some local wildlife, including a ground squirrel. These were very tame and clearly used to walkers.
Eventually, at around 11.45 am, Ed and I arrived at the designated lunch stop at about 4km into the walk. The packed lunch was pretty good with some chicken, cereal bar/biscuits and boiled eggs. After a short break it was onwards and upwards.
The cloud had now come down and do there weren’t many views. However we plodded on. It wasn’t nearly as hot as on our jungle trek, and certainly not as humid, but nevertheless we were both dripping in sweat. The ascent also seemed to be story and as we went higher, the air was thinner and we were both more breathless.
We arrived at km5 and had a sit down. The last km had taken almost an hour!
It took us almost an hour and a half to cover the last km and towards the end we could hear thunder with a threatening storm… Which never actually came to anything. We were both very pleased when we arrived at the Laban Rata guest house. It turns out that we weren’t quite the last of our group although whilst it had taken us almost 5.5 hours, one of the group had completed it on just over 3!
The guest house itself is a hostel type accommodation with a shared canteen and everything delivered by porters. The building itself was ok, but the toilets were pretty scabby!
I won’t deny how hard the climb was … I am just glad we made it without and altitude sickness.
We spent some time recovering and chatting in the large canteen and then dropped out stuff off in the dormitory that we’re all sharing before getting a cup of lemon tea.A buffet dinner was served at 4pm and was rather good, especially when you consider that all of the food is portered up the mountain every day! The cloud had also cleared at this point and we had some amazing views of the valley before, and could also see the coast!
After food we all sat around and played Scrabble. Ed and I win the first game (a bit unfair really given that at least one of the teams didn’t have anyone whose first language is English! Halfway through the second game the sun began to set and we all trooped out to get some amazing views of the sunset, and also the remainder of our journey up!
We eventually returned in and completed the game before heading to bed. Alarm call at 2am for a 2.45 departure! Goodnight!