Malaysia: Mount Kinabalu - Only By His Grace

Few weeks before our Kinabalu climb, my Bible reading was in the book of Micah from Old Testament. Somehow I was encouraged by God mentally and spiritually to pushed through the climb and His Words made me excited about it.
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.” -- Micah 4:2
However, my body's manifestation of anxiety that I am about to do something bigger than myself is undeniable, my monthly period is delayed by eight days which is not a normal routine as I have always been regular with 1-2 days fluctuation. I became anxious that it will come on the day of climb and afraid that I will experience migraines associated with it. Few weeks before the climb, I have been praying that it comes at least before the climb to spare me from the inconvenience and pain of my menstrual cycle.

While preparing for this climb, I have high confidence in terms of my physical fitness, I go to gym twice a week, do home workout at least once week and play badminton twice a week. Watching Youtube videos of Kinabalu climb also gave me an idea how demanding the climb would be, but I trust my physical prowess.

I felt good during our first day hike from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata, not until we reach the 3.5 km mark, when my worst nightmare happened - my period came in the middle of the trail, this was a game changer for me. Feeling dizzy, fatigued and lethargic, I pushed through it(as if I had a choice) but at 5 km mark or more than 5 hours of challenging uphill climb, while we are having our "Take 5" in one of the shelters I felt nauseous and got a churning feeling in my stomach, so I immediately find some bushes where I throw up everything I ate during the climb. I felt this was mainly because of my migraine due to my period and partly because of the the high altitude. This is not the kind of climb I have anticipated -- having my period while climbing, back pain, migraines and vomiting, felt a bit emotional and overwhelmed. Somewhat discouraged and very exhausted to even enjoy the amazing view where we stop and rested. Thankfully after vomiting, it made me feel better - physically and mentally. I was able to muster remaining energy to walk another kilometer all the way to Laban Rata basecamp.

That night I resolve to skip dinner as I'm afraid to throw up again, my body has given up, I was knocked down in bed and in my mind I was conceptualising how to tell my friend that I will no longer advance for summit assault the next day. Not sure if I am dreaming or hallucinating that they already went for summit the next day and I just waited for them at the rest house. But by God's grace, when I woke up the next morning at 1:30am my migraine was gone, my body has recovered and my sore leg muscles has become better. Somehow, sleep has rejuvenated me, got enough physical and mental energy to face another challenge of Kinabalu's summit assault.

My guide was also surprised to see me early in the morning, after everything he witnessed during the first day hike, he thought I will not continue the next day, but I jokingly replied him that I am still alive.

Until this day, I am still in disbelief how I was manage to climb 4000+ meters above sea level given the circumstances I am in. Surviving seven hours of stringent hike traversing 6km uphill trail from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata; six hours return climb in freezing and breezy altitude from Laban Rata to Summit and vice versa which is more than 5km return; and finally another five and a half hours descend from Laban Rata back to Timpohon Gate. Total 18.5 hours climb uphill, downhill in mostly stairs and rocky trail covering 17km in two days. Yikes!

In hindsight, this painful and rigorous climb experience humbled me. God knew me very well, as I have the tendency to be proud and self-sufficient. But not after being in a situation of having my period on the very first day of our climb where I am not in my best shape and felt very helpless. This made me realise that it could not have been possible with my own physical power and strength alone. That very moment, the phrase "only by His grace" became so real to me it resonates. Giving credit to whom is due - all glory and honor to God!

On the way down back to Laban Rata

The aftermath - #TeamJustin - me, Justin, Mafe and Jeremie with our Kinabalu certificates. Yey!


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