Mount Kinabalu (Tanka and thoughts)

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Clouds drift down as mists

Blanketing a craggy slope

Thin air rife with peace.

Reflecting on the future

In the midst of perfection

© Nadia Brown, 2016

Many years ago, I spent some time in southeast Asia. Among countless other incredible experiences, I had the good fortune to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, located in the Malaysian portion of Borneo. The summit is 4,095 m, and on the first day, we climbed with our guide Mario to where the landscape changed from dense, shaggy trees and misty slopes to a sweeping expanse of rock that disappeared quickly into the clouds. There is a house at this spot and there we stayed, eating and resting, until about 3 am. And then, in the dark, flashlights dangling from backpack straps, we left ‘Laban Rata’ and began the trek to the summit. The climb to the peak was over sheer rock, with ropes placed along the most difficult portions.  Hand over hand in the cold wind, hoping that the path ahead of you did not lead to a cliff. Here and there, people sprawled on the rock, wilting from the thin air – vomiting; waiting. Luckily, we had arrived at base camp a few days prior, and acclimatized more easily than some. The point of this trek was to arrive at the summit just before dawn. We did. I can tell you, seeing the sunrise from the top of the world, clouds on fire below you, muscles aching wildly – it’s a kind of bliss that has no equal.