I have asked my wife Barbara, if I ever talk about trekking or mountain climbing again, to talk me out of it !!!!
I don't know if it was because of my age, not training hard enough, the humidity, or all three, but the 6km walk up the mountain was tougher than Macchu Pichu and both Nepal treks.
I paid a guide to lead the way (compulsory) but decided I didn't need to hire a porter to carry my small day pack, about 7 kgs. Half way up, I was sweating and panting and having a hard time of it, so the guide offered to carry the pack. I looked askance at him, but he said it was OK, so I passed it to him.
I passed a number of other trekkers of all ages, but that still wasn't good enough. I swear, if there had been an option to get out by 'copter or cable car or something, I would have fought my way on it. (Forget about women and children first).
So on I trekked. The guide was patient and didn't comment, and just walked along as if it was a Sunday walk in the park. He was only a pace behind me, which was fortunate because I slipped or tripped and nearly fell back a couple of times, and he saved me from a heavy fall. As it was, I fell forward once and scraped the skin off my left shin, and presumably because of the asprin to keep the blood thin, it bled profusely and took three band aids to cover and stop the bleeding.
Eventually, I got to the stage of counting 100 paces. Even that was agonising, so by the time I was near the lodge, it was down to 50 paces. Or I should say 50 steps up, and I was gasping for air.
I was stunned when I entered the lodge, because it was packed with dozens of trekkers who must have arrived earlier in the day. >I approached reception and asked for my room. A lovely girl responded, saying I was in an eight bed dorm. "No, I replied, I've booked a single room with ensuite". Confusion reigned ! They checked my booking form (which I obviously hadn't looked at closely) and I had booked a single bed. They only had dorms. And they all shared the same bathroom.
The shirt I had been wearing was saturated with perspiration, and I was hot and sticky. Fortunately, I was able to get a hot shower before the hot water ran out.
I drank a lot on the way up, including staminade powder, which was great. I don't know if it was because of the altitude, but I wasn't the slightest bit hungry. In fact, the thought of food made me nauseous.
I arranged with the guide to see him at 2.30am, for the recommended walk to the summit by torch light next morning, to see the sun rise. (Being in an eight bed dorm with seven Chinese, I didn't get much sleep if any.) So next morning we set off, and I walked about two or three hundred metres and said "No ! I've changed my mind. I'm not going up." The thought of another 2.7kms up, then back down to the lodge was too much to contemplate. So back to bed for an extra couple of hours sleep.
It was just as well, because we set off about 7am to walk back down the mountain, and every step jarred my knees, back and hips. Fortunately, I made it in time to catch the once-a-day bus I'd booked to take me to Poring Hot Springs Park.
I'm off for a two hour Thai massage now. I hope he can put all the muscles and joints back in the right place.
Perhaps I will go again one day, and spend two days in the mountain lodge. Take one day to climb up, stay the night, walk to the summit and back the next day, then down the mountain on the third day. And I think I read there is luxury accommodation available somewhere.
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