We took a flight to Kota Kinabalu and stayed in Borneo Backpackers, a very rustic hostel, with shared facilities and tiny seperate beds. It was a bit of a come down from our hotel in Mabul. Never mind, we were here to climb a mountain, so after a wander to the night market to stock up with great food and essential sweets and biscuit buys we had a good night sleep ready for the trek.
The company picked us up early in the morning and we left our big bags at the the bottom of the mountain. We only needed one small change of clothes (or so we thought) and our sweets to replenish the energy levels.
Other a lot of faffing around and making sure we had all the essential passes we started the hike. It was quite strenuous as the mountain is very much like a mountain a young child would draw. It was a steep hike up without many shorts downs or flats to ease the legs. We were around 3/4 of the way to where we were staying for the night when the heavens opened. We couldn't believe it, and I am not exaggerating when I say we were essentially canyoning for the last 1/4 of our hike. It was as if we were climbing up a waterfall and I was soaking, all of our stuff was soaking and obviously the accommodation at the top was not the luxury we needed. There wasn't any heating or a fire so I attempted to dry my soddening wet clothes on the tea urn! I really struggled to warm up and got straight into my sleeping bag. There were no clothes to borrow or buy apart from some gardening gloves! Fortunately we had a warming dinner and some of the guides lent me their clothes for the hike to the summit at 2:00am!
1:30am meant we were up, in the freezing cold and I had a milo (Adam would have been so proud) I was wearing all the clothes I had that weren't still wet (not many of them) and a few layers from the kind guides. There were a lot of people making their way in the pitch black, but James and I were near the front. It was a tough last bout, and both of us were suffering with the brutal wind and the cold. We made it to the summit and were feeling good, but not seeing much at all. The weather was still torrential so we took a quick photo for evidence and started to make our way down.
James had booked us on the Via Ferrata, which thankfully we were still able to do as the sun came out and cleared the clouds. We said a temporary goodbye to our walking guide and waited for the sun to rise and our Via Ferrata guide to turn up. Whilst we were waiting James got out some of our sweet supplies, a fruitella. He said his fingers were too cold and asked me to open the wrapper for him. As if my fingers were warm! With the gardening gloves on a kindly opened a layer of the wrapper. There was another wrapper underneath and I noticed that the sweet was very squashed. I thought James was having a joke with me and had just wrapped up a load of wrappers. He was getting impatient for his fruitella and I suddenly realised that it wasn't a sweet after all. Not wanting to make a fool of myself I kept my mouth shut until all the wrappers were off. There it was, a ring! I had a little emotional cry and quoted friends (of course). It was the most perfect proposal I could have asked for. He did very well.
The sun was shining, the view was breathtaking and James and I were engaged. Our Via Ferrata guide turned up and I immediately told him our good news! He was a lovely guide and I was pretty nervous, but both James and the guide reassured me and we had an amazing time abseiling down the mountain. The adrenaline didn't know what to do!
After the complete high of the proposal and the Via Ferrata we met back with our original guide and I gave all my borrowed clothes back. I was telling everyone our good news, and although they probably didn't care they showed a lot of enthusiasm for us.
The walk down was very hard, if James hadn't proposed I would have been extremely miserable all the way down. The impact of permanently heading down hill really took its toll and I felt every single step.