This is the fourth in a series of more in-depth posts on our trip to Borneo.
The morning was brilliant blue and crisp. The wind had come through at night and blown all the clouds away. We leaned off the front porch to get a glimps of Mt Kinabalu. There was not a cloud in sight. Lily told us how it had rain non stop the previous week and we said a little prayer to the rain gods for giving us a wonderful day.
We sat down to a hot cup of coffee while Lily prepared our eggs. We had fresh baked bread and sweet creamy butter along with cereal and get us off to a great start in the morning.
It was time to hit the trail. We gathered up our gear and climbed in the car. It was just a short 5 minute drive and we arrived at the Mesilau Nature Resort. This area includes several lodges, restaurant and the park headquarters. I completely forgot to get information about the area and we were a little confused at first where to go to find the trail. We went into the Sutra Santuary reception office to ask for information. The receptionist told to see the Rajah Nepenthese that there are three daily hikes led by a ranger. We had just missed the first hike at 9:00. The next hikes were at 11:30 and 2:30. You can also do a day hike on the Mesilau trail without a guide as long as we returned before sunset. We decided to hike a while on the Mesilau and return in time for the late ranger hike. We would have to pay our trail fee at the Sabah Parks office which was next door.
Road to Kinabalu with our trusty little car
We parked and walked back to the park office. It was 10rm for the trail and 7rm for insurance or a total of 34RM (~$10US) for the two of us. We were interested in the Mesilau trail because the great flora along the trail. In researching where Nepenthes grew, G found out that several species could be easily located along the begining of the Mesilau trail. Nepenthes of Mt. Kinabalu are found at the higher elevations. Mesilau is at 2,000M. The main trail starts at a lower elevation and you can not find nepethes until you have hiked several kilometers.
Mt. Kinabalu is one of the richest flora areas of the world. The Mesilau trail starts out in the dark lowland dipterocarp forest filled with bamboo, ginger, begonias and wide variety of trees of various heights. I am thankful for the shade. Even in the shade it was very warm and humid.
The trail immediately started to climb. The trail was mainly roots, large rocks and ladders but it was in good condition. The wooden steps are useful if the trail is muddy and wet but fortunately it had not rained recently and the trail was dry. We came across a sunny opening and spotted our first nepethes - N. tentaculata . G knew to look for sunny open areas which are favored by the nepenthes. We were so excited to finally see our first nepethes in the wild.
One of many stairs to climb
We continued climbing. We started to spot many epiphetic orchids and were amazed at the diversity of ferns. We stared at huge bird nest ferns in the trees above our heads. Looking down at the trail, we spotted brightly colored flowers which had fallen from above. We looked up and spotted our first tropical Rhododendrons growing high above our heads. The bloosoms were brilliant orange. Continuing to climb, we noticed the forest was starting the change and become more stunted. The forest changed to oak and pine.
Wait for me!
We had been hiking for about 1 1/2 hours and I started to tire. I suggested to G that he go on ahead and I'll stop and wait for him. I slowly continued up and discovered that the trail crested at 2300m, just a little bit further. The trail leveled and opened up to wide vistas across the Mesilau valley and gorgeous views of eastern ridge of Mt. Kinabalu. High above clouds were starting to gather at the jagged peaks at the summit. We were so lucky to have a clear day but I could ready see the afternoon clouds would soon be gathering. On the other side of the trail were vistas down across the Kundasung Valley where we were staying. The plants were so interesting and diverse. Just before 1.5KM, I came to the first shelter and stopped in the shade to wait for George.
Mesilau trail vista
He returned after about 40 minutes. He was able to find another nepenthes species farther up the trail. We decided to return and it toke us just about 1 hour to return. But I was beat. The heat and exersion toke its toll on me and I was not certain if I could do another hike. We talked to the ranger and the Rajah trail is about .7km and similiar in elevation to the distance we traveled on the Mesilau. We decided to return the next day to do the Rajah trail.
We took a short trail between the nature center and the restaurant. It will filled with interesting ginger and lots of huge birdsnest ferns. We returned to Mountain House and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing before having another wonderful dinner prepared by Lily.