What this blog has become: the kids get older and we go away.  Oh, well.  Thanks for watching.

A few weekends ago, three of my mother-of-2 friends and I headed to Borneo (again! again!) with no kids, no husbands and no makeup.  What we did have: backpacks, hiking boots and our sights set on the highest point between the Himalayas and Timur.  We headed off on Friday morning on a three hour flight.  Two of us forgot to bring reading material, not associating flying with time to ourselves.  Obviously, we really needed this time away.  Upon landing, we bused up into the foothills of Mount Kinabalu National Park, and were greeted by folks in parkas!  It was maybe 69 degrees, but cold to us islanders.  Our cute little lodge that was home for the evening offered a deck to appreciate the breeze and views of the mountain.

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The next morning, we set off after breakfast, collected name tags and our guide Joe (who, with his scraggly goatee, reminded me of Du Fu or some other ancient Chinese poet, a stereotype he further perpetuated with his answer to my question if it would rain: “here, we don’t say rain, we call it tears from the sky”) and headed to the Timphonon Gate for take off.  Six kilometers of steps and 1,500m of elevation later, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees and the breeze had intensified to gale force thanks to Typhoon U in Hong Kong.  We were glad to be the first to check into our little guesthouse room, cozy with 4 bunks and a stunning view of the vistas below.  We had an early dinner and an early bedtime.  Tomorrow would be a big day.

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Sunday we were awakened at 2am and quietly munched toast in our warmest layers and headlamps before starting the ascent.  Joe held us back and we were the last group to leave the shelter of the dining room.  The moon was almost full, and while the wind was fierce, we had clear skies as we followed the ant-trail of headlamps up the bald face of the mountain.  We walked slowly and took few breaks to find the sweet spot of staying warm but not summiting too early.  It was worth it, we reached the top at 4095m for the apex of the sunrise and a photo before scurrying down out of the freezing wind.  We wandered down, and were met halfway to the huts by our Via Ferrata guide.

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Via Ferrata means iron road, but is basically a cable attached to a rock face that you can clip a climbing harness into so you don’t plunge to certain death while you scurry along the at-times near vertical mountain.  Of the four of us, two were definitely keen (that was me & Tica), one was going to do it, and the last our guide tricked into it.  We were all glad for the experience, and completed the 450m path of ladders and cable bridges in about 1 hour 15 min.

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We took a 30 minute break at the lodge to eat and pack up, then started back down the 6km of steps, hoping to make good enough time to ensure our attendance on our flight home.  We started down at 10:15, and at 11:30 I stepped down funny on a rock and sprained my ankle.  Grr! Frustration!  I had jinxed myself by being so proud of my body for the work so far that day, and Tim jinxed me with a text message saying “don’t turn your ankle”.  Luckily, my girls were the emergency response team: my shoe was off and ankle inspected by the guide; a water bladder came out for icing; an ankle support was fished out of a bag; I swallowed the two anti-inflammatories that were presented; my pack was hiked on Joe’s back; and I took the walking stick and was up and moving about 5 minutes after the incident.  I limped down, and we arrived at the bus at 2pm, 12 hours after our start of the day during which we only had a 30 minute break.  Whew!  We made our bus and our plane, and I fell into a deep sleep when I finally crashed into bed shortly before midnight.

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I’ve been buzzing with the excitement and sense of accomplishment from the weekend, it was just what I needed.  And just in case you were wondering, the boys all did great with the kiddos at home!

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