The sun slowly creeps over the horizon, and the jungle comes to life with many chirps and whistles. Then, all of a sudden… “tink, tink, tink, tink.” The sound of a spoon on a mess tin fills the morning air. “Good Morning Alpha 3! Your morning wake up is here.” As the hammocks begin to rustle and groggy faces peek over the tarps there is one thing, one beautiful thing that awaits us each morning. That’s right, you guessed it… beautiful oatmeal and all its wonderful add-ons. You’ve got your sugar, honey, milk powder, Milo, salt, insects and stray ash from the fire… the perfect fuel for a day of trekking.
Once the oatmeal has been munched down and the morning stretches are complete we begin our trek to the next campsite. From awkwardly performed songs to awkward rucksack manoeuvres, trek has always had something new waiting for us. The most challenging day for us was and has been our 6th day. Surely every mountain has a top, right? Not this one apparently. Climbing this mountain was incredibly difficult but extremely rewarding. Constant grunts and aggressive sighs showed our disdain for the mountain, but when we finished, rucksacks were dropped, boots thrown off and congratulations given to every member of the team. Other than a rest day this was quite possibly the best moment on trek so far.
After that it’s time to set up camp, and finally, relax with more rations (noodles, anyone?). A few games of cards is almost inevitable, and then time for an early night – 9pm is ‘jungle midnight’, after all. Then it’s time to do it all again the next day.
It doesn’t end with just us though; our trek guides are incredible. They must be super heroes or something. At times, we were walking and they would stop the group and teach us about a plant or fruit and its use; mostly medicinal. On other occasions, they sat us down and taught us how to create things out of bamboo. The best part about them is that they are so engaged and ready to help. Shout out to Fam, Kunor and Ken for helping us own steep hills with smiles on their faces – which makes it all a lot easier to cope with.
Leeches, slips, slides, river crossings, OATMEAL, lopsided rucksacks and that never-ending view of Mount Kinabalu have all made our trek into one epic adventure. We will always remember when we pushed through aches, ignored the bruises, sighed through the tilted-hammock night’s sleep and truly found out what we’re made of. Bless up Trek!
Words by Jawonday
Photos by Amy and Emily
If you’d like to contact any of our volunteers with messages from home, please use the contact form here and your message will be delivered during project support visits or during changeover.
Coming up at Raleigh Borneo:
August 18: Phase 3 deploys
August 22: Project loop visits begin
September 6: 17E Endex