Blog for 2009-07-10

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Torrential tea! On day 3 of the basin hike, we departed at around 9am at an elevation of about 600m, in some good ol' mixed dipterocarp forest. The hike was on the leisurely side, giving us a few hours to ease into another day of hiking after a cold night. At around noon, we reached the famed Maliau falls. We sat on some exposed rock at the bed of the Maliau river, between two of the seven plunging falls formed by eroded tiers of sandstone. The previous night's torrential rain had fed the river to a thundering veil that plummeted down the skirt of rock that, in previous years' hike days, had reduced the rush to a trickle. The edifice of tannic foaming water towered above the bryophytes bobbing in the river, bestowing the pocket of open air with a fine, cool mist. After a brief stay, we grudgingly set out on the trail again, this time along sharp ridges made slippery by cushy green bat guano. The paths that were held secure by roots rather than mossy hunks of stone were narrow along steep sides, and footings were often lost, along with a water bottle. While queued up at one of our numerous stops waiting for the guide to hack apart the overgrown trail, we saw an enormous horned spider lying in wait, and a few hours later, we found some rafflesia flowers that had gone to seed or had otherwise turned brittle and black. While going down a particularly slippery slope, the rain that had been a light drizzle for an hour or so began to pour through the canopy. The path had begun to show signs of human attention, so we pushed forward, hoping to reach the campsite soon. Drenched and holding back comments about the rain and each others' endless company, we walked into the glorious structure of cots covered by a tarp. As later groups filtered in, we all crowded around the table next to the fire, recovering from the hike and pruning in our still-drenched clothes. After a long-anticipated dinner, we trickled into cots (or half-cots), still evaporating and trying to avoid leeches falling into sleeping spaces from the tarp.