Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our 3 Day Love Affair with Rinjani

A holy place for the locals of Lombok, Mt.Rinjani brags an elevation of 12,224 ft.  It is believed that the hot springs of Mt.Rinjani have the powers to cure disease. An annual pilgrimage to the lake is made by the people of Lombok to provide offerings to the mountain. What an incredible first mountain to climb on our one year adventure!

The hike was a wonderful early-Christmas present from Pat (Kurt's stepdad)! Kurt and I were eager and had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had to fly to Lombok from Bali, drive an hour to our hotel - then drive another two hours the next day to reach the base of the mountain! It seemed that everyday was an adventure on its own - and the view from the crater.... absolutely magical.  

What exactly were were getting ourselves into when we took this fresh-faced, smiling photo? Over 8500 feet in elevation gain and approximately 17 miles in hiking distance. If i had known that this was what I was up against - I might not be grinning like an idiot ;)




(THE CREW READY TO GO! KURT, ME, SIMON, ELISE & PAT)


I wanted to learn as much as I could about the porters and the guide that we were climbing this mountain with. I was able to observe that many of the other groups had slim to no relationship with their porters (and I suspect this is because of the language barrier). Thankful that I speak Indonesian, I was able to gain some knowledge of the lives of the people who hike Rinjani - ONCE A WEEK. Some facts that I learned when I had enough breath to actually carry a conversation:


  • The island of Lombok has 3 dialects
  • It is still common for couples to marry at the early age of 15!
  • Our guide, Simon has 3 children and was married at age 19
  • Simon's eldest son, is also a guide like his father :)
  • In order to become a guide, one must go through a training program which teaches you how to speak English, cook and have a better knowledge of the mountain and the environment.
  • Simon and our porters have been climbing since 1994!
  • The names of our porters were Jamal, Jabon and Kertabayan
  • There was a time that people were able to fly from Bali to the top of Rinjani, and thankfully that was protested by the people of Lombok and quickly put to a stop
  • Porters carry approximately 80-90 lbs up the mountain - in sandals or barefoot!


(STILL HOPEFUL THAT THIS WOULD BE A PIECE OF CAKE!)

We started our hike around 8 in the morning and managed to reach POS II (Post 2) by lunch. As we gathered in the "resting area" the Gods decided to take a looooong shower. Along with other hikers, we all huddled under a tin roof in hopes that the rain would let up. Two hours later, starving and restless - the rain let up and we were finally fed! Here is a video of the tarp our guide and our porters cooked us food under! 




(STUCK IN A TROPICAL RAIN STORM!)



(EVERYONE CRAMMED UNDER ONE TIN ROOF TO TRY AND STAY DRY!)


The rain never actually let up. What we eventually learned is that anything under the clouds on the mountain - pisses rain. Anything above the clouds was clear blue skies! Anxious to make it to camp before dark, we threw on our stylish ponchos and headed up the mountain! We reached our first camp ground around two hours later and set up base. Pat was a great trooper and found a beautiful spot for us to bunker down in! We were all expecting a swarm of mosquitoes on this trek - but it such a wonderful surprise to not see many at all!





(BEAUTIFUL SUNSET AT CAMP GROUND - DAY 1)


Your legs are exhausted, your legs are exhausted and your LEGS ARE EXHAUSTED! THe crater of Mt.Rinjani is approximately 8500 ft above sea level. That is a lot of hiking. The view from the top is worth every single aching muscle i still feel today. It was majestic. One of those moments where you have to take a deep breath and just let it all soak in. I tried to take a lot of videos on this trip because I felt like they were able to capture a lot more than photos. 




(REACHED THE TOP! WORTH ALL THE PAIN!)


(OUR FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE LAKE!)




(AFTER THE 2 HOUR HIKE DOWN TO THE LAKE)


Once we reached the top of the crater - what did we decide to do? Hike all the way down to the lake. It doesn't seem like that would be a big deal, except for the fact that it takes TWO hours to hike down... and hence TWO hours to hike back up. Why we chose to do that? THE HOT SPRINGS! When you've been hiking for a couple of days, nothing feels better than to soak your sore muscles in a natural hot tub :) Definitely worth the extra four hours!

(HANGIN' IN THE HOT SPRINGS WITH THE COFFEE OUR PORTER MADE US!)
(THE VIEW FROM OUR TENT - NOT BAD!)

On the way down the next morning, Kurt and I wanted to see if we were able to keep up with the porters. You would think that this would be an easy task, seeing that it is all downhill - but dont be fooled. The porters can cut the normal trekking time by 3 or 4 times. For the purpose of your own entertainment, I put my life at risk and was able to hold the camera for a few minutes as we SPRINTED down the mountain. How these men are able to balace their load and avoid falling - I really have no idea. My hat goes off to the porters as they are the REAL heroes.



(THIS IS OUR PORTER, JABON. HE WALKS DAAAMN FAST!)




(KERTABAYAN, JABON, JAMAL, SIMON, ELISE, PAT, ESTELLE & KURT)

If you haven't climbed a mountain before - do it. The satisfaction you get from completing something that seems almost impossible at first... is priceless. As soon as we reached our hotel, I researched how many volcanoes there are in Indonesia for me to climb - 400. We are currently looking to climb the highest peak in Indonesia in the next few months - Mt.Kerinci! So look out for that! Off to Jogjakarta for now!

All my love,

Stel

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