aint no mountain higher (for now)

MT RINJANI. By far the most challenging trek I’ve done. Standing at 3,726m high in Lombok, Indonesia, it is an active volcano with varied landscapes and terrains – savanna, rainforest, rockies, sandies, loose gravels… Training before the trip is absolutely necessary. Build up your stamina and fitness so that you suffer less during the journey. Yes, I said less. Unless you are a super athlete, the intensive hours of walking, climbing and sometimes sliding (!) will definitely give you sore legs every morning. And if you want to truly enjoy the trek, it would be best to get additional porters to carry your bags. We are 5 girls. 8 porters. 1 guide. You do the maths!

DAY ONE: UP, UP & AWAY. With fresh legs and enthusiasm, we started our journey from SEMBALUN LAWANG (1,150m) and ascended thru the savanna, up up all the way. The heat was a killer. So remember to hydrate constantly. The porters found a nice spot and made us some rice and noodle soup for lunch. I guess we needed the carbo! After 8 hours of hardcore mountain trail (an uphill task indeed!), we finally reached PELAWANGAN 2 CRATER RIM (2,630m). Exhausted. Seeing the peak from there made me anxious about the climb. How can anyone scale that steep slope?!

By the time we reached the campsite, our tents were already set up and our porters busy making fire and cooking us yet another sumptuous meal! We even had a “toilet” with a view! Life is good… We went to our tent, wet-wiped ourselves clean and changed into fresh, warm clothes.

With hot tea in our hands, we stood above the clouds and admired the peaceful Segara Anak lake. Soon, the sun set and we were under a million stars! Beautiful… You tend to forget their presence when you live in a city like Singapore. We gobbled down our much needed nasi goreng dinner and headed to rest at 8pm! Everyone was physically exhausted by the intensive heat and ascent. Plus we were going to have an early start at 2am the next day for the summit *gulp*.

DAY TWO: IT’S THE CLIMB. After a quick cereal breakfast, we were all geared up in our windbreaker, fleece jacket, thermal wear, head torch, walking stick, energy bars and water. At 2am, we could already see a number of lights slowly making their way up that daunting slope from afar. Full of anticipation, I got more nervous with each careful step in the dark. That slope was indeed a killer with its loose gravels and volcanic sand. Every two steps you take, you slip back by one. I was so out of breath after every few steps. Partly due to the altitude. And I thought I was fit! It was a grueling 2.5 hours to reach the ridge (3,100m) and that was only the first part. What I fear most is actually getting back down. I’m often paralyzed by the tot of slipping down these dangerous slopes! The second part to the summit (3,726m), according to the guide, is a 60° slope of loose gravels and volcanic sand. That’s like a vertical beach! I know that even if I made it up to the top, I would be too afraid to come down and I couldn’t afford a helicopter to rescue a distress damsel stuck at the peak. I decided not to go ahead. One must always have the sensibility to know his or her limit, even in the midst of an adventure.

At 4.30am, Lisa, Yvonne and Cecelia pushed on, planning to catch the sunrise at the summit while I lay down at the ridge with Alice, mesmerized with the million stars. The beautiful crater lake revealed itself as the sun rose and warmed us up. We even took a nap under the sun. By 9.30am, we decided to make our way back to the campsite to wait for the girls. Now in broad daylight, we couldn’t believe we actually climbed up this treacherous slope in the dark. At most parts, there was nothing for you to hang on to, except to your walking stick and foot in the gravels. One slip and bye bye world. It was a stressful descent (for me), sliding down most of the time with gravels getting into your shoes. Where’s your snowboard when you needed one?

It was way past noon when the girls returned to the campsite. It took them more than 6 hours to reach the peak vs. the planned 2 hours! They were totally worn out and deflated. Awesome job for pushing on and conquering the peak. So proud of you girls!

DAY TWO: HOT SHOWER! After our 3 super girls refueled with lunch and rest, we continued on our journey, this time round downhill all the way to SEGARA ANAK LAKE. The terrains were a mix of big rocks and soil/sand. I much prefer the rocks where I can climb and maneuver like spiderman. Sand/soil just means a lot of dust and slips. It’s best to cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or mask. As we passed fellow trekkers coming from the other way, we were glad that we started from Sembalun instead of Senaru. It would have been much tougher to ascend from this terrain and climb the summit later with fatigued legs.

Day two was long and tiring. Everyone was low on fuel and we reached our campsite by the lake pretty late in the afternoon. It was quite a dump with litters everywhere – a pretty common sight thru out the trek, especially at “popular toilet spots”. The good thing was we were 10 min away from the hot springs! All excited about having a hot shower, we immediately grabbed our stuff and made our way there (involves headlight and some mild climbing!). Clean. Eat. Sl-.-p. Life’s simple pleasures.

DAY THREE: THE UPS & DOWNS. By then, rubbing deep heat onto our legs had become a daily night affair. It’s the new perfume. Every morning we woke up with sore legs. Every step was an effort but we pushed on, climbing our way up to PELAWANGAN 1 CRATER RIM (2,641m).

It was almost like rock climbing at times, thinking about where to place your foot next and where you can pull yourself up. It was fun actually, if not for the sore legs. Don’t forget to stop and look back at the amazing views as you go up. From wherever you see it, the crater lake is always so beautiful and peaceful.

After a short rest, we made our final descent to our last campsite in the rainforest, passing thru some really dusty trails. Try keeping a distance from the person in front to avoid getting a whirl of dust in your face. By the third day, my legs felt like jelly. It was easy to lose grip and slip. I lost count of the no. of times the walking stick saved my life!

DAY FOUR: THE NEVER-ENDING ROAD. I love trees and their sturdy roots, forming a flight of stairs for us to climb. The trail wasn’t tough but we were all bushed. Our legs were just going thru the motion. Not a word, we kept walking and walking, hoping to see some signs of civilization – roads, cars, houses… Are we there yet??? It felt like a never-ending road as we walked thru the rainforest for hours. We were so happy when we reached the trek centre at SENARU (600m)! Jumping onto the back of the lorry, we were whizzed to the final stop – SENDANG GILE WATERFALL.

Initially, I was looking forward to visit the waterfall as this will be our “shower” stop before catching the evening flight. But getting there meant more climbing! This time round, nicely paved, concrete steps – a walk in the park under normal circumstances. After 4 days of brutal walking, I felt like an old lady climbing the stairs with much effort. Still, it was a lovely end to our trek. Letting the cool water run through our battered feet was heaven!

I wish I had time to spend another day at SENGIGI beach or the GILI islands to pamper my fatigue legs with massages. Unfortunately, I had to catch a flight back on the same day. What a tough holiday…! Much hard work but all worth it. There is something special about climbing it to top and rewarding yourself with those amazing views…

DAY FIVE: YEEKS! Funny how I survived the camping and “toilet” condition in Rinjani with no qualms at all but totally disgusted when I walked into a dirty toilet in the coffee shop and grossed out when I spotted a worm in my lunch (veggies) the next day in Singapore! Life back in the city… Wonderful.

SPECIAL CREDITS. To our guide, Daniel and the super amazing porters who helped carry all our stuff, cooked us awesome meals, served us hot tea in the cold… Even with our proper gear and walking stick, we had difficulty maneuvering through the mountain trails. Yet, they carried the food and water supplies, tents, sleeping bags, etc. on a bamboo on their shoulder and balanced their way thru, in their flip flops! Smiling. Always polite. Always concerned about our well-being. They are super humans. I salute them. Without these incredible porters, we would not have such a smooth and comfortable journey. For that, we gave them a handsome tip.

lombok. indonesia ♥ 20 – 24 september 2012

******

CONTINUE READING IF YOU PLAN TO GO. Based on 4D3N, I think starting from Sembulan (vs. Senaru) is much much better. You get the toughest climb out of the way on day 1 and summit on day 2, while you are still fresh and excited. Then end off with a refreshing dip in the waterfall. I would have hated to climb up the terrains we descended. With 4 days, you also get ample rest at each stop to enjoy the hike. Some essential things to pack:

  • proper hiking shoes (my NORTH FACE served me well!)
  • good windbreaker (not biased but i swear by NIKE storm fit jacket!)
  • NIKE dri-fit tops (best for hiking! i ended up wearing the same dirty top cos you will be dirty anyway.)
  • UNIQLO heat tech top (i was amazed at how warm the light top was during the night. it was the only top I worn to “bed” in the tent.)
  • fleece, beanie and gloves for the summit climb
  • water bag instead of bottle (i had to stop to grab the bottle from my bag each time i needed a drink. it kinda breaks the momentum and you end up not hydrating as often as you need to.)
  • walking stick (when you are all bushed out, that little push and support go a long way.)
  • powerful head torch (mine was too weak and it slowed down my steps in the dark.)
  • tonnes of wet wipes (trust me, you need them. it’s very dusty. they are the next best thing to hot spring and waterfall!)
  • an adventurous spirit! :)

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4 comments

  1. Really like this one! Lombok is on my travel list ever since I’ve been to Bali. If I go, I’ll definitely do this climb!

    1. heya! you so should! you’ll enjoy it… visit asia soon! :)

  2. simon gan · · Reply

    Nice pics! Admire your determination! Your porters also praise worthy! Look forward to your next post Ms Wanderful.

    1. haha… thanks mr gan. coming up next… sri lanka! :)

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