It has been 2 years that I have been waiting and wanting to go to the third highest mountain and the second highest volcano of Indonesia named Mount Rinjani. It has an exotic name and I have heard a lot of beautiful stories from climbers that I met a long my adventure journey.
Me and my adventure buddies; Feri Anwar and Muhdi Anto has been communicating with our mountain guide named Awenk. He owns a nice and decent homestay in the peaceful village of Senaru. Besides on preparing, coordinating and planning for the mountain climb, one of our concern was the weather. I thought for a little while that we were a little bit forcing ourselves to make it happen because it was approaching the raining season. Rather, some parts in Indonesia were already raining, even in Jakarta. Our guide; friendly, expressive and a confident local man told us that it wasn’t raining yet in Rinjani. So, we felt relieved.
We arrived Lombok at the 28th of November. The sky was white but the clouds were grey. It was a description of a cloudy day. I stayed as positive as possible that we were lucky enough to trace the landscape of Mount Rinjani until the Summit with good weather. Seconds later, I thought my positivity had given the Universe a tap and gave me a respond for my certainty. A rainbow in the sky! I said to myself, “It is going to be a perfect adventure”.
One morning, feeling very excited that my wish was about to come true, I stared at the Mount Rinjani from the balcony of Rinjani Basecamp. I am half way there, I thought to myself. Now, with God’s will it is the time after 2 years of waiting. I inhaled as much air as I could, breathing air into my lungs to be ready and preparing myself mentally for the climb. I imagined myself at present time of breathing the same air from the Rinjani Mountain. Half praying that our journey will be smooth and half wishing that the Mount Rinjani with all its inhabitants will welcome us. Along the day, I played around with some wild macaque monkeys that came at the balcony. At this moment, I instantly fed some monkeys some banana. And I could see half group coming again from the forest in front of me jumping and swinging between trees. Once they sensed that food is finished, they returned to the forest again in groups.
Agus Budiarta – Agus for his nickname – our friendly local; a tall, thin person, loves talking and mingling with tourists. He is Awenks trusted person and recruited guide for his travelling business. When we were sitting and chilling at the balcony with mists accompanying us, he told us a story of his friend carrying a flag that he has been preparing it well which contains several number of wishes for his life. With the feeling of glorious moment at the summit, he sticked the pole at the summit of Rinjani and prayed. Agus said after that moment when he came back to his usual life, all his wishes come true. I smiled at the story with a little amazement. Somehow, it had triggered me to do it so too. Writing wishes…?! hmmm I never tried that before especially for a certain special occasion like this. Well, why not try, I secretly said. Something new for my adventure journey. So, when I was in my room. I pondered wishes that really meant into my life and would be useful for me. Several minutes of thinking, it wasn’t easy at all. I was in between of writing down really specific wishes or something general with a lot of meaningful words. Dilemma. Well, I have to make the record straight first that, these wishes are meant to be addressed to God. Not the Mountain itself or the Goddess mythology of Rinjani which is Dewi Anjani. Dewi means Goddess. After hours of pondering, I finally wrote four wishes that I thought it would be worthy to fulfil my life in a piece of small paper that I have torn from a mini notebook inside my bag that I carry during travelling. It’s a letter to God. Wow, it felt something huge for me. It’s like walking in a special place of half reality and half of a dream. I felt God’s power so real and strong that afraids me. I felt like a small unworthy soul in front of God asking for the wishes in my tiny hand. I imagined myself at the summit handing a small wish note to God’s hand. Imagining it, I felt so reluctant, until I have a second thought of it. I pondered again. With all my positive energy inside me in which God has created for human beings, I use it as a way for me to act the right thing to do. I finally had some enlightenment – If I really am God’s creation then why should I be afraid of asking the Creator. Because if I didn’t, I would feel as one arrogant human of God’s creation. The more we remember our Creator, the more we are likely to be protected by Him in God’s will. Well, enough of some self-talk I said to myself. I put my wish note in a safe place inside a mini dry waterproof pouch. It was already night time and I feel that I have packed enough for tomorrow’s adventure. So, I went to sleep not long after, because tomorrow is ‘the’ day.
My sleep was a mixture feeling of excitement, inpatient and nervousness. How am I supposed to sleep enough with that kind of feelings? But I woke up surprisingly okay because usually when I had lack of sleep my body muscles would feel a little stiff. Maybe it’s from my meditation that I tried to apply to calm my feelings during the sleep. We all met at the balcony around 7 am. I had a quick weather check. I looked at Rinjani and the sky. It was clear although I could see that the rain is holding up somewhere by the clouds of grey that scattered in the sky. Well, it’s better gloomy rather than too hot I thought.
Today is ‘the’ day. 1st December. A fresh start. A new beginning of the month. New Year is also coming soon and definitely another new adventure of mine. Awenk gave us a brief about the mountain climbing plan. We planned to start trekking from the shortest route first according the map towards the summit and go back home to the other route that ends towards Senaru Village, it is the longest track also fill with some challenges they say. Then we will have a complete journey for the Rinjani mountain climb starting from Sembalun Village and ends up at Senaru Village. I felt very anxious for it.
We hopped at the back of our pickup car after our backpacks and mountain climbing equipment’s and food were carefully arranged. The team was a group of 9 people. 4 porters, Awenk, Agus, Me, Muhdi, and Feri. We ride from Senaru village where our homestay is towards Sembalun village. We passed through hills with winding roads, fresh air, forests, scenery of lovely green lands of grass that rises above us trying to compete with mountains in heights, and sky that can’t resist it’s nature for a cloudy day. I enjoyed the ride since the very first time the engine car starts in Senaru Village.
After an hour and a half drive of chilly morning weather and gushing wind – effects from the pickup car carrying us against the wind blow, we arrived at the office of Balai Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani – Rinjani National Park. Awenk helps us with the registration and after that we hopped on again at the pickup car and went back to the road from where we came from towards our starting route not far from the office.
It was nearly 9am when we started our footsteps at the Sembalun village where the local people resides. I prayed silently for a nice smooth journey. We passed a farmers field of vegetables. The view began to look more natural because we were getting far away from the village and the starting of a gentle slope. The lands are showing of a changing season from dry to wet. Some parts of the ground are still dry and brown but not dusty because from the cold damp and occasion drizzling rain while others are green covered by fresh new grass that grew its first life out from the earth. Dry plants are having their recovery too. A picture of a new cycle of life every year. Indonesia only have 2 seasons to face, the wet and the dry season. The wet season normally starts at November. But nowadays you can’t really predict the weather.
The heavy clouds were covering Rinjani from our view. A herd of brown cows were wandering about who the pack of strangers were passing by. They must have guessed it must be the Rinjani hikers. So, they continue life peacefully ignoring us. As usual, our porters are way ahead of us despite very heavy burdens on their shoulders. Their strengths are strong feet only wearing cheap rubber lightweight sandals protecting their soles. When I see their feet, I always intend to think of mine. Although protected with nice comfortable pair of shoes, I am always far behind, unseen, trekking and struggling with the trails. Well, to be strong like them, I definitely need to train hard like them a lot. From the impossible to possible I see and believed. From the analyzation that I took when I asked them – when we had once in a while breaks – on how they get to be a porter. Their mostly answered questions are because they simply were left alone in the village by friends during mountain climbing season for portering works. Besides of being alone, they felt that it’s an opportunity to collect some money. Usually the first week was full of struggling and they had muscle pain and stiffness the whole weak but it seems addictive for them. Also, they were thinking why their friends could do it but not them. So, they took another opportunity to get used to it until they have conquer the portering challenges. You can believe me, that their walks are light and very quick steps although with unbelievably heavy loads. Later on, I eventually understand them on how they meant ‘being left alone at the village by friends’ once we had reached the camping ground; it’s like a gathering for them! Meeting with other porter friends that guided other visitors. So, some are already at the camping point, some are still on the way.
Anyways, our footsteps continued the trail from the greenfield grass into the forest. Fresh new leaves are growing from trees while we stepped on gold brown dry leaves, small rocks and stones here and there as we trekked the path. Some plants are recovered from the dry season. Flowers bloomed from shrub trees like melastoma and some ferns are struggling from the dry. We stepped out from the forest at 10am. An hour walk from the starting point. We rested for a little bit. I sat on the ground. ‘My first contact with the earth’, my gleefully heart enjoying the moment. I just love sitting down on grass. I drank some water and breathed some fresh air before we start trekking gain.
Our scenery in a distance in front of us were covered by heavy fog but the green grass field cheered me up for a little colour at such a gloomy day. I do love gloomy weather actually. Passing through hills with less trees but green and gold coloured grass covering the earth, short stone bridges, narrow mountain streams that patiently wait for trickles of water coming to fill its channel, more and more grass fields, and I love the combination of colours of fresh new green grass, gold yellow dying grass, dark black ground and brown coloured soil, wild tall yellow grass, green trees and plants, and dark red leaves of dry trees. I love it! We reached to a small hut after more or less 40 minutes of trekking. I sat down and rest for a little bit. ‘So far so good’ I said to myself. The mountain slopes are impressive. But I am curious where will our journey take us; Will it be more challenges? Or is it going to be easy with just tiredness to cope? Everyone still looks fine and okay. Then we walked again at 11am. 20 minutes later we gave up walking for food. There was another hut around the corner and the porters were already cooking us some food. I was at a corner near the hut where a bridge stands but it starts to drizzle momentarily. So, I ran to the hut.
Hot traditional sweet tea accompanied me during the drizzly sky. Awenk were guiding his porters to know how to cook properly for guests. We were having simple noodle soup with lot’s of vegetables in it, what makes it perfect with a weather like this was its hot boiling soup. I always love the feeling of hot water especially during cold, chilly or rainy days. I love the sensation of it. It was nearly 12pm when we ate. The lunch was something just to make our stomach full and energized the body for another long walk.
The drizzle had finally stopped. We took this opportunity to continue trekking although it had left thick clouds above the ground as a gift for us. The air was fresh and the ground was damp. Penetrating the mountain slopes in shrouded thick fog was still blissful. The visibility was still under control of our eye sight – around the range of 3 metres. Ahead of us was just a foggy view. There were small puddles of fresh water on rocks of an empty stream. I just had to stop by and taste it. I wash my face with the crystal clear water and ‘Brrrrrrr….’ Cold water tighten my face pores. It felt so refreshing. And, it started to drizzle again. ‘A drizzle won’t be difficult’ I said to myself.
We went on and after around 8 minutes of walking the drizzle decided to change from light drops to heavy drops of rain. We, started wearing our rain coats. I trekked happily and light. Enjoying every each drops of water showering down from the sky. I always remember that rain are blessings from the sky. Whatever we wish for with God’s will – will come true. So, I started thinking and wishing good things. The next 10 minutes of walking, the rain had stopped. So, I opened my hoodie. Some areas of the slopes were burnt from fire from the dry season effect. Still misty. We passed another stone bridge and up to a hill. A sign had caught my eye during in the middle of the bridge. It says, ‘KEEP CLEAN AND CLIMB ON’ with the Queen’s crown on top, hanging on the only one healthy pine tree standing beside the stone bridge, all handwritten and drawn with red paint on a white background. Someone had put it up there. Now, that’s interesting for me. Two sentences that shows great meaning for all types of visitors and who consider their selves adventurer, explorers, first time mountain climber or even considering on taking a one – shot adventure. It’s such an issue for Indonesia today that rubbish are invading nearly all attractive natural sites such as mountains and beaches. Attractive sites that are easy to be reached, well I guess are usually taken care of easily by the government or local peoples who are aware of the importance of well protected environment. I would like to emphasize on attractive sites that are in remote places. What makes it more disappointing is knowing that it is mostly caused by irresponsible tourists usually at times of holidays or peak seasons. Well, who else? Adventure has been in the limelight in Indonesia nowadays. An invisible magic wand has swing in one swoosh in the air and gave a spell to Indonesians to love adventure activities such as diving, mountain climbing, trekking and many more. It had turned into a trend and lifestyle. It’s definitely a good thing and I am very happy for it. For me, the richness of Indonesia is adventure itself. We are the source of attractive unique adventure and the Indonesians are a part of it. The trend had become like a bird that flew out freely from its boring cage. It is a mixture feeling of the need to refresh the human mind from the chaotic big cities and trend that moves people around to do adventure. It’s a sign of the bird’s freedom flying.
But it’s quite puzzling to know whether it’s the first timers or the regular adventurers or tourists who litters the remote nature. Well, whoever it is, it needs to be concerned off because for adventure you are directly in touch with the wonders of nature. They will be in awe and wonder as their response for the nature’s beauty. After that, most certainly they will be taking documentations and ready to go home to show it off to friends and people around the world. Unless, they are already purely in full consciousness about the importance of nature so we don’t need to worry about. Absolutely no one is perfect at least we can start practising to show love and concern about the nature. To be conscious. Maybe the rubbish at the remote attractive sites will diminish away. Let’s not make our ego control ourselves. Let’s don’t forget about being consciousness and respect the attractive site and seeing it deeply. The nature were crafted beautifully first by the Creator before we were born. We are more triggered on searching for so many possibilities and options just for a taste of adventure. So that’s okay as long as you don’t forget the true meaning of life. Freedom that gives you worthwhile life lessons.
In the case of mountains and natural parks, I felt the most sincere pity for it. Trekking far away from home and village just to see rubbish everywhere at heights usually at camping grounds and shelters! Can you imagine the height of more than 7000 feet (2000 meters ) you will see a lot of rubbish? It’s not easy cleaning up rubbish in such an area like that. It usually happens during holiday and peak time season. Crowded and cluttered rubbish. I hope that we will be more cosmic conscious and aware about our human’s nature of being.
Feri, Muhdi and Agus were behind me and Awenk was in front of me. I stay focused on the trekking which unconsciously brought my feet to a rather higher and vertical slope. It begins to get steep. Passing a trail of wet ground, spots of fresh green grass here and there, some big rocks to step on, the more than 30 minutes of trekking the sky decided to send heavy drops of rain. I still wore my rain jacket. So, I just covered my head with a hoodie, underneath it is my bandana head to help prevent the rain soaking into my hair.
My pace was getting slower, while Awenk still managed to climb the steep mountain slope. He was far away ahead and waiting for me under a tree that wasn’t a perfect place for shelter from the rain. The leaves were thin and not bushy at all. It was a tall pine tree with little leaves. A porter passed by with a simple plastic raincoat that covers him from head to knee, wearing regular rubber sandals without a single complaint. Continued trekking despite the rain and heavy burden on his shoulder towards the steep mountain into the silent day. Amazing!
Unaware of my soaking backpack, I carried on trekking. When I finally was near Awenk, he continued walking. ‘Ah, I’ll go slowly but surely’ I said inside my head. Feri, Muhdi and Agus were nowhere to be seen at the back. Trickles of water came flowing on the ground tracing our trail from up the mountain down to where we came from. At first the trickles of water were small and in minutes later it grew into a medium size river stream. Gushing water trickles down fast, freely, undisturbed like a small child that came out to play freely under the rain, and I had a sudden notion ‘I think this is how rivers were made before it had transformed into big channels. Undoubted, my trekking shoes were drenched including my socks. I trekked on. Along the track, I searched deep inside myself for an answer whether I wanted my adventure to be happening like this. So, my heart perfectly answered with a comfortable sense of feeling, unlocking the hidden desire that I have been longing for to experience the rain while mountain climbing but I had pressed the desire down because I was in doubt to try it and had thought that maybe adventures should always have a perfect sunny time. As a matter of fact it does not always have to be. “I do”was my innocent heart answering. I do want to experience rain while mountain climbing. So, there here I am experiencing it without noticing it before. I am blessed! I am grateful! God have given me the chance to experience it. There is nothing for me to complain about. Experiencing rain makes me feel stronger and adventurous mentally.
Water drops trickled through my jacket sleeve. Everything that we had worn couldn’t prevent us on getting dry from the rain. Awenk was nowhere to be seen while Agus slowly approached me out from nowhere with his figure, carrying a backpack and Feri’s big camera tripod that was tied at his backpack all covered by his orange bright raincoat, he looks like a hunchback. I stood there waiting for him. I wanted to talk about the rain but he collapsed right beside me sitting down ignoring the wet surface and gulped a deep breath. I joined immediately. Not worrying about the wet surface because I thought that we are all drenched anyways. We laughed together in a –letting – it – go- and surrender- kind of laugh as we know together what we were actually thinking of. Agus has a sense of humour. He is a happy-go-lucky kind of character. Laughs at every obstacles or challenging moments that encounters his life. He jokes a lot about his problem which I thought it was a good thing because in life you have to stay positive and alive so that it will scare the problem away. He obeyed Awenk’s every instructions which sometimes occurred to be quite stressful for him. As Awenk tried to be professional for his guests. It certainly made Agus learn a lot of things that made him a stronger and knowledgeable person. Well, we certainly were laughing about our heavy load at our backs with the pouring rain and still a very long way to go. Feri arrived and decided to stop and catch his breath. We hardly spoke to one another. It’s around 14.00pm. We talked about quite enough things that cheered us up while consciously knowing that the longer break we have the longer time we reached. So, we supported each other to continue the journey. Feri was enjoying his trekking pole. A tall stick that he found somewhere along the trail. I thought of borrowing it for a little while just to know the sensation of trekking while using it. He lent me but at the same time he also wants me to use it. So, I said, ‘OK’. We trekked upwards. To be honest I don’t really like the sense of holding a trekking pole or a stick. It adds up burden for me as if I also had to take care of it. I gave it back to Feri but he didn’t want to hold it instead I threw it away and he was half shouting, ‘Don’t!’. He took the stick again. Around 25 minutes later the rain slowly stopped as we reached to the next hut. We were all super drenched. Quite surprisingly there were some groups of international tourists that went during the rainy season. Once in a while we say hello and chat for a little bit. Some during our trekking and occasionally at the hut. Mostly after the mountain climb they go and chill at Gili Trawangan. One of many isles between Bali and Lombok. It sounds like a very good plan. Lying down on the beach, stretching, relaxing while the muscles heal from the hiking. I brought back my imagination to reality. I am not sure where our camping ground is yet. I don’t want to think too much about it. I look at my back just to get a glance of how the view is like from up above this level. It was such a vast view. This is what I call the world where we live in. It supposed to be like this. Pristine. Mountain range at the background, clouds dispersed at the level of the mountain range and yellow coloured meadow as the foreground. Near around my area are mostly dry yellow pine trees and sprouting coloured greens are seen here and there at the scenery. Wonderful. The fog was gone I see. Up, up , up we go! Seems like an 80 degree angle when I looked up. The path were easy to step on as the ground seems to make itself comfortable for the visitors to step on during their visit here accompanied by a patch of growing grass scattered at the ground. Farther up, the track was changing. The mountain slope were getting narrower with no other alternative way to choose. It rather feels like that we are trekking on its ridge. Pine trees wants to show its beauty nevertheless their powerless looks. I have learnt something from this aesthetic particular view, a valuable life lesson. Well, life is not about power and beauty, rather the pine trees sincerely embrace the dry season with love in order to be strong afterwards during the changing season. They are accepting its nature, letting the life cycle goes in full circle because they know they will regain their power and beauty again. That’s where it’s true aesthetic projects. I was left in respect for the nature. A big pine tree trunk was blocking our path accompanied by other big mossy branches that fell off from its tree. We need to struggle a little bit. The footpath was covered with dry yellow pine trees. Our left side was the clear view of Mt. Rinjani Summit. The summit has a clear sky view clouds were at the background. I had thought in my mind that we are getting closer already. My heart turned light and joyful. This was not bad at all climbing the 3rdhighest mountain in Indonesia. ‘Woooohoooo’, I screamed heartily inside me. Getting out from the pine tree trunk obstacles , we turned right and turned left at a narrow footpath with clear view whilst the view in front of us were covered again by pine trees. It seems that we are getting close to Plawangan -the name of the camping ground. After passing through the short pine tree tracks which I just figured out my fingers were smudged black from the trunks that I have been holding and touching during the trekking causing from the forest fire before – was another narrow footpath! Approximately 1km away and then followed again by another path of pine trees. Some smudged caught in my face and clothes. I had to wipe my fingers at the trunks. Well, I have to deal with this immediately because I don’t want to get frustrated yet. Awenk was definitely far away ahead from us. Waiting for us every 1 km away. It’s hard to catch up his trail because he has been guiding since a very long time ago! So, basically me, Agus and Feri just surrender at the situation and tried to enjoy the gloomy weather. Oh! I have nearly forgotten about Muhdi. Well, I believe he will managed because he used to enjoy mountain climbing at his 20s. He will join us sooner or later.
To be honest the track wasn’t as challenging as it seems. The difficulties was at the height and angle of the mountain. Far and high! At the other pine tree area, we met another friend. We acquainted when me, Feri and Agus panted and took a break every now and then. He was a professional mountain guide from Bandung, West Java named Ari Wibowo. People and friends knows him for Aresandro. His origins came from Palembang, South Sumatra. Are was in the middle of struggling himself. He has a story of his own. He guided a group of around 8 people which they already went up with another guide friend – which he was still struggling down there and couldn’t be seen. I was perplexed picturing the upper view on what’s after the end of the slope because I haven’t been here before. So, it was hard to picture it. Well, that’s the beauty of mountain climbing. Always in the mood of expectations and curiosity on what’s in front of you; sometimes the expectations results are good or exactly the same as we have thought of and sometimes it has not always been what we have been expecting for usually in the case when the destination where we supposed to be is not there; yet the beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere are always a healing pill.
The group had a porter when they first arranged the trip. According to Are’s story, the porter had to come home because his wife entered the hospital after encountering a disaster. So, he decided to leave them all in the midst of their journey. So, Are was helping them carrying the load. Well, I can see the huge backpack that he was carrying at his back. No wonder he had stopped once in a while to take some breath and regain energy. Phew, it looks intense. I imagined our porters leaving us at the mountain slope, far away from the village, alone to struggle with the mountain climbing equipment and needs for several days without a local friend. I prayed that our porters are enjoying the travel with us. Besides, it will be Awenk’s responsibilities if the porters ran away. That’s why he had chosen professional porters by himself. Well, we had supported Are mentally and although we were still bewildered. Agus had quietly hiked when me and Feri were left intrigued. He wanted to be at the camping ground as soon as possible. Suddenly, I was wondering why my backpack felt heavier than ever. I did packed light and bring the things that I really need and left the rest in the homestay. Was it because I haven’t been exercising properly for the mountain climb? But every time I am at home in Jakarta I always did my exercise and treadmill nearly every day! Or maybe I am getting older but that couldn’t be it! It doesn’t make sense at all. I read an article of the world 7 summiteers and they are of age – not only the young ones– but also between 40s -70s. I feel fit and very high spirited for this travel. It makes me remember my experience in Mt. Semeru. There was not a problem at all with my backpack weight. I actually help carry other heavy equipment’s in turn with my adventure buddies.
So, now it’s me, Feri and Are together we solely struggled and scrambled upwards. “Ayo sedikit lagi Teh! Semangat!” (Teh is a Sundanese language from West Java which means sister.) – “Come on! It’s a little bit more sister! Spirit!” When Are knew I was half Sundanese, he started talking in Sundanese language. When he gave me spirit, I felt an empathy for him so I gave him spirit back. I felt that he deserves more spirit then I am. Feri also gave the spirit to me and Are although he is panting himself. After it seems like an open space out from the pine tree area, I could see people up above shouting good spirits to Are and I am sure to me and Feri as well. A little bit more, I thought. But it felt so hard! I cannot wait to join with the others up there. Probably Agus is already with Awenk too. Approaching upwards, I saw a post without a sign board. I think it was ruined because of age and weather. It made me happy though because then usually we have arrived at a destination. The sound and look from Are’s group looked like they had reached the camping ground. So, I pushed myself over the limit.
The view came over into my sight once I stepped what it seems like the final edge of the mountain slope. “I’m there!” I thought; “Finally!” and then I panted. Me and Feri came to approach Awenk and Agus. They looked as if they had plopped down on the ground before we came. I did not want to put down my backpack yet because the panoramic view of scenery is ravishing. Agus and Awenk pointed that that is the Lake right in front of us. ’We are already here’, they added up. It’s the Lake Segara Anak. The lake that people had been telling about especially climbers who challenged their selves this far just to witness the beauty of the lake. Besides its beauty, the locals considered it as a Holy place. A spiritual significance to honour the Goddess of Rinjani, Anjani. They hope it will be returned with blessings of rain and good health. Segara Anak is Sasak’s tribe language of Lombok meaning, The Child of the Sea because the lake water looks like the sea colour.
At this moment, I discovered that we were at the grand caldera rim. It was 17.00pm and we had come on the right time to see the sun setting. But alas! The enchanting view is utmost covered by fog. We can see the great sun is shining behind it. The ray of light penetrates loyally through the fog making it look like hazy. But the enchantment wasn’t swept away entirely by the fog, on the other hand the fog is actually part of the enchantment because I know when you looked at the scenery it is a whole one picture that captures your heart. Let me tell you about it; I can see the Lake is spanning vastly nestling at the crater of Mt. Rinjani. The thick fog forms dramatically circling the caldera which crept silently towards the centre intending to cover the whole lake without our notice creating it look like a theatrical performance on a huge stage. It was a majestic view.
I took pictures of the moment then made myself comfortable near my friends and I joined the nibbles of some delicate cheese cracker; Feri’s favourite snack during travelling. I let myself indulge the view whilst aware that something is missing from this present time and prefer to ignore it. Well, Muhdi haven’t arrived yet. But we had no worries since he is capable of knowing the track. ‘Aaaahhh, peaceful’, I thought letting the nature wash away my negative energy. Seconds later, Awenk blurted “Yuk!” which meant “Let’s go!”. The sceptical face expression of me spontaneously asked “Kemana?” – “Where?”. “Nggak disini?” – “It’s not over here?”. “Nggak disebelah sana (He pointed the area), yuk!” – “No, it’s over there, let’s go!”The baffled me have nothing to say but to obey him at a faraway land that I have no clue of. I grabbed my backpack, took my last selfie with the Lake, after that I was aware that the Lake had already closed its grand theatrical curtain that could deceive the first timers of Mt. Rinjani because the scenery now looked like a sky! It’s like we are eye level with the clouds! The fog has turned into clouds and the sun looks big shining behind it. No one will know that it is actually an incognito of a lake nestling behind a fog. So, we left the area while Are’s group were still enjoying the area. We trekked along the narrow footpath of the caldera’s rim, the sides of each slopes aren’t that steep – it was an angle around 80 degrees – but it was misty, so you still need to be careful and watch where you are going because you don’t want to stumble and fall downward. It was a short walk of 15 minutes until the footpath leads us to the left to meet a corner and turn right. To my surprise, there were tents!
So, this is Plawangan. This is the camping ground that I have been expecting for, well, I am sure my adventure buddies were expecting it too. Bright colour tents that I saw at a gloomy day had lifted away the burden on my back spontaneously as it feels like entering home. Awenk guided us towards our tent that was already built up by our porters on the caldera rim, facing the foggy lake. They were already here first. The look on their faces and body languages seems to express their arrival has been long enough. They seem rested and they have been joking around with other porters here. Aaah, I remember straight away about their answers on what motivates them to become a porter; to meet their friends up in the mountain of course. Now, I have seen it myself. All of this circumstances compiled gave me the answer of the missing part of feeling that I had felt before at the Lake.
I plopped on a big plastic mat that was settled beside my tent and released my wet feet from the drenched shoes and socks. A sense of tingling appear at my wrinkled foot after seconds in touched with the air of the cold mountain mist. Finally, my two feet felt free and light. Without thinking I grabbed my backpack and unloaded all my personal possessions. I was half impatient, half afraid and half –knowing-that-it-was-already-soaked-from-the-previous-heavy-rain and Perfect! ‘I thought; all my clothes and other miscellaneous things such as my small notebook, travel pillow, Balinese sarong, torchlight and socks were all soaked. What was saved from the rain were around 3 tops, 1 legging, and a couple of underwear in which I had put inside a compact dry bag earlier when I packed last night. Somehow, I had the slightest feeling to secure some clothes just in case of the rain when I packed for this trip. Well, luckily I also did put my electronic needs such as camera batteries and charger inside the compact dry bag. So, I was grateful to have that intuition. Anyways, my backpack was definitely drenched. In a flash, I understand why I felt so much shoulder stiff and what makes me slowdown from trekking; it was the water that absorbs everything that I was carrying, leaving me carrying an extra load at my back. How, I thought my backpack was a water resistant! So, I didn’t want to linger on this situation anymore. I want to search for a solution; but before that, I need to change into my dry clothes first. Muhdi, finally came along and he looked all content himself. We were happy to see him. It was getting dark, so, I tried to hang and stretch all my wet clothes on my tent, on a tall stick, on a camera tripod, over the plastic mat whatever that could help make my clothes dry sooner. But, yes it was so misty, I don’t have the slightest clue on how it will dry any faster and how they will be going to protect me at the mountain level of 2639m.
I wanted to snuggle inside the tent after I have changed into my dry clothes; relax and do nothing. Or, just rest my legs while holding a cup of hot sweet tea between my fingers. I actually hungered to do that. However, there were a lot of things to do, tidy up and prepare for the actual ascending in the counting hours before sunrise. Furthermore, I have nothing to make myself warm when I sleep tonight. The jacket that I rolled at the back of my backpack was amazingly dry in the inside because the outer part is water resistant material. I felt lucky for that one. I searched for Awenk because I was wondering why we haven’t made a bonfire yet. He told me that there were no dry woods to look for due to the previous heavy rain. Astonished, I spontaneously asked “Terus bagaimana ngeringin baju yang basah?” – “So, how to dry up the clothes?. “Pakai saja baju basahnya buat muncak, nanti juga bakal kering sendiri”. – “Just wear the wet clothes later for summiting, it will dry naturally during the trekking.” while he performed a simulation jog; also that he was freezing at the moment. That was just definitely an insane advice that I have heard for tonight. I don’t know what to say anymore and he didn’t show any more of solution. So, I checked all my clothes that were left to dry and it was not even close to it. The damp cold and misty weather condition had decided to stick around.
The porters were preparing our dinner. The only heat that illuminates were from the mini stove that they were using for cooking. They offered me for a hot cup of sweet tea. I didn’t reject it. I sat near them while they squat near the mini stove preparing our meal and warming their hands once in a while near the mini stove. I did the same. But I was quite comfortable with the hot sweet tea in my hand. It was quite enough to warm my nearly numb fingers. Then, I thought of doing it for my Balinese sarong. So, I took it immediately. I swung it back and forth targeting towards the delicate fire or sometimes, I bring it closer to the fire, jiggle it and switch each corners to make the drying even. For after a while it didn’t had a significant change. It took forever to dry! Agus clothes seems to dry easily because of the light material and he looks like he hasn’t got a problem. Moreover his bag seems to be saved from the rain because he had covered it with his orange long raincoat. Feri didn’t bring himself much spare clothes and his jeans were very soaked. Muhdi was lucky to have a backpack cover. At least his possessions should be dry. But maybe he was relying on the trousers he was wearing. And the good thing is he can unzip the knee part of the trousers. Anyways, I had a little research that the crater rim has a temperature of 9-13 degrees C and as for summiting the temperature could drop to 4 degree C often with some chilly breeze.
At a distance not far from our tent, a group had a bonfire. It wasn’t Are’s group though; they had resided under a tree at the other end. So, someone had recommended me to go there to dry my clothes. I thought the bonfire was made just for the group, but I was convinced that it was okay to join. So, I put my tea down and came towards the bonfire. I think some people had join the group already and circled it making themselves warm and comfortable including the porters. The crater rim was dark except there were illumination of lights here and there that came from mini stoves and one bonfire. The rest we use our torchlight if needed. I asked permission to join and everyone welcomed me friendly. It appeared that anyone are welcome to join the group. It wasn’t a close session at all. After mingling, I found out that the group from Singapore owns the bonfire. They were four of them, nice and friendly. They shared their brief experience of summiting. Some had made it to the peak last night, and some haven’t. One had to come down again because it was too cold to continue. That one makes me unsettling because it reminds me of all my drenched clothes. I instantly noticed that the visitors at the crater rim were mostly from abroad except for Are’s group. It was a nice feeling at a rainy season like this to see their joyful expression enjoying Mt. Rinjani.
So, rather than being uneasy about my drenched clothes also I am sure the group won’t mind, I took my drenched clothes as much as the space around the bonfire could take. I took this opportunity without thinking any further, I brought the camera tripod that has my hanging clothes next to the fire, my socks, sarong and shoes. I focused on the ones that I need them the most to dry sooner especially for my sleep and summiting tonight. The rest, I kept them at their places some hanging inside the tent and some nearly covering the top of the tent. Like this kind of adventure you have to take care of yourselves, be firm and, strong for yourselves. How big or small an adventure is you have to prepare yourself mentally, spiritually and physically. Unless you have many adventure experiences but you still need to be updated with every new nature’s personalities. I read an article that some climbers had passed away because of hypothermia while ascending the Mt. Rinjani and of course summiting takes a lot more challenge during the cold weather. It was also chilly when I climbed Mt. semeru before but Mt. Rinjani should have lower temperature because it is the third highest mountain after Mt. Semeru, I thought logically. Well, for me most importantly you have to stay fit, out of stress and have a good comforting team.
I have to make myself warm tonight I thought firmly. Then it happens that friends from Singapore had helped me. Raizen offered me to help dry with my sarong. He patiently jiggled it near the heat. And Alim also offered me a help. I felt so happy and blessed. I try dry my two pair of drenched socks. I need them for tonight’s sleep and summiting. It’s very crucial. I kept my hands unemptied and making my time as efficient as could be. The sooner it all dry’s the sooner I can have my rest. The socks went perfectly well for drying as sometimes my fingers nearly got burnt from the heat which I don’t care much. I put the other pair of socks on a log which ended up getting burnt because I thought it will dry slowly from a very drenched pair of socks but it happened the other way round. Haiqal stood near the fire and the other friend were around the bonfire while talking to another mountain climber from another country. This is what I like from mountain climbing. People are very friendly, nearly like a family because maybe the adventure requires surviving soul and everybody needs to work as a teamwork. I am grateful for the night. Awenk and Agus called me for dinner. So, I left my things and relied it to my new acquainted friends.
I came back immediately after dinner. My pair of shoes were sorted by a porter with the inside facing the fire and took care of it. Then Are came to join. When he saw my shoes he suggested me to take off the insole to make a quicker dry. I was surprised by the advice because I didn’t know about it. So, I took the insole out and place it near the heat. Are also offered me some dry fresh clothes that he prepared for emergency, usually for his group whenever needed. I don’t want to bother anybody and make them annoyed because of my situation, I thought by having my things dry at the bonfire quickly is more than enough. Wow, I am so blessed that everyone is helping. We chit chatted and surprisingly agree that the temperature is actually much colder in Mt. Semeru rather than Mt. Rinjani whereas it is much higher here in height then Mt. Semeru. It is probably the different landscape and topography that influences it. I really do appreciate friends that I met here and this is why I love mountain climbing. I am sure because of the nature’s positive energy, it made us all very positive as well. Around 22.00pm nearly all my clothes, shoes and socks were finally dry. I felt secured, comfortable and ready for my summiting. I felt so blessed. I rather push my effort to try survive for the climbing then not at all and regret. I couldn’t thank much for the helpful Singapore friends. We said good night and good bye to each other. They had to leave the camping ground by tomorrow. So, it was really nice to have met them. Others went to sleep already. We had a brief quick plan from Awenk before we all need to rest for the big night. The plan was to start summiting at 3am and wake up earlier at 2am for one last preparation.
Feri was preparing documentary needs for summiting inside the tent. While I had to tidy up all my drenched clothes and my other miscellaneous things that were clustered almost half of the tent. I left some of my clothes hanging up in the middle of the tent to dry overnight – Well, I hope! I separated what I had to bring and place it beside my sleeping bag. I also made sure that I didn’t forget to bring my secret wish written on a small piece of paper that I had put inside a secure small dry bag. I felt so happy, light and confident because I get to be warm for tonight. My light travel pillow was also dry. So, nothing need to be worry about. Feri was still confused on what to wear for later, his jeans were certainly no close to dry because of the thick material. I think he did tried drying it at the bonfire but probably was too tired to linger on so he preferred to be resting at the tent. That’s when I said earlier to push oneself effort for the need of surviving and avoid stress for such an upcoming big night soon. I wrapped myself up from head to toe starting from wearing a beanie cap on my head, sarong, jackets, glove and socks. All clothes possible that would wrap me up warmly. Preventing the mist was my number one concern. I was content and confident that I would be sleeping tonight.
Several hours later, I haven’t had myself drifting to sleep yet. I was convinced before that I will be having a good night sleep with absolutely sweet dreams. Instead, I think I have heard a rustling sound beside my tent that was made by Muhdi going out from a tent to take a leak which I thought he was going to be in the same tent with me and Feri. I guessed that our tent were already full with a lot of things especially for documentary needs and not to mention my drenched clothes hanging everywhere possible. I have tried to understand on what makes me difficult to sleep because I had wrapped myself warm enough but the chill doesn’t seem to want to leave. I was concerned of myself having a hypothermia but I made sure of myself that I was okay. So, I tossed and turned to find a comfortable position to sleep but ended up feeling stiff and light tingling pain in my bones. Then I remembered it was the fog! It must be it! The warmth that had wrapped around me could not be prevented by the silent powerful fog. Ah, I felt annoyed with this because I spent my energy to dry my clothes, felt happy that it was finally dry and now it couldn’t even prevent the fog. Perfect! I wanted to stay positive as could be but it was such a challenge because I need rest for the summiting. Then I noticed Feri was restless too. I spontaneously asked, “Coy, dingin gak sih?” (Coy, is an Indonesian slang language to call someone something like‘Bro’) – “Bro, is it really cold?”and he answered, “Iya Fio, dingin banget”and he ended it with a ‘tsk!’- “Yes, Fio it is so cold, tsk!” a mixture expression of stress and annoyed at the same time. Phew, a slight relief for me because it wasn’t a syndrome of hypothermia. And then I tried to sleep again, but I was restless. Well, eventually I just made myself calm, relax and at least I have my body rested. Saving up lots of energy as I could. I prepared myself spiritually and mentally that at least would survived myself and keep me on the move later. Hours later that felt like minutes passing away, there were sounds of tiny drops of rain splattered above our tents. We have thought that it was raining that we will postponed our summiting. Feri blurted out in the dark silent air still in a sleeping position that, “Hujan Fio”- “Fio, it’s raining”, I answered “Iya, gimana jadinya ya?”- “yes, how is it going to be then?”- it sounded more like a statement rather than a question. I also felt that no other group had seem to be summiting yet because of this rain. No footsteps or rustling sound that I have heard of. I was half disappointed because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to summit because of the rainy weather and also half reluctant to go summiting because then I have to face another challenge of rain and afraid that I might not have any more other clothes to wear since there were no dry woods to collect for a bonfire. I surrender to the surrounding great nature and avoid frustration.
Awenk suddenly filled the dark air from beside our tent with a discussion with Muhdi. He said, “Wah, ini hujan. Gimana ini”-“Wow, it’s raining. How is it going to be?. I can sense that Muhdi was perplexed “Oh, gimana ini ya”- “Oh, how is it then”. I am sure he wanted to go summiting but also confused with the weather and also relying on Awenk no matter what because he is the guide. We all felt the same actually. Awenk unzipped the tent and peeked outside. To his astonishment, it wasn’t raining instead it was the sound of the mist, small drops of water falling delicately on our tents. “Oh gak hujan ini. Tuh ada orang pada naik, kelihatan ada lampu-lampu kecil gerak!” – “Oh it’s not raining. There are people summiting, you can see the tiny lights moving! “ He instantly got ready and woke everybody up. “What! Everybody went summiting already?!” I said to myself astonishingly. I think everyone creeped out their tent to summit so they won’t disturb others peoples sleep. Awenk hurried us. Feri uttered in half disappointment, “Aduh, kok gini sih”-“Ooh! How come it turned out like this.”Because we were hurried and didn’t had much time to prepare our last check. I am sure Agus also had the same feeling between being hurried and had to obey his boss. It was not according to our plan where we should have been awaken at 2am for preparation just because of the mist. I just hope we all didn’t feel frustrated. Everyone got ready and helped each other. Muhdi helped me put on my gaiters and eventually helped me look for a simple bag which happened to be a bag for a sleeping bag and I stuffed all my things inside like spare batteries, my small wish note, a plastic of brown sugar which is healthy and good for producing energy and a bottle of water. I hurriedly scanned for one last check before I said ready. It was around a couple of minutes past 3am when everyone had gathered and Awenk instructed us to start trekking. Awenk said if we walk fast and have less break it should be around 3 – 4 hours of trekking towards the summit. If we are lucky we might catch the sunrise. I am not quite sure if we could make it on time because I had imagined of going for summiting around 1am or at least 2am for a slow and nice trek. As usual, I try to stay positive as much as I can. We didn’t had a light meal. I hold my torchlight and looked around the place while we creeped silently passing through some other group tents. Awenk leaded the way followed by Agus and me. Behind my back was Muhdi and Feri.
I followed Agus’s trail in front of me. Five minutes later, I looked at my back and found that Muhdi and Feri wasn’t there. Stupefied, I called their names. They didn’t responded. I called for Agus, I told him that Muhdi and Feri wasn’t there but I think he had listened a little and decided continued walking because in the end I found myself alone in the dark with just my torchlight to accompany me. Rather than being confused myself, I traced back to where I came and called their names quietly. How strange I said. I called again and finally Muhdi responded,“Yo!. I said, “Aku pikir kemana”- “I have thought about where you guys have been”. Muhdi answered, “Itu Bang Feri, sakit perut”-“Feri had a stomach ache “and I answered “Wooooh.”We waited for around 3 minutes, took some pictures when he finally appeared in the dark. “Okay, let’s go!” he said more readily than before. “Did you bring a bottle of water?” I asked making sure of things and he said “No, I used it just now until it’s finished.”That means you don’t have a bottle to drink?”, then he answered in a –sincere-surrending- kind of way “Yes”. Well, one bottle of water down, we haven’t started yet and what to do we have to keep on walking. Awenk and Agus must have been far away by now. So, we trekked the crater rim and went to our left path into a forest.
We were starting to ascend. Dry pine trees were here and there. We passed through an opening slit of a tall ground with long narrow path that shaped up because of erosion. There were no rocks inside the walls, it was only soil. We came out of it then we met two pathways. One going vertically but it seems somewhat difficult and the other one downhill and looks easy. We definitely chose the easiest pathway and continued trekking downhill. Minutes later, we found ourselves feeling at the wrong path. We traced back and went to the other pathway which we considered difficult. We climbed up a steep slope with roots and branches of pine trees to go through. And we had found out that it happens to be on the right track. We were thankful for getting into the right track or less we were lost. It’s hard to seek for footprints in the night because the ground were still covered with dry pine leaves and the soil was dark coloured as well. Passing through steeper slopes of cracked grounds of sands with vegetation scattered in some area mostly pine trees and wild grass, Awenk and Agus seems nowhere to be found. No signs of them to leave for us. Not even a torchlight to be seen at a distance. No movements about them. No life at all. They should have been waiting for us somewhere. Well, they were our guide as a matter of fact. A little bit feeling of disappointment emerged. Feri and Muhdi felt the same. But we rather not talk about it and focus on our trekking. The track seems to be okay so far. Looking at the dark the land form seems to change into dark sand. There were still some wild grass here and there. More or less after an hour trekking, we found Awenk and Agus. They were waiting for us in the dark. Probably they have seen our torchlights from up above and decided to wait and turned off their lights to save battery. They might have also thought that we were lost because we were out of sight before. I felt relieved right away. Me, Feri and Muhdi rested for a little bit. The slopes are getting steeper, higher and had changed into scree. Then another minute we walked again. Awenk reminded us that the longer our break is the longer we are going to arrive at the summit. I asked Agus, “Why didn’t you wait for us?” he answered smiling faintly, “Because I was afraid Awenk will look for me and say that I am slow. You know he always says cepat! Cepat!”(Cepat means fast or quick) he adds with his signature laugh while carrying a big bottle of water. Recalling that he was Awenks trusted person and was training to be a guide at this time with us. He adds, “Sorry, sorry.”I said, “No problem at all Gus.”We trekked silently around 15 minutes until we met a curve and turned left. Awenk shouted, “Finally! We are here!”and we sat at the far edge of the curve and sat down on the scree. We looked at our watch, it says it was only 2 minutes away to 5am. “That’s not bad” I chirped. “Iya, tinggal sejam lagi.”- “Yes, only another one hour left”Awenk said confidently. “Dari sini terus ke atas saja.”- “From here we go straight up.””Alright.”I answered lightly. Seven minutes had passed, we drank water and I nibbled and shared my brown sugar to everyone as they took its and bits from the small plastic that I have handed then we urged ourselves to go trekking again. It was a rather longer break then the previous one. We left Muhdi who went for an early prayer. He will join us soon after the pray.
Once we start trekking, the landscape appeared to change. We were trekking on a ridge with very steep cliffs on both sides. It does look as if we are getting close to the summit. The sun wasn’t out yet, so we still need our torchlights and take care of our steps. We kept on trekking on the scree. I couldn’t picture the landscape yet on what was in front of me. I kept on walking, the breeze sent chills to my skin. Awenk and Agus are in front of us, Feri on my back and sometimes in the front.
Twenty minutes later the sky turned to blue purplish colour giving light to earth little by little, also giving a vision of silhouette Mt. Rinjani’s ridge infront of us. It resembles a dye shirt of dark blue, dark purple, a little bit of black, and white. An art of its own. I tried to keep my body strength stable, our footsteps making crunching sounds between our shoes and scree brought us slowly over the steep slope that gets higher and higher, sometimes the breeze even makes the air much colder, and my chest starts to burn every step that I make. There was no one else there except us struggling our body to go up and up. I guess that we were very late but we should be there soon I thought although the sun starts rising.
Eleven minutes later still on the move, orange light starts appearing in the sky while the white colour had already dominated as if the sky were giving up the dark just for us to discover the new appearance of nature surrounding us. Awenk has been here many times of course especially when he was much younger, Agus haven’t been to the summit before only just around the Lake Segara Anak and me and my two adventure buddies definitely never have been here. At the quiet trekking, Feri exclaimed in the peaceful silence pointing the Crater Lake, Segara Anak that was right behind us. The sky made us discover that we were trekking at another side of the caldera rim. I thought earlier before that we were trekking the opposite way from the Crater Lake but actually what happened was that we were actually still around the caldera rim. This shows how enormous it is from how long we have been trekking. Clouds floated from far away, our right side were steep dangerous cliff going down towards the far Crater Lake of Segara Anak, it resembled the long time ago of volcanic eruption. Some news article reportedly say that scientists had identified the Lake Segara Anak was formed by a massive volcanic eruption around the year 1257 – 1258 called Samalas Volcano which considered to be located in the Mount Rinjani or adjacent to it and had caused ‘ a medieval year without summer ‘that made a large impact on global weather and climate systems . It is still under study research that leaves a mystery for the scientists until today. In the middle of Segara Anak is Gunung Barujari (Barujari is Sasak language for new mountain) an active volcano that was formed by Mt. Rinjani eruptions and it is also known as the child of Mt. Rinjani. At our left side presents low vegetation around the steep slope. Impressed, we have to keep on trekking. Scree has dominated the area. I wish I had light-fast strides ascending the mountain. Another discovery had lightened me. Here I found what I have been waiting for during hours of trekking is the eternal flower named Edelweiss. And there were lots of them scattered along the left side of the slope also at the sides of our track. 05.41am, the earth was still on its way rotating to give us the perfect sunlight at the side Eastern of Indonesia. Photos were still bluish coloured at my digital pocket camera. The scree was getting a little more challenging with a long narrow path that goes higher. 05.55am, the sky starts to spread sunlight evenly. We had a camera shot of our camping ground very far away with tiny colourful tents as the background photo. The Lake Segara Anak was very beautiful at a clear sight with lovely blue water colour and smoking cone of Gunung Barujari in the centre. And at our left side was the beautiful vast landscape of mountain ridges and green forests some covered by clouds and just enough to show how high we were at that time. Awenk quietly went up again with Agus tagging along carrying a big bottle of water at one hand. I decided to take a lot more pictures of the Crater Lake on the way back and save camera batteries now rather than having no documentaries at the Summit. Me and Feri then followed.
It was nearly 7am when the sunlight finally had shown itself at the sky facing in front of us. The view in front of us were a ground of scree going upwards steeply not knowing where our next destination behind of it will be. It was already 2 hours of trekking since Awenk mentioned it was just another hour left to go and we still haven’t arrived at the summit yet. We had missed the sunrise at the summit view. Me and Agus then joked about it,“Another hour to go, where?”then we broke another laugh. But we still have to move our feet no matter what. No signs of other living human being near our presence. It was very quiet, very peaceful, and very majestic. The scree slope trekking was luckily not as bad as the Mt. Semeru, it was probably because of the damp scree especially underneath its surface that makes it steady for us in every footsteps. The drier it gets the harder it will take for us to climb. For instance, the pattern of steps would be 1 step up and 2 to 3 steps down for every footsteps. For now, it only takes steady steps or 1 step up and 1 step down. Some parts of the scree are bright brown reddish colour of broken stones. Later on, we started to meet foreigners along the way once in a while. They had summited already and the funny thing is I don’t know where they came from since the mountain peak is somewhere not to be seen. We asked them straight away about their journey towards the summit. Some say it took another hour to reach the summit and also it was definitely worthwhile after the long hours of struggle. They mostly encouraged us and gave us spirit to reach the peak. I thought we were the only last one to summit and we were late. We said thank you and continued our climbing. Once in a while Awenk reminded us that we have to climb faster before the fog will come as it will be dangerous especially at the summit. My two feet and thighs were getting numb. Scrambling the scree slope as much as my body can take it.
I was curious to know on where is the final slope that we had to climb to reach the summit. I put on an eagle eye, and finally saw some tiny movement the size of an ant from a very far away distance climbing on what it seems like a high long slope towards our right. And I asked Awenk and Agus, “Itu ya?”- “Is that it?”Well, Agus laughed as a yes answer and knowing the fact that we are still, very, very far from reality. I laughed about it too anyways. But then the summit itself was another big question for me. Sometimes you could see the highest peak of the mountain and then a minute later it wasn’t there. And seconds later there were showing like two summits and I had to ask which one was it. I thought the summit was the one that I pointed earlier which had turned out it was nothing but just a shape that seems like the summit as we approached closer. Since then I don’t want to frustrate myself with it. I made myself keep on trekking, try to enjoy the beautiful landscape as much as I can and hoping that we would be there soon.
Another hour and a half passed by the summit was nowhere yet to be seen. Instead the scree slope is giving us more challenging tracks then before. Other then it gets steeper, there were mounds which was made of a mixture of scree and sand along the sides of the track making it look like short natural made walls. I saw Agus sitting down on a rock up there with his knees bent and his mind seems to wander. It looks like that he didn’t want to move quickly and just surrender at the situation. I slowly scrambled towards his place while Feri was still slowly trekking behind me. Once I plopped myself beside him, he spontaneously laughed at me and the situation that we are having – the summit that never seems to appear. I laughed at the same feeling and joke as him. I drank some water little by little with no intention to finish it, not until we reached the top yet and ate some chunks of brown sugar and share it with Agus. Feri came plopping himself right beside us and asked for Agus’s water and took some chunks of brown sugar from inside a small transparent plastic that I was holding. He sipped a little bit. We were all weak. We didn’t talk much. If we did, it was just about the never appearing of the summit. And Agus decided to move on. I saw his big bottle of water was less than half more on the ground when he left. I was confused why he left it there. I hope it wasn’t his intention to litter the environment here. So, I half shouted at him, “Gus, you still have water inside the bottle. You don’t want it?”and he answered spontaneously, half snapped too, “Ah, yes!!”and snatched his bottle of water which he forgets earlier. I laughed at his reaction. And joked, “Because if you don’t want it Feri will take it”while I looked at Feri recalling that he finished his only bottle before we started summiting and I think he was nearly going to take Agus’s bottle of water. Feri replied, “Ah, of course not Fio”. While we climbed, Agus shared his frustration “I was a little bit irritated because Awenk shared my water and I am the one who has to carry it as well “he added up with his usual signature laugh. Me and Feri gave an expression of a weak surprise but have no energy to continue the topic. Awenk was somewhere far ahead of us and Muhdi was somewhere far behind the three of us. Sometimes Agus imitates about Awenk’s talk about the fog that soon will come if we weren’t pushing ourselves more. I asked the reason why do we have to be so afraid with the fog? Shouldn’t we be one with the nature? Because if we are kind to them then they would do the same. He replied that sometimes lightning will come unexpectedly in the middle of us. I don’t like being rushed especially at moments like this. I mean how should I rush myself here? I cleared myself with positivity again and surrender to the situation. I then knew later on, that Agus was convinced by Awenks story which I think it was his experience about the fog and the lightning. I am perplexed to see Agus moving effortlessly yet I know that he was exhausted with his thin and tall body. He rested again somewhere in a distance in front of me, squatting beside a mound of scree and sand just enough for shelter. He was smoking a cigarette when I finally came and rest myself there. He offered me a box of chocolate chip cookie with only one left which without hesitant I took it from the box and drank my bottle of water. He burnt the box with his gasoline to make his fingers warm. Actually, I did not know the story until we had reached our basecamp in Senaru Village later on, he actually half willingly offered me that one left chocolate chip cookie to me because he was weak and hungry. And I couldn’t read the situation because I was weak myself and I thought he had offered me sincerely because I had sincerely offered some of my brown sugar to him before. But we actually had laughed so much about it after we shared each other stories. So, I trekked on first because I know that Agus will catch me up later. He also wants to have his own time at the moment.
I looked at my back, the mist were creeping slowly without our awareness. Agus who already had reached me and knowing the mists in presence then quickly climbed up again and said “Come on, it’s a little bit more”. Also he was trying to look for Awenk just in case Awenk was looking for him knowing that he was not at his side for quite a while now. I let Agus climbed faster while I waited for Feri. We decided to take it slowly but surely.
Agus and Awenk should be far away ahead of us by now. I don’t know where Muhdi was. I can’t move my feet faster. I let myself be in one with the nature, making myself sure that the mist are friendly and God will protect us no matter what. I climbed slowly again.
Ten minutes later, I felt the track was a little bit different. There was a crevice between the grounds at my right side going upwards that looks naturally formed for the climbers to pass by. I went through it and out from the opening, I took a picture of the slope from where I had come from and had a quick look at the screen shot. “We weren’t alone at all!”I screamed at my heart amazed. So, some group must have been more late behind then us. I saw tiny spots of people within the mist climbing upwards. It was a relief for me knowing this. They must have gone not long after we left the camping ground. I continued trekking while Feri was somewhere behind me probably documenting the scenery while resting once in a while as well. This must be it! Someone passed by me and convinced me that I was already there. I spiritedly trekked the narrow path ahead of me with much bigger stones of scree and many yellow coloured rocks appeared along the way, as I looked at my left side I could see hot brown crater producing white gas from what it seems like sulphur. I turned to the narrow path at my right a little bit and then turned left to see the people that I want, Awenk and Agus there at the actual summit. I approached towards them who were taking photos in turns holding a sign which is made of iron that tells TOP 7 PUNCAK, MT. RINJANI 3726 M.DPL – TOP 7 SUMMIT MT. RINJANI 3726 ASL, which all climbers must hold in every summit they conquered and document it. All of a sudden, I had forgotten about my muscle stiffs. My body felt lighter.
The look of the summit wasn’t like what I have been expecting. It had a pointy look forward and it was very small. It can’t fit a group of 20 people. It wasn’t spacious like the Mt. Semeru at all either. After those long hours of climbing just to find out the Mt. Rinjani Summit was petite. Eventually, I was satisfied. The summit – the pointy forward – that I have seen from far away at the balcony of Rinjani Basecamp and before we reached the crater rim had finally come to reality. It was true what the foreigners had said, it was definitely worth the struggle. Mission accomplished. I am standing on top of Mt. Rinjani!
At a split second I thought that we were surrounded by clouds. The view that I can only describe was the left side of the summit which was the brown Crater. The rest of the scenery was just pure white. The feeling of this was like standing on top of a high mountain surrounded by clouds as if I was at the sky, peaceful and quiet. I was told later on that the right side of the summit should be the view of the Segara Anak Lake. After quite of being aware about the surrounding view, the cloud was a mixed of mist and had covered the sceneries beauty. I didn’t mind actually, because the atmosphere was very peaceful in the silent morning. It was around 10 minutes to 9am where the presence of the mist must have come when I entered the Summit. I felt that the mist was friendly and wanted to come and join the play with us.
Agus was praying devotedly at the tip of the Summit while I took pictures of Awenk holding the Summit sign and then I asked him to take pictures of me. Feri then had reached the summit. I have strongly remember my Letter to God even at my weakest point during the climb and finally now it was the right time for me to give it. I noticed that the last group would be here in any minute. So, right after Agus was done with his praying, it was my turn to go there because at the end of the tip it could only hold one person. There was already a crack on the ground that made a steep cliff positioned nearly at the end of the tip at the right side of the summit heading the Crater Lake view. We have to be aware on where we are stepping there around the edge of the summit because it’s quite dangerous. I walked carefully. Awenk reminded me to be careful and he was afraid that I might slip and fall. I trusted the summit as much as I can. “Oh wow!” I said it in my heart. The edge of the tip would crack down one day because of weathering or any kind of cause. The crevice was even close to the middle part. My analogy about the summit was like a slice of cake where nearly the edge of the tip part was smudged by a finger from up towards down below leaving a crevice and made the edge of the cake vulnerable. Luckily this wasn’t a cake. This was built by rocks, sands and mineral which is strong.
I sat on a medium grey rock that I figured it was safe enough for me to sit. In front of the tip of the summit was definitely a steep cliff but across it was another large pile of sand. It wasn’t rocks but grey sand and brown reddish colour of earth. I assumed that it used to be part of this summit. I quickly took my letter for God that was hidden safely in a small dry bag inside my jacket. I don’t want anybody to see what I was doing. I shut both of my eyes while holding the letter to God inside my palms then I took several deep breaths and started to pray sincerely. In the middle of my meditation of peace and still connecting to God, Are excitedly approached me and sat beside me and innocently offered me some sweets. “Teh, dingin Teh? Mau permen?”- “Sis, are you cold? Do you want a sweet?”, he asked attentively because I wasn’t wearing my gloves and my praying pose probably looks like I was in a cold position. So, the last group summiting was Are’s group. I found it quite surprisingly because I have thought that Are’s group were here earlier before us. Since I was in the middle of praying, I replied, “Tunggu dulu, aku lagi mau mengheningkan cipta dulu nih”- “Wait first, I am going to need a moment of silence”. Maybe he didn’t quite understood what I meant, so he went and took some sweets. While he was away, I instantly looked for a spot to bury my letter to God and the spot near my shoes were perfect as I don’t need much of a movement to do it. I let my fingers dug a small hole quickly just enough for the small piece of paper to fit in. Then I covered it secretly with sands and stones at once and I continued praying again. Are came again shortly with a handful of sweets. So, I took one of it. I made myself sure and satisfied about delivering my letter to God because I thought I was able to do it in private at much wider space without interruption, but I was feeling alright about it. Once I felt complete and whole about my prayers although there was a slight feeling of unsatisfied and uncertainty, I pushed the feeling of positivity that God always knows what we meant in every step, act, will, and mind of our heart even though our effort wasn’t perfect. So, that makes me feel better. Me and Are chit chatted for a little bit and went back behind the crevice where everybody were. I met a couple of friends in Are’s group that made it to the summit and there was one who caught my eye. He was Danubrata Dadang. He wore a graduation robe. Well, it wasn’t his graduation yet but soon he says. He was in a happy mood that his hard work of study had finally been paid off. So, he wants to make a picture of him wearing a toga on the summit for his lifetime memory. We all took pictures together happily. Are was a friendly mountain guide who shows he’s personality of a true mountain climber. Besides of always offering us some snacks, he also fixed my gaiter because we were rushing when we went summiting before, he offers a lot of help and he is well prepared in any kind of situations that’s why he always have something to spare. Well, he is obviously a mountain guide. When Are offered me and Feri snacks of small packaging of sausages, Awenk abruptly said “ Ayo turun, keburu kabut tebal”- “Come on, let’s go down before the thick fog is coming!”and went down quickly as if the fog was a threat. Agus followed him without objection. I sighed. I was enjoying my summit moment of triumph, relaxing and celebrating it with my new acquainted friends while talking about nature and life. Life was great. ‘So, do we have to go back now? Give me more time.’ I thought. Feri who’s certain about Awenk’s statement also decided to leave the summit immediately which surprised me a little bit. I wanted to still stay and relax at the top. I mean we just arrived here. Why must we descend so soon? My heart had a strong belief that the fog will be alright. They want to acquaint with us and its okay. They are friendly. Muhdi haven’t arrived yet. Are said that he met him somewhere resting on the way during the climb around the crater rim. Are’s group decided to stay a little bit longer and rejoice. Are also convinced me that it was okay to stay a little bit longer and the mist are certainly not harmful. I wished I could stay but my two guides and Feri had descended. Rather than making them worried for me and keep them in the waiting, I decided to leave too. Are gave me a keychain of Mt. Raung as a motivation for me to try and taste a more challenging track with mountaineering technical skills such as rappelling since Mt. Raung is favoured by climbers nowadays and it wasn’t about the height but it’s about bravely passing its 7 summits; and he also gave me a necklace as a souvenir. I said good bye and thanked all my friends.
70 minutes on the summit. I made sure I had my last look around the summit just in case I had missed any beautiful sceneries and regret. The mist had surrounded the summit but not including the ground that we stand on and covered the landscape view of Mt. Rinjani. I felt blessed and I then descended the mountain with grateful feelings while I stay connected with the atmosphere up there as much as I can.
I saw Feri waiting for me in a distance standing somewhere at a curve. I catch up with him and asked without waiting. “Why do we have to leave so soon? We could still relax and enjoy if we want too. Besides, Are said it was alright to be up there a little bit longer and the mist would be okay.”and he replied, “It wasn’t like that Fio. Awenk said that we have to pack and leave soon towards the Segara Anak and build our camp there before the rain. That’s what I know. “ and I disbelieved replied with an “Oh, really?!”. I didn’t know any of that, but it was alright for me in the end because knowing that we were going to be indulge by the beauty of Lake Segara Anak is also a temptation for me. Agus and Awenk was nowhere to be seen. I suspected they ran down to avoid the fog.
I tried to skip down the scree like my experience descending the Mt. Semeru. It was a little bit different and difficult. I think because it was more sand then small rocks around the Semeru Summit, while it was more scree around the Mt. Rinjani Summit. The slide was rough and hard. I try to enjoy every step that my feet takes. Further down I saw the mists were covering our path and view in front of us. I was confused whether it was clouds that arrived this area or fog that creeps silently. Either way it was also beautiful. Imagining walking on a road on the sky filled with clouds all around and nothing else. The pathway is a mystery. It felt like walking in another dimension. Or actually it reminds me of a children story of jack and the beanstalk. Jack climbed up the tall beanstalk up towards the sky to find a kingdom up there above the clouds. I wasn’t referring the giant though that would be scary but how the journey made him pass and go through the clouds up to the sky. I could relate this moment with Jack’s emotion when he climbed the beanstalk, he must have the feelings of expectations, fear, excitement and curiosity on what’s beyond the clouds and it was my first experience to pass through the fog while descending at a high mountain still near the summit. Well, we can’t stay any longer.
The sensation of passing through the thick fog with low visibility was a different sense of adventure. Chilly fog passed our body while we walked down, leaving my nose the most sensitive part rather than my fingers and toes cold. My skin face tightens naturally from the low temperature. I inhaled deeply wanting to taste the fog. It was fresh and the air was damp making the atmosphere a little bit heavier but unthreatening for us. All was exciting for me. Experiencing a new kind of adventure.
We have to take care of our steps and sight. We don’t want to tumble and not knowing where we are falling. It was a lovely trekking recognizing that it was just a fog but it was a mixed of low clouds and mist that had accompanied us along the way. We had breaks sometimes but not as much as during our climbing before. Edelweiss flowers were coming into view again. Pale yellow whitish colour with green leaves. It highlights my journey from the hazy view. The eternal flowers were projecting image of beauty in peace, strong from where it had grown, confident, and reaching for heights- the taller the better. When we had another break, we could see our tiny tents from where we stood and the Lake Segara Anak was covered with clouds and mist. I couldn’t be taking any more pictures of the scenery. I was lucky to have some camera shots before when we climbed up.
The only one fear that we were afraid off was the rain because Feri was carrying a big camera. A moment later, the sky sprinkled its water from the clouds. Feri was confused on how to protect his camera because his dry bag was carried earlier before by Muhdi. Without hesitate, I offered him my help. I open my jacket then slinged the camera around my shoulders and brought the camera to the front and zipped it although it can’t entirely close. But it was safe and enough to protect from the rain. Then magically, as if God has send us some help, the graduation boy came, Danubrata. Feri asked him directly if he has a dry bag to borrow just to protect the camera until the camping ground. Danubrata doesn’t have a dry bag but he has a raincoat. Feri then said it was definitely okay. So, we borrowed Danubrata’s jacket for me to wear. And I layered it on top of my jacket. It was perfect, the camera’s much more protected now. Another friend of Danubrata arrived, then we all walked down together. The track was way much easier than going up. It rained lightly, but it was a little slippery, so we have to step at the right ground. The presence of these two friends had made the descending a warm journey.
Going down was a lot faster than going up. It was around 3 hours when we had reached the camping ground. Just the right time for lunch too. I was happy. Most especially the feeling of accomplishment once you step the camping ground after summiting. Heroes of the day. Warm feeling had wash my entire body. The rain was no longer an enemy but a friend. In front of my tent, I took of Danubrata’s raincoat and thanked him. He went back to his tent. I opened my jacket and gave the camera back to Feri. The porters knew our presence then gave us some lunch. It was just nice. Muhdi then appeared. He told us that he had hurt his knee and decided to cancel his summiting and went down. We were happy that he was alright. Then it rained again heavily while me and Feri had our lunch. The hot sweet tea was such a treat for me. I wrapped it around my fingers to make it warm. The camping ground was nearly empty. All the tents were gone except of ours and Are’s group.
An hour later, the rain had stopped. The view was dark whereas it was only around 14.00pm. The Crater Lake was covered by fog and our camping area was misty. It turned into a gloomy day. Awenk came out from his tent, he seem well rested. He told us that it was too dangerous for us to go to the Lake Segara Anak because last time there were 2 international tourist that came in a rainy season and one of them ended up having a broken leg because the track was an hour long, steep and slippery down towards the lake. Plus the scenery would be less in visibility because of the fog. So, there was no way of staying any longer. If we had enough of sightseeing here it was better for us to go straight back home to Senaru Village he suggested. The three of us had thought of it deeply. I do want to go to the Lake Segara Anak and have a dip at its hot spring water around the area. I mean we have been this far already but I also knew that the weather was foggy. After the brainstorming, we finally came to a decision that we will continue our journey home. It was actually okay for me to descend but I haven’t had enough rest yet. Literally, me and Feri’s lunch break was the only rest we had after the summiting. And I had to underline that. Besides, my clothes were still wet which means I have to carry double or maybe triple folds of burden on my shoulder. I haven’t had much energy to continue yet, thinking about it just made me feel more tired. I half-heartedly pack all my clothes and miscellaneous things. To make myself cheerful, I remember that all adventures doesn’t have to be perfect. What makes an adventure perfect is the learning experience within the journey doing it. So, that statement really fits my situation. Once I was done packing, Agus came out from his tent and he had rested too from his summiting. He helped the porters fold the tent. After everything was packed 30 minutes later including the porters, we were ready for our journey back home. We said goodbye to Are and the group. They will definitely stay overnight and see the beautiful Crater Lake in the next morning. I wish I could join but maybe next time I affirmed.
Oh dear, my backpack was super heavy. My shoulder pain hasn’t healed yet because the lack of rest, my knees and toes are pounding because it carries the burden from my upper body. I tried to cope with it and kept trekking. We went to the same track like we came. It was a very foggy afternoon. The fresh rain that stopped had given the fog free expression and the ground were wet. I didn’t care about the rain no more because I wasn’t bothered anymore to have drenched clothes since we will be back home anyways. Later on, I couldn’t walk the way it supposed to be. My pace starts to get slower and my right toes are insanely painful. I could still cope with my backpack burden although it was very heavy full with drenched clothes that didn’t dry overnight. Every steps of my left foot are usual movements but every step of my right foot I had to twist my abdominal to the right side as if I was dragging my right foot downwards. It was until that painful that I had to walk like that. It was very unusual for me to have pounding and painful toes because I love mountain descending rather than ascending. So, this should be easier for me. Well, I wasn’t completely aware at that time that all body pain that I had, came from my heavy backpack.
After we passed through the pine tree areas, and kept on going down towards the declined slope, I finally gave up with my heavy burden. Awenk was already far away ahead couldn’t be seen within the surrounding thick fog, it was hard for me to catch up with his footsteps because of my condition – it had given me a little bit of frustration to hold my body pain and seek for him guiding us way faster than us; Feri was at my back while Muhdi was behind him. I suddenly threw away my backpack followed by my instant plopped on the ground. It felt so good releasing the burden. I finally erupted my feelings of frustration but still try to hold some of it inside. I love mountain climbing but this wasn’t the plan. It turned out to be a really fast mountain climbing, which includes the ascending – summiting – descending, in a second I thought we were in a quest of – breaking – the –record- of one night summiting at one of the highest mountain in Indonesia. I felt like bursting with tears, blaming someone for the plan and shouting from exhaustion and pain; but I kept them within myself. Instead I came out with just loud panting and a little complaint and I stopped and took a deep breath. Then I said to myself, IF ONLY my backpack is filled with dry contents. I wouldn’t need to feel this way and act like this. Feri stopped abruptly and Muhdi who was entertaining himself with his music had stopped and turned it off. Everyone was exhausted, everyone was silent and we don’t know where we were. The fog appears to change the view a little bit, if we weren’t concentrating probably we would get disoriented and get lost. Then I cracked the silent by saying, “I don’t know what happen to my toes, it is so unusual.” The Feri replied, “Pelan-pelan aja Fio.”- “Take it slow Fio”. He helped me stood up and I carried my backpack again. “Ah!” my toes doesn’t seem to tolerate this time but I let myself push the limit until we finally met Awenk. He actually waited for us somewhere at the fog unseen and probably saw my scene just now. He offered a help to carry my backpack without hesitation. I was reluctant to do it because I am an independent woman. I am used to sort things myself and cope with problems but I gave up this time. I am injured I thought and Awenk had insisted. He reasoned that it is alright otherwise it will slow down everybody’s pace then we would be arriving late. Actually, that does make sense. So, I gave my backpack to him, and he carry it in front of him. So, now he has two back pack to carry. One in the front and the other one at his back. “Wow!”that’s amazing I said to myself.
We continued trekking again. My walk was better because I felt that my knee does’t need to do a heavy duty to carry the load on my back that impacts my toes. I walked lighter although my toes are still pounding with pain. Moments later, we had arrived to a shelter. The porters were already there with Agus resting while waiting for us. Agus was very fast this time. Awenk reached earlier then the three of us. Once we arrived, Awenk had already put a picnic mat on the ground to greet our arrival. We all plopped down on the mat with a loud sigh. This is HEAVEN I thought. I opened my shoes instantly without waiting, to discover that both of my middle toe nails were purple bluish from the bruise. The right one was rather worse. My two feet had finally had its liberty. A reward after long hours of trekking. – well this was just a short break actually. I try to relax as much as possible and felt happiness. Agus sat beside me bringing a plate of biscuits. “Are you offering me sincerely this time?”I joked and we both laughed. He replied, “Of course! “Recalling our tragedy of the one piece of chocolate chip cookie at the top. We had another meal to give us energy for another long walk. “You have time to rest Gus! While me and Feri just arrived at the camping ground to find that we had to continue our journey back home without any rest. And this is my actual rest after the summiting.”I chat with Agus cheerfully and this time it was my time to laugh at my own pain or problems not Agus. We laughed about it again and about all the experiences we recently had and still on the process of accomplishing it. After we felt enough rest, we continued our journey back home.
I actually didn’t believe I had this kind of experience but it was a spectacular one. Although my eyes were red, my knee and toes were pounding and my body was sore I had enjoyed Mt. Rinjani. Thank you Mt. Rinjani for giving me a wonderful adventure that I haven’t experienced it before. You had made me learn about the rain, the fog, the heights, the trust, the belief, the silence, and the beauty of the naturalist process.
Let’s give a round of applause for the porters who had carried unexplainable burden on their shoulders. They are incredibly talented at any kinds of weather. Without technology and without complaint they had accomplished their job with perfection.
The nature embraced our journey until we reached Sembalun Village again. There was no rain and the atmosphere was peaceful accompanied by the full moon. We arrived around 21.00pm with our pick up car already on the road waiting for us. We hopped in and went back to Rinjani basecamp at Senaru Village. The air was cold and everyone was exhausted and some fell asleep tightly especially Agus. Later I knew, after we arrived at the homestay my right toe nail was broken until it had fallen off and I left it to the nature to heal and grow by itself again which couple of months later it did grow again healthily. The next day we just talked and share about our experience of the one night summiting at Mt. Rinjani. What makes it special form this adventure was everyone’s happiness. Although the fight within yourself to reach on top and the body pain of the one night journey towards the summit, we had felt the same experiences and shared the same happiness together.