Mt. Rinjani (3,726m) 2016

“A journey in nature is never about conquering it—simply because you can never really do so. It is more about us embracing and finding ourselves, and then making sense of our presence in the world.” — me, myself, and I.

To begin with, I’m very happy as I’m writing this post. One reason is because climbing this mountain has given me a great amount of personal experience and insight, and awe towards Mother Nature (Indonesia’s nature particularly) for its endless splendour. The other is, obviously, because I have another opportunity to boast about this lovely country! Now, I want to boast about Indonesia being situated right in the ‘Ring of Fire’. What is it?

According to The Lonely Planet, “due to Indonesia’s placement on a significant segment of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, two large crustal plates (the Indian Ocean and western Pacific) are forced under the massive Eurasian plate, where they melt at approximately 100km beneath the surface. Some of the magma rises and erupts to form the string of volcanic islands across Indonesia”.

In that regards, Indonesia becomes home to about 150 volcanoes, where 125 of them are active! As a result, volcanic activities are relatively high here. This geographical condition gives one major advantage to Indonesia, and one of the is that the land becomes extremely fertile. Plant anything (those that suit the weather), anywhere, and you can watch them grow. The soil is rich—unbelievably rich.

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If you ever heard of Krakatoa eruption, it is in Indonesia.

Now, if you come to me and we dive into a conversation talking about the incredible life experiences that had massive impact in our respective lives, this hike to Mt. Rinjani will definitely be in that conversation. No doubt.

It was in the night of July 8, 2016 when I finally decided to join this trip to Mt. Rinjani on July 13-18, 2016. It was indeed a short period of time to prepare stuff. I only had the experience of hiking another mountain once in my life. I knew that it was pretty tough to climb a mountain, yet I only had the slightest idea of how tough Mt. Rinjani could be. I surely had some chill creeping up my spine, but I also knew that it was going to be one of the most rewarding things I will ever experience in my life.

The highest peak of Mt. Rinjani is 3,726m asl (above sea level), making it Indonesia’s 5th highest point, and located in the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara (1 of the 34 provinces). From this, you can learn how tough it may be, right?

One thing about hiking though: it’s like walking straight into the mist and not knowing what lays ahead. The only thing that you can do is keep on walking to figure it out as you take another step forward. Uh-huh. Yes. That’s me being wise. But, seriously, you gotta keep on walking if you really want to get there… Okay… whatever…

Misty
My cousin and his friend walking down the hill as we marched towards Torean Village.

Sembalun Village
On the first day, we arrived in Lombok and went straight to Sembalun village. It took us about almost 3 hours to get here from the airport—by car. I spent most of the time on the road sleeping as the car went up and down the winding road to the village.

This village would then came to be our starting point. It’s at the foot of the mountain. We stayed at a decent guest house with very limited facilities, but eye-pleasing view in the backyard—the mountain itself, was what we got! The neighbourhood was very quiet, gentle, and pretty. I had the chance to explore a little bit of the area within the little time I had in hands before we left the day after.

Trekking and Hiking to Plawangan
We reached Plawangan Sembalun, our campsite, at 5:40pm. It took us about 8.5 hours to get here from Sembalun Village. Plawangan Sembalun is at 2,639m asl, which means this place was about 1,500m higher than Sembalun Village (1,156m asl). That was quite an achievement! The path to Plawangan Sembalun was a mix between easy and tough. We began by trekking a wide savannah that had a gradual slope, making it pretty easy and convenient. When we made several stops at a handful of designated stops, also anywhere should it was needed, we even played cards to kill some time. 😉 Maybe that’s also why it took us quite long to get to our destination!

However, the biggest challenge of this stage of the odyssey was the ‘7 Bukit Penyesalan’, which translates to ‘7 Hills of Regret’. The hills were itself arduous and was made worse by the rain. For some people, it does make you second guess your decision to hike this mountain! It’s simply because the road is tough, and yet it’s not your final destination. At this point, people would start to think within themselves and anxiety and fear start to kick in. It does test your patience and perseverance, for sure.

But, but, but! I would really encourage you not to give up, just yet. It’s all because you will be thankful when you reach the campsite, for you are now actually above the [first layer of] cloud already!

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Plawangan Campsite at 2,639m asl.

Pretty, isn’t it? By now, everything that you have seen here should have ignited the desire to travel within your heart… :))

Summit Attack
After spending just about 8 hours at Plawangan, it came the time for summit attack. After only having about 3.5 hours of sleep, I woke up at 2 am the next morning and got ready to continue the journey to the summit! It was still dark and the sky was crystal clear. Hundreds of stars were glittering in the night sky and Milky Way revealed its splendour. The wind chill felt like a numerous little bites all over the exposed skin. It was about 8ºC. Fortunately, Canada’s winter is worse, so I found myself kinda used to with it.

The path to the summit was long, sandy, rocky, and monotonous.There was almost a 1,100m vertical distance that we had to hike, and so you can imagine how high that is. However, the view of the skyline, cities, and the crater gave me the encouragement morale booster that I needed to keep on taking another step.

To be honest, I had my own motivation to get to the top: I want to take a picture like people do on the Internet with the wooden placard and the flag! There is no way I’m writing a blog post about this trip without including a picture of me at the top! It was proven to be super effective… Because…

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Ta-daaa! Me at 3,726m asl.

I made it! Though it took me 6 hours to get there, what mattered to me was that I got there and stood taller than most human in the planet already. Just thinking about that make me feel good. An immense feeling of attainment, and humbleness at the same time, was all that I had when I realized I was on top of one of, if not only Indonesia’s, the world’s highest peaks. It was indeed a tough road, but we made it!

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Thank you to my cousins and friend, and Pak Heru (our porter), for taking on the journey together.

For more pictures, please refer to my other post.

Bear with me! It didn’t end at the summit!

Danau Segara Anak (Segara Anak Lake)
Mt. Rinjani was just one of several peaks that was formed after the Pleistocene giant mountain erupted many years ago, alongside with a giant crater. Over the decades, the crater was filled with rainwater and formed a lake, named Segara Anak.

One sad thing about hiking a mountain is that you don’t feel like going back down after you just reached one of the, literally, highest point in your life. The more sad truth is you HAVE to do it. If there was a helicopter that’d fly you back down from the top would be an amaaaziiing daydream… Sigh… Therefore, after enjoying some time at the top, we descended from the peak back to the campsite, rested for an hour, and made another descent to the lake. By the time I reached the lakeside, I was completely exhausted. Absolutely no energy left. My thighs were crying. The steep slope of the cliff was killing them. Nevertheless, again, nature was simply beautiful.

You may expect me to say that the beauty of the nature made me forget the pain and fatigue that plagued my body, but no… The first thing I did was lied down, propped my legs up, and tried to catch some sleep. The view was unlike anything I have seen before, but I was exhausted. So, it could wait. If you are wondering, I slept in the tent. The porters got there earlier than us and had prepared the tents. I wonder if we didn’t hire any porter at that time… I don’t know how things would’ve unfolded, honestly.

In Danau Segara Anak, there is one new active volcano called Mt. Barujari, which came into existence due to continuous volcanic activity down below. At some points, this volcano would erupt and everyone would need to evacuate immediately. Luckily, it didn’t happen while I was there. Thus, no evacuation was needed. 🙂 The at the caldera was clearly new to me—a combination between a lake, volcano, and a mountain range in all direction. You don’t really feel like you are actually in the middle of the crater of what was once a giant volcano until you sit down and really think about it.

There are heaps of springs here. Since this is a volcano, most of those spring water are hot. We stayed here for 3 days and 2 nights and used them as rest days. To make our rest day better, we treated ourselves by taking a hot bath in one small river that, somehow, rearranged itself one way or another to conceive a natural manmade-like onsen. The hot water unwound the fatigue from all over my body as I bathed next to a waterfall and with hills and valley as the setting.

Coming home
After spending 4 days and 3 nights in the wild, it was time to go home. Here is the tip: whenever you are going on a nature trip, like this one for example, you have to set your final goal right—coming home! Since the outset of your trip, you shouldn’t only focus on reaching for the cherry on top of the cake, i.e. what you are looking for to do or see in the trip. The reason is, as I have mentioned it before, you still need to go back down and go home safely. Always remember that, owing to the fact that the returning phase is also another energy-consuming part of the trip. Don’t believe me? It took us a solid 12 hours to walk back to the foot of the mountain, from the crater. As a matter of fact, we walked for a total of approximately 37 hours in the course of 3 days (excluding the rest day) up and down the hills and mountain.

We left at 7 am and wound up at Torean Village at 7 pm. The terrain was dominated mostly with quite okay slopes and declivities, yet we still encountered some steep cliffs that demanded extra focus and effort. Nonetheless, I personally think that the view was soooo pretty!! I got to see hills, valleys, forest, even river. It was pure beauty of Mother Nature. This time, the scenery did help me to avert my focus from my fatigue to enjoying the exquisite panorama.

And!

That’s the story of my trip to Mt. Rinjani! I hope you enjoy reading it! May it also give you the drive to make your own travelling plans that you have been wanting to do in the near future!

So, Mt. Rinjani was dope. Physical-wise, I would rate it as tough and demanding. View-wise, it’s one of the most amazing scenery that you will see in your life. Recommendation? If you’re young or while you still have the energy, go for it!

Thank you for bearing with me and reading the entire long post. If you want to see more photos, please visit my portfolio.

And don’t forget to keep yourself updated with some cool pictures and stories on my blog by subscribing to the monthly newsletter!

See you in the next post!

Regards,
Gregorius Erico

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