rinjani

the most beautiful trek

i started writing a blog because i wanted to write about this. 

silhouette

silhouette

rinjani awed and overwhelmed me. it was the first mountain i trekked that brought my mental endurance to the brink and teetering at the edges, wanting to give up. after we came down, i declared that i would sooner eat fish than climb it again (i’m allergic to all seafood).

and yet.

i’d never forget the beautiful scenes that greeted me each day on the mountain. nor the splendour of pre-dawn as we trudged doggedly towards the summit; even though i felt half dead;  even though i felt my limbs weigh a tonne, even though my boots were already spent, the sole shredded to bits by the unforgiving screed.

i had thought nothing could beat nepal. nothing, until this.

if you have a bucket list, be sure to stick rinjani into it. 

a journey of discovery

it was aug 2005 when my mates and i headed for rinjani. (aug is the best time for rinjani, apr-sep being the trekking season and jun-aug the best of it). we’ve other friends who went in december but couldn’t summit because it was too cold/windy/wet etc; in other words, too dangerous.

we spent 4 days walking from senaru to sembalun lawang. senaru and sembalun are villages at the base of rinjani and most trekkers usually start from one or the other. for us, every day of those 4 days was a feast for the eyes. the landscape changed constantly as we moved from lower grounds to higher grounds and back down again but each was as splendid as the last. 

the trek started off innocuously. from senaru, we entered a rainforest. a rainforest like the ones we’ve been to in malaysia, big trees, dense canopy and all. soon, we got to a  height where we could see clouds drifting in, swirling, dancing and trying to engulf us. we stayed long enough only to finish our lunch,  left and continued climbing until we were 1500m above sea level. when we looked back, we saw a beautiful sea of clouds floating above rainforest. 

cloud cover obscuring the rainforest

cloud cover obscuring the rainforest

by then, we were at the arid zone. the vegetation had thinned and the volcanic soil began to show more of itself. when we went around the little hilltop, we came face to face with the emerald green crater lake. from there, we would descend all the way down to the lake itself. it was a steep descend that kept us on our toes and bums very often. but we never lose sight of the beautiful lake.

the crater lake

the crater lake

descending towards lake

descending towards lake

close up, the lake felt much bigger than it had looked up from the hill. most trekkers would camp here (near to water, hotsprings etc). but we didn’t. we continued climbing up the steep jagged rocks till we reach the 2nd crater rim and set up camp there. this was better for us because this it put us closer to the summit.

posing for photo along way

posing for photo along way

hot spring

taking a break @ the hot spring behind crater lake

the climb was really unforgettable. one of the toughest i’d encountered. i remembered gazing at orion in the pre-dawn sky and marvelling at the climbers who overtook us. when i looked at myself, i saw a wobbly old girl leaning heavily on a walking stick and willing herself to put one foot in front of the other, into the loose screed and then sliding backwards and wondering when this would all end. i remember feeling so spent, exhausted when i reached the big stone very near the summit, my whole body telling me to give up, even though i was a mere few steps from the summit (maybe 50m). but i dragged my tired feet across the ridge and planted them firmly onto the tiny summit. i never had any doubts that making it to the summit was what i wanted, and that made all the difference.

even though there’s nothing at the summit. no gold, no treasure, no magnificent view. and no sunrise (because we were 2 hours late). 

first light, on the way up

first light, on the way up

the crater lake from road to summit

the crater lake from road to summit

view from summit

view from summit

solitary trekker

solitary trekker going down

descending was much easier if you are not affected by vertigo. if you are, just close your eyes, hold onto someone and slide down.

there was to be no rest after making the summit. we had a quick meal then packed up and headed down immediately for the next camp site. it was a very pleasant walk; despite our fatigue we stopped and took lots of pictures. of the yellow forestry trails, the green green meadows and the lush grass land. as we climbed down, we could see the peak clearly and thinking: we were up there just now!  

leaving base camp

leaving base camp

through the forest trails

through the forest trails

taking a breather

taking a breather

man in the meadows

man in the meadows

we were up there!

we were up there!

all the girls

all the girls

emerging from the overgrowth

 walking sticks, wet tissue and other stuff

someone told us: bring your full gear up (by that he meant the full gear we had for treks to colder places like nepal).

and all the walking sticks you could find.

so so so glad we did. 

and prepare lots of wet tissue – we couldn’t bathe during the 4 days in the mountain so, wet tissue became indispensable for keep us smelling fresh.

happy after trek!

relieved and happy after trek!

the quickest way to get to rinjani is to take a direct flight to lombok island (2.5hrs from singapore). you can also fly to bali and connect by ferry (via lembar-padangbai) or plane but this will not be cheaper nor faster. daily domestic flight information can be found here.

have an experienced/reliable trek agency organise your trek for you. usually the package includes 1 night stay at the base, 1 guide, porters, sleeping bags, all meals during trek, all overland transfers while on lombok and trekking permits.  i recommend am, who guided my group and also helped me organise other lombok trips. checkout his website here and here. or email him: am_rinjani@yahoo.com.

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