Indonesia ↣ Part 3
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Base Camp ↣ Up Mount Rinjani
After an exhausting day of climbing - and just a few hours of rest - I awoke at 2am to catch the sunrise atop of Gunung Rinjani! I guzzled hot coffee, bundled up from head to toe, strapped on my headlamp, and began the gruelling charge up the volcano’s final stretch. In the quiet darkness all I could do was put one foot in front of the other, yet as they sunk into the deep volcanic soil I slipped backwards with every step up. Dirt filled the air, making my mouth gritty and blurring the narrow path of light my headlamp provided. Digging in my poles and struggling to balance, I climbed the narrow path lined with cliffs I couldn’t see dropping down on either side of me. I passed other determined trekkers, their guides encouraging them - some even pulling clients up with their trekking poles!
We found a flat area and I sat, replenishing myself with cookies, the freezing earth permeating my pants. I gazed around in the peaceful darkness: the sun was just beginning to lighten things, slowly diminishing the millions of stars splayed across the Indonesian sky. Dramatic colors from the sun’s angle shining on the burnt earth provided an ever-changing view of the landscape the higher it rose.
And finally: the smoking volcanic crater appeared below me against a stunning backdrop of colorful sky. Fascinated to find myself there, I imagined the violent morphing of the area over thousands of years. I was surrounded by such inhospitable conditions - yet I’d never felt more at home.
Mount Rinjani ↣ Samalas Volcano
Returning from the predawn trek up Rinjani, I greedily ate a quick breakfast and snuck in a short nap before we packed up and descended down to Lake Segara Anak.
For three hours we carefully climbed down the rocky cliff side into the valley and made our way through waist high grass, across wildflower fields, until we finally reached the lakeside.
A breathtaking view of the steaming Mt. Samalas awaited us, its extremely hot gas creating speedy clouds that raced across the lake.
After a huge plate of rice, meat and veggies followed by a much-needed rest, a short walk led us to refreshing hot springs where our muscles (and grimy skin!) enjoyed a long overdue soak. The dramatic cliffs that towered above us glowed in the late afternoon sun, and clouds sped through the forested valley, immersing us. Soaking in piping hot springs, I peered through the dramatic mist - I felt like I was in some mythical paradise! Water bubbled into rocky sections, creating sizeable pools to relax in. Some were hotter than others, and local families (conservatively covered of course - Lombok being primarily Muslim) invited us to sit in prime spots.
We all set up camp and cooked fish we caught from the lake.
The next morning, I unzipped my tent and gasped at the steaming volcano against the bright blue sky: Was I still dreaming?