(Check out part 1 and part 3 of Mt. Rinjani)
On day 2 of our trekking expedition on Mt. Rinjani, we were woken up just before sunrise, so we could eat breakfast and get going. The second day is the longest day, with the most hiking, about 10 hours to the stopping point for the second night.
Nobody slept very well, and it was pretty cold when we first woke up, but the porters were awake long before we were, and made a fire and had hot tea waiting for us so we could relax and enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
Then we set off down the mountain. Our route for that day was to climb down inside the crater rim to the crater lake, and then climb back up the other side of the crater rim to get to the base of the summit, which we would be attempting the next morning.
We left camp about 45 minutes before our group of porters, they have to break down camp, and pack everything up, but they are so fast, and have been doing it for so long, that they caught up with us, and passed us, almost immediately. They have to beat their group to the next stop so they can have a fire made and lunch cooking when they arrive. They are pretty much amazing, true story.
The initial descent was pretty steep, there were some hand railings, but they were precarious at best. A couple people wiped out, but there weren’t any serious injuries. The sun came out full force about halfway to the lake, and it quickly became very hot.
It took us about 3 hours to get down to the lake, and by then I was so hot I just kicked off my shoes and ran into the water. It was freezing, but the view was incredible. We were stopping at the lake for lunch but a short hike away from the stopping place was a natural hot springs that we could go swimming in while we were waiting to eat.
The water was bright green, and smelled like sulphur. I didn’t go in because I was not feeling good at all by then, I went and had a nap in the shade, but everyone that went in said it was awesome, and that they felt much better afterwards.
We ate lunch, and then started the hike around the lake, and up the other side. It was very strange though, there were dead fish all over the place along the edge of the water. Like hundreds and hundreds of them.
We asked our guide Jamal about it, and he told us that the President of Indonesia had wanted there to be fish in the crater lake, so he had helicopters full of fish dropped in, but then they couldn’t survive in the water because of the volcano, so they die off in huge numbers. I have no idea if that is true or not.
The second half of the second day was pretty brutal. It was gorgeous, hiking through the cliffs with the view of the lake, but it was very hot, and we’d met another group at the lake who were coming the opposite way, and had attempted to make the climb to the summit that morning.
They told us it was way too windy, and almost nobody made it, and that it was so miserable there were people crying and huddling together behind the rocks. So we had that to look forward to the next day.
When we were about 2 hours away from the second night camp, it started to get very steep again, and Jamal told us it was the place where most people get hurt, if they are going to. It was pretty sheer cliffs, and there were occasional hand rails, but it was almost worse to use them because sometimes they would pull right out of the ground.
Jamal told us a story about one hiker who fell there and broke almost every bone in his body, and a group of porters had to carry him out on a stretcher. It took them a day and a half to get him out of the crater and back to a hospital, and he screamed every time they jostled the stretcher, which I’m sure happens a lot when you’re climbing down the side of a mountain.
Needless to say, I was superrrrr careful after that.
We eventually made it up to the top, and our tents were set up, and supper was ready for us since the porters had beat us there by about two hours. As soon as we got there I collapsed into the tent and vowed never to get out again.
We were up really high by this point, and the clouds were swirling all around the tents, it was amazing. I left the tent door open so I could watch it without moving.
We ate an early supper, and went to bed right after sunset, because we knew we’d be getting woken up at 2:30 AM to try to make the trek to the summit of the mountain. We didn’t even know at that point if we were going to be able to go, because if it’s too windy they close the climb.
You have to do the climb in the pitch dark to be up there for sunrise, so it’s already pretty dangerous without adding gale force winds. Jamal told us he’d wake us in the morning, and we’d find out then if we were going.
The first night we’d been kind of in some rocks against the cliff, but the second night we were out in the open with no shelter.
The wind was blowing so hard that the side of the tent kept blowing down and covering our faces while we were sleeping, but I was so exhausted from the last two days that I slept like the dead, and didn’t move at all until Jamal stuck his flashlight into our tent.
To be continued on day 3…