On the last morning of our trek, our guide Jamal woke us up at 2:30 AM to start our trek to the summit of the mountain.
Even as we were crawling out of our sleeping bags, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go or not. The wind had been howling all night, and it was absolutely freezing outside.
We all huddled together in the porters tent for tea and biscuits, and Jamal explained how the next few hours would go. We would be hiking for 3 hours, in the dark, up the side of the rim, across a narrow strip that was only one meter wide at some points.
On either side, it was a straight drop down.
Once we left camp, we wouldn’t be able to come back unless we came back all together, because there were a couple of places on the climb where you could take a wrong turn, especially in the dark, and end up lost.
Jamal told us we could go if we wanted, but he wasn’t going up with us, one of the porters would take us. Only about 5 of us decided to make the trip. Derek didn’t come, luckily, because I wore every single piece of clothing both of us brought.
I wasn’t even sure I was going to go, when I went back to the tent to get ready, but then I figured I’d come this far, so I stuffed a Snickers in my pocket, and pulled a pair of socks onto my hands, and headed out.
I made it exactly 5 steps before I tripped over a rock in the dark and fell flat on my face. Luckily it was so dark that nobody else noticed, and we all set off.
I regretted my decision almost immediately. It was freezing, windy, and dark, but the worst part was that the closer we got to the top, the more the ground went from dirt, to volcanic ash. Every time I took a step, I would sink up to my ankles, and slide backwards a little bit, so for every 2 steps I took, I was only moving one step forward.
It was realllllllly hard, but if you’ve ever met me, you know I am reallllllly stubborn. After two hours of climbing, a couple of the guys in our group decided they couldn’t keep going, so they huddled together behind a rock to wait for the rest of us to come back down. And then there were four of us.
We got up to the top just as the sun was coming up. The view was gorgeous, you could see the whole island, and the Gili’s off in the distance. The relief of finally being done climbing was the greatest feeling ever.
We sat up there for about an hour, and then when we started getting really cold again, headed back down to camp. Going down was so much better than going up. The volcanic ash, so treacherous on the way up, was a blast on the way down, and we ran flat out, sliding the whole way. I only fell twice.
Breakfast was ready for us by the time we got back down, but I felt so sick that I couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day. We packed up camp, and headed back down for 6 more hours of hiking down to the base.
We stopped for lunch at a rest stop, and were accosted by a particularly brash group of monkeys, and I laid in the shade and dreamed about Sprite.
When we were an hour from the bottom, I finally couldn’t take it anymore (I had blisters) and had to take my shoes off and finish off the rest of the hike in the barefoot/in my flip flops. I had the dirtiest little monkey feet in the whole world.
The trek ended in a little town with a store, and the first thing I did was buy myself a Sprite, and lay down on the ground. It was the single most glorious thing that’s ever gone into my mouth.
We loaded into the back of a truck for the hour drive back to the trekking center, grabbed our stuff, and went back to our homestay to shower for the first time since we’d left, and sleep for the next two days straight.
I just went back and re-read all three of these posts, and it sounds like a pretty miserable experience. It really wasn’t, it was amazing, one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was really hard, I just want to let you know what you’re in for, but I guarantee you won’t regret it.
I mean you will at the time, definitely, but like three days later, once you’ve eaten, slept, and showered, you’ll feel invincible.