We were woken at 1.30 with a much needed coffee and some crackers before our trek up to the summit. Surprisingly I hadn’t slept too badly considering the cold temperatures! The photographer decided not to join us on the walk this morning. We took only the essentials to the summit; head torch, layers, water, snacks, camera. A piece of advice for this part of the trek is definitely to take some gloves, my co-trekker lent me a pair and they came in very useful.
The beginning of the ascent trek was similar to the last part of the day before, roots and rocky. As we got bigger the ground turned more gravelly and sandy which proved to be tricky and slippy! I knew the ascent walk would be around five hours. So I just got my head down and got on with slowly slowly. I figured at some point I should arrive at the top… but this seemed near impossible as I got higher. The climb must have been around 60 degrees judging it from 45 degree ski slopes I’ve done. People had told me that the climb was very much two steps up and one step down, it is. I couldn’t feel my legs at some points of the climb because I was getting so tired. In the dark as well I couldn’t stop for longer than 30 seconds because I would get far too cold, even with all my clothes on. Looking down, I realised how high I really was, I could see everything around me including the top of the clouds. I must say I felt a little bit of vertigo when I looked down, even walking upwards I felt like a slight lean backwards would send me toppling back down the mountain, knocking down fellow trekkers like bowling pins on my way.
My technique was to kick my foot into the sandy gravel imagining I had ice pick shoes on going up a glacier. The long walk may also have turned me slightly insane…..
Thankfully I had taken my trusty stick with me that I had found on the first leg of the previous day to help me up the climb.
We arrived at the top around 6.15 for the sunrise at 6.30 which was perfect. Not only did it mean we had made it up in time but also that we didn’t have to hang around too much in the cold at the top, because it was absolutely freezing. People who had been up there for a while were sat shivering in their sleeping bags they had brought with them to the top. The guide told us stories of people crying at the top because they were sat cold for so long! I know what you’re thinking… wimps it’s not Everest, you’re right, but I must say I wouldn’t have wanted to be up there any longer than I was. It took me at least half an hour to get the feeling back in my toes on the way down.
The scenery was absolutely breath taking and I had tears in my eyes looking around me. How blessed and fortunate I am to have come here, to see something that only a fraction of the population will ever see. And boy do you have to work for it! The way back down was so much fun, we ran down the mountain carving our way through the gravels like our feet were skis. The guide ran past me, grabbed my hand and we sprinted down the mountain.
There is an active volcano in the middle of the crater (we walked up the side) which is said to have erupted two years ago and everyone was evacuated off the trek! Thankfully we didn’t have this issue but is reminding of the dangers of trekking in these areas.
Absolutely knackered, we got back into camp for breakfast and had a little rest. Unfortunately our team member who didn’t climb to the top with us decided to depart before we got back, it wasn’t for him and health wise he was a worry for our team.
Now it was time for the hot springs. Hallelujah because I hadn’t washed for two days now and all that walking had got me rather smelly! Little did we know it would be another 5hr trek up another mountain though! We walked a very steep downhill path which obliterated our quads! We then arrived at the lake and walked round the side to cross over some headland and down into the hot spring area. A tall cold waterfall stood behind the springs, acting as a centrepiece in the view across the mountains and offering a beautiful back drop to the springs. Unfortunately it had become cloudy so my photos were not great!
The springs are a very spiritual place to the people who live in the area and these springs are inhabited by one large family. After a while we reluctantly got out of the springs and continued on our hike. The blisters on my feet were getting increasingly worse and I definitely didn’t welcome having to encase my feet once again in my boots. I was looking forward to being able to walk around bare footed again when I got off the mountain!
We thought this part of the walk would be pretty short… wrong! The whole second part of the walk ended up being around 4-5 hours. Making the day total 11.5 hours of climbing and 24km! There were moments where many of us in the group thought our legs couldn’t go any further. I was so exhausted (and usually I can muster energy from deep within, but this time my energy was used up), putting one foot in front of the other became seriously hard. My quads were obliterated from the constant climbing, but my determination would never let me stop.
Parts of the track made me realise that in a western country the mountain would probably be sealed off for months on end to make it safe, whereas here there were hardly any barriers blocking us from the tall drop off the side of the mountain. The last part of the climb was rock climbing up a cliff face to get onto the top of the mountain which was opposite Rinjani. When we found our camp our tents were already set up and we were ready to attempt a fire again.
It was immediately very cold as we put our bags and sticks down so a fire was a must… until we couldn’t light one… for a whole hour. Even the porter failed to make it stay alive for longer than ten minutes. I concluded that at this level the wood must be pretty damp due to the temperatures throughout the day. Absolutely exhausted and with my legs and feet hurting so much that even getting up to go to the toilet was difficult, I ate dinner and retired to my tent with a hot tea to relax and get some sleep.