By Rifqy Faiza Rahman
The trek to Mount Rinjani is also known as Regret Hill or Bukit Torture. The trek to the summit is well known for its many challenges. With six fellow climbers, a rental car pickup, and the paperwork sorted out, the adventure was about to begin.
Accompanied by Mr. Muhammad, we began our journey at around 10am. Mr. Muhammad was a porter who will follow us for the 2 days and 1 night itinerary. The memory of him climbing with a full load on his shoulders and wearing flip-flops leaves me dumbfounded till this day.
I remembered asking Mr. Muhammad during one of the trek break how he did his job so well. He showed me blackened scars on his shoulders – the sign of numbness.
We arrived at the first post in about an hour. There wasn’t anything very special there – just a substation. There were some Dutch climbers with whom we had an interesting conversation since one of them was fluent in Indonesian.
After a short rest, we continued on with the adventure. The scorching heat began to sting, so the cloud cover that began to roll in was a beautiful relief. It took us about an hour to reach the second post as well. At Post II, we rested underneath a bridge.
We got to meet and greet the monkeys before continuing the journey. There were many up and down ramps along the way to the third post. The terrain was a bit of a challenge. Some members in our group were eager to press forward while others took their time and sauntered behind.
Everyone was shocked when we arrived at Post III. Most of the trees were barren and the uphill climb looked to be merciless. Is this how Hill Regret / Bukit Torture got its name from? Whatever someone wanted to call it, the path before us was ready to make us suffer.
It was a slow walk, feeling like forever. We were still pretty much positive at this time probably because of the cloud cover. The cloud cover brought upon a false sense of hope, however, because once we arrived at the edge of the hill, the fog lifted. In front of us stretched higher hills.
After more than 2 hours, the rain suddenly flushed upon us. Though it was refreshing, it also made the track slippery. I looked at Mr. Muhammad in awe. There he is, walking quickly on the wet track in the rain, wearing his flip-flops. He’s moving so fast that we can’t even keep up.
At one point, I greeted another porter. “Sir, is Plawangan Sembalun still far away?”
“Only two hills again, Mas. The one in front is short and flat land meet. Well, the new long thereafter until Plawangan, hehe,” he said as he chuckled. I’m already a bit wobbly and stopping to catch my breath. There’s a solo climber from Jakarta we meet along the way too. He looked thoroughly exhausted.
Looking ahead, it was the beginning of a hill climb that will prove excruciating to the knees. We have already trekked 3.5 hours from Post III.
The rain subsided, leaving white clouds floating around the mountain like a body wrap. I could finally see the evening sky. It was a gorgeous sight with the remnants of the gray clouds fading away. It was a dark evening that seemed to pass by slowly. We were looking forward toward the summit assault the next morning. The guides were setting up a tent dome. Mr. Muhammad was fetching water from a source that is pretty far from the camp. We settled in for the night.
Day Two: Summit Attack!
We got started late in the morning, delayed by admiring at the sunrise over the summit. Today, reaching the summit was our goal! We hurried to prepare the equipment and move on. Some of us wanted to sprint from the camp site to the summit, but it is not as easy as we thought. Mr. Muhammad has long legs and we are moving slow. Soon we are far behind.
I have come to find out that the ascent of Bawak Plawangan Sembalun Nao to be much more difficult than the track taken from Ranu Pani to KALIMATI on Mount Semeru. However, looking back, the trek of KALIMATI to Mahameru, was probably the most difficult of all the climbs.
At the end of this track, a sandy slope develops. Though not too long, this track has its own set of challenges – something like Semeru. We walked slowly and a tinge of orange begins to appear.
Enjoying a sunrise from the slope is just as lovely as enjoying it from the summit. It is still beautiful, regardless of where it was. We were all left in awe. We saw the Dutch climbers reaching the summit at this point, took some pictures, and started their way down almost immediately.
The rays of the rising sun create a shadow on the lake below. The shadows formed the shape of a pyramid. The impression was imperious and might. The wind rocked as the cloud scrolls and it was indeed an incredible feeling.
The Peak of Mount Rinjani
After walking nearly 4.5 hours of Plawangan Sembalun, we finally reached the summit of Mount Rinjani. It is in these moments that any fatigue you are feeling immediately disappears. The spirit within us continues to grow. There’s a sense of pride because of the accomplishment of standing on the highest point of the mountain.
With the other climbers making their way down, the summit is virtually deserted. We were thoroughly exhausted but happy. Just imagine – we were standing on the ground of the second highest volcano in Indonesia. Higher than that of the legendary island of Java, we expressed joy and pride in our own quiet moment of solitude.
I could also see Mount Agung of Bali in the far background. It looked miniscule.
We were at the peak for a long time. Once satisfied with the accomplishment, we decided to go back down to the camp. We have to be careful coming down because the ridge flanking the gaping chasm is narrow.
The view is incredible. The ocean and the clouds started to drift closer to each other. The walk was leisurely and entertaining. Occasional breaks were more about taking pictures than catching up with our breaths.
Once back at our camp, I’m dead beat. Cooking and repacking are activities to keep our mind away from our fatigue. Our contract with Mr. Muhammad’s service is over and we pay him as agreed. He went back down to Bawak Nao and we provided him an additional pack of biscuits. I wonder how many pairs of flip-flops he has used in his career.
Towards Segara Anak
Cooking, eating and repacking might seem like a simple activity, but it is incredibly time-consuming. We left our camp around 15:00. A thick fog has covered the surface of the lake.
The local porter said that the journey to Segara Anak takes about 3 hours.
The condition of the track is fair and occasionally decorated with big rocks. It is winding, going back up and down, and it felt like we have miles to trek. When the sky began to grow dark, we arrived at the camp at the lake of Segara Anak. There is a different atmosphere here, like running through the middle of a dark forest.
Thankfully, the night was not too cold. The lake water contains sulfur and using it to wash myself, I was kept warm.
Segara Anak: Throne of the Goddess
The reflections of the lake were a beautiful sight to behold upon waking in the morning. It’s calm, with gentle ripples on the surface of the lake.
Everything seemed quiet and peaceful at first glance, but there was still disturbances. The monkeys know that we are here. They’ve come to steal the goods and meals of lax climbers who did not secure their properties. I’m not too concerned by that.
The colors from the sun reflected on the lake were vibrant in the morning. I enjoyed watching the bustle on it.
We prepare dishes with a variety of recipes to serve ourselves a sumptuous breakfast. Afterward, we leisurely stroll along the shore and record those beautiful moments.
With more daylight coming through the woods, the fog slowly begins to fall away. The surface of the lake is multi-colored due to the reflection of sunlight. We have swimming and fishing on the agenda for the remainder of the day.
When the thick fog came down, it created a mystique in the atmosphere. We were in all seriousness now. Some believe that the mist that passes or hovers over the lake is another incarnation of life.
The sun had set, and dusk settled. The last remains of the sunset were sparkling and radiating its light against the reddish, steep cliff walls. Maybe it will look even more beautiful if seen from Plawangan Sembalun.
This was our last night at Segara Anak, and also at Mount Rinjani. The ache at the knee joints reminded us of our earlier climb. We rendered a prayer God for strength and fortitude to carry on till the end of the trip.
The Return: Day 4 on Mount Rinjani
We took turns to clean up and pack. I missed the hot springs of Aik Kalak. We left the camp at around 7:30. The trip down to Senaru is not easy. We have to climb a steep track towards Plawangan for most of the time. Exposed to sunshine and heat, we were all drenched in sweat. We could easily fill an empty bucket with all of our sweat.
It was a struggle at this point. We tried find a place to rest and shield ourselves from the scorching sun, but the neverending track that was dusty, thick, and humid – had its toll on us. Segara Anak is picture of a beautiful mosaic, but everything is sticky in the nature jungle of Mount Rinjani.
After walking a bit for 3.5 hours, we arrived at Senaru Plawangan. We saw two climbers jogging on the mountain. I can’t imagine myself doing that.
Our spirits were kept high knowing it that was coming to the last phase of our adventure. Our endurance was nevertheless, tested till the very end. The downward trek was steep and distant. Senaru village is located at a lower altitude, we have another 500m to descend.
The path smoothed and the tall trees were finally blocking out the heat of the sun. The fog also intermittently attempts to surface. There was even a troop of black langurs that shrieks at our presence.
We were at all smiles when we spotted the village once again. My walk was a bit unsteady and I was more than eager to take a seat and savor some flavored iced drink. Everyone’s water supplies were depleted and we were all feeling quite parched.
“When you get here, it means you have had a successful ascent,” a man named Mr. Now shook our hands.
All of us can’t help but laugh out loudly. We have overcome the challenge and returned safely. Though it was a prolonged journey, it has also been enjoyable. It will be a memory forever treasured.
Story by Rifqy Faiza Rahman
10 to 18 September 2013, Mount Rinjani
Photos taken using a Canon EOS 600D DSLR and Sony Cybershot 16.1 MP
(This article was submitted in “Lombok Sumbawa World Travel Writers Gathering 2014″ writing competition)
Original article in Bahasa Indonesian http://papanpelangi.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/demi-dewi-anjani/
Cover art: Sunrise, Rinjani by Patrice Begin