My first ever trekking experience in Bali (Mar 2013) opened my eyes to the wonder of the natural world and to the untapped capabilities inside my own muscles. Just after Nic and I finished Mt. Batur, our guide asked us if we wanted to hike Mount Agung (3,031 masl). At the time, we would not have been physically able to hike the mountain. I was actually stunned that he asked. We were sore, novice hikers that had just completed a physically demanding trip. All of our muscles hurt. We needed some time to train and to recover. However, the name stuck. I knew that I would be back to conquer this mountain.
Mount Agung is the highest mountain on the island of Bali. It is considered a holy mountain by Hindus. It is home to the mother temple, Pura Besakih.
The cost of the trek was $80usd. This included transport, guide fees, a breakfast of boiled eggs and buns, and hot coffee at the summit. This trip was initially planned to include camping on the summit, but bad weather was coming in later in the day and the trip became a day trip. In spite of missing out on the camping part, I was able to not only hike the mountain, but see some amazing sights. The trek began at the temple of Pura Besakih.
As with Mt. Kinabalu (aug 2013), this trek began in the middle of the night. I was picked up from my hotel at midnight and we reached Pasar Agung, the beginning of the climb, at 1200am. By 1:30am we were on our way. The beginning of the hike is at the temple Pura Besakih. The climb began with 200 strenuous steps. It was as though the mountain was issuing us a challenge “Climb me if you dare”
After the 200 steps we were faced with more upward climbing. Although my confidence and strength level remained intact through the trees and bush, the real challenge came when we approach the granite summit. Mt. Kinabalu had ropes at certain dangerous parts of the climb. This was to keep us from falling and ensure our safety. Mt. Agung had no such luxuries. Mt. Agung had several large rock formations and a few narrow ledges that really tested one’s alertness and courage. At some points I was held to the rock face with only my hands and nothing below me.
The trip tested my spirit and my nerves, but my physical body was better prepared for this climb. As I got towards the top I was not as sore as I was on my previous treks. It was as if I had become more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. I made it to the summit at 0545hrs and was rewarded with another spectacular sunrise that can only be viewed in the thin atmosphere at the top of a mountain on an island. We also saw a spectacular crater which was the site of a volcanic eruption that killed many people in 1963. This event is commemorated with altars to the Hindu gods at the summit. It causes you to pause and contemplate life at the summit.
Many people in the world live their whole lives without ever seeing one of these spectacular sunrises, don’t be one of them! I experienced heaven and hell on this trip, and it was exhilarating! It left me wanting to see and do more! It left me looking forward to my next climb.
If you choose to climb this mountain be sure that you are in good shape. Stair climbing is a good training exercise to get you ready for this. Also, the terrain is very rough and uneven. Your standard tennis shoes will not be good for this trip. It will be a good idea to invest in some trail shoes or approach shoes which are specifically designed for this kind of terrain. You must be sure to break them in before you climb to minimize your blisters. Also, if you are still a novice climber, it is best to hire a personal guide rather than sharing a guide with a group. As I previously mentioned, there are many dangerous places with no ropes and tricky footing. You will need extra attention from the guide to help you safely navigate these places. Also, take a sweater or sweatshirt. The air gets thin and cold towards the top. If you are not prepared you will be uncomfortably cold.
The journey was full of peril. There were times where failure was not an option because failure would lead to an unpleasant fall from a ledge. It is hard to get up at midnight and hike a mountain after climbing 200 steps, and sometimes it felt like it would be easier to stay in a warm bed. But staying in bed would not have helped me accomplish anything. I would not have known how much I had changed and grown since the trek to Mount Kinabalu. Above all, I would have missed out on the spectacular view of creation. I would have missed the sunrise from a mountain on an island in the ocean. I was sore for days afterwards, but the soreness reminded me of what I accomplished and that I was just a little stronger from this latest trek.