Leaving Gili Trawangan I was looking to do something refreshing and challenging. I had a guy who works at Gili Castle hostel get me in touch with a tour group to hike of Mount Rinjani. The mountain is formed from a volcano that last erupted in 2010, it stands 3726 meters tall which is the second highest peak in Indonesia. I have spoken with other backpackers who have done the hike and heard great things.
I took the first small ferry boat in the morning and arrived at the harbour on Lombok Island around 0800 am. The gentleman was there waiting for me to get off the boat and brought me on his motorbike to the meeting point location. After a quick breakfast and paying 1.25 million rupees ($125 Canadian) I was loaded onto the minibus with a few others and began the bus ride to the start of the trek. I still have my trekking shoes and warm clothes from my hiking in Nepal so I was ready to go.
Day 1: Mt. Rinjani
Starting the hike we walked through fields and upwards constantly. Passing by monkeys, cows and other wildlife. It was a hot day and the clouds were lingering, threatening to rain. It would have been welcome to break some of the humidity. Only a light sprinkle of rain came down so the heat continued to be intense.
We stopped for lunch and met up with the rest of the group who had an earlier start. We had 9 people trekking as well as a few porters and one guide. I had left some of my things back where we had started so I only carried what I needed. The porters carried the tents, food and whatever else was required.
We had a lot of altitude to climb after lunch. I was sweating the whole time, detoxing my body from the relentless partying I had been doing with Pat, Chris and the friends I made along the way in Indonesia. Our guide would tell us the time to the next point where we would have a break but always seemed to underestimate the distance or length of time. He laughed about it when we would ask him why this was so. Eventually it turned into an ongoing joke throughout the 3 day hike. As we approached the higher altitudes the temperature became colder and the winds stronger. When stopping for breaks or for the group to catch up the sweat I had been pouring out became very cold. Managing my body temperature by the end of the day was almost impossible.
Despite Tasha from the group wanting to turn back, we all made it to the camping spot around 0600 pm. Divemaster Pete had helped her by carrying her bag. At this point we had climbed above the clouds and were on the crater rim around 2640 meters. The sunset had the sky changing colours. As the night crept in the temperatures began to drop significantly. The wind was gusting and sent chills down my spine. It had been a long hard day of hiking, after dinner and enjoying the sunset we called it a day and went to bed. I was lucky to have my own tent as I am 6’3″ and the tent length was 6 feet.
It was a rough sleep with rocks and hard ground impacting through the thin sleeping pad, with no pillow I used a water bottle in attempts to raise my head. With minimal sleep I awoke at 0200 am to the guide tapping on the side of my tent “time to get up.” I put on as many layers as I had brought with me, put on my headlamp and figured it was time to start the day.
The Toughest Day
It was pitch black outside leaving the tent. My group had not been well informed on what to bring and wear for the hike prior to starting. There was a 65 year old gentleman from Germany who was wearing sandals for the entire hike, another girl from Hungary who was in converse shoes and jeans, Pete from England who only had brought shorts. Two or three of us had headlamps, a few others had flashlights and some people only had their phones to provide light for the hike up to the summit.
It was a brutal haul up, one member did not attempt the summit. The first portion was through a dense area and built on what felt like gravel stone, take two steps but only get up a single foot. It was frustrating, within twenty minutes I had delayered down to my wind jacket and one long sleeve. It was freezing cold but my body was hot from working to get up the mountain. Still dehydrated from the days previous I was sweating profusely.
There were many people making the trek up this morning, it was fairly crowded but we stuck together. Before reaching the peak that leads towards the summit, three members of the group had turned back. Five of us kept on hiking along with one of the porters who had come by the chance we had this scenario.
We hiked for another few hours and everyone was doing well. I love hiking and trekking because it has a unique ability to challenge you physically and mentally. Not being able to see the whole hike up except the edges of the cliff is intimidating. My body and mind were telling me to stop. I was breathing alright, just tired, sore and wanted to sleep some more but that was no reason to turn back. The higher we climbed the colder it became and the wind grew stronger. I was happy I brought my Mount Everest toque I bought in Nepal. I wasn’t so happy I left my sweater behind at the initial meeting point. After spending weeks in the blistering heat of Indonesia I had not anticipated how cold it was really going to get.
Along the way Belinda decided that it was her time to stop and not go further. She had made it up a good amount and has a big fear of heights. The porter stayed with her and left Xavier, Pete, Sandra and I to climb up to the summit.
It was still another couple hours to the top but it was now in sight. Thoughts of steak, McDonalds and so many foods in the back of my mind, I may have been hallucinating a bit. I was unsure whether we would make it for sunrise. The last hour and a half was the worst part, colder than cold it must have been 3-4 degrees Celsius. The path that had seemed like gravel on the initial part now seemed easy in the back of my mind as the trail was steeper and the rock was sliding significantly more. Taking three steps and only moving up one is frustrating and difficult mentally. As we were almost 30 minutes from the summit Sandra said she wanted to turn back. We had come to far at this point so I offered and carried her backpack and mine as Pete had done the day prior for Tasha.
After the gruelling haul up we made it to the peak at 3726 meters around 0615 am, just beating the sun. It was a gorgeous sunrise, climbing over the horizon sending all colour through the sky. Looking beyond we could see the Gili islands, Bali and some beautiful land. Just below us laid a smoking volcano, still active with the last eruption in 2010 but not dangerous at this time.
We spent some time at the top but started to head down after the sun had risen. It was almost like skiing on the way down, the rocks shifted and slid under our feet as we descended. Everyone had a fall or two, sticking close enough together to have someone to grab onto if falling down. We met up with Belinda and the porter on the way, she brought a sleeping bag and had taken a nap until sunrise. Continuing down it was much nicer to see where we were walking.
Breakfast was ready on arrival, the other group members had some additional time to rest as we were hiking. Not much time later we were back on the trail trekking, passing through fields and bushes, it seemed never ending. The path lead down and then up and continued down for five hours until we reached our destination at the lake for lunch.
There were some nice hot springs that we visited before eating. It was relaxing and felt so nice to have a few minutes to rest. I did not know much about the hike prior to starting, just booked it on a whim because of the good things I heard about it. This day was turning out to be much tougher than I had anticipated but we had to carry on.
The campsite was another three hours after lunch which was mostly uphill as we had descended down to the lake. In each portion of the hike we passed through unique landscapes, all different from the ones previous. It helped pass the time to look around and enjoy the views. We climbed up many rock walls near the end of the day, it was a ton of fun. Simple rock climbing still has some significant hazards after such a full day of hiking.
The Way Down
The sun brought a bit more warmth this morning. I was refreshed to know that it was the last day to hike and then I was free to do as I wanted and have a few real rest days. I enjoyed the last day of hiking, trekking down a few small boulder fields into a jungle area. I saw more than five black monkeys. After seeing hundreds of grey ones it was interesting to see some other species.
Through more jungle we went until finally we made it to the exiting point. It was another long day, after six hours we made it to the exit point. What a relief, despite the challenges it was definitely worth the experience. It is rare to grow without pushing individual limits.
A minibus took us back to the initial meeting point or to wherever we decide to go on Lombok island. I decided I would head to Kuta, Lombok. It is a different surf town with the same name as Kuta on Bali island. A nice place with beaches and a relaxed atmosphere to rest and recover from the trek.