Sunday, July 10, 2011

Guerrilla Princess and Edelweiss (Mt Rinjani Part 5)

Photos and Written by Jayne Aw
Whenever I go trekking, I will ask this same question over and over again; “what on earth am I doing here?”
Dressing up like a guerrilla princess, covering from head to toes and shying away from the blazing hot sun; life must be pretty boring in the workaday humdrum world that led me into this escape to a remote island called Lombok in Indonesia.

The sight of edelweiss dotting the grassland reminded me of the “Sound of Music”, where Captain von Trapp and his family were fleeing over the mountains for freedom. So what motivation did I give myself for scaling up to the Crater Rim I (2,641m) from the Senaru Trek Centre (601m) on Day 1?

Having walked for almost 5 hours through the shady tropical forest to shrubby foliage and then to the open grassland, the last climb to Crater Rim I was vertiginous. Macho, our mountain guide, kept a wide smile and told me to go slow as it’s still early. I gave way to a porter behind me, but Macho signaled me to proceed as this poor porter was having his first taste of climbing Rinjani with over 30kg load. Macho pointed at his eyes, and signaled tears. Ya, mine was flowing down to the stomach.

Top of the Clouds

Counting my steps to the repeated tune of “Do, a deer, a female deer………..” I finally reached the crater top. After a labored climb, one was rewarded with a panoramic view of the crater rim surrounding the Lake Segara Anak that shimmered with turquoise hue.

Once standing above 5,000m, Rinjani was brought to its present state (3,726m) after few volcanic eruptions. A new peak, Gunung Barujari (2,363m), emerged from the lake creating a volcano within a volcano. The last eruption was in 2009; and today one can still see smoke emitting from Barujari.

Sleeping tents were set up facing the lake. Temperature at 2,641m was biting cold with howling wind. I put on my down jacket and walked to the hill at the western side to watch sunset. Rolling clouds enveloped the hill slopes beneath the campsite and one got the feeling of elevation above the clouds. As sun was setting, more clouds rolled in and formed a roaring sea of clouds, an awesome view to behold. Dinner was served later by the campsite and soon everyone retired to rest for next day’s climb.  

Anglers’ Paradise

Day 2’s trek started with a precarious descent of 600m through rocky trail to Lake Segara Anak. The seasoned porters were breezing through the steep rocky steps in their flip-flops with 30-40 kg load. But for me, it was a baby-step descent, holding on to every rock or branch that came within my reach.

Many people made a tedious hike to fish at Lake Segara Anak, which is regarded sacred by the locals.  Most would find their own ideal spots and wait patiently for the fish; some would proudly show off their catches. 

姜太公钓鱼, 愿者上钓。。。。。Waiting patiently for the unfortunate fish
We stopped by the lake to have lunch. About a 10-minute walk away is the hot spring and waterfall where one could have a dip to refresh and rejuvenate the tired muscles. However the sight of rubbish littering around the place put me off.

We continued our journey after lunch into open grassland and had another torturous round of vertiginous climb to Crater Rim II at Sembalun (2,639m). Everyone retired early after dinner to have a good rest for the summit climb.

Rinjani Summit

We were supposed to begin our ascent to the summit at 2am but Macho had overslept. By the time we had our noodle, it was already 3am. Sky was still dark with poor visibility on the path. Fortunately I had Dolla (the sweeper) behind to guide me to “Kiri, kanan; kanan, kiri……..”

The ascent to the summit was a strenuous one over the crater rim composed mainly of loose sand and gravels. For every two steps I advanced, I would slide a step backward. Macho had reminded us not to walk while taking photograph, and conversely not to take photograph while walking; for one needs to traverse cautiously along the narrow path, as a slip on either side of the rim would be fatal.

Beautiful dawn at Rinjani…………I was just half-way through to the summit.

Feeling elated at the Rinjani summit after a strenuous climb - Jayne Aw 

The pull of gravity coupled with the loose sand made the descent a more palatable one as each step would bring you down with two further steps. In less than half the time of ascent, we already reached the camp site. After a couple of hours rest and lunch, we continued with our journey to the next camp site at Pada Balong (1,800m) where we would spend another night.

Starry Starry Night

After dinner at Pada Balong camp site, Jean and Sylvia snuggled inside their tent for a rest; while Bernard was doing the wayang kulit show in his tent; and Choo was blasting out some of the oldies from his hand phone to keep us entertained.
Spellbinding golden hue of colours from the sunset at Pada Balong camp site

Despite a lower altitude, temperature at Pada Balong was as cold as that at the crater rim. But that didn’t stop us from gathering outside our sleeping tents to gaze at the sky that was filled with bright stars. I was looking for 牛郎织女星 but had no clue, as the immensity of the universe is difficult to grasp.

Sunrise, Sunset at Gili Island
The last day of trekking was a gentle 3 hour trek through open grassland to Sembalun village where we were transferred to the jetty to catch a boat to Gili Island.   

Three islands made up of Gili; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Being the biggest of the three, Gili Trawangan is blessed with crystal clear water and fine white sand. Coming from the East Coast of Malaysia, I have seen many nice beaches but Gili is one of the best.

In front of our hotel is a stretch of never-ending fine white sandy beach with clear blue water. One gets a full view of sunrise from here. Walking further to the western side of the island is the sunset vantage point.
朝迎曦日升。。。。。Salutation to sunrise (opposite is Mt Rinjani)

暮送夕阳下。。。。。Farewell to sunset
这情景就能在Gili岛上体会到。。。。。One gets the best of both in Gili Island

The half an hour show of sunset was spectacular and immense. Projected on a humongous stage spanning over miles, the stage lighting changed from glowing bright light to flaming iridescent gold, and gradually paling off to a hue of gray. I was unspeakable, except uttered to myself that it was a perfect show!

美丽的景色已被我的相机冻结于永恒。。。。。 Voila! A perfect show of Nature……..
Rinjani trek is relatively tough. But with reasonable level of fitness, coupled with a pinch of determination and sense of adventure, plus a dollop of humor, the journey would be a memorable retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. As for me, I have just added another feather to my green Arabian hat…….and with a short memory that I have, I am already looking forward to my next trekking trips……..
Mission Accomplished - A group photo at the peak of Mount Rinjani
Please click here to view photos taken by Jayne Aw.

Do click here for all postings on Mount Rinjani. Scroll down the pages; at end of web page, click "Older Posts" for more.

By Jayne Aw
18-24 June 2011
Posted by KC Leong

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