Reason #10284 why you should teach in Indonesia: Idul Fitri.
After only one month here, we are embarking on our first holiday, spending our 11 days off on the islands of Lombok and its neighboring islands, the Gili (small) Islands. Lombok is just east of Java (the island I live on), and is home to the second largest volcano in Indonesia: Mount Rinjani. During the second part of our trip we’ll head out to SCUBA dive off the shore of Gili Trawangan, the largest of the three dwarf islands at 2 x 3 kilometers.
First, though, we decided to take on Mount Rinjani.
Now, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go on some beautiful, treacherous, and difficult hikes (shout out to those of you with whom I inched across the rock faces in Costa Rica, survived the heat in Spain, and scrambled up the icy paths in Colorado!). That said, this hike did not even compare with the others on any scale. It is, by far, the most physically taxing thing I have ever done. Therefore, it’s also one of the most rewarding.
We went on a three day hike, with the short version of the itinerary and pictures as follow:
On Wednesday we flew into Lombok and were picked up by the director of the trekking program we hiked with. On the three hour drive to the volcano, we stopped through Monkey Forest and hung out with some of the monkeys there. Once at our home-stay at the base of the mountain, we hiked down to a waterfall and out to a traditional village. One thing that I really loved about this trip was all of the beautiful stars! Especially once we were up on the mountain, above the clouds, the stars were absolutely incredible. You could see the Milky Way clearly, snaking through the more defined, pin-point stars.
Early Thursday morning, we started out on our 9 km (about 6 mile) hike to the rim of the cauldera atop the volcano. Mt. Rinjani is an old volcano; when it erupted, it left a lake in the middle and a smaller volcano in the middle of that. We were to camp on the rim. Now, 9 km doesn’t sound too far. That’s a rather easy walk… in the MidWest, where elevation reaches about zero. This trek, on the other hand, was shockingly steep. We had to rock climb and/or crawl through many sections. Once we reached the top our porters (superheroes, I swear – they went up the mountain in flip flops with huge packs!) made us dinner and we sat and watched the sunset. The whole trip was stunning, and the view at the top especially took my breath away (not that I was breathing well by that point, regardless :)).
On Friday, I woke up, watched the sunset, made friends with a monkey, then began the two or three km hike down the inside of the mountain to the lake and hot springs. If I had thought that Thursday was treacherous, this made it look like a stroll in the park! I really struggled on the way back up – between the midday sun (at the equator and above the cloud cover), hunger, soreness from the day before, and altitude, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It was definitely a lesson in perseverance! The trek was so worth it, though. We dipped in the frigid lake, then headed over to the hot springs. The warm water felt heavenly on our sore muscles, and the view was spectacular. We even found a waterfall to jump off of! The clouds this night resembled cotton candy, and it was rather surreal looking down on them. />
Once again we were up early, watching the sunrise and getting an early start on our hike. If you look closely in the first picture, you can see the 3 Gili Islands that we’re headed to tomorrow. Directly behind them is the peak of the volcano on the island of Bali, the only one in Indonesia taller than Mt. Rinjani. We sped through the trip down, reaching the bottom before noon to head back to Mataram and see the Idul Fitri festivities (more on that tomorrow).
All in all, it was an unforgettable trip that left me feeling super-accomplished (and rather exhausted!). If you ever get the chance to come to this side of the world, I highly recommend the hike!