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Published: April 1st 2018
"What have I got myself into", those are the first thoughts when the alarm goes off at 2.30am. In half an hour the car will be there for a three hour drive to the bottom of mount Rinjani, a 2.700 meter high volcano. I am not ready for this, but the question is will I ever be? At 3.00am sharp the car arrives which surprisingly enough looks quite comfortable. As I crawl in the back my headphones come out and the best I can hope for is some extra sleep. Unfortunately my thoughts decide not to give me a break of thinking about how though this hike is going to be and the coming two hours feel like forever. When my head decides I am ready for some sleep, the car pulls over and the driver tells us to get out for some breakfast. Oh my god, I forgot how Asian people always manage to tell a slightly different program. Still half asleep my body manages to get in the restaurant for breakfast what turns out to be a banana pancake and some coffee. "This is going to be a total disaster" is what I say to Griffin who also seems to be surprised by the small amount of food that is served. As soon as everyone finished their breaky we are told to that transport is on the way for another 20 minute drive. You would think it is a good opportunity to take a nap, but It turns out that the ride is in the truck bed what is, believe me, not comfortable at all. Again another chance to rest goes by and before we know the head of the trail is in sight. Of course the guide and porters are not ready to go, as expected, so another 15 minutes of horrible thoughts about the hike today are going through my head. I try to make conversation with the others to distract myself, but it turns out that the family, guide and porters who are our company do not speak English at all. This is going to be quite an adventure with nobody but Griffin to communicate with... Another 10 minutes go by before we are asked to get in the truck bed again for a small drive. It turns out to be just for 2 minutes. "Lets do this!" with those words I try to talk some courage in myself and start the hike. The program (as the company told us) is devided in two parts, a four hour hike to lunch and afterwards a 2 hour hike to the rim where we will camp for the night. Lets see if this is real..
I guess it is around 6.30am, as the sun just starts to rise, when the hike starts. The first part is a concrete hill, not to steep but a challenge for the first exercise of the day. My heartbeat is going crazy and I wonder if this is what to expect for the rest of the hike. For some reason there is two guides, or at least that is what it seems like until the first ten minutes pass. Then it becomes clear that the man we followed is not part of the tour at all, he waits in silence till the guide catches up and goes a different way. "So he is not our guide?" I ask to the guide (lets call him Mi because I forgot his real name) slightly confused. "No, it is me" Mi answers and we start walking again. Soon enough the concrete stops and a trail in between of banana trees starts. The sight is beautiful although the focus is on the oneven steps in the mud. It is not to slippery, but you can see it rained a lot last night. The path goes on for about twenty minutes when the rainforest/jungle begins. This is the real adventure, the part why I wanted to do this! There is no special path to walk on what makes it a challenge. After a small fifteen minutes Mi tells us to wait a moment, and that is when I realise the other part of the group is not behind us. "Is the jungle dangerous, are there any snakes or monkeys?" I ask Mi. "Monkeys, yes. Snakes, no. I never saw any." That is probably the best answer we get, what concerns me a bit. What if there is something dangerous, does anyone know what to do?! There is not a lot of time to think about it, because the journey continues and the hill gets steeper. As I try to concentrate on my steps it is hard to ignore the loud talking of the Spanish family. The funny thing is that I have no clue where they are talking about. Or maybe that is a good thing, so I will not fall over. While two hours go by like it is nothing the porters are up for a rest. They are carrying all the food, tents, sleeping bags, water, etc. "How do you guys do it?" I ask them, but all the answer is laughing. For a bit it remains silent until the Spanish becomes louder and louder again. I totally forgot about them and feel a bit guilty about it. "Banana?" it sounds a bit confused but the porters are offering us some. After a small break with a couple of cookies and a banana the hike continues. Still in the jungle, surrounded by high trees, a lot of green stuff and dead leafs on the small path. Many parts go by a cliff where you do not want to fall off, but it feels like you could easily do. "It is so dangerous to do this hike, do you always use flip flops?" Mi looks back and tells us that shoes are to expensive for them so there is not much of a choice. Poor guys.. At the same moment the ground gets really slippery and Mi decides to go on bare foot. It will be no surprise that after a couple of minutes his feet are bleeding a bit. How can they work like this and the real life kicks in. Western life is good! Oke I am drifting off a bit here, the climb goes on for another 3 hours with the neccesary stops before it is lunch time. Mi and the porters put a big tarp on the ground to sit on and start cooking. The feeling to lay down for a bit is so comforting that I fall asleep till lunch is ready. Rice with veggies, krupuk and chicken is served. This is more than expected and the taste is wonderful! To bad that it starts to poor down on us.. The porters decide to use the tarp as shelter, although there are so many holes in it that it does not really work. Raincoats and waterproof bags are used by us. Mi and the porters do not have anything to put on or protect from the rain. Again poor guys. Some warm tea is offered to get the worst cold out of our body and two hours have gone by. Time for the last climb of the day. "How long is it from here?" I have to ask two or three times before Mi understands me and he answers "about 1.5 hours". That is douable, maybe my thoughts from this morning where a bit to much.. Although It turns out to be the longest one and a half our in the world, the climb is heavy, the rain came back with a tiny tunderstorm and my body is starting to feel the exercise. "I am not made for this", "Can we just stop here", "I quit" those are the words that come out of my mouth, especially when the jungle behind us. You would think It becomes easier, but with a lot of rain coming down the grass is even more slippery then it already was in the jungle. On the way half of the group went missing, but nobody seemed to care. When we arrive at the tents a tarp is set up as a tent and makes shelter for the heavy rain. Sitting on yoga matts for a while is our life at the moment. "Actually where are the other two people, when do we get concerned?" I asked Griffin and he answers that he does not know either. At least half an hour goes by before Mi stands up and walks down hill. After a minute or ten he comes back with the other two people, so wet and cold and all cozy we share the small area to hide from the rain. This is what it looks like for the coming hour. "Are we going to see something at all or was the hike for nothing?" is the thought that crossed my mind a lot. Time goes by, being cold gets annoying and around 4.30pm the rain stops. Now it becomes clear that we are not on the rim?! Ugh... Asian people, seriously... Dissapointed everyone dissapears in their tents and tries to warm up in the wet tents and sleeping bags... It takes forever to get comfortable and a bit warmer. "Hello its me, dinner is ready" it sounds like the best thing that could happen at the moment and noodle soup is served. Griffin and I are sitting in front of the tent to enjoy the view and dive back into the sleeping bag straight afterwards. The only reason to come out is for sunset, but the clouds hide most of it. Time to go into the tent and after the dark falls I am out. Sleepwell everyone.
"Hello it is me, small breakfast is ready." "Hello it is me" "Hello breakfast" this is the sound of the alarm from this morning at 5.00am. Some crackers and a cup of tea is waiting before the hike starts again. The best part of this morning is for sure the wet clothes, socks and shoes... Or maybe the surprise that it is still a one and a half hour climb to the rim. This hour is the longest ever and on the way I give up about 20 times. The only thing that keeps me going is Griffin talking courage into me. "My mind is crying" I tell Griffin "How do you do it?" when he tells me this: "I just look at your but while climbing, that keeps me going". This man is unbelievable and I decide not to give up but to go for it. After another ten break down the rim is there. Mi tells us to take one picture and climb down. "Really?! So this hike is just for one picture? I can not believe it!" I say to Griffin as he is the only one here. We both do not really give a damn about what Mi told us, as he has not been a guide to one of us, so enjoying the volcano for about fifteen minutes it is! "It is so beautiful that I already forgot about the whole hike" believe it or not this are my words. Although those are taken back as soon as the hike down begins. Just after the beginning the Spanish man crosses our path and tells us "My wife at camp, no good" and we move on. The climb/fall down is even worse then the journey up. After falling for the fifth time tears come and my mind gives up. It has been quite a journey. "Why are you crying, you can not give up now, see how far you have come" those words literally save my day, thanks Griff, and after a couple of minutes the way down starts again. "You did it" Mi shouts to us when we are in sight. Oh he can talk a bit of English, is what I think. When we set foot at the campsite banana pancakes are served with some tea and soon after the way down start again. "I am never going to get all the way down" I tell Griffin "I am sure you will though" is his answer and the struggle starts. After the first hour I know the ground quite well and clean clothes are not a thing anymore. "Fuck you jungle" (sorry for the language) are the only words coming out of my mouth. Actually they are theraputic and the reason that the time goes by a bit quicker. Around 12.30pm lunch is served, by the porters who climb down bare footed and are a lot faster. The fried noodles are very welcome together with a cup of coffee! Up to the last one and a half hour, where Griffin and I make a bet. It is around 1.30pm now and the bet is around what time we will be down. Convinced I said 2pm and Griffin 2.15pm where of course I lose and owe him a beer. It is not really relevant but those small things keep you going during a hike. When everything becomes to much for everyone in sudden there are some monkeys around us, what again gives us a positive moment and courage to do the last part. To save you from all the details and ugly things that are said during that hour I will just tell that after half an hour wait on the slower people in the group at 3pm the car is waiting for us and takes us back to the restaurant where it all started yesterday. Broken, tired and most of all dirty my goal is reached and i could not be more satisfied and proud of myself!
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