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Published: August 8th 2013
Sometimes you know when you are getting yourself into a mess. Trust me, I have gotten myself into jams so many times (and more often than not, knowingly) but the ones that hurt the most are the times when you envision yourself to be the ass kicker only to walk away hobbled and broken. Enter Mt. Ranjani.
Yes, I had heard the stories of the freezing summits and bone-chilling nights. I had heard about the scrambley talus slopes that make even the best footwear a rather desperate but yet redundant expense. I had heard that at 3700 meters, that many, if not the majority of those who started would turn back, never reaching its summit. And I heard about the days of leg pain that would be a complimentary gift of the mountain lasting for days after finally returning.
Was I concerned? Nah. I am from BC after all. I have been hiking mountains since I was a teenager, spent last summer scrambling up numerous volcanoes in Central America and hell, I had summited the world's tallest free standing mountain, Mt.Kilimanjaro, only a few years ago, not to mention the hours spent sweating in my apartment doing squats and
lunges. I wasn't some ordinary tourist chump attempting my first hike. No problem.
The hike in total was to last 3 days with 2 nights spent camping on the crater rim, high above the beaches and islands that Indonesia is best known for. We started with a vigorous but steady ascent through the jungle, stopping for lunch at one of the metallic shelters where we huddled for warmth as the afternoon clouds rolled in as the guides and porters hastily built fires and cooked our food.
Our porters would carry our food, water and camping supplies allowing us to trek relatively unencumbered and only carrying our clothing and personal gear. Oh, not only did our porters do all of the heavy lifting, but did so without complaint, and wearing nothing but flip flops or bared feet as they juggled our gear in two baskets which they carefully balanced on the ends of a bamboo stick and carried over their shoulders. Yes, they schooled the fittest of us.
The first day concluded at the rim of Mt. Ranjani after 6 hours of trekking where slowly by slowly found myself at the back of a very fit pack that
left me feeling rather embarrassed by my performance. I blamed the altitude figuring at was the problem. Our camp gave us a stunning view looking over the clouds to Bali and giving us glimpses of the Gili Islands below. Turning around, the vista looked straight down into a deep chasm holding a turquoise blue lake and a small cone venting steam.
Believing I would acclimatise to the altitude overnight I looked forward to day 2 where I would redeem myself for my shoddy performance the day before. We scrambled down the rim to the lake below where we spent hours lazing by the lake and soaking ourselves in the hot springs before heading up the opposite rim and giving us a base below the summit. Still 10 minutes behind the pack.
Another chilling half night, we awoke at 2.20am for tea before beginning our march up the sandy and gravelly talus slope which looked far closer than it was. Temperatures hovered around freezing and we would slip down a half step for each step forward making our ascent painfully slow. Our summit trek took us 3 hours and I cursed throughout of fatigue, desperation and pain from my
legs which refused to work under these conditions.
I made it to the summit with only minutes to spare before the sun rose above the horizon on a beautiful clear sky. The few clouds that lingered along the horizon lit up below us and we were treated to one of the prettiest sunrises I have ever seen. The sun would eventually light up the lake below but we could only enjoy the moment for 20 minutes or so before the cold chased us back down to camp and almost immediately packed up for the long descent back to civilization.
Still trailing the pack with no altitude to blame, I had to concede that perhaps age and the 30 pounds I inexplicably packed on over the last 18 months may have been the culprit. It has been 5 days since summit day and I was left with a chest cold and a swollen, discoloured and painful leg courtesy of Ranjani. Humble pie tastes like shit.
Tot: 2.325s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 11; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0703s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb