My Toes are Back in Business: Story of a last minute mountain climb

21 12 2010

It’s only 8 months later, and my last toe is back to normal, FINALLY, but I figured I’d share with you a story of an adventure of epic proportions. It’s about experiencing a religious holiday in a foreign country without any religious ties. This story isn’t exactly about Jesus and the resurrection. Easter weekend wasn’t exactly full of colored eggs and rabbits. But there were volcanoes, racial slurs and clownfish.

One town to the next was like night and day. It some cases, it actually was.

Literally the night before, Carrie and I decided that we were going to climb Lombok’s Gunung Rinjani. We ran to Royal, got flights, food and headlamps, and went back to school, packed, taught, then caught a plane. Now, those of you who know me will know that I’m determined, strong willed, and am always looking for something that challenges me, but I’m not exactly the kind that seeks out mountains to climb. This time, I did.

For her first time on a motorbike, she didn't do so bad!

We flew to Mataram and took a taxi up to Sengigi Beach. We decided to stay the night, rent motorbikes and then head up the coast and into the mountains to Senaru. Senaru is the closest base camp for hiking to the giant crater of Rinjani, which is still a very active volcano. So active, in fact, that the new dome that is building up inside the crater/lake spews lava. Sweet, huh?

Beautiful coastlines all around the island

View from Senaru, our basecamp

Well, we got to where we would leave from, crashed for the afternoon and left at about 11:30 PM. We would be climbing all night to get to the rim for sunrise. Read that again. We climbed a mountain. IN THE DARK. Surprisingly, I didn’t do too bad. I didn’t die, and I didn’t run out of water on the way up. That part was on the way down. We climbed through jungle and that was actually the easier part. When we started getting closer to the top, there was a lot of volcanic ash-dirt. Powdery, soft dirt that rolls right out from under your feet as you’re climbing and decending. I crashed a few times going up and even more on the way down. We made it to the top of the crater at about 7 AM.

I almost made it to the top for sunrise, maybe next time.

Trail down into the crater. No thank you, I can see the lava from here. I'm good.

As far as we could go. Now to go back down...

Back down the mountain

View from Gili Trawangan. View of Lombok's Gunung Rinjani, which we climbed the night before.

After hauling it back down the easiest part of the mountain, we were about 2 hours from the bottom when it started really raining. The trail started running out from under us and down the mountain. Tripping over roots and branches through the densest part of the forest made me switch into rock-hopper mode, and I basically hopped down the last few miles of jungle covered mountain. This is why my toes got destroyed. I wouldn’t know it until a few weeks later when 4 of my toenails fell off.

Yep. Fell off.

When we got back to Senaru, I took off the wet, stinky clothes, tried to take a shower, and discovered that there was no water to our cabin at that time. I was so tired, by that time I didn’t really care and slept. All afternoon and into the evening. We chatted and planned out our plan of attack on getting the motorbikes back to Senggigi and getting us through the chaos at Bangsal and out to Gili Air or Gili Meno. I despise few places, but this is definitely one of them. Lonely Planet refers to the harbor as a “gauntlet,” and though most of the book is wrong for the rest of the country, it was VERY, very right in that regard. After more much-needed sleep, our sore bodies rolled out of bed and stiffly loaded up the bikes.

Back down to the Coast

We made our way from Senaru, down from the highlands through the most beautiful farm land back to the coast, rode back to Senggigi, returned the bikes and found a ride to Bangsal. I hate that place. Instantly you’re surrounded by people trying to sell you a jank ticket, or telling you that you “can’t go to the island today, you must rent a hotel room and come back tomorrow, blah blah blah.” Once we got to the ticket booth, we tried to buy our tickets to one of the smaller Gilis. No luck. The boats had already gone for the day, but we could still go to Gili Trawangan, the party island. We were so sore that as soon as one of us mentioned massages and laying by the beach, we didn’t fight it. It was just 10,000 Rupiah, or about $1.00, so we just went with it. Found a place, showered, and went out in search of a massage. Our room was hot and kind of creepy. There were strange cat paintings and the largest Cicak I’ve EVER seen. It was more like a Komodo Dragon than a gecko.

Why the cat paintings? Indos don't even have cats like that! I guess we'll never know?

Massages, good food and plenty of beach time and snorkeling just couldn’t go off without a slight hitch though. There was one guy who constantly harassed us as we walked around the island. Racial slurs, sexist comments and other just really vulgar things that constantly spewed from this guy’s mouth really got on our nerves, and we ended up speaking with a couple of the hotel managers who gave the guy a citation. Didn’t really help the situation much though. The Gili Islands don’t have police on them, so it’s up to local citizens and business leaders to maintain order in a place where every bar sells “Magic Mushrooms,” guaranteeing a trip to the moon and back.

Transport? Transport? Transport? Transport? No thank you.

“No transport needed?” Well THANK GOD, because all the guys who are chanting it every 5 feet are getting annoying.

Just kidding.



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