This post is divided into two parts. Check out photos and stories from the first half of the hike.
After the summit
I woke up from my post-summit nap to some spilled tea and a conversation between Adam and the guide regarding the day’s plans. Suddenly the guide had decided that he didn’t want to move camp that night to the second site, telling us that there was no water there. This was a bit strange since everyone – upwards of a hundred people a day – does the same loop, and if there actually wasn’t water we would have heard about it much earlier.
A debate ensued, some quiet conversations among the hikers trying to decide if the change of plans had to do with anything besides laziness on the part of the guide and the porters (answer: no), and then some more discussion with the guide explaining that we did want to do the hike we paid for.
This took some time and convincing, and seemed to put us in varying degrees of bad moods – myself probably worst of all – before we finally headed out over the crater rim. The plan was that we would hike three hours down to the lake, then hop in the hot springs before hiking a couple more hours back up over the crater rim for dinner and the second night’s rest.
So we headed off through the stark, burning-garbage Hellscape…
Plummet to the crater
After the summit we were down to five hikers from the original ten, since the Belgian girls had thrown in the towel and the Moroccan guy had decided his shoeless feet weren’t up to the rest of the hike. Another couple had planned to only do a single night, so five of us remained.
We headed from the crater ridge down to the lake, beginning with two hours of nearly vertical descent. The German girl discovered she has weak knees about half way down the ridge, and ended up doing the majority of the hike alternating between walking crab-style and just sliding down the hill on her bum.
The last hour of the hike was refreshingly level and pretty soon we were disgorged at the lake. The lake, like the trails, was a stagnant mess of rubbish and refuse. It wasn’t clean enough for a swim, and hardly clean enough to rinse my hands in.
Soaking swollen feet
Luckily just a few more minutes’ walk from the crater lake there are a series of hot springs filled with exhausted hikers!
We spent an hour or so just soaking and trying to remove some of that impenetrable layer of dirt that comes from two days of hiking and no running water.
Sleeping by the fire-breathing giant
Due to failing knees it turned out we would have to spend the night at the lake, leaving the remainder of the hike for the next day. This came as welcome news to most of us, as we had already been hiking for about nine hours, including the two a.m. summit-run.
To be honest the view wasn’t exactly terrible: a crater lake, a steaming volcanic cone just outside the tent doors and stars, stars, stars! And to top it off, when we awoke at 4:45 in the morning we could even see the worming line of headlamps making their way up to the summit. I was happy to have summited, but even happier that I wasn’t doing it again that morning.
An hour after the stoic-five were up, packed and teeth brushed, our guide and porters decided to wake up. So much for leaving at sunrise. Breakfast time… Kraft singles on bread… my…. favourite.
But the morning view from the tent made up for it: the smoking volcanic cone sitting in the lake formed by the last major eruption.
Day three: making a break for it
We made our way around the lake then up the crater. The hike was steep but actually pleasant. I think my legs just gave up on trying to tell my brain they weren’t into this whole affair and finally stopped sending out “STOP IT YOU MORON” signals. Also, the views just kept getting better as we climbed up to the ridge.
At some point in the early morning a cloud was rising from the ridge up to the summit: hundreds of pairs of feet were slipping and sliding at high-speed down the dusty trail just as we had the day before.
There were a few decent panoramas as well…
And finally we made it to the crest – all downhill from here. Or so we thought.
The last push: dropping altitude without food or water
From the crater rim it was about five more hours back to Senaru. We started down and quickly spread out. I made a special effort to get away from the guide, as he was driving me bonkers by staying within about four steps of me. Hiking is wonderful for being in a vast space enjoying nature and your own thoughts. This is impeded when an Indonesian man keeps giving you flat tires and warning you to be careful when climbing down rocky steps.
The last bit was, yet again, totally unique scenery. We dropped from open scrub into evergreen forest and then past the clouds into an area that could be described as almost jungle-like. There was still rubbish lining the trail all the way though…
After a couple hours I was desperately thirsty and out of water… and here discovered we collectively were out of water. Seems the porters were still annoyed about the whole moving camp debacle and were getting their revenge (and lightening their load) by not filling up the fresh water bottles.
We then reached the area where all the other groups were having their final lunch… but our porters – and lunch – were nowhere to be found… so our guide (Oli) took off in search of them, leaving us hungry, thirsty and grumpy.
Another guide came up to our group and asked where our guide was. We explained the situation at which point he became outraged. He produced a spare 1.5 liter bottle of water and gave it to us, then hiked with us for a while. He clearly took his job very seriously and was quite an experienced and responsible guide. When we finally located Oli (but no porters) the other guide gave him a stern talking-to and Oli shrunk even further into himself, clearly bearing the brunt of the porter-induced anger.
Eventually the porters were located and we had our fried noodles while recharging a bit.
The last hours were a weird mix: I was elated to have done the whole hike, summiting in time for sunrise and making it nearly 50 km in three days with some really cool people, but at the same time disgusted by the state of the trails and campsites and disappointed with the company we had chosen. Oh and these shoes…
But…. WE DID IT!!!
We came out totally exhausted and collapsed into the van that would take us back to our drop-off points. When the others were dropped at the ferry to go over to the Gili Islands I hopped out and grabbed about twelve bottles of orange juice and water at the convenience store, along with a few Snickers bars and some M&Ms. Oh the joys of hydration and sugar!
An hour an a half later we were back in Senggigi, just in time to hop into a private taxi for another three hour ride to the opposite side of Lombok for a well-earned chill out in the surfer town of Kuta for a few days.
The team at the crater rim on day three:
Where in the world is Allison? High in the sky on Mt Rinjani: the highest point on the island of Lombok and the second highest volcano in Indonesia.