Gunung Rinjani : The trek you will never forget
Day 02: Sembalun Crater Rim(2.639m) – Summit (3.726m) – Segara Anak Lake and Hot springs (2008m) – Senaru Crater Rim (2,641m)
Begin: Sembalun Crater Rim 2,639m;
End: Senaru Crater Rim 2,641m
Elevation gain: 1087+633 = 1720m
Time: ~12 hours of walking
Sembalun Crater Rim(2.639m) – Summit (3.726m)
When I woke up in the morning, my body was groaning for me to not do this. It was all tight but I was still pretty excited and quite pumped up. Time for some bananas for energy!!
Upon leaving the campsite, the path is rather steep passing high altitude vegetation for around 2h in the darkness on slightly muddy slopes and rugged landscape. If you’re lucky, the moon will light your path. Make sure to have headlights so that you can have proper footing which helps a lot!
Soon, I reached the ridgeline walk where the path is compact and nice to walk. This is the brief respite, the appetizer before the main meal, the bait before the trap. I was pretty tired, but that was only the start of hell. I repeat, the moment your feet touch the volcanic ash, it really is the start of hell. It seems fun at first walking up the ash path, but it wouldn’t be fun when you start sliding down. Apparently, its twice as long as Merapi, at around 400m long. Doesn’t sound that long when you think about it like running one lap around the track.
2 steps forward, one step sliding back.
It is akin to walking on snow without proper snow shoes. I tried all ways, running up, walking slowly, crawling with my hands just to get up. Walking in other people’s steps seems the best option. I stopped ever so often, perched and leaning on one leg, my the other leg back, panting on the slope. I look up and see many people in the same position as me, it is pretty comical. There were countless times I wanted to just stop and sit on the random rocks that scream “REST!”, but what kept me going were the others that struggled around me. We were all getting there one step at a time. I see a clearing, the horizon, and I think, I’m almost there, I can do it.
It was only halfway.
It was fucking only halfway. There was another curve to the right. As I stare down that curve, I felt my whole soul drop to the base of the mountain, back to the beaches of Bali or the comfort of Singapore, how the hell am I going to get there. I hear the footsteps of another hiker, slowly, but steadily, inching past me. That is how I’m going to do it.
My thighs and calves were burning, my butt was burning, my lungs were burning, I couldn’t go on.
I shall sit on that rock, it is perfect for my sorry legs and ass to rest on.
The sun was starting to rise and I was thinking, I am not going to reach there. It’s pretty high already, I might as well rest. As the sky start to slowly brighten, my hopes start to fade. Should I just stay here and watch the sunrise? It is good enough! Why torture yourself just for an overated sunrise up at a crowded summit when you can have it all to yourself on this rock?
Somehow, I managed to steel myself upwards, just keep going, stop thinking of whether you can make it or not, it is a marathon. Slowly, really slowly, I seem to get closer, the summit rocks come into play, the other people silently cheering you on. The last hundred metres become a race against the clock with the fast approaching sunrise chasing you. I grip onto the rocks, and turn the corner, to the next, and go up a final tiny ridge, as if a red carpeted walkway for those who’ve completed the Rinjani Summit.
I’ve reached the summit.
I’ve made it.
At around sunrise in fact.
The sense of accomplishment and the view is extra-out-of-the-world amazing. From the Summit, you can see all of Lombok island, Bali, Sumbawa and Segara Anak Lake. Mount Agung in Bali can be seen just beyond the clouds, another mountain I can climb some other day. The sun will also cast a shadow of Rinjani unto the clouds that form a pyramid-like shape in the sky.
Summit (3.726m) – Sembalun Crater Rim(2.639m)
It is really cold and windy at the summit, as I stood there shivering with the others. I sat there most of the time, soaking in the view and the fact we all made it up, the whole group of us. It started to get crowded as well as the fact that sunrise is indeed overrated ha! Take turns to queue up and take a picture with the sign, because everyone is going to try to hog it. Surprised nobody took it back yet. So after an hour or so, at around 6, we made our way down. This time, you can understand how far you’ve climbed, and how crazy that summit climb was.
The descend time should be around half, rule of thumb is actually 2/3 the time you take to ascend. Going down is actually hard for me because I was really scared of slipping. The trick is to go down really fast, and some crazy people actually just run down screaming like Tarzan, crazy adrenaline junkies. The porters just laugh and smile, as they take their steady steps down, without a hint of being off balance. I was scared, so I just slid down till my knees hurt and my shoes were filled with ash.
I made it back, the latest, think I took around 3 hours due to taking pictures ( carrying a DSLR on one hand is no joke) and being really lousy at going down. I just wished I could sleep the whole day in the comforts of my tent, but a light breakfast, and we’re soon on our way after packing up. At this point, I didn’t really care already cause I’ve been to the summit (woohoo!!) so everything else was a bonus. We had to make our way down to the lake, but my knees were already trembling with every step.
Sembalun Crater Rim(2.639m) – Segara Anak Lake and Hot springs (2008m)
The trek downwards isn’t difficult, but it is slippery at times, and there are quite a lot of rocks and boulders, and slight slopes. When you start reaching the grassy plains, you know you are close to the lake. After another 3 hours of downslope, we finally reached the lake. Time to jump into the hot spring as my feet couldn’t wait to take off my shoes. The lunch area is even dirtier than the previous day as it is very crowded with both groups (Senaru and Sembalun climbers) gathered in a small spot.
There are several activites to do at the lake; swim in the lake, go to the hot spring, take a nap (yes it’s an activity), play the guitar and cards, or even climbthe relatively new 200 years old Gunung Barujari (as known simply as Gunung Baru) in the center of the lake.
Apparently, to climb it, follow the lake eastward, which eventually will lead you up the final crater. A round trip will take you at least 4 hours so to do so you need an extra night on the mountain. It is extremely active so sometimes it is closed. On the foot of the new volcano, you will reach hot springs heating a little bay. From this point it will take you about one hour to reach the top of this still growing smoking center volcano (2,363m).
For us, we chose to go to the hot spring. We had to walk to the hot spring, which was some distance away as everything is some distance when you are tired, even lunch. There was even some portion of uphill, but what the heck, what is uphill when you’ve climbed the summit of Rinjani? It is a very small area but quite amazing because the water is naturally hot, some times too hot for comfort, but it is nice to soak and relax. As it is a 3 day hike, we did not have the luxury of chilling in the spring, we had to go soon after lunch.
Segara Anak Lake and Hot springs (2008m) – Senaru Crater Rim (2,641m)
I don’t have much pictures here because I think I was just too tired, and I didn’t care as much anymore. On this side however, you get to see more the caldera, which is filled partially by the crater lake known as Segara Anak or Anak Laut (Child of the Sea) according to Wikipedia, as well as the new cone Gunung Baru, which should be smoking half the time. The lake also have different colours, as it is emerald green, followed by yellow patches closerto the Gunung Baru side due to sulphur I believe. It is a nice view, but somehow a different atmosphere from the first day, it should be because of the summit hangover.
If you reach here, pat yourself on the back and enjoy the last night on the crater rim. After tonight, no more stars as you will just be getting out of the mountain.