Friday, April 10, 2009

Three days trekking Mt. Rinjani

View of volcano and crater lake- photo shot from first night base camp. Yesterday, I was speaking with a Balinese man who told me about the pilgrimage he took with 2,000 Hindus, climbing to the lake to conduct various ceremonies. One part of this involved cutting off the head of buffalo, goats, pigs, and tossing them into the lake. They also threw beaded necklaces into the water as an offering for the gods.Meal preparations by porters. These boys are 15 years old and carried all of our food, sleeping bags and tents in full baskets secured to the ends of a bamboo stick. They wore flip-flops on these incredibly steep trails, gnarled by roots and loose gravel! At night it grew extremely cold (about 5 degrees Celsius) and one boy didn't even bring socks, so I lent him my extra pair.On the second day we stopped for a cool dip in this waterfall and soothed our sore muscles with a soak in natural hot springs. After this we had lunch and a much needed nap in the shade, then another three hour push to the next camp.Third porter carrying our gear through the jungle.Many frisky macaques along the path.We woke up at 2:30am, had some warm tea and set off to trek three hours to the summit (12,224 ft), full moon shining the whole way. It was a challenge, but we all made it!! Our Indonesian guide took this photo just before the morning sun exploded into the sky. As you can see we are huddled close together to keep warm because it was chilly, to say the least. I was fortunate enough to trek with a fantastic group of people (French-Canadian, German and American), everyone was full of optimism and positive support- helped me make it to the top.