Along the hike on Mount Agung, I felt a wave of regret for not jotting down my immediate feelings after the Mount Batur hike. Because the person that I was at that point (Mount Batur), and the person that I would be after the Mount Agung climb, would be different in some sense. The subsequent recollection of this memory would be from the view of someone who had ascended Mount Agung, and that raw fascination of the first hike of my life has escaped, the feelings melded. Still, here’s an attempt.
Mount Batur (250,000idr after some bargaining along the streets)
We set off at 2.30. The driver picked us up at our homestay, and 2 hours later we reached Kintamani, where we would start our hike. We had breakfast at a hut before setting off – tea, banana pancake. ‘So, how much did you pay?’ ‘Ah, the question’ we laughed, the table of backpackers (us, the only Asians). One of them paid 45usd – ouch.
Got a pack of food – boiled egg, banana and bread and jam, as part of the tour.
3.30am or so – started the hike. I looked up; I could see some bright stars but they were faintly concealed by clouds. It was cold, and it started to rain. Sigh. We walked up along a forest path, the rain didn’t seem like it was stopping anytime soon.
Walked and walked
I was focused on my tracks, staring at the ground with my torchlight in hand
Cz said, turn off your flashlight and look to the side. I did, and saw how far we’d walked up now. The starting point seemed pretty tiny, lights from the ground flickered in the distance. Above me some stars glittered.
I remember standing there and seeing flashlights
Trail of flashlights bobbing
Wondering how long more to the summit
But I was reaching, and I would reach before I know it, that I was sure
I kind of realised that it was hard for me to stop and appreciate the surroundings once in a while; the larger part of me didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to walk, walk, walk till I reach
But I should take it all in, soak in the moment of how high up we are from where we were
Our group stopped for some time because of some waiting amidst the trail of people and the search(?) for the second guide. We had another walk to the summit and daylight was breaking soon (45minutes); as much as it was nice to rest for a bit I felt a surge of urgency. This was a little harder – higher steps, rocky stairs. The hardest of the trek would have to be the volcanic ashes. Volcanic ashes I was trudging my feet up, feeling thankful for the $10 hiking stick I’d bought that sank firmly into the steep volcanic ash. I slowed down a little there, and I looked to my right and felt the sky brightening for a bit, felt a surge of panic and tried to go a little faster (ugh! The! Steep! Volcanic! Rocks! Kept! Sliding! A bit!)
Eventually! Made it! Summit!
Hurray! Joined the people that were already there as I took in my first summit. Ah, the clouds. The crack of dawn. Some soft of calm silence amidst the light chatters from all that reached the summit. Sighed inwardly, relieved that it was just what I’d expected, I suppose. Wasn’t tough, wasn’t particularly strenuous. For a first-time hiker, I would say it was easy. Pictures, the rain pelted on.
Walked to the crater, saw the sulfur vents, the valleys. I was here! I was here! I had ascended a volcano! I had seen sulfur vents before, but it’s always a little different from hiking one, and reaching it with my own two feet.
We descended the volcano with the rain gradually coming to a slow halt. The weather was cool and we slowly made our way down. That wasn’t too bad, I thought as we walked. Took pictures along the way. Would Salkantay be like this? I wondered. Probably, and hopefully even more beautiful.
I love, love love this sight so much, even revisiting its picture takes my breath away. The undulating terrains!!!
Sigh, I can still remember the exact moment I took this. I looked up from my camera and was once again washed over with that feeling of awe. How do I take all these home! I can’t, obviously. I wish the mental image wouldn’t fade. The pictures just can’t capture how it really is, you had said. Well, it’s true, now I look at my dull images and think back to how I felt at that point. Just feeling… wonderful. That familiar heart-singing joy I often find myself seeking. I want to take all these home!
Days after the hike I found myself replaying these memories over and over again.