DONT STOP ME NOW, SEMERU!!!! (D-1)Journal
When i arrived in Malang, my host told be about the city's geography: it is located in the middle of 6 mountains - Bromo, Arjuno, Kawi, Kelud, Welirang and Semeru. After he told me about it, he asked "which one do you want to visit?". Looking at all of them, it was easy for me to choose: Semeru is the highest point in the entire Java island, and that is exactly the one I want to go!
As I studied the mountain, I could see it was not going to be an easy thing: it's summit is at 3676m high and the road there is not pavemented or anything - you follow a trail through the middle of the mountain forest. My host told me it would take us about 4 days - I had read that normally, 3 days would be enough. He found a guide, Dimas, one of this friends that organizes and guides visitors in Semeru twice a month.
I had to rent hiker boots, as I only had tennis shoes. I would be the highest I have ever been in my life - and I had no idea how to prepare for that. I needed a good jacket and pants also, so I went and bought them. Sleeping bag, tent and other things were arranged by my host and by the guide. I am pretty much a fit person, so fisically I didn't think I had to workout a lot - I knew it would be tough but I thought that I could take it! The plan was to stay 3 nights and 4 days in the mountain, hiking calmly and resting a lot. So, the day before we started, I checked everything and prepared myself mentally to what was coming.
The first day started early, waking up at around 5AM so that we could be as soon as possible at the jeep that would take us to the starting point in the village of Ranu Pani. We arrived at the place where the jeeps start, that had a nice place for us to sit, electricity and wifi and then... we waited. For hours. The jeep would only go with a minimum of 15 people, and we were just 3! So we had to wait for more. And a group of 3 appeared! Yeah, we're 6! And then a group of 4 appeared! Woohoo only 5 to go. But then, no one else came. So we waited, and waited, and waited. Until finally they decided to leave with us 10.
It was a pretty fun trip, standing up in the back of a jeep, going up through the rough roads with huge precipices just 1m from the tires, with absolutelly gorgeous landscapes of croped fields and vallees. I had to hold on really tightly to the jeep while it shaked all around and also I had to watch out for my head for any branches of the trees that we were passing through.
We stopped to see what they called the "Teletubbies vallee", a big beautiful landscape. After about less than 1 hour, it started getting cold and, soon, we started to enter a village - Ranu Pani. Very rural, at 2100 masl, this is the last village before Semeru, and it has a big (dirty) lake and thousands of crop fields with onions, portatoes, cabbages...
Teletubies Vallee. The name taken from teletubies movie for kids, especially in opening movie.
Photo by: Leisuretime
Ranu Pane lake. Big lake, the green looks dirty, but actually because of eruption land.
Photo by: Monica (2)
Ranu pane crop fields. The favorite is Leek, Cabbage, and potato
Photo: by Rita Andrade
Welcome and happy hiking Highest Mountain on Jawa Island.
Photo: by Rita Andrade
Welcoming gate. Before reach post no1, lets selfie first
Photo: by Rita Andrade
We went to a little restaurant which was the starting point for all the hikers. After a delicious Nasi Goreng brought from home and a big glass of hot tea, we started our journey. The trail is easy to spot and follow and the start is pretty much easy - some points are uphill, but mainly it was straight forward. My guide said it would be around 2h until we got to post nº1.
I got there in not much more than 1h, because in the beggining I waited for them to rest every 10 minutes. As they realised I had a faster passe, they suggested I continued alone and we would meet in the stopping points.
Arriving in post nº1, there were two man and 3 children there - they are the porters of the mountain, usually from Ranu Pani, they bring food and water to these posts. I had watermelon, some fried food and water at my disposal in that post, and the porters immediately offered me everything, but I was not hungry yet and I had water with me. So I sat there waiting watching these porters around the fire, as one of the kids, around 12/13 years old was smoking a cigarette.
Pretty soon hikers going down sat there and joined in, telling me that they did it in 3 days. I waited a bit more and my host arrived. After a while, my guide also arrived and told me that to get to post 2 it would take 1h. I got up and restarted my hike, arriving in post nº2 in about 15/20 minutes. Waited for my host, and then started again to reach post number 3, and it took around 30/40 minutes to get there. Waited again for my host. I was starting to get very cold and dark - in the mountain it's night at around 17h.
Right next to post 3, the trail started with a big almost vertical climb through dirt and rocks. So, when my host arrived, I decided to continue alone while he waited for our guide. Checked my lantern and started to walk. Pretty soon it got really dark. Being alone in the dark in the middle of a mountain forest is an experience I will not forget - the flashlight is your life-line.
The trail itself was not hard at all, but it was cold and I was scared. The mountains make these noises that sound like lions roaring. I saw shadows everywhere. After a good 40/50 minutes, I arrived at post 4 and it was pitch dark.
Prepare your lantern
Photo: by Rita Andrade
I was no longer in the middle of the forest, this was an open space and I could see, in front of me, there were flashlights on the other side. In the middle of me and the people on the other side was something that I had no idea what it was - maybe a lake or maybe just a precipice. Anyway, there I was, waiting again. And this time I waited for more than 1h30 hours.
While I was waiting, there was a big group that was coming from the other side (they were the flashlights I was seeing) and they waited with me. Very nice, they even had music. After 1h30 hours, my host appeared, still without my guide. Waited 30/40 minutes more and then he appeared and we could continue our way to the camping place. Going down I understood that mysterious place in the middle was actually a lake and I was in Ranu Kumbolo, situated at 2400 masl.
I still could not see it very well, because it was very dark. There are 2 houses there, degradated and destroid, and the porters make fires and cook inside them. There are no toilets - but there is a lot of nature, if you know what I mean J. We arrived and built our tent right next to the group of 4 guys that had come with us in the jeep. It was very very cold, so we got in the tent, the guide cooked some fried food with rice and we went to sleep - waking up every 30 minutes being either cold or just plained unconfortable because of the hard ground. I wanted to wake up early to see the sunrise, as my guide told me, so I tried to sleep as much as I could.