DONT STOP ME NOW, SEMERU!!!! (D-3)Journal
We started on time and headed up to the trail. The porter was absolutely essential, as there is no clear path. I was just behind him, following every passe so that I didn't get lost or left behind. I decided I would only rest when he rests - good training for the harder part up ahead. There was one last stop before the summit, Arcopodo, and we got there pretty quickly, despite stoping every 10 or so minutes.
The path is not easy, don't get me wrong, it is steeper that the all the trails up until then, by with the rythm we were having it was fast. I had 3 jackets on and was pretty confortable, not too cold or too hot, perfect. I even thought - this might be easier than what I thought!
The altitude at this point was 2900m - it was already the highest I have ever been. But the summit was at 3676m, so I had a looong way to go still. Anyway, I believed that maybe I was wrong and it wasn't going to be all that hard. We continued and reached a thin sandy path - as I had read, there was supposed to be this very difficult sandy path that only the fittest could survive and, i naively thought that maybe it was this. It wasn't all that hard, although I fell once.
But soon I would find out how wrong I was. The sandy path ended fast and we were about 1h into the hike when we got to a rocky - not sandy - path. Yup, this is definately it - the steepest slope of the entire trail, so steep that sometimes you need to use your hands to hold on to the hill and every step you take, you slide down half.
30 minutes into this and I was already exhausted, both fisically and mentally. But that's when it starts getting rough - you are tired and you need to stop; but when you stop you freeze because of the non-stopping winds pushing you down.
Basically, it is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Still, I was right after the porter, only stoping when he did. Pretty soon we were very far ahead of everyone else. Since he didn't speak any english, I tried asking him some questions through gestures, but I was not successful.
He was walking in a zig-zag instead of directly going up, burying his feet strongly in the rocky path with each step. I started doing the same, but unlike him, I would still slide down half a step every time. When I looked up, I could see the summit and it looked so near!
I thought, probably 1 more hour tops and I'll be up there - it was 1h30 and I was worried that I would get up there too soon and have to wait in the cold for the sunrise. Oh, how naive. About 1h30 hours into this soul-breaking path, one of the doctors reaches us. By this time I had already thought about giving up, but not in a serious way. I was just so tired, cold, thirsty, and the freezing wind kept pulling me down and throwing sand into my mouth that was covered with a scarf.
Photo by: Rita Andrade
Everytime I drank water, it tasted like dirt. Everytime I stoped I almost was going crazy with the wind on my back. So I asked the doctor to ask the porter if we were almost there - I mean, we probably were, the summit seemed to be just up there! And here is the moment when I really had to put myself together - the porter said "we are not even half-way there".
Say what? Not half-way there? "About 2h30/3h still". My heart dropped. It couldn't be true. The summit is there! But actually, the summit has been there ever since we started and now I see that it doesn't seem any closer. After having that piece of heart-breaking knowledge, it became time to convince myself to keep going.
I told myself that the porter must be wrong, I can do it faster! So, I continued. By that time it was just me and the porter, everyone else was extremely far behind, to the point that I could only see little dots of light. In every stop, the porter would find the best place for me to sit beside him, trying to get a spot that would cover us, at least a little bit, from that freezing insane-driving wind.
In the middle of my desperation, I hadn't looked around to see the landscape, and the porter was the one who called me up to reality - he pointed to the horizon and said "Bromo". And suddenly I looked. Oh my, this has been here the whole time I have been climbing?
I have been so concentrated in the summit that I completely forgot to look around. We were above everything. I was looking at Java from the top. It is an unforgetable view. From then on, in every stop he would point to a direction and say something about one of the things we were seeing in the horizon. "Arjuno", "Malang", "Ranu Pani". One of the stops I said one of the things that I can actually say in Indonesian "Nama saya Rita", and then pointed at him and asked "Nama?". He said "Edi". Oh, that's easy to remember! 3h into it, I was breaking.
bromo mountain & batok mountain
Photo by: Rita Andrade
sandy path & sun rise
Photo by: Rita Andrade
I had to convince myself for every step I took - just one more, you can do this, if you give up you will never forgive yourself, it will take longer to go down than to finish it! I searched way inside of me for reasons to keep on going.
Every slip I had to pick myself up again and go for the next step. In every stop, I had to convince myself that the wind would calm down in just a second - it never did. We reached a point where we stoped in a very sheltered spot where we could lay down. We stayed there for about 15 minutes, the longest break of the track. And then "Let's go?" he said. Yup.
But getting up was a challenge by itself as my legs were starting to act out on me. Up until now I was strong and I only stopped when he stopped. But after 10 minutes of walking, I had to stop. I just had to. So I stopped, alone, and he waited for me a bit further ahead. We had been climbing that demonish trail for almost 3,5 hours. There was too little of fisical and mental strenght left in me.
I wanted to give up so bad. But I knew I couldn't. We were getting so close now, I could not give up now. I got up again and saw my porter smiling. How is this so easy for him? I was almost screaming with every step, kind of like a tennis player. The sun was about to rise and I had no idea if I would make it to the top on time. 15 minutes later, I colapsed on my knees. I could not move one more muscle in my body. I started realizing that, after all the effort, I was not going to see the sunrise on the summit.
Suddenly, I see a hand. I look up and there was Edi, smiling, reaching out his hand for me to take. I took his hand and he pulled me up and did not let go of my hand. We were now walking side by side, with me having a new found strenght. But the strenght was more mental than fisical, and I fell on my knees again. Still, got up again, with Edi not letting go of me.
After 15 minutes of this... we reach the top. And the sun was just about to rise. The view was breath-taking, there are no words to describe that moment. I took time to enjoy it.
Photo by: Rita Andrade
I knew there was a vulcano somewhere and when he pointed south I could see the sulfur smoke really close and sudden explosions of lava jumping up in the air. And the noise was unbelievable. He had to pull me to go and see it up close, as I was really scared.
photo by: Rita Andrade
We went there and very soon I see and exploding crater, full of lava and sulfur. WOW. I have an active vulcano right in front of my eyes, exploding everywhere. Each explosion would make such a scary sound. I was amazed that it was even safe to be this close to it. We head back to the initial part of the summit.
I wanted to wait for someone of my group, but after 30 minutes of waiting, I decided that it was too cold for me to stay there for longer. In the meantime, there was one hiker that caught up with us, Patri, and he was there also, but he was not from the group. He agreed to go down also, but Edi was staying up there, waiting for the others. So, I say goobye and hugged him. I looked around one last time, inspired that cold air and rejoiced. I did it. I am in the top of Java.