Finally after a long time, my first post on our momentous Rinjani trek. My thanks and apologies to everyone whose photos i have added here without permission.
After the sucessful conquest of Mount Ophir in Malaysia, the next expedition had to be a much more challenging affair. After a great deal of research, Leo and Ravi had zeroed in on Gunung Rinjani in Lombok in Indonesia."Gunung" means mountain in bahasa. Rinjani is a whopping 3726 m high,about thrice as high as Ophir. What's more it is a transactive volcano.The crater of the volcano houses a lake 6km by 8.5 km. It is called Segara Anak -"child of the sea". A small volcano gunung baru on one side of the lake had erupted as recently as 1996.There was a lot to look forward to.Out of the five of us about to venture on the trek,four had been on the earlier trek to Ophir. The fifth one, Ela was making his trekking debut.
The trek offered a chance for the two gastronomes, to put it more simply "foodies", shyam and ela to face-off.The clash of the titans was about to unfold into what would eventually be a disappointing end. More about that later.
Shyam Vs Ila- Who will win? (Pic: Leo)
Finally we were off on christmas eve with a bottle of vodka and a few beer cans which would be consumed on the course of the trek to consecrate the trip. We were on the last row of seats (not retractable) on the flight to bali. Beside me was a very tall american who wondered what he had done to deserve this. Two and a half hours later we landed in Bali.
On board the last row (pic:Ravi)
All of us were feeling the need to empty our bladders and it seems i was the most desperate one cos i went inside the ladies toilet.After relieving myself, as i came out i saw a lady preening herself in front of the mirror. For a couple of seconds i was actually wondering that it was a unisex toilet,if ever there was one. Thankfully i managed to escape unscathed.
After meeting up with the trek organizers, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant where the waiters were dressed like reindeers with antlers on their heads. They looked unbelievably ridiculous.After dinner (the ubiquitous egg fried rice for me,what else!) and a couple of hours drive later, we reached padang bay to board a ferry to Lombok. Almost everyone on the ferry looked shady to me.It was pitch dark outside.I could see nothing apart from the stars.It was a bit scary. Reached Mataram in lombok around 5am.A 2 hour drive brought us to Senaru. After a sumptuous breakfast of banana pancakes, the trek started.After the first half an hour (actually might have been only 15 minutes), already some of us were showing signs of tiredness. Our guide,Anom informed us that this was just a straight stretch and the real trek hasn't really started. We resumed after a short break. We would go on to have a lot more of such short breaks.
All set to start
The first mini break (Pic:me)
We were joined soon by an experienced trekker, one on four legs. A dog tagged along. It seems it has been on many treks before. There seemed a striking parallel of us with the pandavas from the Mahabharata. The five pandava brothers walked ,rather trekked their way to Mount Meru, the gateway to heaven. A dog (Lord Yama, the god of death in disguise) followed them all the way to the summit. I was the eldest of the five trekkers and i have a reputation for fairness akin to yudishtira. Next in line Ela could be equated with bheema on account of girth and body fat. The multi-talented Shyam easily slipped in to the role of Arjuna. Leo was our Sahadeva with his pearls of wisdom and a knack for predicting things. Ravi was the handsome Nakula. Only draupadi was missing and the only other member of the trek party was our guide Anom. In the original story, only Yudhishtira makes it to the top. We hoped all five of us could make it.
Our Nakula & Sahadeva alongwith lord yama! (Pic:me)
We reached POS I,our first main halt and halted for lunch. Till now the terrain was full of vegetation and we had to be wary of undergrowth ever ready to trip us. Leo and Ravi had lost some blood to leeches. Ravi turned on them with a vengeance. The rage in his eyes as he burned them was a sight to behold. Lunch was divine. We were accompanied by 4 porters who carried our food and water and cooked for us. They started behind us and finished ahead of us throughout the course of the trek. Each of them carried between 40-50 Kgs and did it with such a nonchalance that bordered on the condescending. A regular dose of marijuana or whatever it was they were taking definitely seemed to help. We were doing it for fun, it was their source of livelihood which put everything in perspective.
Our guide Anom (Pic:Leo)
Ravi's revenge (Pic:Leo)
The trek from POS I to POS II, which was to be our camp for the night,was characterised by a bout of heavy rain. We looked quite a sight with the ponchos on.Ravi was cursing the trek organizer, Pardi, for being ambivalent about rain
being a problem. It was a bit amusing to see him curse Pardi but i was more worried about my SLR getting wet. Finally we reached POS II. POS I and POS II were both basically small wooden shacks.After some hot tea to revive our spirits, we indulged ourselves in some card games.Our footwear dried near the cooking fire.
Drying our shoes (Pic:Leo)
Our tents had been made for us nearby. Couldn't see them as it was so damn dark outside. We were also told that the sleeping mattresses that were promised were not there. It was quite cold outside and i was apprehensive of having a good night's sleep. Fortunately they had sleeping bags and those were quite comfortable.I was quite tired and dozed off. Day 1 of the trek was coming to a successful conclusion. The next day would have us scaling new heights.
To be continued