Trekking Merapi

Trip Start Jul 29, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Sunday, November 23, 2008

The trip started smoothly. We got home from habitat for humanity an hour early. This gave me plenty to time to shower, nap and carboload before the flight. Chelsea and I got on the plane with no trouble and landed about 30 minutes after take off. Lion Air's landing seems to be pretty rough in general and this flight was no exception. Landing in Indonesia must be like parallel parking in the states. We all say we can do it but only 10% of the population is actually good at it. At Lion Air, landing must be an afterthought for the pilot's exams.

We land and I met up with the other teachers. I have an hour before I am picked up for the volcano hike. We get a bite to eat and then go back to the hotel. I am at the hotel for maybe 10 minutes and my ride comes. I am picked in a luxurious van, I am thinking this is going to be good. The driver explains in excellent english what my itinerary looks like. I will be going to Selo village and meet up with my guide, who will take me up the volcano. Sounds great, we make a stop and I get out of my nice van and into an older looking van with a driver that doesn't speak a word of english and a broken air conditioning. I nap for most of the two hour trip, the moments that I wake up are when the driver has left the van unlocked in the middle of the night to go buy cigarettes and then proceeds to smoke in the van for the rest of the journey. I grumble a little and go back to sleep. We get to Selo village and I am dropped off in a little shop at midnight. Everything looks a little scarier for me a night. Being dropped off in a random place that is filled with Indonesian men, who want me to pose for pictures with them no longer sounds like a great plan. I think they are shocked that a western women is hiking this volcano alone. I sit patiently and wait for my guide to pick me up for the hike. I enjoy hearing stories about how much Indonesians love Barack Obama and how one of the guides knew Obama's teacher. Indonesia may have become the safest place to travel because of Obama, they love him here! One of the men explain to me that Mt. Merapi's trail is only a 10 km trail but it is the steepest volcano trek in indonesia. Its a vertical distance of 2698 m. This doesn't mean much to me at the time. It doesn't seem to steep! Boy, when will I learn my lesson? PHOTO_ID_R=merapi.jpg

At 12:45, my guide picks me up and we start up the mountain. I have never done a night hike before and didn't know what to expect. I have learned that I need to invest in a head lamp if I ever do a night hike again. Its hard to hold on your flashlight and look around to see where you are going. Since I am accident prone, I need both hands for stability. There were a lot of almost slips and falls. The poor guide they didn't know what he got when he got me. This hike was the hardest hike that I have done in my life. The steepness of it was insane. Every hike I have been on has various degrees of steepness but it sort of comes and goes. You have a steep portion then you get a nice little break. The only breaks were the ones you made because you had to stop. I have hiked and I have run marathons and this was the hardest thing that I have ever done. The ground was damp and slippery which didn't help matters. I started thinking to myself, that I needed to research my hikes better. I read the reports when I got down the mountain all it said is that you needed to be fit. The groups that we pass are struggling more than me and my guide. I personally think we are going too fast at times and I started taking more frequent breaks. To me it seems silly, to push ourselves too much. We will get to the top, when we get to the top.

The funniest story to the top is another viscous snake attack story. Do realize snakes maybe the one of the things that I am deathly afraid of? There was an incident where a rock got in my shoe at the national mall and I screamed snake. I become a mad women, when snakes are involved. This was no exception. I have a flashlight in my hand. So, I can't see what is next to me. We are walking in the middle of a steep ditch and it happens. Something hard hits my shoulder, I scream and run. The guide looks like he is about to have a heart attack and I say snake. I ask him if there are snakes on the volcano? I am convinced that I have touched a snake and may have been bitten. I flash my light on the snake to find it is just a branch poking out. I calm down, it takes the guide another couple of minutes to calm down. I may have scared him more than the branch scared me. After a rest and a peace offering of gummy bears, we are on our way again.

The weather on the hike is stormy. It sprinkles off and on most of the way up. There are lighting clouds surrounding us but nothing is above us. The lighting clouds made the hike almost magical. It was eerie at times, but when we got above them it was an incredible view. On the way to the second post, we notice a group turning around. My guide talks to the French people's guide and they turned around because of bad weather. We get to the second post and my guide says the weather is going to get bad. So, we should turn around. I think he said we could sleep out the storm. It is pretty windy and cold and sleeping out a rain storm in the middle of Indonesia, does not seem like a smart idea! I realize my gauge for smart ideas is already broken. So, if it is setting off my gauge, it has to be an awful idea. I tell him that its ok and we can turn back. This is around 3:15. We have been hiking for 2 1/2 hours. I took pictures at the 2nd post! Look how sweaty I got! Ick! 

On the way down, the weather does start to turn and I am thinking that this was a good choice. There are a couple more slips and falls. Going down is much harder because it is so steep and now the ground is moist and slippery. The guide is even falling and broke one of his shoes. So far, I do not regret my choice. As we are getting closer to the bottom, I start to see the trail that I have hiked. Its beautiful, it is a lush and green. The trail is covered with fields for farming. Somehow, I thought it wouldn't be green that it would look like the face of a volcano you see in movies. There is an awesome view the the neighboring mountain, Mount Merbabu. This mountain is supposed to be better to hike, a little lower and less steep. But, I truly feel lucky to have hiked Mt. Merapi. My muscles feel lucky that they didn't break down and I made it to the base safe and sound.

While, we are walking back to the village. I start to pictures of the volcano that I just hiked! This is where I felt like I got the raw end of the deal. I looked at the mountain that now have no clouds or rain surrounding it. I ask the guide where we were. It turns out if we walked further it would have been a plateau almost. I had gone up the hard part and next half hour was flat and easy! Are you kidding? The guide didn't even walk me back to the start point. He sort of just left me at his house. I think he really just wanted to get home and that safety wasn't an issue. Oh well! I feel I did the right thing, but wish I got to see the sunrise at the top! I probably won't do the hike again. It was too steep for my little legs and I am way too accident prone for something like that. I can say that I did the hard part of the mountain. I will try and star the picture of where I was versus the top!

Shutterfly has updated pictures!  Enjoy!
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