A nice long stroll is good for the soul. I’ve felt this way for as long as I could remember. My daddy used to take me for walks when I was a little girl; he would help me pick out the perfect walking stick and off we would go. I’m sure it was just a stroll down our street but for me it felt like a grand adventure. It was a way for me to connect with my dad and for him, a way to calm down after a busy day.
As I’ve gotten older I tend to call my walks ‘hikes’ but thery’re essentially the same thing; an extended period outdoors taking in this beautiful world God has blessed us with. Luckily Chase is always up for a good hike, as well. While living in Oregon we both realized just how much we enjoyed hiking and it became an almost every weekend affair. So it was only logical that we would want to hike a volcano while in Indonesia. I have a “go big or go home” mentality so I was all about trekking Rinjani. Thankfully Chase talked me out of that one, seeing as it recently erupted (see photo below). While there are various options here, Chase thought maybe we should start with Mt. Batur; an easy hike but with splendid views. An idyllic beginning to our hiking in Indonesia.
There are literally hundreds of folks trying to sell adventure experiences all over the place here. We ended up choosing the one that both, felt right and was the lowest price. Thankfully, it all worked out.
Our day began at 1:30 am as we got ready to be picked up. Our van arrived shortly after 2:00 am and we were on our way, with a bus full of strangers, to Mt. Batur. I have a “just go with it” spirit and Chase tends to be more of the thinker between the two of us. He leans over and says, “What are we doing? We’re on a bus full of strangers heading to hike a volcano led by someone who also happens to be a stranger.” All I can do is smile, it’s 2:00 am, not much else can be expected.
On the way we stopped for the hot breakfast we had been promised. They take our orders for coffee or tea. Out of the 12 of us there, they forgot I wanted coffee and were already out by the time it got to me. For those of you who know me you won’t think twice about my small misfortune; stuff like this happens on the daily for me. Chase begins laughing and mutters “typical,” as I settle for the lone cup of tea. Our ‘hot breakfast’ turned out to be a basket full of cold, slimy, banana pancakes that was passed around for all of us to share. Not exactly the food we were promised, but food, nonetheless. Breakfast was quiet and awkward and interesting and entertaining. Here we all were, strangers from all over the world, enjoying a mediocre meal just a few hours before sunrise.
We arrived at Mt. Batur around 3:30 am and were introduced to our guide. We were given a small box of food, bottle of water, and a flashlight. Just like that, our hike up a volcano begins. We started out quickly, each of looking around to make sure we’re doing what we are supposed to. Two guys came ill prepared. One wearing Crocs, one wearing flip flops and for the rest of the day that is how we referred to them, “Crocs & Flops.” The hike up was dark and steep. We took a few breaks on the way up but I was surprised at how quickly we were moving. Periodically, our guides would make sure we were all still there. However, I’m not sure what they would have done if we weren’t. Hundreds of people were going up this volcano so the “keep up or get left behind” mentality was quickly adopted. Just before sunrise we were almost to the top. We stopped to take a few flicks and then trekked for about 20 more minutes to reach the summit.
The sunrise was stunning; the most fascinating sunrise I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe it was the environment or whom I was with or where I was or a combination of all these things, but I was blown away. Pictures never do it justice but we took several, in hopes one would capture a glimpse into this special moment. We sat there for several minutes enjoying our little breakfast. I thanked God for everything I could think of and especially that I had Chase to experience these moments with. It’s one of those moments I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life.
The trek back was playful and silly as all of us were now wide awake and feeling much more comfortable around each other. Our guides were incredibly helpful and offered to take pictures and provided information regarding the volcano and surrounding area. We all joked around with one another and were amazed that “Crocs & Flops” made it out alive. Chase made friends with our guide and we all shared stories of our ‘homeland.’
The ride back to Ubud was a quiet one as we were all feeling the effects of the day beginning so early and hiking all morning. I couldn’t help but think of how we all had just experienced something so grand and would probably never see each other again. Life is funny like that, and it all started with a hike.