Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Me, Mel and Merapi

Monday night Melis and I were picked up around 10:30 pm in Yogyakarta. We drove for an hour and a half to a small town near the base of Merapi. Around 12am we went into a little house to have tea and wait another hour. The guide didn’t want to start too early because he didn’t want us to wait around for the sunset at the plateau. It can get pretty cold up there if you’re not actively moving. After some tea and inhaling a lot of smoke from the locals and other climbers we drove to the town Selo (around 5,500 feet), where we started our climb.

We stepped onto the trail around 1 am. The moon was almost full, however, it was hazy. It was a little daunting at first, there were lightning strikes lighting up the clouds in the distance. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought it was going to be eaisier than it really was. The trail was very steep and narrow. We had one flashlight between us that was very handy since the trail was full of baseball size rocks and occasional branches to trip you up. The first hour or so Melis was not feeling well, I think nerves and her prior stomach ache from the day before were getting to here. After a few breaks, some food and fertilizing a near by garden she started to feel better. She did not want to turn around and kept on hiking. Pretty soon she was in full billy goat mode and we climbed to the plateau or base camp (around 8,500 feet) as I like to call it. We reached the base camp around 4:45 am, 20 minutes before sunrise. Our guide, Gilah made us some hot tea which was really nice since it was pretty cold. We watched as the gray haze covered the sunrise. There were glimpses of the sun but nothing spectacular. I was more impressed with the clouds and smoke that blew over Merapi which was just another 1,000 feet above.

After relaxing for awhile Gilah and I climbed up the last 1,000 foot section of Merapi. Melis hung back chatted it up with a fellow westerner who was also studying in Yogya. Gilah and I left around 6 and it took us a good 50 minutes to reach the summit. The climb up was a volcanic rock scramble. The rocks were large, loose, and sharp. It was not technically hard we just had to go slower since footing wasn’t as stable as we’d like. As we approached the top of the crater I noticed that some rocks were warm. I started to see the smoke coming out of the vents on the mountain. There were also bright yellow chunks of sulfur which is shown in one of the pictures I posted. Once we reached the summit Gilah and I took in the 360 degree view. It was hazy out but we could still see neighboring summits and the garden towns below. After about 15 minutes we headed back down. Going down was the hard part because of all the loose rocks. Both Gilah and I took a few spills.

Once we arrived at base camp we had some noodles for a snack. Then around 8:40 we packed up and started the long trip down. The trail was very steep and had many rocks so we had to watch our footing. This made our descent slower than usual. On our way down we took a short break while Melis curiously stalked wild monkeys. These monkeys we not as forward as the domesticated road monkeys in Lombok so we only got see them from afar. We finally arrived at Selo (which had a huge Hollywood style sign that read “New Selo”) around 11:20am. The car ride home was beautiful, there were fields of local farms with lush gardens surrounding the base of Merapi. Upon arriving back in Yogya Melis and I splurged the 4 dollars and enjoyed hour and a half massages. Good times!

There are a few other peaks I am planning on climbing once I return in July:

Bromo (East Java)

Rinjani (Lombok)

Agung (Bali)

Kinabalu (Borneo)

Anyone down to come out and do some climbing? Porters are 9 dollars a day and Melis said she’s willing to do it for 5!

Merapi (Fire Mountain) is one of, if not the most, active volcanoes in Indonesia. Click here for more information on Merapi.

Elevation start: 5,600 feet

Base Camp / Plateau: 8,550 feet

Summit / Top of Crater: 9,606 feet

Start time: 1am

Plateau: 4:45am

Summit: 7:00am

Return: 11:20am

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Surfing off Gili (Trawangon)

Damn I got a wicked sunburn. Today I went surfing at the southern portion of Trawongan, one of the Gili Islands. I rented a 7 foot board that was weathered and beat up. To my surprise it did a pretty good job. The surf break was out over a reef. It was a very fast right. I paddled out over crystal clear water looking down at the coral and other sea creatures beneath. I had to paddle a good 120 feet just to get to the breakers, and at that point the water was only 4 feet deep! The reef was sharp and hard to walk out on. I also had to be careful and try not to land head first on the reef. After a short ride or so I was in 3 feet of water. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, however, it was well overhead and it was a reef bottom, not a sandbar like I am use to in So Cal. The waves were great and so were the locals. In my morning session there was only one other westerner out there, the rest were super chill locals. I didn’t get barreled but I saw a local get a sweet ride and get a picture perfect barrel, pretty cool to see in the water. After a while the tide started to kill the waves, I went in and Melis and I ate at Coco restaurant and had killer meatball sandwiches. I caught more waves during my late afternoon session, however, the waves were a lot smaller, head high with an occasional overhead set. Overall, the surf was great. I am so excited to get out there again.

Attached pics are from the beach where I surfed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Northern Lombok Waterfalls

Two days ago Melis and I took a tour of Northern Lombok. We used a guide from Perama travel services. We left our hotel (in senggigi) around 8am and went to local market to pick up some fruit and food for the daylong tour. Our first stop was to visit monkeys. These monkeys were very friendly however, all they wanted was food. There were monkeys all over the place. After 15 minutes with the monkeys we headed to a traditional village in Northern Lombok. It was very interesting to meet and see their traditional way of living, no electricity.

From there we headed to Sanaru, where we ate lunch over looking rice fields and a waterfall. We were about 1800 feet above see level so it was nice and cool. The food was terrible, but the abundance of beautiful lush scenery made up for it. After eating, our guide took us on a 15 minute hike down to the first of two waterfalls, Air Terjun Sindang Gila. From there we took pictures and relaxed for 10 minutes or so and then hiked (super mellow) for another 30 minutes to Air Terjun Tiu Kelep. This waterfall was breath taking. It was about 45 meters high with a powerful kick to it at the bottom. Melis and I both ventured out to the swimming hole beneath the waterfall were we got blasted by the spray (see photo). Melis did score style points for slipping on her bum near the waterfall. I turned around and saw melis cracking up on her back. She looked like a white spider with her white limbs flopping around, trying to regain traction. On our way back down our guide took us through a 30 meter stretch of a water tunnel. It was awesome. We walked through knee to thigh high running water through the tunnel which was pitch black at times. I saw a bat fly out of the tunnel when we entered it, luckily Melis didn’t see it.

After the waterfalls Melis and I had a 2 hour ride back to Senggigi. We got a chance to take in the northen country side of Lombok, we also stopped for drinks a bar on a beach to watch the sunset. Beautiful.

By far and away the best part of the tour was the waterfall trek. It was great. I could have spent all day there taking photos and swimming in the water. Good times.

Off to the Gili Islands….