It was a 6.30am rise and brekky at Anak Rinjani together with my new pals and we were picked up, notably later than any other group, by a driver for our trek. We met the rest of the team, a Swiss free diver who lived in Gilli T, a French photographer, us three (French and Dutch couple) and soon to arrive two Slovenian girls coming from Gilli Air. We had a one hour drive in the back of a ute to Sembalum where we would start our trek, which gave us time to get to know one another. Everyone was sound aside from some internal intuition that the French photographer had something suspect about him. Taking up all the room in the ute, lacking social skills by interrupting people mid conversation and constantly rolling his eyes back into his head with no clarity in his eyes like he was stoned or ill, I became instantly guarded and sceptical.
Anyway, after our registration, the first set of check points were reasonably simple with a steady ratio of hill and flat. The first check point was 45 minutes, with a small break. The second was just over an hour and the third only half an hour. This got us up to over 1500m where we stopped to have lunch. We had made head way pretty quickly so had to wait for the porters to arrive. The guide was with the two girls who were coming late and meeting us at the lunch check point. Eventually we ate lunch and the weather became slightly moist due to the precipitation at cloud level. We then had to wait longer for the new arrivals to eat but we eventually set off all together for the next 3 hour climb.
We were told this would be difficult but we didn’t realise the gravity of the words! The climb was mostly using roots and rocks as steps. The views on the way up to the finishing area were complete greenery. We had more and more breaks as we got closer to the top as our legs were so tired, but we couldn’t stop for long as our sweat slicked bodies became quickly cold. We broke through the cloud walking up this portion of today’s trek. It took a lot of determination to keep the pace going and it did occur to me that I had taken on a hard task; nothing was going to stop me accomplishing my goal, not even the blisters I could feel occurring on my feet that I had been ignoring for the past few hours…
At the top, the porters set up camp and we took in our surroundings. Low and behold someone was actually selling Bintangs at the top so after a hard day we indulged with a beng-beng.
We forgot to get any firewood on the way up so we went out looking for some with not much luck. It seems the other teams had been slightly more intelligent than us! It was bloody freezing and our fire wasn’t going too well, thankfully dinner was ready so we ate up, had a hot tea and got into bed for an early night before our early rise of 1.30am for the ascent.