Our Rinjani Trekking mini series:Extra: How to choose a reliable trekking Company
The first half a day of our expedition was already gone and we were trekking toward the ridge of the crater of Mount Rinjani where we were supposed to camp for the night.
While the first part of the route was quite mild and enjoyable, more of a warm up than a serious trek, after POS 3 the path definitely took a spike toward the sky, and we were gaining altitude much faster.
Hiking towards the ridge
The landscape also got nicer and nicer as we were getting higher: not that it wasn't beautiful before, but now “Impressive” was the only word we could find to describe it: looking on our backs there were green bumpy cliffs ploughed through by the solidified lava flow that created a canyon like structure with steep walls, and the green valley covered in grassland standing on the background.
While the sandy and slippery trail brought us further, some of the tourists started to struggle on the steep route, and they were easily overtaken by the omnipotent porters, carrying so easily their load of sufferance.In some parts the path was prohibitive and we had to climb on all our fours to overtake the undigested ground trying to keep us away form our promised land.
By this time we were inside the clouds, and we could feel the difference from the burning sun of the Savannah to the foggy humid climate of this higher altitude.
Views and camping area from the ridge
We kept going as long as we could, stopping for small breaks when needed and around 3:30 pm, that meant longer than 7 hours after we started, we eventually reached the top of the ridge where we would have spent our first night, Sembalun Rim at 2650 meters.
From here the top (Puncak) of Mount Rinjani was already visible, waiting for us to be climbed in the middle of the night. At a first sight it wouldn't look like a difficult ascend, but we would find out later that our impressions were wrong.
A suggestive picture welcomed us at the camping area: we eventually made it on top of the clouds, and the sun, peeping through this volatile white mousse, was kissing us with its rays. It was a nice feeling to sense the warmth of the light again, now that it was getting chillier.
There were already an incredible number of tents set up for the night, and while our team was searching for a good spot to settle, we were enjoying the view and breathing our deserved moment of bliss. The sun was still relatively high, but it wouldn't have taken much until he would set behind the promontory.
In parallel with this magic reality was also a more mundane truth: piles of garbage left in the camping area, with improvised dumpsters incredibly close to the trekkers's tents. Once again, if we didn't stress it enough in the other articles, make sure not to fund an irresponsible company and ask specifically to collect all of your waste.
We were happy to be provided with a “toilet tent”, basically just a curtain protecting a hole in the ground where to dump the remaining of your previous meals. It takes a little bit of time to get comfortable with it, but in the end you start to appreciate its advantages.
The area was so crowded that the “toilets” were just a few steps away from the other tents, but at least we were not disseminating our droppings along the route as other trekkers were doing, and we were keeping a minimum of privacy. It wasn't pleasant to just stumble upon a collective toilet while taking a walk before sunset.
Sunset from the crater rim in Rinjani Volcano
Around 5pm the sun started to set and at the same time the clouds were clearing up, revealing on their back the Lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea Lake) several hundreds meters straight there below us. We could enjoy this outstanding sunset in the first row of the audience while tasting a warm cup of tea and sitting on our camping chairs.
By 6pm it was totally dark and we had to back to our camping location using our flashlights. We were ready for our evening meal, that while not comparable to a wedding dinner, was still reinvigorating and filling.
Once finished with our dinner we got ready for a short but deserved rest. We would have awoken at 1 a.m. to climb to the summit of Rinjani, so we had to use every minute available.
But just before being welcomed in our night dreams, a last look at the sky revealed us the beauty of the clear starry sky and the milky way in all of its splendor. We were far away from civilization and Mother Nature was showing up in its primordial beauty.
Back in our tents, we tested our sleeping arrangements, and we were happy to see that we were reserved thick comfy mattresses and a spacious tent where to properly gather some energy before waking up in the middle of the night to attempt to summit Mount Rinjani.