Monday, June 7, 2010

2,958 Meters Above Sea Level

I went through my photo files and found some photos I’d like to share. They are of my mountain trekking adventure in 2006, when I was still working for law-based website HoC. I took the text from my previous blog, but made a slight change to squeeze in information here and there. So here it goes, hope you like it.

It began with a simple advertisement in HoC mailing list, posted by Rzk.

“In an effort to implement Puri people’s hidden aspiration, I hereby disclose a hiking plan dubbed as Puri Goes to Nature – National Park Gede Pangrango (PGtN). This idea has been discussed informally between HoC, LeIP and PSHK. FYI, in 2002, we already held PGtN with limited participants (Rzk, Erni, Tita, Ersus and several FHUI students). So, if you want to know 'how good Gede-Pangrango is?' please ask the people mentioned above. (For an interview with Rzk, please provide some refreshment)"

And so the information was read, but no one expressed interests to join the event. Then there were a series of persuasive begging and crying on bended knees performed by the poster. I was still not buying the idea, until the last straw was out: Rzk promised that he would climb the mount naked.

Hmm, that should be interesting, I thought. And suddenly I found myself on the bus to Taman Nasional Gede Pangrango with 10 other persons. Naah, I decided to join Gede-Pangrango climbing just to try new experience for I've never climbed a mountain.

March 31, 2006

Getting the permission from M&D turned out to be very simple. I just packed my backpack and on the D-day I said, "M&D, I'm going to Gede-Pangrango. Will be back on Sunday. Love you. Pray for me. Assalamualaikum." Before they even said a word, I kissed their hands and fled. What a strategy!

There were 11 people in our group : Me, Rzk, Mbak Lismei, Mbak Whied, Abah, Hanif, Ucup, Asep, Linda, Bleem, Anwar. I sat on the back rows of the bus. Beside me was Mbak Whied. It was already 22.20. But we spent the ride talking, remembering our college days.

We arrived at Cibodas just when the clock struck midnight. We had dinner in a warteg, where Whied was baptized as dangdut singer Vetty Vera. Well, she does look a bit like the singer. Then we went to Green Ranger, a base camp for the mountaineers with Spartan equipment. No bed, no carpet, so we used our sleeping bags (SB).

The owner warned us not to go downstairs because there was a wolf outside.  A big bad wolf? I was not sure if it was really a wolf, but there was a big, black creature curled at the base of the stairs. But that animal didn't emit any sound during the night. Maybe it got stressed hearing our noises.

April 1, 2006

We woke up in the morning and packed up our stuffs. Let me tell you something. It took the fist of a boxer to put SB into its place. We had breakfast before we hit the track. We started around 08.30. We smiled, sang and did every sort of joking.

Abah really got Whied into laughter everytime he imitated Rhoma Irama's tone : "OK, people in that corner. Want some water?" It got me giggling, too. Especially seeing that pink bandanna he was wearing. "By the way, my underpants are pink too," said Abah. I was too afraid to ask why.

Gede - Pangrango is closed from December to March every year. So the day we started the trekking was the first day it was re-opened after three months of annual forest hibernation. The air was fresh. It rained a bit, so we put on our raincoats, but the rest was OK. The view was wonderful, the air was fresh, I felt great. We passed the Blue Lake, The Waterfall, and the track was still OK.


But then, the track got rougher. Lismei, Whied and I barely caught our breaths, but those guys kept singing, smiling and joking. What are these people? Demi gods or semi devils? Especially Rzk who carried two bags, his and Whied's, and still managed to keep his fast pace without even losing a breath. Wow.

Just around midday, Whied commented that my face was as white as paper. Abah offered, "What about if I carry your stuff?" I thought for a moment and agreed to the idea. "Thanks, Abah. You suddenly became the most handsome man of the day."

Two steps after, the handsome factor moved to Hanif, because Abah gave my backpack to him. "I know I'm already handsome. Hanif need it more than me," Abah said.
It rained again around 15.00. I buttoned up my raincoat and continued walking. My eyes became a bit hazy, I was not aware that I was alone in the middle of the fog. The guys in front had walked too fast but I've left Whied behind with Hanif and Mas Anwar.

As I walked slowly, hoping that Whied caught my pace, the great waterfall of hot spring welcomed me. I started to feel warmth on my shoes, while my nose was cold because of rain. I walked forward and voila! I saw the valley on my right and hot sizzling water pouring from two big holes on my left.

It's a very small track and I couldn't stop too long. I took the rope on the safety railing, began to pray and stepped forward. Alhamdulillah, I arrived safely on the other side and was able to join those guys at the next shelter. Whied joined us much later.

After the rain had stopped, we continued. But thanks God we decided to camp at a flat ground not far from the hot spring. I was freezing to death, all my clothes were wet and my feet didn't feel like my feet anymore.

So, the tents were built, four of them. I changed my shirt at Bleem's tent, changed my trousers at Anwar's but Abah's tent was the biggest. I sneaked in and put my SB. "Abah, may I sleep here tonight?" Abah nodded while stirring the rice in the pan.

As I was enjoying my new haven, Rzk showed on the tent door. "We'll continue to the summit tomorrow. You can make it, can't you?" he said. [Argh! Thank you for ruining my peaceful moment by reminding me to what I should endure the next day!] I just smiled from the inside of my SB,"OK, but slowly."

Abah's tent was very good to attract girls. Soon, Whied and Lismei followed me. So there were five of us in one tent : Abah, Hanif, Whied, Lismei and me. Rzk’s and Anwar’s tent was on the east side of our tent. Ucup’s and Asep’s was on the south side. While Linda’s and Bleem’s was a bit far on the west side.

I did my first pee in the mountain after the sunlight had gone. It's the worst part of the trip! I guess I'm just a city girl who is used to use a clean and properly covered toilet.

Lismei fell asleep very fast. But the four of us kept talking and  joking around. The object of our discussion was Ucup. According to Abah and Hanif, Ucup usually woke up in the middle of the night, sensed the smell of food from the other tents and finished the food while while the tents' residents were asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night because there was a man asking for a shelter to wait for his friend. Unfortunately, our tent was full, we had to turned him down. I woke up several times that night. Once I saw Hanif sat upright. Lost in his thought, I presumed. Then, I woke up again and he still sat. When I asked him in the morning, he confessed that he was thinking whether doing the pee or not, because it's 01.00. Huahaha...

April 2, 2006

"Tif! Are you ready for the summit?" Rzk yelled from his tent.
"It's raining!" I yelled back at him.
"So what?" he said.

That guy must be crazy. But since he showed no signs of letting me get away, we had a quick breakfast. I packed my daypack and prepared for another painful day. There were only four people left at the camping ground : Whied, Ucup, Hanif and Abah.

We started around 09.00. We reached Kandang Badak around 10.00. Going upward, the trees were getting shorter and the sky was getting clearer. But the oxygen was getting thinner too. 

Everybody was ahead of me. Only me and Anwar left on the back. He's really patient. Just when I thought I had reached the summit, Rzk said,"It's not the summit. We still had to walk 10 minutes more. We're just resting for a few minutes." Oh no!

Kang Asep was mixing some beverages in his Aqua bottle. Kang Asep is jack of all trades. He can cook, he can sing, he can massage reflexive. And now, he became a sudden bartender! I tasted it. Ewww, what was it? A bit of sour, sweet, bitter and salty? He also persuaded Lismei and I to try a blue fruit which grows on top of the mountain. "It's called cantigi," he said.

The wind was blowing very hard, the rain was swirling around me, and the soil I stepped on was crumbling down. I rested a few times behind cantigi shrubs. I looked down the mountain, and I saw nothing but whiteness. The fog hugged the mountain like a blanket. It felt like between heaven and earth.

And finally, I made it! With a face of a dying person [that's how Rzk described my face at the moment], I walked staggeringly to a sitting group and rested my butt. Ahh, so this is how it feels when you reach the summit? So relieve and happy.

We opened our bag and ate the logistic. Took some photographs.  Joked around. Lismei and I put on The Body Shop’s jojoba moisturizer with SPF15. [Hey, I'm a city girl, remember?]

On the way back to the camping ground, I tripped down twice, both on the left side. Ouch, my left butt surely became black and blue after that. We reached the camping ground around 17.00. We packed our stuffs, put down the tents and prepared for going home. But Linda and Bleem stayed.

We started going down around 18.00. The going down was much faster than the climb up. The scary part was the hot spring. After we had passed that, everything seemed OK. The journey across the mountain at night was very mystical. The nocturnal animals came out, making a beautiful voice yet eerie. It rained again.

We reached the bottom of the mountain at 23.30. When we got into a warteg, Whied, Ucup, Rzk and I fell to a bed. Whied and Ucup straightened their back but Rzk and I hanged our feet to the walls. And that's when the moment of truth came. I saw a red dot on my left ankle.

"That's a leech. Hurry, check your body. Maybe there are more of them," said Rzk.

I went to the bathroom and made quick observation. Thank God, nothing more but that one on my ankle. We dined, got into a bus which took us to Kampung Rambutan, then we went separate ways. I took a Blue Bird taxi to Bekasi and I arrived home at 03.00 a.m. 

Wow, what an adventure. It is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life. Such a beautiful sights, wonderful friends and great experience, too.

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