Descending From an Indonesian Volcano

Continuing From The Climb

Sarah at the Top of Mount Batur, Bali, Indonesia

Sarah at the Top of Mount Batur

We had made it! Our legs ached and it was a bit chilly but we were basking in the glow you get from accomplishing something that challenges you and pushes your boundaries. We had made it to the peak of Mount Batur and we were starving. Apparently there is a tradition here that says at the top your guide must prepare you a meal of steamed eggs and bananas in one of the volcano’s steam vents and he did. Okay, it wasn’t exactly gourmet fare but given how hungry we were it was certainly welcomed and we gobbled down about three eggs and three banana sandwiches each. Even the instant coffee and tea tasted pretty good under the circumstances. We were enjoying the panoramic views of Bali and other far away islands and enjoying the company of our fellow hikers, but eventually we had to leave.

The Narrow Trail on Top of the Mount Batur Volcano Cone

The Narrow Trail on Top of the Mount Batur Volcano Cone

You always hear stories about the challenges of climbing up mountains but rarely do you hear about the decent. As we started southwest from the summit we quickly became aware that the decent might not be as physically demanding but would require a different kind of strength. Leaving from this point necessitated that we walk a trail, sometimes less than a foot wide, along the spine of the crater with 100 meter drop-offs on both sides. There was nothing to hold onto and the wind was starting to pick up and trying to blow us off balance. I was grateful for the morning light that I needed to see the trail but it did make graphically visible what would happen if I made a misstep.

Admiring the Vista From Mount Batur Volcano

Admiring the Vista From Mount Batur Volcano

There were a few people who opted to turn around and retrace their steps back to the bottom. Honestly I admired the bravery it took for them to admit this wasn’t for them and turn around. This was no place for acrophobics. We had opted to take the longest route but didn’t realize that it involved this sort of terrain. It was truly beautiful and I never really felt too scared but I did use a lot of caution. I did manage to make a few images along the way but on the narrower and steeper parts I was too afraid to raise the camera for fear of losing my footing when I took the shot. We could smell sulfur from the earth and see the steam from even more numerous vents now. It was almost otherworldly.

The View from Mount Batur

Mount Agung Dominates the View Descending from Mount Batur. You Can Just Make Out the Rest Stop Where We Saw the Monkeys near the Middle

Eventually we descended — sometimes climbing down hand over hand on bare rock face, sometimes trudging and sliding along paths covered in fine black ash, other times along wide, well groomed trails — into a rough lava field that was formed only a decade ago. The hardest part was over and soon we found ourselves at a developed rest area filled with monkeys.

This is the Little Thief That Stole My Water

This is the Little Thief That Stole My Water

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to be stumbling across monkeys in Asia but it does seem sometimes that they are as common here as squirrels are in the United States. Squirrels are pretty cunning and mischievous but just image if you gave them bigger brains and opposable thumbs. I was tired and I was thirsty but one of these pesky primates thought they needed my bottle of water more than I did, stole it from my bag and then posed for the camera while he drank it. It was a funny way to end another great day of this retirement adventure!

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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