Life Lessons From 3726 Metres Above The Sea

Climbing the second highest volcanic mountain in Indonesia, Rinjani, was probably the craziest, or the most impulsive, thing I have done so far. Through the last three months of preparation of routine cardio workout, my mental and physique was tested last week. Through the steep stones, sun-burnt skin and sore legs I learned quite a few things about life.

What I learned from my hike to the top of Rinjani was pretty much like my walk in this twenty something path. I began my hike thinking that it’s all about me. I was always the fastest in our group,  I got separated from the rest of the group so easily. I climbed to the top with the fastest pace. All I thought was that I can do things on my own. I didn’t need the help of others. I took for granted the company of others.

That was until I started to feel extreme pain on my thighs and I had nobody to share my problems with. My bottle was running out of water. All I could do was sit down and pray. At least, for someone to pass through and share with me just a sip of water. Gratefully, that was what happened. As I calmly massaged my thighs, a random guy passed through and share with me his bottled water.

Long story short, I was being reminded to appreciate the company of others. There was no pleasure in being at the top alone and not having other people to share the magnificent view with.

At the end of every journey, it is best to reflect and look for lessons from it. A journey is wasted if you come back the same as you were. Be it a shopping journey to Bangkok or a discovery trip to Alaska, never come back without learning something new. A refreshing holiday is so much overrated. What’s better is a holiday filled with self discovery and life revelation.

Now that the trip is all over, I miss the hike. I miss sweating like hell during the hike. I miss sleeping in the tent. I even miss getting lost in the dark when we got separated from the group. To sum it all up, I miss feeling so alive. That was the liveliest or the fullest moment that I ever felt as a human being so far, I guess. The adrenaline rush was exceptional. The exhaustion was priceless. The determination to fight your own thoughts was irreplaceable.

After two days of hiking, and arrogantly conquered the first half of The Seven Hills of Regret, I made it to the last post called Plawangan at around 4PM. Sea of colorful tents welcomed me warmly. Unaccountable other hikers were already there settling in their tents.

The first thing I did when I arrived at Plawangan was walking to the nearest spring to shower. Sadly, I couldn’t take a shower and get ourselves refreshed. I had to be content and grateful that I could at least washed my hands and brushed my teeth. It’s been two days without shower, and apparently I had to bear another two days without it. Well, at the end, a total four days of no shower was totally worth it.

A good rest was very much needed, because I had to wake up at 1 AM and started hiking at 2 AM. So, after spending the afternoon playing some games with the other hikers in our group, photo hunting, and having a decent dinner, I decided to hit the bed (read: sleeping bag and thermal mattress) early. By 7 PM, we were already inside our tent trying to sleep.

The downside of sleeping inside a tent is that you can actually hear anything that happens around you. That includes a loud chatter from the other tents. I had trouble sleeping and found myself still wide awake two hours later, because all the other tents near us were so unbelievably noisy. They simply couldn’t stop talking.. until about 10 PM.

At that point, I already got a bit cranky but there was nothing I can do. It was not a luxurious five star hotel, it was a public space and there was no certain rule on what you can or can’t do. But let me give you the first unwritten rule of hiking: Please be considerate of others, especially at night when people are already craving to have a good sleep. Turn down your volume, stop talking, turn off your music.

My alarm went off at 1 AM, waking me up with so much excitement. The feeling that you’re about to go hike a very high place for hours in the middle of the night was just indescribable. I immediately sat down, put on my headlamp, my hiking shoes, grabbed my bottled water, camera, and went out of the tent. A little tip for you, make sure you went to bed with the clothes that you will wear for the summit attack. This would save a lot of your time.

It was dark, but you can see hundreds of tiny dots coming from the headlamps that every hikers wore, making a very long line up to the highest point of Rinjani. At one point, I had trouble noticing whether it’s a headlamp or a little star in the blue sky because they actually looked the same.

First timers would take about 6 hours to make it to the top. I made it in 4,5 hours. That was the most intense 4,5 hours in my life.

I still remember walking 10 steps upward, and sitting down for 5 minutes just to regain my strength.

I still remember feeling very sweaty in the midst of a cold night because of the three layered clothes that I was wearing.

I still remember almost falling asleep in the middle of the dark during one of my 5 minutes rest.

I still remember not wanting to look up and deciding to fix my gaze on my feet, because every time I looked up I felt that the summit was so near yet at the same time very hard to be reached.

I still remember having the thought of giving up once I saw the sun rise. Not knowing that the summit was only about 10 minutes away from me.

I still remember that moment when I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? What have I gotten myself into?”

I still remember taking my phone out to play one of my Spotify playlists with the loudest volume just to boost my spirit.

I remember a lot of things. But the most wonderful memory I gained was the moment I put my feet on the highest ground of Rinjani. The moment I sat down and enjoyed the scenery from 3726 metres above sea level.

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I'm mostly busy making memories through photography, writing, and being one of the creative hustlers in @kataimaji.

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