WHACK! WHACK! The wind was blowing so hard that our tent nearly blew away and the poles were flexing so far that they were whacking me in the face. This awoke me from my slumber, but I merely rolled over so the poles would strike the side of my head and not my face. These are the actions of an exhausted person, made apathetic from two days of trekking.
Like the night before, during the night the wind picked up on the slopes of Mt. Rinjani and dirt and ash swirled all through our tent, but this time it was 10 times worse. After only a few minutes of the high winds, I wiped a finger across my face to realize I was already covered in a layer of dirt. I looked like a resident of Pompeii, circa 79 A.D.
Lynn, a Belgian girl who camped with us, actually had her tent blown away in the night. Her guide slept in the tent with her to help weigh it down. Convenient for him.
As I tried to sleep through the pole smacking and wind, I was unaware of one unsettling fact: two different forest fires were burning right outside our tents. My nose was stuffed up so I didn’t smell the smoke, but Kristi and Ellen woke up in the middle of the night after smelling smoke and asked our guide what we should do. He was unconcerned. Exhausted and really not that bothered about dying since it would spare us more hiking, the girls went back to sleep as imminent death burned all around us.
I woke up the next morning, brushed my teeth in the cold and noticed that trees and grass in the vicinity were charred black. I was happy that I didn’t know.
After breakfast, we started the most boring and satisfying leg of the hike. We hiked straight down the mountain, through tropical rainforest, down sandy slopes. I think all of us slipped and fell at least twice, but that was okay. We were moving downhill, and that was glorious.
We encountered hikers who were on their way up the mountain, in the first hours of their three-day trek. They smelled of soap and shampoo and perfume and reeked of optimism. In a few hours they’d no doubt be a miasma of body odor, sunscreen, bug spray and suffering, their clothes saturated with sweat and that look of optimism on their face replaced with pain. BRUHAHAHAHAHA!!! I thought about their suffering and laughed maniacally.
We stopped at the park entrance and our porters prepared us one last ginormous lunch. Sarah was there, all clean and effervescent. She’d probably used 100 wet wipes again.
Down the mountain, we got a taxi and a boat over to Gili Air- a perfectly flat island ringed by beaches and surrounded by translucent water.
Part of the joy of travel is deprivation. I had never been so dirty before, in need of a shower so badly. I hadn’t used a toilet in three days (too much information) and really wanted a proper bed. In real life I’d never go three days without a shower while wearing the same filthy clothes. Two days, sure. But three? Never. Being back in civilization makes the every day things we take for granted so wonderfully luxurious.
I scrubbed away three days of sunscreen, sweat, volcanic ash, dirt, sand and suffering. My hair was a matted mangy mess, resembling a stray dog in the slums of Calcutta. I had to wash my hair three times to return it to its former glory.
Clean, we went to a Perfect Tropical Beach, ordered a large beer and sipped it in the shadow of Rinjani. Looking up at the towering volcano, a sense of pride warmed my body. “I conquered that #$%^ of a mountain,” I thought. “And I’ll never do it again.”
Have you trekked Rinjani or done other multi-day hikes?
If so, why do you torture yourself?