I hiked a volcano!
And not just any volcano! I attempted Bali’s highest and most challenging….Mount Agung at 3,000 meters (9,800 feet). I did the Pura Pasar southern route. There’s another route that’s supposed to be more difficult on the western side (umm, no thank you!)
A little info about Mount Agung:
Mount Agung is a sacred mountain in Bali. The most important temple, Pura Besakih, is located at the base of the mountain, and there are many religions ceremonies held here. Agung is an active volcano that last erupted in 1963. That eruption killed more than 1,500 people. There are no facilities on the mountain (toilets, water, or garbage bins). Sadly, there’s a lot of litter around from people climbing over the years.
Happy to say I made it to the top!! My guide says about 70% of people do. Near the beginning of the hike there was one person coming back down with their guide. Not gonna lie….I seriously considered that myself after being tired within the first 30 minutes, but kept going one step at a time.
The journey started at midnight, so I arrived at the mountain sleep deprived, feeling sick from the car ride, and seriously questioning my decision to do this. We started hiking around 2 am. It took us just over 4 hours to the top, and 6 hours coming back down.
What makes Agung challenging is the rocky and steep terrain. There are no switchbacks or flat parts to be found. It’s only straight up. It takes much concentration not to slip and take a tumble down the mountain, so I watched where I stepped very carefully. Most of the hike requires climbing along rocks and using your hands for stability. I also attempted it during rainy season, which is not ideal. It only rained for the last 15 minutes, thankfully, but parts of it were pretty damp and misty. Overall, pretty good conditions for this time of year. And it was quite windy and cold at the summit.
In the clouds for sunrise:
Only after arriving at the top did I see what I climbed during the night! And I’m glad it happened that way, otherwise I’m not not sure I would have made it, haha. Nearly everyone who hikes Agung does it during the night. Due to weather patterns on the mountain, it’s ideal to arrive for sunrise (although some people camp overnight). Climbing in the darkness forces you to look right in front of you, and take one step after another….so that’s what I focused on doing, just one small step at a time.
What goes up, must come down! The excitement of making it to at the top was quickly replaced with the realization that I was now halfway done.
Much thanks to my guide Gede for getting me there (and back!) safely, and being ever willing to stop for breaks. He could always be counted on for entertaining singing, and offers of delicious cookies. I also carried lots of snacks and water with me (no one could ever accuse me of being caught without snacks), but it turns out I wasn’t hungry for most of the hike. Pretty sure my body was in shock.
Two photos of Gede below:
Long ways down:
This guy followed us for a bit. He was hoping for food (sorry buddy).
Signs of civilization near the base were a very welcome sight:
Overall, this experience was so rewarding, but so glad it was over. The last hour and a half was pretty miserable. Every step hurt, and my knees and ankles ached. Most people say going down is the harder part. You’re so tired, but the trail keeps going and going, and you have no choice but to continue. I told myself I was getting a two hour massage once it was over (and I did!)…..so that motivated me as well 🙂
This was our group for the hike down…all looking very tired and out of it:
If you’re interested, here’s a link to various images of Agung.
Looking back I think this hike was the perfect challenge/fitness level for me. It was difficult, but not out of reach. It was by far the the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever attempted. Any more and I’m not sure I would have made it (without more training at least). Came away with just a few scrapes on my hands and legs, so I’ll call that a success. Today my whole body hurts, and I’m quite slow moving. One person asked me if I was okay when going down steps earlier, haha.
Up next is Australia. I’ve only heard wonderful things! I’m kinda sad to be leaving Asia after spending three months here, but now it’s back to the Western world for this girl. Australia….here I come! XO, Melissa