Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sorry Not This Time Around Chindiana....

It's 5am and we're stuck 2/3rds up Gunung Agung at about 2,530 meters.. We're perched on some volcanic rocks trying to shield ourselves from the freezing wind. We're cold, wet and a little hesitant about conditions. Gus had twisted his back when he almost slipped of some wet rocks below, an American who was ahead of us had turned back saying that the wind was too strong and her body tempreture was dropping drastically. Her guide told ours that on the rocky outcrops on the volcano's crown the freezing rain water was falling like water falls making the rock slippery.

It had been raining from the moment we started our climb almost 5 hours ago. Waist down i was soaked as I did not have water proof pants and my thermals were absorbing way to much water. Yes, my balls were not happy campers.

I had not used my raincoat as it was too bulky and we needed to keep moving, using our hands to scramble up the almost 80 degree slope. My jacket was doing fine so far although the water was already soaking into my sleeves. We were not generating enough body heat especially the higher we got.

It was pitch dark if we turned off our torches. I could not even see my hand held out in front of me.

We though to wait out for the sunrise just where we were and try to hit the peak when the light hit. We were another two hours from day break and about another 1 and half to the peak. It was still drizzling. It would make no difference. My back was starting to protest and Gus also had a back problem. We made the call to finish up our prayers where we were and head down immedietely plus even the seasoned guide looked worried. We could always come back.

Our guide who was also a local priest did the prayers. Lighting joss sticks and preparing the simple offerings of flowers and water to the gods of Bali, Gus and I tried our best to kneel and pray on the side of the mountain ( we both couldn't, my back's pain had caught up and we were both stiff as boards) . Gus said his quiet prayer and I just apologised for unwittingly pissing them off in whatever way i may have but promised it was not on purpose. After all before this early morning there was no rain on Agung for a month. It seemed that we were 'lucky'.

The wind is now full on. It's freezing. My water proof boots were sufferring the most interesting of situations. My soaked thermals were dripping water THROUGH my shoe collar, running down my ankles into the shoe. Pretty soon I was scrambling down with my toes now enjoying a freezing dip in an icy pool of water in a water proof shoe that did not allow the water to get out. Now THIS was unexpected. It was way to cold to even stop so i just kept moving down.

I move ahead as I badly need to pee and feel weird doing it on the sacred mountain. The jarring down the mountain was hell on my knees but the worse if I stopped too long. The guide stays with Gus and I move down as much as I can. Now it gets fun, the soil and rocks are loose and I spend a fair bit of time on my ass. When i hit the forest its a slalom ride down as I slide down muddy sludge and weaving around tree roots and ravines.

I reach the bottom. As I moved past the last trees of the forest, spires appeared through the mists. This was stunning. I did not imagine the temple was so huge. We did not see this temple in the pitch dark when we arrived. I only saw a small shrine past a door only lit by our torches in what seemed an eternity ago.

I stop and take it in. It was just me, in a jungle looking onto a sacred temple enveloped by the morning mists. No regrets at not reaching the peak. I can go back again. This was a spititual moment. How often do you come out of a forest to a view of silent towers waiting for you as the day breathes its firsts breath of a brand new day?

I move down further, I think I take a wrong turn. My directions are way off as we were navigating in pitch darkness earlier. I end up at the side of the temple, at a slender path at the edge of the mountain. The sun breaks through. The South of Bali warms up far below me. It's stunning. I lean on the temple's wall behind me and just take it in. My back hurts, my knees are sore and my thighs are in a state of pissed off pain. But it's so peaceful. The mists behind me in the forests hides the unseen myriad of birds that still sing out their morning songs. A cool wind rustles leaves around me and dries the rain and sweat from my face.

No mountain peak is fine for me today.


Nex said...

I wanna ikut next time you go...

J said...

What an adventure! :) Pity you couldn't make it up the mountain tho...

Now time for a full body massage!

Chindiana said...

Nex! we might try again in two months time. Get fit pronto!

J! well adventure was not what's on your mind. Just went with the flow unless you count shivering your nuts off in the bitter cold as an adventure.

I DID get a massage. Body scrub and um.... facial some more (it was part of the package)

wait... you dont hv nuts.... sorry

Nex said...

wah in 2 mths how to get cheap tix man? >.<

Han Solo said...

Nice!!!! I like this :)
Have fun!

C. Andres Alderete said...

Very interesting, man. I wish we had more culture here in the US.

Chindiana said...

Aiya Nex, Just Do It! Dont think! Live la vida loca!

Thanks Solo! I will! when i get to the top, come down, hit a spa, eating crispy duck by vast green rice field with the wind blowing through my hair THEN the fun will be complete! Of course there will be the consumption of copious amounts of booze somewhere in between.

Carlos, guess depends on how you look at it. Besides the American culture which is more a cultural lifestyle i think you've got a myriad of cultures to enjoy from all the nationalities from all over the world now residing in the States. (although some might dilute their cultures to fit in)

J said...

Of course I don't! :P