Mount Kerinci

I remember like it was yesterday. The climb, the lush vegetation, the smell and the pain. Everything. I feel when I was sick climbing up. I thought I’ll never make it. And in the end.? Only 2 of us made it… it was a fantastic experience, I’d suggest to all to try to conquer the great Mt Kerinci. ☺️

‘And we are back,nothing ate or hurt us -other than little falls-. I’m gonna write this story as it happened,so day 1-2-3 and today

Day 1:

Probably most horrible trip we’ve ever had. As you all know,we wanted to visit Kerinci mountain/volcano in Kersik Tuo. The bus picked us up in time which is very rare in these countries. It was a mini bus for 12 people. We got in and we thought we stop picking up some other people and go. We did stop..and they asked us to change bus. Off we went but we wanted our luggage. Turned out that the guy was dizzy, we didn’t actually have to change bus so we went back. I was laughing by this time cos no one seem to know what’s going on,they didn’t speak in English and we weren’t sure we get where we want to. Hours drive later turned out,one of the bus driver spoke like a mini English and he said, we are going to Sungai Penuh and then we have to change bus there to Kersik Tuo. The bus ride was horrible, I could barely sleep and at some point I was afraid we are either gonna drive off or slip off the road or simply crash. That’s how our crazy driver drove. About 9-10 hours later,we arrived to Sungai but as usual, no one could really tell us where we have our next bus from. There was a ranger on the bus,spoke very little English, he helped us taking the right bus which was driven by an other very crazy driver. Imagine this: a mini bus, 9 people can sit in. When we saw it,I thought it won’t even start,let alone drive an hour. The bus was rusty, it looked like it could fall apart in any second. But we didn’t have any other choice, that was the public bus to Kerinci national park. I was horrified how the guy drove but we survived. Got to the place, we payed a ridiculous amount of money (250,000IDR) , he showed us where is a home stay and he drove off. We started to walk where we thought the hostel will be. Of course the one time we should have, we didn’t book anything. We walked for a good 2 hours (and it’s a VERY small village), checked every house but apart from one saying Homestay, nothing else. We tried to check our Lonely Planet book, nothing inside. No wifi,my phone died so we couldn’t check anything. There is no coffee shop here or any places uses wifi. We started struggle and think about alternative ideas in case we won’t find anything (keep in mind,it was like 6.30-7am and we were knackered). As we walked back to the way the guy showed us the home stay earlier, we found a place where it seemed someone speaks in English. Well,they tried at least. They said there is a home stay just about 500m from there. A home stay which wasn’t open….so we continued walking to the new direction and checked the one the guy said. It turned out it’s open. As we walked in, there was a western couple,I asked them who I should speak to if I need a room. They showed me the kitchen so I knocked and asked about the room. An older man, called Subandi (as it turned out,that’s also the hostel’s name) straight away showed us the room and when we asked how can we get a guide if we want to go to the mountain, he said, just rest,I’ll organise something. So that what we did, we rest. The home stay is nice, very simple, there is no shower, you literally have a big bucket with cold water and a little plastic pan looking thing and you just pour water over yourself and that’s how you ‘shower’. I took it very delicately, just washed myself bits by bits like cats, Rich literally poured the whole bucket over his head…

In the afternoon, we went to the communal area and sort of waited till he comes out. He did and he also said, he can get a guide and we pay for a package which includes, entry fee to the NP, tent, sleeping bag,guide, food and 2 carrier guys who carried all of these. We only needed to carry our clothes and water. The whole package was 900,000IDR (~£60/person) which we thought is a very good price for all of this. As we were chatting, a couple came in the home stay and it turned out that they were looking for a trip the next day as well,so we actually went the 4 of us. They are from Germany and they are a very nice couple. We got dinner from Subandi’s wife (rice, chicken, egg, cabbage and potato) and we went to sleep.

Karsik Tuo is a very small village and as you walk along the main road, you see the giant mountain just on the other side. As I’m writing this, I can literally see the mountain from the window of the common area. People should got used to foreigners (even though we didn’t have any while we were here apart from us), they are still looking at us like they never seen a white person.

Day 2:

My legs are wobbly, they don’t listen anymore, they want to rest after 5.5 hours constant uphill walking. The last 2 hours was hard also, cold and wind started to visit us which didn’t make it easier. We supposed to stay in shelter 3 but because of the bad wind, we stay at shelter 2. I don’t think my legs were ever happier to hear this.

We woke up early morning today, got breakfast which was banana pancake and it was delicious. We left about 8.40ish. There was a car took us to the entrance of the NP and we started our walk. It started with a nice jungle walk, a bit up a bit straight but wasn’t too hard. That was till the second pit stop which was about 1.5-2 hours after we left. The actual walk is all the way in the jungle but there is no path, just what nature made and some people cleared the ‘jungle stuff’ (dead trees, ground greenery, etc). Which meant that we walked along massive vegetation, the steps were made of nature herself (I think she is a woman ), from the roots of the trees, dead trunks, rocks,etc. It started to be very hard after 2 hours or so and there was no straight or down,only up. Climbing trees, rocks, massive mud walls. It was fun until my legs started to give up plus at some point there was wind and cold mist coming down.

In the jungle we saw monkeys and heard gibbons. They were actually very close to us but I couldn’t see them. They were sooo loud, it was incredible. We saw lots of insects and birds as we walked along. No one spoke so we could be a part of nature with our own thoughts in our head. It was very nice and relaxing. We stopped for lunch which our home stay pre cooked (rice, chicken and cabbage – probably from yesterday). As weather turned very windy, our guide decided not to go up at shelter 3 where they normally camp -cos it’s an open shelter so nothing would cover us from the wind-, so we stopped at 2, at 2850m. It was windy too but we did have some cover from the trees on one side. We were very tired and ready to rest but we also were hungry so waited till our guides made us dinner which was rice of course, egg and some more chicken. ☺️ We then went into our tent but because it was still about 6-7pm,we didn’t go to sleep just yet. About half an hour later we heard lots of noises so I popped my head out and from the 3 tents we erected, it became at least 8-10 tents. There was a big group of students with their teachers and they were all around us.

We went to sleep about 9pm. It was freezing cold, I literally wore every single cloth I brought with me plus the probably only 2 season sleeping bag -Rich had a 1 season very thin one-. I tried to sleep. I probably fell asleep for half an hour, than woke up. Tried a different angle to sleep,again maybe 20 minutes deep sleep, awake again…and this went on till 3am, when we had to get up.

Day 3:

I’m feeling sick and I’m not sure if I can make this. I think I’m gonna just sit down, tell Rich to take some pics when he is up,but I can’t go any further.

We left about 3.30am after a nice tea and some biscuits. As we started to walk, I already felt sick. I felt weak and my legs didn’t work and I felt inner heat and like I can throw up in any seconds. I kept walking, I was the last in line, it was very hard. It was dark -we used head torches-, it was freezing, windy and I felt absolutely horrendous. But I kept climbing… before we reached shelter 3, I thought I’ll stay down here, I can’t make it, besides, one of the guide was waiting for us -as Rich helped me climb- because I was so slow. We got to shelter 3, I had a sip of water, I tried to breath deep and I decided,I won’t give up just yet. We walked more up and the bad feeling didn’t want to go away. I was so weak, at some occasions, Rich had to hold my back so I wouldn’t fall off a tree as we climbed from a lower level more up. And it just got worse after shelter 3 as there was no more cover from the trees, it was just the open air on the mountain. Every time we got to a nice point I thought we are finally there but we still had lots to go. I wasn’t sure if I’ll make it but I pushed. There was a point when the wind was so strong and cold, we couldn’t bare it. The German couple decided not to go further as they were so cold and it wasn’t raining but the mist and wind combo made us soaking wet. It was cold,windy,wet and I hated it. We were sitting by a massive mud wall using it as a shelter and we decided with Rich,if we came this far, we have to go to the summit. We started walking, my body was about to give up and the wind was constantly blowing me away. It was small gravel stones everywhere which made our shoes slippery. I fell once, hit my hand, stood up and kept fighting against Mother Nature. It took about 20 minutes to go to the summit, 3805m. As it was extremely cloudy and misty, we couldn’t see anything. Not the sunrise, nor the crater. Just white clouds and the sign: Kerinci, 3805m. Richard’s hands were absolutely frozen, so I took my IPad out and asked him to take a pic. He literally took one quick photo and said, let’s go. I insisted to take one of him but by that time 2 Indonesian arrived and they wanted photo with him, so I took the same one they did. Then we started to walk back.

Just a quick side note: You won’t see too many photos of this trip. There are 2 reasons. As we were walking on a natural trail and I had to hold onto trees, branches, mud walls, etc, I couldn’t hold my ipad if I didn’t want to have it destroyed. The other reason is when we got up to the summit and I took my iPad out, it got extremely wet from mist in seconds. I took 3 photos and it was wet everywhere. So I had to put it back straight away. I could only take it out on the way back when mist gone up a bit.

Also, you might wonder what is a home stay. It’s like a hostel, except it’s someone’s house with rooms they can give to tourists,so you can meet the whole family. Most home stays give you meal as well and you get a bit more involved with local people more as they are your host.

As we walked back we saw the weather clearing up a bit and lots of people went up then. If you ever think of doing it and you aren’t bothered by sunrise, I’d suggest to go up after 8am because you might see more than us…

The walking back was very hard. The gravel stones killed us. I fell 3 times, once I actually fell on a rock with my back and hit it badly -but I’m ok now- and once I hit my leg and hands. Rich had worse, he fell twice, one of them he literally rolled on the floor,he hit his knee badly, it opened a bit in several places so it bleed through his trousers. He had a very hard time coming down with that knee. We thought the gravel part will never finish. We got back to shelter 2,had some noodles for late breakfast-very early lunch, had a 40 mins rest and then the guide said, we can actually start to walk down,they will catch us. One thing you have to know about these crazy Indonesians. They can hike a mountain. We met a group in the way up and they were carrying bigger backpacks than themselves and they either wore flip flops with socks -I kid you not- or wellies. And they were still quicker going up than us.

The Germans were fairly fast, we were way behind as Rich was crippled and I have short legs so for me stepping off a dead tree branch or the actual tree isn’t that easy.

It took about 5 hours to get down, Rich slipped like a million times, I fell once -twisted my pinky a bit- and the guides caught us up every time we stopped. And they left like 40mins after us. Crazy,no?

We got back to the home stay, had some food, nice chat with the others as last evening -they are very interesting people- and now we are about to crash as we are absolutely dead.

Tomorrow we are going to Padang which is a big city by the sea but the only reason we are going there for is to fly from there to Jakarta -as bus takes 5 days from here to Jakarta- and our next expedition is the Krakatau volcano in Java.

Today:

We’ve been travelling to Padang where we fly tomorrow. The trip was actually very nice except the first half an hour when I felt like I’m going to throw up. I was actually thinking: should I find a plastic bag which I’m sure we don’t have, should I just pop my head out from the window and you know… or should I ask the driver somehow to stop? But then I just calmed myself down and tried to fall asleep. Why did I feel sick? Cos the first good 40 mins we were driving on constant serpentine. And I don’t like cars, let alone on roads like this… The road went through the jungle. Both sides of the road were wooden houses and shacks and about 5m behind…the big and beautiful jungle. As we drove, we opened the windows, we could smell the fresh grass, the trees, the natural smell of the jungle. Occasionally, the local cooking. It was boiling hot for hours then rain came from nowhere in seconds. Heavy rain. 20 mins later as quick as it came, it has gone. It wasn’t very hot,but it was nice and warm. And it was like this all way through…rain and sun and rain and sun. The lovely weather of the jungle.

We arrived about 6 hours later in the late afternoon,booked a hostel for NOT cheap (330,000IDR/night). Our flight is in the afternoon tomorrow,we will be in Jakarta by about 17.30 Indonesian time.’

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