I scrolled one of my friend’s blog and found Merapi volcano pictures. I said to myself Why don’t you try to hike the mountain?. At first, that dream scared me. But, you don’t dream enough if your dream doesn’t scare you right?
Merapi is Indonesia’s most active volcano. It erupts (average) every 5-10 years, the last eruption was on 2010. It spewed lava and hot rocks. Maybe you’ve seen in TV is quite bad. After closed from January – March 2015, retribution officer climbing tour of BTNGM opened again.
I know for the first timer Merapi is not easy. It famous with steep rocky and sandy track, and don’t forget the wind. The climbers usually do the scrambling techniques to toward the top, because the terrain encountered rocky sand is prone to landslides. From those facts, I don’t want to put myself as my friends’s burden and stop them to climb the top. So I prepare myself with some exercises 2 weeks before the day. To provide strength and (of course) stamina.
In order to get the top of mountain, start from BASECAMP – NEW SELO – NATIONAL PARK SHELTER – FIRST BASE SHELTER – SECOND BASE SHELTER – PASAR BUBRAH (the top that BTNGM officer suggest to stop) – TOP LAVA MOUNTAIN (top mountain which emit lava). Average time to climb the top will be 4 – 6 hours and 4.5 – 6 hours to go down (depend on your body stamina).
You will started to hike from basecamp in New Selo, usually in local houses or small shop on the area. Usually started from 1 AM, and start move to NEW SELO. The track was in asphalt, and it will take 30 minutes hike in 40 degrees tilt. This will warm your muscle. Arrived at NEW SELO, don’t rest too long because it will be so cold. Take 5 minutes to break and drink then continue to National Park.
From NEW SELO to National Park shelter, the track is bearable. It was from rock pavement. (Of course it’s ascending). It takes 30minutes – 1 hour walking distance to National Park Shelter. At the beginning of track we will meet dusty dirt footpath that if it rains muddy. Along the way you can see the fields of population on either side.
If lucky, when you do hike in the morning, local said that we can see the Black Eagles (Ictinaetus malayensis), or Eagle Brontok (Spizaetus cirrhatus), endangered species that became extinct.
Moving upward, from National Park Gate shelter to first base pos, the track is getting rough. It’s full of rocks and of course it’s more ascending. For first timer you must be feel very tired. It’s okay to rest when you feel tired. If you do not feel strong, keep telling yourself that this is MIND GAME. Between you and your goal is only you that block yourself.
Make sure you bring a flashlight that can be worn on the head because you only illumination the moon and stars at night. You will feel how beautiful the sky and everything in it. Total minutes will be 45 minutes – 1 hour (normal speed).
Take a rest in first shelter pos!. But don’t too long, because it will be super cold and windy. Maximum will be 5 – 10 minutes to drink your water, eat your snack or honey to recharge your energy. When I rested in the pos, I saw some locals guide tour rested by smoke. And I was like “Whaaaaaaatttttttttttt?????” Hahahaha.
Start to walk again, the journey from first pos to second pos will be harder. Almost no soil (even there was, it was so slippery) and the rock is bigger and higher. Make sure you have perfect shoe for the track (Not exercise / running shoes, but the REAL HIKING SHOES). On your left and right side will be cliff. Adjust your focus. Some track for me waaaaay to hard. I’m 149 cm height, and those rocks were so high. I helped myself by hanging on tree branches to pull my body up. Because I can’t get the stone to grip. (Short girls problem)
Arrived in second pos, I felt die. My legs are shaking, the breath was so heavy, and the wind was not human friendly. I push myself to eat floss (better if you have other energy snack) and eat lots of honey. Remember, at these hours (at these hours you usually sleep already but now you’re pushing yourself to climb the mountain. So make sure you have enough energy, stamina, and willingness).
Move to 3rd pos or locals called it PASAR BUBRAH, was not as hard as previous track. Because from 2nd to 3rd pos the track is rarely rocks and plants, the wind blew so hard on your body. It will slow your speed but don’t stop. Just make sure yourself is warm and keep going.
The national park officer suggest the final hike is in the PASAR BUBRAH. Because that’s the most far and the safest area. PASAR BUBRAH also the best spot to see sunrise and have better view compare to other. But actually, there is higher area behind PASAR BUBRAH. It is top lava area. The track was soo hard because there was only sand and big and high rock. From PASAR BUBRAH to top lava mountain will take 1 hour even it looks like not so far away. In the sand area, when you do 4 steps it will be back 3 steps. Just make sure you have perfect shoe to climb. You need to be very patient and focus, because this is the hardest part. Finish with the sand part, you will face high rocks and it was really dangerous. I tried myself hard to climb those rocks, it just my body not competent enough (read : not tall enough) to climb the rocks. So I stop at the sand part.
THE SUNRISE AND OTHER VIEW FROM PASAR BUBRAH WAS REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!!!!
The purple, yellow, orange color of the sunrise reminds me how small I am and how great is God.
When the sun goes up, you can finally see how the beauty of Merapi mountain area. You can see Merbabu mountain, Sindoro mountain and Sumbing mountain. There’s also 2 craters : KAWAH MATI AND KAWAH WORO. At PASAR BUBRAH, there’s memorial stone for students and hikers who died in Merapi. This reminds me to be humble and respect the nature and the locals.
WHAT I FEEL
I feel really bad because I can’t be at the top of the mountain, but also feel proud at the same time. This is my first time hiking and I can be at PASAR BUBRAH. Some hikers can’t even continue to the top because of the wind and the stamina. It’s not a competition, you can’t judge other stamina or strength to climb the top. Since everyone has their own battle in theirselves. 🙂
I met few local friends there. They’re soo friendly and kind. They told me story behind Merapi and the surroundings. They’re also a guide for foreigners who need guide to climb Merapi. (I have their number if any of you interested).
THE WAY BACK DOWN
Don’t expect easier track when you get down. For me, the track is even harder than the climb track. It’s very slippery because of the rocks, sand and gravels. I need 4.5 hours to climb, but I need 5 hours more to back down. I injured myself many times because I didn’t wear the fit shoes. So I fell down many times. (Almost cried thou. Hahaha). Make sure you cut your toe nails, because it will feel hurt when you get back down. Prepare to have strong muscle to hold your tights and legs.
- Do exercise 2weeks before the hiking day, but stop at 3 days before the day.
- Bring floss, honey, and energy snacks.
- Better to wear parachute jacket
- WEAR FIT SHOES
- Bring minimum 1 L of water
- Pray, focus, and committed
- If you feel tired, rest but maximum 8 minutes (unless you will be freezing)
- Don’t take rest too much. Use 20 steps technique (every 10 / 15 / 20 steps take rest and breath)
- MIND over BODY. Tell yourself that you can finish it
BUT,, THIS EXPERIENCE MAKES MY LIFE HAPPIER. You can see places not only read pages. You can get closer to God and Nature.
Ask this question to yourself : “When the last time you do something for the first time?” 🙂