Friday 5 Jun
Bulu Rantemario, Indonesia
Baraka – Pos 2 Sarumpapa
We left most of our stuff in Baraka, as we expected to be gone for less than 3 days. In the morning we went to the police station to tell them we were climbing the mountain. We had been told very clearly to do this. There was much bureaucracy, and the police told us very clearly to tell them when we returned so they wouldn’t have to go and rescue us. We also needed passports for some reason, and Felix didn’t have his, and after he protested that it would be inconvenient to go back to Dadang’s house to get it, some of our minders rushed back there to haul though all of our stuff and look for it. We didn’t have a chance to tell them not to. We were a bit worried about them finding all our stashed money or something, but of course they didn’t disturb anything.
We had to ride about 35 km to the last village before the mountain, Kerangan. It started with a steep concrete road with lines cut into it for extra grip. Then the road was rocky and muddy and went up and down. In one of the villages we stopped for drinks and someone offered us air putih (boiled water) from a kettle which we badly needed.
I ended up walking up many of the hills. There is a special kind of effort required to keep a loaded mountain bike on a steep road when traction is lacking: lots of jerks and jumps and the huge sudden acceleration which is the way to get out of most difficulties. I couldn’t keep doing this, and even though wheeling the bike up hills was uncomfortable, at least it was steady and the energy was going into propelling me forward. Of course, this took forever, and Felix, who was faster, was patient.
We stopped in another village and asked around to see if someone would cook us some mie goreng. People were cleaning and processing colourful coffee beans in a system of water channels that ran through the centre of the village. We ended up invited onto someone’s delightful balcony. We also had some excellent milky coffee. Felix was won over by this coffee, thoughI think it’s unlikely it was coffee from the village. We weren’t allowed to pay for anything.
Finally we reached the last village, and got confused trying to find Simen, the person we had been told to look for. His house was the absolute last house right at the top of the extremely steep village. I don’t think Simen was expecting us, but he was ready to support our expedition and he gave us mie and rice for dinner.
We didn’t have much time, as we wanted to get onto the mountain and find the cave. We packed a minimal amount of snacky food, clothes and water into a small backpack and one pannier which had a shoulder strap. Simen showed us the first bit of the track, and we got going. Once we got out of the coffee farm and onto the mountain track, we were often walking on steep banks which made it impossible to hold the pannier on the uphill side. Holding it on the downhill side made everything more unstable.
We were relieved to find that the cave was there as promised, near a nice waterfall. The cave was a serious overhang which rain could not get into. We set up to sleep on our tarp.