Saturday 6 Jun
Bulu Rantemario, Indonesia
It couldn’t rain on us in the cave but it could drip. It was cold in the cave and by 1 am we had had enough of pretending to sleep and we charged out into the night, went onto the wrong side of the river, and couldn’t find the track for an hour and a half. Then we came back to the cave and went the other way, and started climbing in the right direction. It was as steep as could be expected given how high we had to climb, and we were hanging on to roots with our hands most of the time, dripping in the fog and then the rain. Painstakingly we counted off each ‘pos’ that we reached, some of them more clearly labelled than others. As it got light there were some views out above the clouds, but then the weather went white. At pos 5, Felix followed a sign and went to get some water. He didn’t come back for ages, and seemed to have scrambled half way down the mountain, at each point re-deciding that having gone so far it was more worthwhile to keep going to get the water. We left most of our gear at pos 5 to make the summit easier. Before we got to pos 7, Felix had to go back to get a camera charger.
At the top the track flattened out and there were some pools and some writing on rocks. At the summit (3,478 m), there was an obelisk with confusing information on it. There was no view and it was cold, so we turned around. Shortly after this I had a good vomit. 3000 m is about the lowest you can get altitude sickness, but maybe with the speed of the climb and everything that had gone before, I managed to do it. Of course, I started to feel better as we climbed down slowly. We stopped at every second pos on the way down.
Back at the cave (pos 2) we met four hikers from Makassar who had all the right gear. We wished them well and started climbing up the other side of the valley into the coffee farm, where we lost the the track. We were confused about the track going the other way, but everything seemed different now. At some miserable moment I lost my sole. I don’t even know where it went; somewhere in the mud a permanent piece of pollution. I was better off without it flapping distractingly as it came off my shoe. In any event I couldn’t stay on my feet on the muddy slopes and had to sit and slide.
Finally, when patience was finished, we arrived in Karangan and told Simen, who was a bit surprised, that we made it. There was a bit of a debate about pushing on at least to another village, but then heavy rain set in and we gratefully ate dinner. Even though it was genuinely cold, there was no fire or way to get warm in the raised wooden house. Simen gave us blankets, towels and jackets. We slept on the floor, possibly for about 12 hours. I had not brought enough spare clothes up from Baraka and I basically spent the night drying out my thermals which I had been wearing on the mountain.