Turtle Climber

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The Journey began at midnight, a smooth 5 hours rode by bus with Sundanese Campursari Song played by the driver.

We stopped at a Mosque near City’s Statue, an usual stop point for all climbers, whether gone to Guntur* Mountain or Papandayan Mountain. Not only for pray, but also for breakfast, coffee, wait for next public transportation, and share information between climbers.

We took a minivan to our guide’s home and walked to main post at the foot of the mountain at 10.30 in the morning.

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Along the way, we spoiled by the atmosphere; villagers greeted us happily, kids who looked at us with their innocent eyes and ice cream on their hands, colorful fields and fishpond.

We registered our name at Guntur Mountain Main Post, filled our water supplies before climb this tiny Semeru* by noon –there was no waters along the way to the top of the mountain, so we should have enough water until we got back to main post–.

Climb this 7.379 Ft. stratovolcano mountain was quite a challenge. The first challenge was the path to first post, it only took 30-45 minutes but it feels like foreeeveeer… a savannah with 45-degree slope and some part was slippery. It took me a while to have my strength back before move forward to second post.

The slope to second post was more friendly, but the air was foggy, we need a whistle and headlamp to assure that we still at the same path, and near to each other, when the fog was very thick we should stay still to avoid unnecessary accident and move forward faster when the fog dissapeared to catch up time.

The path to third post was across the dead woods, here we found contradictive scenery; flowers bloom at the gate of dead woods among dead trees, just the branch without leaf.. The dead woods ground were mix between soil and black sands, gaiter was the most important item here or your shoe will filled with sands.

I asked the local why they call it dead woods, they said it because all the trees were burned, the temperature at the mountain always remarkable during dry season… I nod, understand why this woods looks eerie…

Hiked the black sands with 30-degrees slope and carry huge backpack was never easy, I almost lost my temper several times… Took one step ahead but then plunged two steps backward. I grabbed the dead trees to maintain my step.

The third post located beween two hills at the end of the woods…the wind was freezy and crazy there, with fog come and go… we can’t stay there for long, so we choose one of the hill and climb it. Another 45 degrees slope with slippery sulfur-soil as bonus…and some heated soil from the ground as another bonus.

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And then, sudden hard rain came with rapid thunder and lightning as we arrived at the top, we move as fast as possible to the other side of the hill and going down to the valley, we won’t take any risk by stayed at the top of the hill with no tree at all.

We chose to stay 200 meters from the top and built the tent fast, our body shaken because freezy rain and hard wind. We built 4 tents within minutes, got inside, made ourself dry, made dinner and hot drinks to avoid hypothermia.

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Bonfire and sleep under the milky way was impossible to happen, but we got beautiful hello from the sun in the morning, peek behind clouds shawl, embellished by hills and thick fog.

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As the sun goes up, we packed and walked back to main post, easier from climbing up but as the Turtle in my team, I always be the last person who arrived at the post, even though I start earlier from them…

Compared to me, they were like Cheetah, Kangaroo, Fox, Giraffe, Ostrich, Blue Wildebeest, Deer and Antelope…

They always applause when the Turtle managed to step on the finish line and asked “everything’s good?”…
And the Turtle was happily said “always”.

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*Semeru: The highest mountain at East Java, 12,060 ft high.
*Guntur = Thunder

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