Sunrise Trekking, Part II – Mount Batur – Bali, Indonesia

When Kevin decided to hike Bali’s highest mountain, Mount Agung, Christine knew she’d be sitting that one out. It was just too high, and after a month of being sedentary, she’d definitely hold him back…way back. It probably would have taken her two days, where as Kevin finished it in record time. However, she’s been a little antsy lately. Laying on a lounge chair, watching Kevin play in the ocean sounds nice, but she’d rather be right next to him having fun. Sleeping in has been awesome, but she misses the morning runs, getting to see whatever city we’re currently in before it fully wakes up (shit, that’s now in writing!). So after hearing about Kevin’s trek yesterday, Christine found an “easy” sunrise trek on Mount Batur, one of Agung’s neighboring mountains, and we hired a guide for this morning.

Mount Batur is an active volcano standing 1,717 meters high. The actual volcano is small, but it sits in the heart of a huge crater 8.7 miles in diameter. There’s a lake with natural hot springs next to the volcano. The whole area is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim. Seeing the size of these craters makes you wonder how big the volcano was before the first eruption tens of thousands of years ago. This “easy” trek started more than half way up at 1,000 meters – which means we only had to climb the remaining 717 meters. We met our guide, Budana, around 3:30 am, strapped on our headlamps, turned on our flashlights, and started our trek.

Hiking in the cool, early morning darkness, lit only by the full moon and our lights made the hike less intimidating. In the darkness, we couldn’t see the rocky inclines that lay ahead. There was only enough light to see one step ahead. About an hour in, Christine silently wondered who said this hike was “easy” – she was definitely feeling the effects of a month of minimal activity. After two hours of climbing up rocky slopes and slipping down (…we were trying to go up) sandy inclines, we made it, with an hour to spare before sunrise.

We took a seat at the summit while Budana set out to make our breakfast (hard boiled eggs cooked by steam from the volcano, and banana sandwiches) while we waited for the sunrise. Mount Batur is a very popular hike in Bali, which was evident from the long trail of flashlights we could see meandering up the slope below. The sunrise did not disappoint. The sky slowly turned shades of pink, orange, and purple before the sun rose from the horizon. There were mountains in the distance, and low thin clouds hanging out over Lake Batur. It was gorgeous.

Once the sun had risen, most people head right back down the way they came. Budana asked us if we wanted to take an alternate route that would go around the rim of the crater we were next to. Of course we said yes, not realizing that when he said “rim,” he meant a couple feet wide track following the ridge of the rim. Hiking that particular stretch was exhilarating and beautiful. At one point, Kevin declared that this was the coolest thing he’s ever done. If you look at the peak on the left side of the picture, you can see people standing up top, and a few walking along the ridge – that’s where we came from!

The eventual hike back down was just as difficult as going up. Instead of being out of breath, our legs were shaking. We slid down narrow sandy slopes, joking that it was like surfing. Then it came time to traverse the loose rocks, where your footing had to be spot on or you’d end up on your bottom. We made it down in one piece, tired but smiling. Sunrises in Bali are so amazing that we’d do it all over again tomorrow.