Day 10: Mt Rinjani - Lombok
It was quite apparent that I am not an experienced camper. I slept on and off overnight, this time due to being uncomfortable on the threadbare mat rather than being freezing cold. No matter what position I tried, my hips would dig into the solid ground beneath me. I don't know how people do it. I longed for a comfy mattress and warm bedding. And I wasn't the only one - Danny didn't sleep at all.
I woke just after 6 a.m. to a breakfast of banana pancakes, pineapple jam sandwiches and fresh pineapple. It left me way too full but it was so good I couldn't stop myself. The morning was nowhere near as cold as yesterday's and I could get ready without going numb.
Leaving the campsite at 7:30 a.m. the first thing we noticed were runners, and lots of them. It took me a while to realise that they were wearing bibs and that this was an official race. Fundi informed us that it was a 52km ultramarathon and a half marathon, with the longer distance going all the way to the summit and back down again. I thought they were nuts, but at the same time it looked awesome.
A half marathoner heading towards the finish.
Fundi guided us down the steep, rocky mountain for half an hour, carefully manoeuvring past the more dangerous obstacles. Then it was time to have some fun. Without warning, Fundi started running and we had no choice but to run as well. Over loose rocks, winding paths, protruding tree roots and into the cool jungle temperatures, we kept up a rapid pace without stopping for another 30 minutes. We were almost part of the Rinjani race. I wanted to come back to complete it with Fundi as my pacer.
Fundi stayed back to walk with others from our group, so Danny and I continued on alone. We couldn't maintain the speed that Fundi had set, but we loved the freedom of being able to run at our own pace through the beautiful scenery. We stopped occasionally to let the official runners go by, each time peering at their bib to see if we could spot the Australian flag. Eventually we did find a couple of Aussies completing the 21km distance. They stopped for a brief chat before we urged them on, conscious of how far they still had to go.
Our running course.
Danny and I reached our lunch spot at 10 a.m., with the rest of the group arriving at 10:30am. Our spaghetti lunch was then served. It seemed far too early to be eating another big meal. I was still full from breakfast and we were only an hour from the bottom. We didn't complain though, appreciative of the hard work our porters had put in over the last three days.
The last section of the trek was relatively easy and we stayed together as a team. At the bottom was the finish line - for the race, not for our hike, although I felt like we had completed a challenge worthy of a finish line. That morning we had descended 2000m in elevation and our legs were letting us know about it. In spite of the pain, I was elated and relieved to make it to the end. I had persevered through high altitudes, freezing temperatures, steep and slippery ascents and lack of sleep. I pushed my body probably harder than it has ever been pushed, and the results were worth it. It was a tough but worthwhile adventure, one that I would remember forever.
One day I'll be back for the race. Maybe.
We said goodbye to Fundi and the others in our group before being driven back to Senggigi. We weren't staying in a flashy resort this time, although it would have been nice to relax our weary muscles at a swim up bar. Instead we checked into a bungalow, in a secluded spot surrounded by trees. It was lovely, peaceful and more importantly it had a shower.
Once we had scrubbed away the thick layer of dust that had accumulated on our skin we walked into town, ready to celebrate our achievement. First up, cocktails, which had never tasted so good, along with some tasty street food. We recounted our experience, the highs and lows, and what our next big feat might be. As much as I loved the trek, it was also fantastic to be clean, sitting in chairs and not being cold.
Street food. Martabak: stuffed pancakes, sweet or savoury. Fantastic.
After cocktails we took ourselves off to get a massage. We knew it would be painful but we believed it would be the best way to start the recovery process. Given that our marathon was only three weeks away, we wanted to make sure our legs returned to normal as soon as possible. The pain was almost unbearable, especially around the calves. I cried out a few times, much to the amusement of the masseuse. I kept reminding myself that the suffering was only for one hour, that it was good for me, and I had just hiked a huge volcano, which was way harder. I survived the massage, but only just.
With the torture complete I felt the need for another celebratory cocktail. We chose the pub showing AFL, so we could catch up on the footy while devouring spring rolls, curries, coconut rice pudding and several well-earned drinks. After an early start that morning and little sleep the past two nights, we crashed relatively early. It was a fairly tame way to spend our last night on holiday.