This is obviously not written for the expert hikers nor the Dwayne Johnsons out there. I recently went for a hiking trip to Mount Rinjani, 3726 meters above sea level, and it was not at all easy. It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’ve also gathered some insider’s tips to make future trips more prepped and hopefully come back next time with all my toenails in good condition.
1. Get Your Shit Together
If you’re of average fitness and you think you’ll just ‘wing it’ to the summit, you’re going to have a baaadd time. As we climbed the summit at 2 am in the morning in the freezing cold weather, with the loose volcanic gravel making me slip backwards after every step, boy was I glad I trained for it. At the very least, getting your body trained for long hikes will avoid you crying along the way thus sparing everyone else the agony of having to listen to your endless whining.
2. Wear The Right Shoes
Upon realizing that my feet tend to blister rather easily, I decided to opt for my regular gym shoes for more comfort. True up to a point, but anything other than hiking shoes will give minimal grip when you’re climbing slippery slopes or going down unconsolidated pathways. At some point, I had lost count how many times I fell on my butt, and not even in an elegant manner. Not to mention your ankles will really hurt afterwards from the lack of support (for the next two days I walked around like a grandma with a really bad case of arthritis).
3. Make Sure You Have Warm Clothes
Part of the hike requires camping around the Sembalun Crater, 2369 meters above sea level. The altitude makes the temperature drop really fast come night time, and you’ll regret not bringing a proper thick jacket and warm pants (trust me, I experienced this first hand). The midnight climb is even colder, and you’re doing yourself a favour if you bring gloves as well.
4. Bring Good Company
All I’m saying is, if you’re going for a long hike where you will be sweating, sticky, smelly, not showering, not brushing teeth properly, yucky hair, altitude sickness, burping, farting, exhaustion and the works, hey, you might as well do it with people you like and someone you feel comfortable with. (Reminder: high intensity activities like this is also a great chance to see people’s true colours.)
5. Listen To Your Body
In general, you should always do what is within your physical capabilities and not pressure yourself too hard. There will always be people who hike faster than you, and the porters with the heavy camping loads and frail flip flops will hike past you with such ease that it makes you feel bad that you’re panting so much. I knew I was not going to enjoy myself as much if I had to carry all my stuff by myself, so I hired a porter to do it for me. If you’re tired you should just stop for a breather, and take your own time in doing so. This is the part where Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” really makes sense literally.
6. Be Adventurous
In every sense of the word. Try to be more open and up for new things. On our last day our guide invited us for dinner at his house which was a good opportunity to sample real local food and observe the local lifestyle. The meal did not disappoint at all, and it was easily one of the best we had throughout the whole trip. The hike is also a good chance to chat up to strangers and make new acquaintances!
7. Bring Medication
As usual as it is with all sorts of travels, sometimes you’re bound to get sick or food poisoning or other physical discomforts. In these instances, it is always good to always have the standard meds ready – aspirin, stomach ache meds etc.
8. Enjoy Yourself
Hiking Mount Rinjani will not be an experience you’ll forget anytime soon. The weather is gorgeous, the guides are pleasant and the view is mystical. The vast grasslands remind you of a scene in ‘The Sound of Music’. The fog rolling into the hills makes it look like a magical forest with tall pine trees. The calm water of the crater surrounded by ragged volcanic rocks. The clear night sky so vivid you could see the Milky Way. The sunset and sunrise across the horizon. Eating goreng pisang on a mat watching the sun go down with wonderful company. Try to be present and be completely aware of where you are and who you are with – it’s the best part of the whole trip.
So there you go. Some of the tips above are things I did, and the rest are things I wished I did. Nevertheless, it was all sorts of good fun and despite losing a toenail, I was really glad to have climbed the summit of the wondrous, amazing Mount Rinjani!