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Magnificent Mount Rinjani – Part 2

After a good breakfast, we started to descend to the crater lake at 8 am. Much to our surprise, the descent was quite difficult as well  because of the loose rocks. This could be quite a challenge for weak knees. At some point, we were also trekking through beds of wild edelweiss on flatter ground. The mist was thick and it somewhat felt like we were walking in heaven. After 3 hours of descent, we finally reached Segara Anak crater lake.

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The lake is approximately 2,000 meters above sea level and about 200 meters deep. Near the lake is a beautiful waterfall. It is amazing that just beside the cold rushing water is a pool of natural hot spring. After going for more than 24 hours without a shower, a dip in the hot spring was most gratifying. The water temperature was 37.5°C, which was just nice for a hot, relaxing dip.

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As we walked back to our camp by the lake, lunch was ready for us. Soon, we were on our way up to the second crater rim, Plawangan Senaru. The trek was no easy feat either. The first half of the 3-hour ascent was a constant uphill trudge, but manageable even with my 5 kg backpack. Every time I felt tired and needed to catch my breath, I’d just have to turn back and watch the awesome view of the caldera. And my mind would be refreshed and motivated again.

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The second half of the ascent was a different ball game altogether. It was rock climbing all the way until we reached the crater rim. Some parts were quite dangerous and required both hands and legs to push ourselves up. At this point, Ady had been very kind to carry my backpack for me as it would have taken us ages to reach if I had to carry it myself.

We reached the Plawangan Senaru campsite just before 5 pm. At 2,641 meters and on the opposite side of the caldera from the Sembalun campsite earlier, we are now able to see Gunung Baru, a new volcano that had just erupted in 2010, standing in the midst of the crater lake. It was truly a magnificent view. As a photo enthusiast, I couldn’t stop clicking my camera – sideways, upwards and downwards. I had lugged my heavy dSLR all the way up the mountains and down the valley for this view. Fortunately, it did not disappoint me.

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That night, it rained heavily and our tents swayed in the strong winds. I feared they would be blown away. We woke up the next day in one piece, although none of us sleep well on both nights. According to medical experts, when at high altitude, we tend to wake up intermittently throughout the night as our body’s way of reminding us to breathe.

On day 3, we had our last breakfast in the mountains and quickly started off down to Senaru. This time, the descent was much easier than the last descent to the crater lake. The first half saw us trekking through an open trail, surrounded by beautiful green grass and a view of the horizon. It wasn’t long before the trail led us through the tropical rainforest with mossy trees and roots. We stopped for an hour for lunch at Pos Extra (1,165 meters), then continued descending for about 45 minutes until we reached the Senaru Gate signboard. From there, it was another 20 minutes of leisure walking to the final exit where our transport was waiting for us.

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We reached the exit point at 1.45 pm and that marked the end of our memorable adventure to Mount Rinjani.

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I’d say that trekking the Mount Rinjani is definitely not for the faint-hearted nor beginners. It is also highly recommended to do the 4 days/3 nights package for a complete Rinjani experience.

Although I’m quite disappointed about not reaching the summit, I’m quite glad we decided to skip it. I don’t think we’d be able to fully enjoy the whole experience if we had done the summit in such a short time. So would I return to Mount Rinjani someday? Definitely! But it’d be just for the summit the next time.

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