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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hiking @ Gede 15-17 Apr (3019 m)

Lazy lazy. Haven't written in months..the thing that prompt me to pen it down was actually the new bike. Guess I'll get to that later, might as well put up the Gede hiking trip else I'll probably never get to it.

The last I can remember hiking and trekking was through the jungles of the Amazon, Myanmar and Irian Jaya. Those 10 "fishy" years of looking for rare or new species in the aquarium trade. Further back the real "up the mountain" experience was back in the army days of 5-Finger Mountain in Taiwan and the mindless dusty landscape of Kachanaburi, Thailand on exercises.

This Gede hike was an invitation by Tetra Pak, Indonesia. Each of our office/ factories sent a team or so. To think that Yvonne, our graphics lady thought it was some easy walk like up Bukit Timah hill simply sent everyone laughing all over again. But she's one tough little cookie, at most a couple of minutes behind our group through out the climb and descend.

Day 1 -Setting off from Tetra Pak office in Jakarta.

Day 1 -Night at the Long House... after 3 hours on a wheeezing coach that we all believe was suffering from an asthma attack and wouldn't make it up the rest/staging area.

Day 2 -Greeted in the morning with the peak beckoning in the background. Even though the experience is not new but it never fails to amaze me how just a 1000ft below lies the heat and humidity of a tropical country and here its a breezy 20 degrees Celcius. I guess that's the effect of living in flat claustrophobic island back home where any form of coolness is turning on the air conditioning on full blast and shopping malls churning out snow from a machine during Christmas time.

First Leg....nearing the 1850m mark
Despite the acclimatizing of muscles not normally used and hyperventilation, it was still too early to not put on a big grin for some cam-whoring.

The legs were aching after half an hour and everything on long mission walks from the army days came back...shifting the pack, leaning forward etc etc. Later I realize that the riding all these while has helped alot. With a load comparable to the training days wearing camo, it actually felt better and less tired this time. It does say something as the comparison is made with things I did 20 years ago. Glad I've been riding.

Throughout the camera snapping, few things were not lost on me. The ever inquisitive child around the mothers working in the tea plantation, the simple lifestyle of the locals and the kids that walk down each morning to school and back up who seemed not a bit bothered at all. And here I am still trying to slow down my breathing. I wonder if the teachers make them go back up if they ever forget their books! *evil*

Getting steep... ~2100m
Still smiling for the cam but the fatigue is really starting to kick in. Its not just walking anymore. 3 feet high roots and vines meant some swinging with the hands are needed. Shoulders already numb from the pack has to take on additional workout.

Towards basecamp
After some clawing around and legs that starts to have minds on their own...things flatten out at 2600m. Vegetation changes, thick waxy leaves that reflects the adaptation to the surrounding landscape to prevent moisture loss.

...yea, rested and posing for the cam again. Base camp was still a short walk away
This shot reminded again of the army days. End of mission, eyes hardly open after a predawn "firefight" and as usual, head counting all the men and being last as the platioon sergeant with my medic trailing behind the others. Tempted to photoshop in a M203 or M16 in the left hand. That would pretty much complete the look :)

Base Camp, Day 2, 2:00pm, 2600m

Oooohhh that feels Gooooooood. Ok here's what happened. Yvonne as usual with her artsy streak wanted all our shoes to be lined up for a shot. Told her she can come get it, I'm not getting up for sure :)

As we waited...the porters lugging packs twice the weight of mine with 12 man tents got to work without stopping after the climb. Salute! Small wiry folks that hardly break out a sweat on the way up and one of them actually climbed up in the kind of slippers I just changed into. in the world did he do that!

Still lazing and waiting for the tents to be up followed by lunch that is being prepared. Somehow, something was missing from my normal routine. Oh wait! I haven't check emails in 2 days and there were no handphone signals up here. Nothing but just cool air and a clear stream running beside us. Oh well, let's kick back and bask...mind empty.

Up the summit Day3, 3:45 am
After a few hours rest and a couple of hot meals, the clanking of pots meant time to get up for the final climb to watch the sunrise. Off we went at ~4:00 am. Ouch and more ouch....few hours of sleep after the previous day's exhausting climb and waking up to 4 degrees cold is no fun. Things got a little better once we were under the foliage. At least here if you keep walking, the cold won't get to you.

Summit or Puncak as they say it in Indonesian: 3019m

First Streak

The obligatory "We Did It" group shot

Edge... 3 more inches and it looks like a ~1000ft drop into the center of the crater, as can be seen in the next pic....


What goes up must come down...

What started relatively easy from the top became a little treacherous and involves some skills from rapelling days coming down sheer rock faces. Guess everyone was too focus and forgot about pics there.

Whats better than jumping into the cold mountain water after 2 days of climbing and no shower...

...with hot instant coffee complete with plastic cups :) Still, the amazing thing was the lunch there at 1600m, cream of corn with tortilla chips and bread! All lugged and cooked on the spot by those awesome porters.

It was also at this spot I realized that the ones who reach are mostly the "old men" like myself. Whatever happened to the twenty-somethings? I guess the modern city living lifestyle coupled to a lack of exercising really makes a difference to fitness these days.

Finally, back on flat ground and the sweltering heat of the tropical jungle
And it doesn't matter if its Tiger, Heineken or Bintang...any beer is a good beer.

Nice massage and a night of sound sleep...time to head for the airport

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