Carstensz Pyramid 11/26/08 dispatch
Still in Bali.
We now have our confirmed tickets to Timika in hand, so things are looking up. Unfortunately, we don’t go to the airport until midnight, so we had another day to explore Bali. We got the same van and driver and hit the road just after breakfast toward Gunung Agung.
At a height of 3142 meters, this is the tallest volcano on the island. After about an hour on the road, we finally felt like we were getting away from the developed tourist areas and seeing the real Balinese countryside. The road quickly steepened as we approached the peak and the van struggled with 7 adult passengers up to the parking lot at 1500 meters. Our hike began at another temple, Pura Pasar Agung. The first hour and a half of the climb was under tree cover in a dense forest that gradually opened up to slabby and crumbly lava rock trail. A large grey monkey followed us out of the trees hoping for dropped food.
Unfortunately the weather turned bad as a strong thunderstorm moved in rapidly and sent us back down as fast as we could manage on the slippery rocks and mud. A couple of lightning strikes seemed a little too close for comfort and we were happy to get back under thick tree cover in the forest. Our attempt to climb to the crater only got us about half way, but we all felt that the exercise had done us some good. It was also a good trial run for some of our gear while hiking in torrential rain, as this could be the case much of the time when we are trekking toward Carstensz from Sugapa.
We are all back at the hotel now, frantically trying to dry out gear and pack things up for our midnight departure. Hopefully I will be calling in the next dispatch from the sat phone tomorrow, somewhere in Irian Jaya.