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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.