|Canon Rebel XS, ISO 400, shutter 1/200, f 22, 55mm|
Barely awake at 2am, we pile blurry-eyed into the SUV, which is expertly driven through the narrow streets and towards the volcanic hills that encompass most of central Bali. Dressed for adventure, I'm confidently equip with my backpack, consisting of bottled water, snacks, camera equipment, and a change of clothes. Sleepy smiles all around...we're about to climb a volcano! Ohh, did I mention I hadn't really been "working out" that much lately:p
Here's some basic information about Mt. Batur: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Batur
Notice the elevation.
I admit I didn't really do my research, but I felt up for the challenge. Plus I had two awesome friends going with me, and we were hiring a guide to help us with the climb. Though I must say, I *did* skim over the Lonely Planet guide information about the trek, and it claimed it was (and I'm paraphrasing) "easy". Um. Did I mention it was 3am and still dark out when we started climbing? Flashlights to light our way, we began following the guide along the trail through the sparse forest area that surrounds the volcano. Beginning on a slight incline, I was thinking "this IS pretty easy!". Then we arrived at the beginning of the real climb at the base of the volcano proper, where the forest gave way to rocks, and a pathway was barely visible to our thin streams of light.
Well now...it's starting to get interesting. Our guide was fabulous, by the way, and well worth the $40 each. Without him, we would have probably climbed to our deaths. The climb became steeper, and it was still quite dark out. Looking up, I could see the moon and a few stars still in the sky...though in the distance a faint light was emerging. In hindsight, climbing in the dark was an inspired idea, because I couldn't see how far we still had left to go. There were a few times where the guide instructed us to "stay straight!" or "don't go left!". Later we found out that if we hadn't listened, we could have fallen down a small cliff edge! Sometimes the guide would help us surpass large or tall rocks, and he carried our water bottles for us too. As time passed on and dawn was finally upon us, I dared to look up. As my heart pounded from over an hour of straight climbing (recall my earlier insight into my lack of gym time, and I also have no rock climbing experience) I sighed heavily as I realized we were barely halfway to the top. I began to doubt my ability, physically, to make it. One of my awesome friends happens to be a nurse, so I jokingly said to her that I hoped she remembered advanced CPR in case my heart explodes. I was kinda more serious than I let on. We laughed it out, and my other awesome friend encouraged me to keep going:) Renewed in my confidence, and stubbornly insistent that this mountain won't conquer me, I put one foot in front of the other and grabbed ahold of the next rock to lift myself further up the path.
After a total of approximately 2.5 hours of climbing, (with a couple of short 5 min rests) we were approaching the summit. Well, the "lower" summit, where there exists a coffee-making person in a shack and a few roughly constructed benches. And a spectacularly amazing view of the sunrise. We arrived, sweaty and tired, and found our place amongst the other climbing groups to witness the miracle we take for granted every day. The sun rising into the sky. We were fortunate, in that it was a fairly clear morning, and that we made it to the top before the sun had broken through the horizon. Our view encompassed the range of volcanoes in the distance, a lake below us, and the beautiful landscape of Bali. I'll never forget standing there, fiddling with my camera and lenses, and trying to absorb the moment at the same time. Breathing in the crisp air, drinking a coffee that looked more like mud, being above the clouds, and looking further into the distance than I ever thought was possible.
I always wondered why people climbed mountains, when it seemed like so much work and stress on the body. Now I know why. I conquered that volcano...I made it to the top even though I wanted to quit and I honestly thought my heart was going to explode and my muscles would never forgive me. I sat on the top and watched the sun rise, and I smiled. Nothing is impossible. That's why people climb mountains.
Every time I look at this photo, I experience that feeling again. As corny as it sounds, it truly does inspire me to be great, and to actually do the things I'm dreaming about. That feeling is what made me even consider starting an Indiegogo campaign. I don't know if I'll succeed, or be able to go before the end of this year. I don't even know if I'll get a decent job to financially support my dreams, or what will happen tomorrow. But I'm not giving up, because now I know why people climb mountains.
If you're interested in supporting my dreams or sharing them, visit my campaign here:
This image, along with the others I'll be blogging about, is available as a "perk" by donating to my cause:)