There are no summiters to wake us up. We sleep pretty well for being in a small tent at 11,000 feet. Everyone looks pretty satisfied with themselves, and they should be. This has been the hardest physical test we’ve ever taken and we passed. Amanda hunts for her brace, anticipating that the hike down will be harder on her damaged right knee.
Emma and Lily goof around and joke about ‘No poop till Meno!’ That’s been our rallying cry for the trip, sung to the tune of the Beastie Boys song ‘No sleep till Brooklyn.’ The toilets, really the absence of them, are unappealing. Our (mostly, but not entirely joking) plan was to not poop till we got to Gili Meno and a real toilet.
One by one, we have each capitulated to our bodies needs and squatted over the 6 inch hole that was dug for a toilet right next to each campsite. Except Lily. She’s holding out for a porcelain throne.
The clouds hover just above us in a rippled pattern that looks like wallpaper on the ceiling. Our last breakfast is pancakes and grilled cheese made with artificial flavored margarine. We all choke down a piece or two for the energy. I can’t imagine any of us have gained weight on this trip.
I furiously snap about 60 photos of Barujani, the baby volcano in the crater lake, in an unsuccessful effort to record the once-in-a-lifetime view. Maybe one will come close to capturing the majesty of Rinjani. We’ve already decided that Rinjani belongs in our top three experiences, bettered only by Petra, Jordan and the Jorgasulon Icebergs in Iceland. That’s some stiff competition.
A quick bag pack and we’re off for the final six hour hike down. It’s much easier on the porters, now that we have eaten the food and drank much of the water. They speed off ahead downhill.
It would be a mistake to think that downhill is easy. It’s easier, mostly, but it’s still ultra steep in the beginning and it takes us a while to get off the rocky, hot open parts to the cooler, flatter jungle. Emma is, as always, up front. She speeds ahead, almost skipping and then waits patiently for Lily, Amanda and I to catch up.
Mohammad is pretty far ahead too, even well in front of Emma. At one point I have to yell for him to wait. It’s not that we could lose the trail or get hurt without him, but it generates anxiety to feel like he is trying to get us to go faster. He slows down slightly, but still stays pretty far apart. I guess it’s the last day and there is less motivation to be attentive.
Lily talks in her ‘Miranda voice’ as she hops down a rocky ledge. Miranda is a youtube phenomenon among teens and tweens, and she talks in a nasally voice Lily likes to imitate, often unconciously. Emma has her own quirk. She starts off most of her conversations by saying ‘Whats it called.’ It’s not a question, and she doesn’t even know she’s saying it. She’ll even do it twice in a row after catching herself.
We’re finally in the jungle, about two hours into the six hour hike. We take a break and eat the rest of Mohammad’s treats: Beng Beng, ‘Good Time’ chocolate cookies, and Tam Tams. It’s so much better than the gross tangerine and strawberry banana PowerGels I brought. Those were good for the caffeine hit, but otherwise gross. And we have nuts, but we’re tired of them too.
Lily’s legs get more and more wobbly as we descend, making me a little nervous about her attentiveness. There are so many tree roots here in the jungle and it’s really easy to trip. But so far she hasn’t.
“Shit!” Amanda yells. “My pole cracked”. Indeed it had. It was an ultra lightweight pole, but a high quality one. I’m surprised it broke. Together we surmised that it cracked because she’s been leaning on one side so much more than the other, favoring her leg with the bad knee. She’s also building much more soreness on the good leg that has been taking all the work. But we’re only a few hours from the finish and she made it without any issue, so her strategy worked. We’ll get the pole fixed later.
Over lunch we have one of those unstoppable laughing moments. My ‘cry-laugh’ came out, and we were all doubled over. Emma brought up one of the funniest moments we had traveling with Trish. She had just gotten the Angry Birds game and had played the first few levels with glee. We had all been playing for some time, she was a little late to the party.
In the airport gate area on some trip, we can’t remember exactly which, maybe Charlottesville on our way to Peru?, she yelled “oh no, the piggies in the house!” at the first time she encountered a more difficult challenge. If you know the game, you can imagine how we laughed. It still brings us to tears.
And is shows how amazingly Amanda has begun to blend into this most difficult situation. We can talk and laugh about Trish, and miss her, in the company of Amanda who is loving and completely unthreatened. I’m so grateful we can continue these adventures with Amanda. She brings me a lot of joy and she’s really supportive and helpful with the girls. I couldn’t do anything as tough as this by myself.
And then the narrow jungle root covered muddy path ends and we exit through the gift shop. Where the National Park ends, begins a small shop selling cold beer and soda and trinkets. We still have another 30 minutes to get to the road accessible by cars, though the path we are on has a few scooters. Who cares? We could walk for days on the flat road!
Within minutes we are back at Rudy Trekkers lodge and we’re the last ones here. I tip the guys, splitting 20% of my total cost among the 5 porters and 1 guide. It’s about $35 each, good money in Indonesia, but after a huge amount of work. They earned it.
Sadly the showers are cold, but Lily celebrates that she made it to a real toilet. It’s just good to be in new clothes. On the ride to the harbor we all nod off and get a little cranky. There is some residual tiredness and various ailments beginning to creep in – bruises, black and blue toenails, weird allergies and a little sun burns.
None of it will matter soon. Our next stop is relaxing Gili Meno. It takes two hours to get to the harbor, but only 10 minutes to get on a speedboat that brings us ashore Gili Meno. There is no jetty or dock, just a sandy beach. I haggle with the horse cart driver over a few dollars difference in price and accept his ‘higher than supposed to be’ fare. They see families and jack up the price sometimes. But it’s only a few bucks.