Hike Merapi

I don’t think I slept much at all Friday night. I went to bed at a fairly normal time, or around 10pm. But as is my normal when I have to get up early, I slept fitfully, waking every 15 minutes or so to check the time. Finally, at 2:45am my alarm went off while Joy was feeding Zoe, and I got up for the day.

I was off to climb Merapi.

I met some folks at 3:30am at the gate to the International School. We were going to climb together. After a few minutes, we had our group of 6 folks together, and off we went. Since Merapi is on the other side of Merbabu, we had to drive around it before we could get to the trail head. We arrived at the trail head at about 5am.

Merapi is an active vulcano. I don’t mean active like geologists would call active. They call anything that’s erupted in the last the last 10,000 years and still has magma hanging out inside. (1) I’m talking about active; it erupted last year and you can hear stuff going on in the crater.

Before last year, the top of Merapi was supposedly green and beautiful. I wouldn’t know because I hadn’t climbed it yet. When it erupted, it lost a nice chunk of peak in the process.

Yeah, so that’s what we wanted to climb. On lower slopes there was terrace upon terrace of crops being grown by the local villagers. How they climb up there and work or carry their produce down the mountain is a fairly scary thought. I had a rough time on that slippery trail with just me and my backpack.

At a certain point in the hike, there was a clear shift from vegetation to ash and rock. Andrew Jackson got it right when filming Mordor. There was nothing but a monochrome of grey rocks and sand everywhere with an occasional yellow sulfur rich rock hanging out.

At one point we crossed a sand field that was roughly an +50- 55% incline. That’s more then half way to vertical by the way. It was tough going up, but the way down was really fun and easy.

At the peak, we were fairly well surrounded by steam vents which were belching sulfur fumes. Before us lay a sheer drop off into the crater. All we could see was a swirling cloud of steam. But far below we could hear something boiling.

Of course, at the top I popped open my bottle of victory Dew.

The trip back was fairly uneventful except for the monkey who tried to steal food from me and only got a beating from my elbow and a hiking pole.


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