Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 22 March 2019 • Destination
Saying ‘never’ to climbing mountains when living in the ring of fire is truly a dumb thing to do. Although I despise dragging my ass up an elevated terrain, it is bound to happen because there are some interesting things up there. It happened, yet again, when I visited Garut with Firsta. Firsta is an adventurous girl and she likes climbing mountains. She also likes to take me with her and I like to surrender myself. Her bubbly positive attitude always makes me voluntarily follow her. So being in Garut and reading that it is considered one of the easiest mountains to climb in Indonesia, it was inevitable for me to climb Papandayan Mountain.
We started a little late from Sumber Alam Resort, where we had stayed, hence reaching mountain parking lot about 2000 meters above sea level by 7AM. This parking lot is already on the edge of the crater. That day, there were no clouds in sight, and no trees for shelter, it was a really sunny day. A short walk up, I reached the white-greyish area where gas spewed from the sulphuric rocks and streams of warm water flow between the barren land. Walking through this area reminded me of scenes of walking on the moon. As raw as it seemed, there were modified motorcycles riding up and disappearing into the forest.
It took me about an hour hiking to the ‘dead forest’ because I wasn’t fit (I think the last time I was fit was in 2009) and it was hot. I struggled like a city kid. Firsta was encouraging as always, God bless her, and she skipped her way up like it was a walk in the park. Our guide had his laughs, hearing me complain like no tomorrow, but still very polite about it. If it was 10 years ago, it would have been an easy mountain, but that day it was an exhausting one. I didn’t have any energy to take a lot of pictures.
Recommendation: climb up early, possibly from 5AM.
You’ll find a lot of pictures of this place on the internet, which is understandable. The dead tree trunks are an eerie sight that you don’t often find. I, too, had wanted to see it. Accidentally burnt by fire, the dead patch looked ironic with the lush green surroundings. Although I consider reaching it to be an achievement, it was mildly astonishing and I couldn’t recall my guide telling odd stories of its formation. But beautiful, nonetheless.
“Don’t you want to see the edelweiss field? It’s just an hour up,” my guide said. My relieved face turned crooked. At first, I thought it was an absurd idea, walking another hour uphill. I pondered for a long time because I know, this was the only possible chance to see the forever-blooming flower in the wild. In other places, I might have to really hike a mountain for hours to see it. Here, it was an hour away??? After about 2 yeses and 3 noes out loud, I decided to head up for the heck of it. And boy am I glad I did!
The track had steep routes but nothing too dramatic, and there was a lot of trees on the path so it helped me breathe and complain less. A few meters on all fours, I finally reach a plain of edelweiss. Oh the happiness was irreplaceable.
Every edelweiss is different in the world because it really depends on the soil nutrition, heavily influenced by the volcanic soil and the climate. On Papandayan, the flowers were pale colored, hardly different to the color of the leaves and stem. It wasn’t too distinct unless you really come close and see it. It actually looked like pale dried flowers. Suitable for the melancholic or emo. But as pale as they were, especially in contrast to the blue sky, I was very happy to be there. It was my first edelweiss field! And yet, a few minutes afterwards I was back to thinking ‘never climbing again’.
To all non-climbers or those that are about to start climbing, if you browse around I’m sure you’ll meet the conclusion that Papandayan Mountain is perfect for you. But let me add the extra mile to see an edelweiss field. It isn’t too tough and is worth the effort in my opinion. And a word of encouragement, I recommend climbing Papandayan Mountain as a responsible act to start with an easier mountain and slowly challenge your body in the wild. Climbing an advance steep mountain on your first few climbs is your choice but it risks your safety and the people around you.
Because I traveled with the car from the Sumber Alam Resort, I don’t have the information on how to get to the parking lot up on the mountain any other way. But you can read more in this link. I can tell you it’s an hour car ride from Sumber Alam and you have to pay no more than IDR50,000 per person at the ticket booth. And boy was it great to head back after the climb and submerged in the hot water tub. That’s another interesting story, but for next time.