I had immediately taken an earnest liking to the spot where I had camped, but it was only later, when the warmth of a newly arrived sunlight forced me to open my eyes and behold the dew on my tent’s roof glimmering under it, that, captivated by such an atmosphere, I left my den and eyed the magic of that spot in its entire splendor. The rain had ceased. The fog had dissolved. The half-moon was soon to reach its climax on the purple sky above me and the sun was preparing to set somewhere behind the mountain, casting his concluding rays upon Mount Tuju and Tuju Lake shimmering in joy against me on the east horizon, and after the all-green valley oppressed by Kerinci’s massive shadow and adorned by a colossal rainbow spanning it from side to side. And me, I was standing up there alone, high up on that slope, all alone! There was no other person witnessing that magic, nor was anybody to hear my excited screams pervading the desolate air.
Later on, when the second phase of my sleep had been accomplished and I left my cozy tent for the second time, what I beheld was totally different, not any less magical, though. It was 3.30 am, the half-moon had set and there was nothing but some millions of stars and the heart-breaking milky-way ornamenting the infinite sky above me. The earth, now – let aside some dim sparkling from the tiny, finger-counted villages of the valley – was plunged into outright darkness. It was time for me to head upwards… I fixed a small bag with all the necessaries, I placed my torch aforehead and I started on that night trip, which is doubtlessly to be reminding me that life was worth living till the very end of my days.
As I left my glade, I was soon back into the forest, where whatever light the stars might had been offering was blocked behind the impenetrable, thick canopy, and my torch’s capacity was limited to a couple of meters through the suffusing fog. It was quite weird a hike, moving steadily up nearly blindly, while various nocturnal creatures were releasing their startled cries all around me and eye-pairs were momentarily twinkling at my torch’s light every now and then, awakening sensations of the primitive kind into my soul.
At about 3300 AMSL, the forest gave out, the starred sky reappeared upon my head and there was a completely alien landscape I was striding through. The slope I was ascending was covered by a loose and slippery scree, covered by some tar-like, sticky volcanic matter. In contrary to what I was expecting, the temperature, though surely chilly, was quite fair, above freezing level. And though I did not after all need gloves to keep my hands warm, I was very glad I had them with me, as they proved a great aid for clambering up the cold, sharp and tarry stones. The higher I was getting, the intenser was becoming the odor of the sulfur and the thicker the ash-fall, which was poured from the crater upon the mountain resembling snow.
Finally, at about 6 am, I was standing upon the roof of Sumatra. Everything was covered by a thick layer of that sticky volcanic matter, which had started accumulating and forming a layer upon me as well. The sulfur odor was nearly suffocating, making it quite hard to breathe in combination with the altitude. The top was a narrow piece of ground right beside a vertical precipice of the crater-rim, whence profuse loads of white smoke were emitted up towards the sky. The sun soon rose warming up the air and rendering visible the entire magnificence of what surrounded me. That crater was absolutely enormous. An idea took birth in my head of circumventing the whole rim, which would be a venturing of quite uncertain an outcome, very enticing, though, indeed.
After the sun had made some progress in its diurnal course, and my nostrils had nearly reached the limit of their tolerance, I decided to start on my way down again. It was a brilliantly beautiful morning up there. The views to the surroundings being absolutely marvelous, so that I had to empty a quarter of a cigarette pack, as an excuse to stop and wonder, till I reached back to my tent. The weather kept fair there for all the while, till I had breakfasted, packed up my stuff, and started on my way back to the village. The weather was not, unfortunately, to last, however. A few only minutes after I left my last night’s refuge, thick clouds caught me and kept pouring heavy loads of water upon me for all the rest of the day.
Coming to this mountain, I had quite some good hopes of encountering peculiar wildlife. I did see some animals, however, nothing special that could had possibly met my expectations. Though the surprise was kept for me for the end. Just a short while before reaching back to the foot of the mountain, a stentorian outcry broke out suddenly, echoing through the foliages of the dreary forest, startling me for the moment, as like a thousand needles had simultaneously pinched my stomach. Finally… it was the Siamangs! I had been looking for them in every mountain I had set foot on in Sumatra, but I had, till that very moment, zero success. And now, they were finally there, somewhere around me. Notwithstanding the heavy showers, I set to follow their creepy howls into the jungle, them becoming louder and louder, deafening, till I spotted the family frolicking in excitement up on some tall trees. What a beautiful creature!
It was around noontime when I had made it back to the road. The rain was as strong as ever and I had several more kilometers to cover before reaching back to the village. I wasn’t really counting on getting a ride back, as that road is barely used at all and I had no telephone – nor any number, even if I could find a device. For my good fortune, though, only a few minutes after I had reached the road, I happened to run into two local farmers loading a truck with potatoes, who offered me voluntarily a spot upon their load. I had never before imagined that one day I may travel on top of a potato-load, especially under a heavy storm, but life is full of novelties… It was quite a smooth and comfortable trip, even though the trunk door broke open at some point and we had to stop to pick up the fallen-off potato-sacks along the way and reload them onto the truck. And quite a spectacular, dramatical, triumphal, grand return from my great mountain adventure it was hopping off that truck, water dripping from all over, in front of the guesthouse.