I’m aware that I’m starting a great deal of these entries with a remark about the early hour at which we had to wake to head somewhere.
You may have also guessed that I am not a morning person.
I hate waking early. I find it difficult to fall asleep at the best of times. I have one of those minds that remains active right until the instant it switches off. For me, that time is around Midnight. Go to bed at 8pm, I’ll be awake until Midnight.
Early morning starts don’t mean that its time for an early night. It means that I’m getting much less sleep that night.
Successive early starts, means that I’ll generally get around one nights worth of sleep in three days and end up feeling like a zombie.
Sometimes it is worth it.
The knock on the door came at 3am.
I feel I need to re-write that is the disbelieving way that the old Grandstand vidiprinter would write a surprising football score.
The knock on the door came at 3 (THREE) am.
Reluctantly it was out of bed, and into my usual uniform of shorts and shirt. All around me, people were wrapped up in hiking coats, fleeces, the occasional scarf and generally looking like they were dressed for a British winter.
We were 1,700 meters up at a hostel in Ngadisari. We’d arrived the previous evening, our cars struggling on the steep climb.
Our transport this morning was to be Toyota Land Crusiers, and our destination was Mount Bromo.
We drove for around twenty minutes, up ever steeper and rougher terrain. Amazingly we would still pass though settlements, and even at the early hour, we’d see people walking carrying large baskets or building materials.
We pulled up in the ‘car park’ basically a slightly larger bend in the track with enough room to park up.
It was still pitch black as we started to climb the track to the vantage point from which we could watch the sunrise.
It began as a slither and soon the horizon was awash with colour. To my right, I could now start to make out the caldera of the Mount Bromo itself, releasing steam and gas into the atmosphere.
In that instant, I mentally crossed out another ‘bucket list’ item – to see an active volcano.
I’d seen the evidence of volcanic activity, and even the outline of one itself in Iceland. But here, the mountain was alive and I could see it with my own eyes.
The light grew quickly from this point, filling the landscape below us and revealing an amazing environment.
Apart from Mount Bromo, I could also see the peaks of Batok, Mungal, Widdaren and the towering Mount Semaru.
We were looking out on a sea of volcanos and it was majestic.
I walked back down and met the others at the jeeps. We then drove into the valley before Bromo itself. A sea of volcanic black sand.
The others started to hike up onto the crater itself. If we had been there longer, I would probably have attempted it myself. However, I knew just from looking at the steps that my knee would have a hard time.
As we were on apparently level ground, it was surprisingly easy to forget that we were already at 2,300 meters, and it was only as I found myself reaching for my inhaler that it even occurred to me.
In fact my thought process was ‘hmm, I need my inhaler. That’s weird. Oh yeah, I’m up a mountain’.
I do reckon that if I could have taken it at my own pace, then it would have been fine. But as we were on a time limit, I figured it was better not to push it.
Not that I was disappointed. The landscape was amazing, and I instead wandered between dunes of volcanic sands, or climbed down into small canyons. All around me were motorbikes and horses, and I amused myself watching the riders play on the dunes.
I found myself more jealous of the guys on the motorcross bikes then I was of the guys climbing to the summit.
All to soon the time at Mount Bromo was over.
It was 8am.
At home, in my previous life, I would be reaching to turn off my bedside alarm waking me for no other purpose but to head to an office.
Sometimes, the early starts really are worth it.