Some experiences help shape the person you are, and for me, hiking Indonesias second highest volcano was certainly one of them. Back in 2018, my partner and 2 friends decided to take on this challenge together and hike the notorious Mount Rinjani, located on Lombok. In total the hike takes 3 days. On the second day you reach the summit standing at 3,726 metres tall. Back then I was not a big hiker. I was pretty unfit and had no motivation to take on a challenge this difficult, but my love for photography took over and I knew I wanted to capture a photograph at the summit. I’ve struggled with mental health the majority of my life and around the time of this hike, I was feeling very low. It can be hard enough for someone with depression to get out of bed, let alone hike a huge volcano for 3 days with zero experience, especially if you’re not in the right headspace. Despite this, I decided to give it a try.
Over the course of 3 days, we would learn a lot about what our mind and bodies were capable of. Day 1 consisted of hiking for roughly 7 hours over various terrains and steep inclines to reach the crater rim. This is where we would sleep for the night, before hiking to the summit the following morning.
All throughout the day my body struggled to adjust to the altitude change while my feet were killing me. Being a novice hiker I had no hiking boots, so I wore regular sneakers instead. This resulted in me losing 3 toenails after we finished the hike.
Not long after arriving to camp, I vomited the meal we ate a few hours earlier. My body continued to struggle, but the views were amazing. I’ll never forget being above the clouds while the sun set below us
The following day would be one of the hardest days of my life. In many ways I’m thankful for what it taught me and that I was able to capture capture it. Our day started at 2am to reach the summit in time for sunrise. Being incredibly drained from the day before, it took us a lot longer than expected and we reached the top at 7:30am. If you ask anyone what the hardest part of hiking Mount Rinjani is, they’ll say the last 500 metres. A vertical wall of loose gravel where you take 1 step forward and slide 2 steps back. Everyone collapsed from exhaustion after reaching the top. I was almost too tired to even hold my camera.
Over the course of the 3 days we hiked for roughly 25 hours while carrying our 7kg camera bag the whole way, and this image is the result of that. From the top you had panoramic views over the whole island of Lombok and could see as far as Mount Agung on Bali. If you look closely you can even spot it in this image.
After completing the Mount Rinjani Hike, my mentality shifted. It taught me that my body and mind are capable of so much more than I think. I kept telling myself I couldn’t do it, but my body continued and was able to reach the summit. As hard as it was, I am incredibly grateful for the experience and now look back on it as a huge lesson, which is you can achieve anything you put your mind to.