Today’s mountain is shrouded in legend. When one reaches the lake, one must never say a woman’s name out loud. I don’t know what happens when you say it loudly at the lake. But I strictly follow this instruction for all the right reasons.
After an early morning breakfast and photo session, I am taken to the village of Koto Baru at the foot of the Singgalang mountain. The driver helps me hire a motorbike, and I quickly make my way towards the communication masts. The road was recently paved, so there was no need for a motorcycle; one can drive a car instead. But who would refuse the temptation to ride a motorcycle early in the morning in the rain? Rob drives towards Ribu Gunung Malintang because he climbed Singgalang fifteen years earlier.
I stay alone at the communication towers, along with the promise of a motorcycle driver to pick me up later when I call him. I’ve talked to more than one guide about escorting me to the top, but they all say they have other things to do. Isn’t there going to be a lake story involved…? Or maybe tigers? If one trusts the Wikipedia maps, there should be some.
So I take the first steps and find the rope. It is definitely needed; the first few hundred meters are terrifying. Slippery clay after rain Unfortunately, there was only one rope, and after twenty meters, it ran out. Anyway, I make it to the forest, where there is an easy typical local jungle trail.
A high-voltage (at least, that’s what it looks like) cable runs practically from the bottom to the summit. It is often suspended from poles, but occasionally it is on the ground, and I need to step over it.
From the lake to the summit, there is just over half a kilometer of spectacular jungle. It’s all moss-covered, with many fallen trees. The fact that there is a trail is a real saving grace, but if there wasn’t, I think I could forget the summit.
Much to my surprise, after breaking through the prehistoric jungle, I find an enclosure at the top, with antennas behind the fence. I knew about the antennas, but the path to them is really surprising, and there is a radio playing inside. Fog, moss, fallen trees, and music from the radio. It’s like the beginning of a film…
I go down the same trail, but at one campsite, I notice a fork. I don’t want to go, but I decide to try it. Apparently the reluctance to descend on the slippery clay at the end of the trail is to blame. Surprisingly, the decision is correct. I arrive at the “officially” marked trail, which is a little steep in places but otherwise fantastic and easy to follow. The markers go from the summit all the way to the cultivated fields. If I remember correctly, the one at the top was #39, and the last one I found at the bottom was #4. Anyway, I could recommend this trail for both ascent and descent. At least suspicious cables will be avoided.
Sphaeropoeus is a very interesting creature. When frightened, it curls up into a ball and rolls down the hill. A great strategy to escape from your enemies.
There was some kind of celebration going on in the village, as a large number of well-dressed people headed towards it. If our driver is to be believed, a new village leader was elected. Soon Rob arrived; he came down from his mountain at a similar time, and we drove to the hotel in Bukittinggi.
Another Indonesian ultra summit. Great! I descended a few hours earlier than planned.. The mysterious Gunung Marapi and its highpoint Puncak Garuda awaits us tomorrow… mysterious because we don’t know if we’ll make it through the jungle to the actual summit.