Ubud, June 2018
It’s Sunday evening and I just came back from Lombok, after trekking for 3 days 2 nights on Mt. Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
It has been with no doubt the most challenging hike of my life, with more than 30 hours of trek, 3031 mt of elevation gain up and 3586 mt down.
The trek has been a mix of intense moments of awe and suffering, but I would definitely do it again.
Since this trek has been such a special endeavour, I want to share with you 5 invaluable lessons that I’ve learnt from it. 😊
Lesson #1 | Celebrate every little step forward 🏆
Here I am, hiking up the backbone of Mt. Rinjani.
It’s 4:00 am and it’s pitch black. There is a beautiful moon and a sky full of stars above, but I can’t really enjoy it right now. A strong ice wind is blowing on my face, making my whole body shake.
I look up to the summit.
I can see it.
It’s very fucking far away. And the path only gets steeper.
It’s one of those moments where I ask myself why I didn’t stay under the blanket of my comfortable bed instead.
But here I am standing, unable to move. Holding all my weight on the faithful bamboo stick I have been given the day before. I thought the stick was for amateurs, now it’s the most precious thing I have in the world.
I don’t know what to do. This last endeavour is overwhelming.
It’s too cold, too steep, too slippery.
Maybe I can take another step forward. Just one. That I can still do.
Let’s celebrate it. Good idea.
I take another step forward. Yes.
Look, another one. And another one.
My body is staggering. My mind is weakening. I fall a few times. My hands get bruised. Not that I can feel them anyway.
But I get back up for another step forward. Yes.
I look up to the summit. It still looks very fucking far away.
No, no, no. Don’t do that. Don’t think about it.
The summit is not your goal.
Your goal is the next little step forward.
Come on man, take another one.
Yes. Good job.
I see some rocks not too far away. Let’s just get there.
Two of my group mates are there. I wonder why they stopped.
Then they say the sweetest words ever:
“This is it, mate. We made it to the summit.”
The sky is slowly turning red. I am freezing. And I’m happy.
Lesson #2 | The only option is to keep going 👉
Many times during the last 1.5 hours to the summit I thought I couldn’t go any further.
I was there thinking: “This is insane — what am I doing here?”.
I mean, I want to be here and I knew it was going to be hard. But Jesus Christ this is really hard. I don’t know if I can do it.
What options do I have though?
Here I am, on the crest of a bloody volcano hiking in the dark. Nowhere to hide, nowhere to rest.
This is a picture of the path at 6:30 am:
This is a picture of how the path looked like at 4:00 am:
It wasn’t fun. Not that it was supposed to.
But I am breaking. What do I do?
Do I go back? It’s still gonna be awful.
Do I stay still? It’s still gonna be awful.
And more importantly, did I seriously come all the way up here from Bali, to turn back one hour away from the summit?
There is no other option.
The only option is to keep going, one little step at a time.
Lesson #3 | Regular People are True Heroes 🙌
Besides my amazing group mates, during the three days of hike we met hundreds of other people from all over the world.
Not particularly successful people.
Just regular people. Like me and you.
Some were from Brazil. Some from Australia.
Some were in their 20s. Some in their 60s.
None of them will get covered by the media for hiking Mt. Rinjani. And that’s ok— it’s not such a big deal after all. But to me they are heroes nonetheless.
They all tested themselves with a significantly challenging endeavor, and they were an incredible inspiration to me while going up.
I remember looking around on the last bits to the peak, observing all the light flashing in the dark in front and behind me, and thinking:
“These guys are going for it. What’s your excuse?”
And that was powerful.
When we see our peers commit to reach greater goals, it gets easier for us as well to endure our own struggle.
Lesson #4 | You are stronger than you think 💪
When I signed up for the trek, my main focus was around whether or not I was able to reach the summit. And it made sense, because that’s still the hardest segment of the whole hike.
But clearly, together with my group mates, I totally underestimate what was coming after it.
As we climbed down to the basecamp around 8 am, to have our well-deserved breakfast, we soon realised that it was just the beginning of an intense day of hiking.
As a matter of fact, the program was to descend to the bottom of the mountain to have lunch at the lake and then climb up again on the opposite mountain for a total of approximately 7 hours.
“Insane” was the only word I could think of during the hike — putting the backpack on my shoulder for the umpteenth time.
As I was climbing the opposite mountain with my tent-buddy Edi — at the end of the day — I couldn’t help but look behind us, at the peak of Rinjani.
I just couldn’t believe we were there, just earlier in the morning.
If you would have asked me if I could hike so much on a single day, descending and ascending such altitudes, I would honestly have answered:
But there I was, taking the picture.
It was one of those real moments of growth, where the mind truly expands, and you realize that you are way stronger and more capable than you think.
Lesson #5 | Not even the worst will kill you 😁
Now, imagine you just hiked 1548 mt up and 1726 mt down on a single day, with very little rest the night before and throughout the day.
You finally reach basecamp number two. You are a hero.
You deserve a medal, some delicious Nasi Goreng and a tea to enjoy the sunset before going to sleep.
You deserve that. You really do.
But you are not entitled to it.
As a matter of fact, the mountains do not care that much about how tough your day was.
So..what about some strong, incessant, cold wind instead?
After such a long, draining day I can’t imagine what could be worse than that.
But that’s what’s on Life’s Menu.
What can you do about it? Nothing. Just deal with it.
I put my backpack on the side of the tent facing the wind, trying to create a bit of protection, and then I disappear into my sleeping bag.
It’s incredibly noisy. Severely cold. Extremely annoying.
It sucks on any level. But somehow I manage to still get some rest. Maybe I am enlightened. Or maybe I am simply too tired. But we make it through the night.
Here we are, still smiling. Not even the worst could kill us.
Another great lesson, from an unforgettable hike.
It’s time to descend the final part of the trek and get a proper shower.
Then have some rest, before planning for the next challenge. 👊