Easter 2014, my friend and I were looking forward to an adventure. We packed our bags and picked up some food at the grocery store. A pair of flip flops would be needed this trip. I grabbed brown a pair of spirit sandals. We hopped on green public transportation and headed to Cicaheum bus terminal. It was quiet and empty at 9ish when we arrived. We chose Garut bus and paid Rp 20,000 each. My hairdresser who is originally from Garut told me it takes 2 hours to get there. That Friday was different. It was the Good Friday holiday weekend and everyone seemed to be heading out on vacation. We waited until the bus was full and ready to go. We could see a long line in the road. We could also see the mountains we would be hiking in the distance.
Papandayan Mountain was our destination. Two hours passed and we were still on the bus with everyone else. We could see green trees and rice fields on the way. Most of the time I slept. Finally we arrived in Garut bus station at noon. I bought rice and fried chicken before we got into small van that was going to take us to Papandayan gate. We met 5 geology students there who were going to the same place as us. It took us another hour and cost us Rp 15,000 each. When we reached to gate, there were many people who offered us ride to go to the trailhead. They said it would take us 2 hours hiking and gave us two alternate choices if that was too long. If we chose pick up truck, it cost Rp 200,00 for all of us. If we chose motorbike, it cost Rp 50,000/each. We chose car. We tried to bargain it down some more but they wouldn’t lower the price.
The road was not really smooth, we were shaking in the truck for the first twenty minutes and then the truck broke down. It just couldn’t move, the driver had no idea what was wrong. He checked the engines, tires, everything. He tried some tricks to make it go but nothing worked. Then he called his friend to come and we waited on the side of the road watching the river and wished that it wasn’t taking us so long to get to our destination. We saw other hikers passing by as we sat there.
Finally the driver’s friend showed up and fixed the truck so and we could get going again. Once at the gate we had to show our ID cards and write how long we would stay on the mountain. They made sure that we would camp in their official campsite. We paid and got ready to hike. People said Papandayan is an easy mountain to hike. It takes 2 hours to get to summit. We saw really beautiful crater and smelled sulfur after we went through forest. The weather was perfect. The geology students were so excited to see rocks and tried to make connection with lessons they had been learning in class.
We met some hikers who took pictures and shared their experiences at the summit. They told about us a short cut to go to the top. The were two routes. The first went to the official campsite and the other had a sign marked “Dangerous.” Other hikers suggested going to dangerous one and we decided that sounded fun. It was steep and we could see small trees 1 meter height around us. We kept walking straight. It was just seven of us who took this path. I was wondered whether we were lost. Apparently we were on the right track. We arrived in Death Forest around 4 and we could see the city. We saw two camps and decided to set up our tents too.
The sun was setting and we were ready to cook dinner. Our geologist friends needed some help setting up their tent. They didn’t bring any hook and string so they took off their shoe laces. It was dark when we were cooking dinner. We started a fire and boiled water for our instants noodles. Out geologist friends shared their rice and food can with us because we helped them build their tent and cooked for them. They told us it was last minute trip for them so they were unprepared.
We went to bed early because wanted to wake up in the morning for sunrise. It was windy that night because we camped on the ground without any trees to protect us. We tried to ignore coldness and closed our eyes to sleep. In the middle of the night, I woke up since I could feel something really bright. I opened my eyes, trying to find out who turned on the light in the room. I forgot I did outdoor camp. I saw moon, it looked so close, so big, so bright and thousands star around it. it was great to wake up to see the clear sky.
We went back to sleep and woke up because people were so noisy in the morning. Oh no, we almost missed sunrise. Sky was so clear that morning, it was so pretty. Orange sky, sun rose slowly and we were on the right spot. Great! Male hikers brought papers saying “i love you, ______ his girlfriend’s name!” it was cute to see how they made it to Papandayan and told the world about it. At least they loved ones.
We had green tea latte while people watched the sun rise. We gathered with the 5 geologist students and hiked to summit. We saw tons of tents in the official campsite, good thinking to camp at Death Forest. Most of trees looked so dry, we hiked to thicker forest for one hour and arrived at Tega Alun. We saw edelwiss, we walked a bit to see a river. Many hikers dipped themselves into it while we were there. There was another place we could see but we decided to go down the mountain instead.
As always going down was harder than climbing up especially since we needed to give space for motor cross riders who were trying to go to the campsites. Unfortunately, there was no rent car to go down or hitch hike. Most other hikers used motorbikes. There was a group of boys who looked so sad. I asked whether they could give us ride. They shared their stories that they lost their money on lending all their camping stuff. We agreed on giving them Rp 50,000 as they asked if they drove us to the main gate. They did.
We had lunch and met another hikers once we arrived there. It was cloudy and started to rain then we took a bus to get to Bandung. It was nice to hike in Papandayan, cant wait to hike another mountain 🙂