One step. Then another. All I had was a small flashlight in one hand and a handful of determination on the other. It was January when I booked a flight to Bali, Indonesia – the third time I’d visit this small island I learned to love. We had an unfinished business – hiking Mount Batur, an active volcano in the Batur village in the Kintamani district of Bali.
It’s one of the three goals I set for myself after a painful breakup.
We woke up at 12 a.m. to prepare for a three-hour drive to Batur. Our driver, a funny Balinese man named Gusde, picked us up at 1 a.m. and we began our journey through the sleepy roads of Bali, first from Kuta then to Ubud to meet our other teammates. Our trek began at 4 a.m. under the moonlit sky with our very reliable guide, Wayan.
I felt my left leg numb a bit – it has been like this since I started running again – and I was scared that I might get cramps either going up or down the volcano. I let my left leg negotiate with my right as if saying, “We gotta support this little girl right here.” Yes, they had to because the hike was not easy. It was dark – and slippery.
We had to make it.
Ten minutes into the starting point of the hike, I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. And I was thankful that nobody noticed it because it was dark. I tried talking to Wayan to stop myself from crying all the way up. I was tearing up because I couldn’t believe I was already doing it – on my own – without him. We were supposed to hike it together when we went to Bali last year but he got sick and we didn’t have the time to do it anymore.
Eventually, the hike got harder and harder. The trail got steeper and steeper. Few weeks ago, I hiked a mountain back home and although it wasn’t the scariest mountain to hike in the Philippines, I was glad I did it. It was good practice. Mount Batur’s hardened lava made the hike a lot more challenging.
There were two routes and we chose the harder, but shorter one (Actually, Sun Yup, our teammate from South Korea, chose for us) and we realized later on that it probably wasn’t the best choice until we got to the top on time. Our goal was to reach the peak of the volcano in time for the sunrise – and luckily that day, the sun was in its best mood. The clouds must have known my reason for climbing Mount Batur because it gave way to one of the best things I have ever seen in my life.
What a beautiful world.
Watching the pinkish sky above the floating clouds was magical. People waited, hoped, and laughed with friends. The sun slowly peeked over the horizon. The clouds remained a peaceful friend waiting with us. On the other side of Mount Batur were Mount Agung and Mount Rinjani – probably soaking up the energy that people atop Mount Batur were giving out.
The pink sky turned into orange and amidst the noise, I sat there in peace, thinking how I finally made it happen. I let a couple of tears run down my face, realizing that I hiked this mountain not to heal, but to feel. To feel what was left – the pain, the sadness, the longing.
The scene — what Mount Batur hike is all about.
It was surreal.
Hiking Mount Batur was extremely difficult and exhausting. I asked myself several times why the hell I had to do it. I just wanted it to be over. And it’s the same process in healing – as with all things in life.
Sometimes, we meet people in our own hikes – some will guide us and walk with us while others will leave and choose a different route from ours. The challenge is to keep going – maybe with new people, but hopefully, not alone. When it gets hard, you’re faced with a choice: you either take a break and keep moving up or you go back. In my case, there was no way but up.
Whatever happens, we all just want it to be over. This hike has shaken me in ways only time will reveal and I can see God’s hand working his magic through my heartache, proving just how strong I can truly be. I’ve seen him work his magic through that sunrise unfolding right before my very eyes.
Finally… I’m done with climbing this mountain I’ve always wanted to climb.
I danced under the moonlit sky. I wish I can describe exactly how it felt – to finally tick items off my list – but I can’t. All I know is that for the first time since that cold winter night when we broke up, I recognized myself again.
I hiked Mount Batur with one thing in mind – to feel whatever needs to be felt. Exhaustion. Pain. Frustration. Impatience. Whatever. The goal is not to get rid of them but to let them flow, and to allow them to break me. So that when the sun shines again, the light will pass through all my broken cracks.
And I will never, ever be the same.