I had been birdwatching on and along the summit trail for several days. And off course, I would go to the summit.
Several, actually most of the guests of Kersik Tua‘s most popular homestay of Mr. Pak Subandi had the same idea. Some were looking for company, and I was approached as well. Some candidates did not have a sweater or walking shoes, most of them were lacking sleeping bags, some were outrightly clueless. I was very pleased, when eventually everybody had the partner he was longing for – and I was not involved.
Around 6 am I was devouring the excellent chokolate-banana-pancake made by Mrs. Subandi. Then, Mr. Subandi would drive me through the 5km of boring tea plantation to the start of summit trail. This time, I largely would have to ignore the birds and just go up.
Mr. Subandi had indicated (upon request, this had been my own impression as well) that the weather on this special day looked better than average.
And thus I decided very early to gamble with high stakes! Well below 3000m I hid my sleeping bag, tent, dinner, tooth brush and other non-summit-items behind a tree. Now I was travelling light, and would have to sleep low. The advantage was, that I would sleep in the region, where water is available. But I was more or less bound to reach the summit the same day. With the other advantage, that the next day would be available for forest bird watching again ...
For most of the time the trail was fun climbing (feet on soil, hands on roots or branches). Above the forest, visibility vanished, but partly returned when I reached the summit. Another peak I had for myself!
Gunung Kerinci is a perfect crater (very steep inside), constantly emitting impressive sulphur clouds. At places the rock is warm, when you touch it. You are as high as you can be in Sumatra, on the other hand you are so close to the inside of our planet ...
Noon is not a good time for the summit region. Visibility was very poor. Retracing to the forest involved a lot of compass use and rubbish spotting.
On the way down, rather late and rather low, I met the rather clueless (they always admitted it, that was part of the fun) guys from Belgium and Holland. The guy from Belgium had destroyed his shoes on the first meters and had to go back and borrow a pair from Mr. Subandi! The guy from Holland was carrying a normal bag instead of a backpack, but this was caused by shortcomings of the airline they had arrived with. We exchanged information, and down I went.
I could have gone down back to Kersik Tua, but prefered to sleep in one of the shelters in the forest for better birdwatching the next day. I enjoyed the night, apart from the rat running along my sleeping bag :-(
The next day I had brilliant views of the rare Salvadori’s Pheasant, and thus my noon-summitting-strategy was rewarded.
Predictably, on the trail I met Jiri from eastern Czech republic and his 65 year (?) old australian partner Marc, both of them heading for the summit the next day. I handed Jiri, who was travelling really light, my fleece (sweater), and also insisted on that they take my compass (which they took reluctantly).
Many hours and many more birds later, I heard some dutch talking on the trail. Two very tired but very happy guys were coming down the mountain. They had made it as well, with borrowed shoes respectively a normal bag.
The next evening, when coming home (to our all homestay) from another birdwatching day, I was glad to see a very happy Jiri and his australian friend drinking tea. Yes, they had conquered the summit. Yes, they had to rely on my compass extensively ...
The next two days, nobody climbed Gunung Kerinci.