We didn't sleep very well as our tent was in a busy spot, there were loads of other tents surrounding ours with noisy people inside them! It was also very windy which was a bit scary; I was worried the tent would be carried off with us inside! We got up at 2.30am and wrapped up warm. We had some toast and began our journey at about 3am.
The trek up the summit was HARD! It was definitely the most strenuous thing I've ever experienced both physically and mentally! I was glad I'm physically fit and my gym training was being put into practice. There were quite a few stops along the way up as my legs were so tired and my stomach was still a bit tender. Thankfully we left our backpacks in the tents so we didn't have to carry any extra weight. At one point we stopped for a break and ate a whole packet of biscuits between the three of us! I didn't feel guilty as I'd burnt off so many calories already and was sure they'd be burnt off in no time. I was craving healthier food with high protein contents as it would have made our energy last longer than a chocolate fix.
Alex was constantly head of me so poor Herman was stuck with me! He was so kind and encouraging. I think it was the last hour before the top (I lost track of time) we had to walk up volcanic sand which was insanely slippy! Herman advised me to follow his steps and I wouldn't slip - he was of course correct but it was so hard to concentrate on following a simple instruction. All around me girls were crying and turning back as they couldn't make it any further, this just fuelled my determination. I never had the thought of giving up; I'd walked too far to do that!
We didn't quite make it to the top for sunrise but we did see the sunrise very near the top. We reached the top about 30 minutes after sunrise. When I finally got to the top I sat down and cried out of sheer exhaustion. We took loads of photos, the view was breathtaking, I'd never seen such beautiful scenery.
After about 20 minutes Herman asked if we were ready to head back down. Alex said he wanted another photo "over there" pointing to a quiet area of the summit. We went over and Alex asked me to stand facing out to the view so he could get a point of view shot. When I turned back around I couldn't see Alex immediately as he as knelt down on one knee in front of me holding a ring box and asking the question I was longing to hear "will you marry me?" I cried and said yes, putting on the oversized ring (I was told it was temporary and could choose one when we go home). Herman captured the moment with the camera!
I was on cloud nine - it was the perfect proposal, so romantic! After hugs and kisses we started our descent back to camp. It was much easier walking down - Herman grabbed hold of my hand and we skied down the volcanic sand. Once we got to the bottom of the sandy part we had to stop to empty the sand out of our shoes and socks!
On the way down we saw loads of monkeys, they came very close to us and at one point it feel like we were taking one for a walk as it kept following us! It got increasingly hot as the sun rose up in the sky. Eventually we returned to the campsite feeling elated. Anton and Addie cooked us egg burgers for breakfast - every Indonesian dish seems to feature an egg! We ate and cleaned ourselves up with wet wipes then it was time to set off again.
Herman explained that the next part of the trek was tough - I mean really?! As if climbing the summit wasn't hard enough we had to walk down rocks with very sore legs, knees and feet!!! I lost track of how many times I fell over! We walked for a few hours and then stopped in a very beautiful setting amongst the clouds to eat lunch.
After lunch we carried on walking down until we reached the hot springs where we bathed by a waterfall to soothe our muscles - it was incredible! After some well needed relaxation time we carried on to the lake which surrounds the volcano. We saw locals fishing and Herman told us the lake was a natural water lake so we should swim in it. We got in and it was freezing so we only had a quick swim!
We were glad we had a quick dip as it cooled us down ready for climbing back up to the crater rim (the other side to where the campsite was the previous night). We were absolutely shattered climbing up – it involved lots of rock climbing and pushing our legs to their limits!
Near the top we met an English couple who were trekking as part of a group of 10 people – they told us that they had no water and that they had four porters and one guide between their group so there weren’t enough supplies. It turns out they paid less than us (we paid approximately £200 per person). I guess you certainly get what you pay for – we had our own guide and 2 porters. As a goodwill gesture we gave the couple a bottle of our water as we had plenty.
When we were nearing the top of the crater rim Anton poked his head down to ask us what we wanted for dinner so he could start cooking. We had a choice of curry or noodle soup so opted for noodle soup for something different. When we reached the campsite we saw our tents had been put up in a much more quiet secluded spot than the first night.
We watched the sunset over the Gili Islands and Bali. For a pre-dinner snack we were given popcorn. The temperature dropped so cold again after sunset so we wrapped up warm and went to bed at about 7pm! At first we couldn’t fall asleep as it was so windy and the tent kept flapping behind our heads. Eventually tiredness took over and we fell asleep for 9 hours!