Jakarta – Malang
This was the 2nd time I hiked Mount Arjuna after a failure to reach the peak in January 2008. So, I was a little anxious in my trip to Arjuna. On the Gajayana train to Malang I tried to sleep as long as possible knowing the energy will be much demanded on Arjuna. It is 3339 M and the slope must be steep from Junggo approach, because Junggo is high and the trek is said to be straightforward. That was why I ate a lot of Sate-02 (Snail Satay) at the antique Blitar Railway Station. It is the only railway station in Indonesia whose large canopy is supported with a complex and century long wooden structures.
Malang – Junggo
From Malang we rented a car to Junggo with a stop in Batu for logistics acquisition. Offcourse we bought the famous apples in Batu. In Junggo it turned to be a delay of 14 hours because the porters were not available. Some of them were busy with the farming and some went to the national offroad cars show a few kilometers away.
We spent the night in the small warung in the pura yard. The pilgrims were many, some of them came from Bali. Some were local Hindus. In the afternoon we strolled the apple yards and picked the fallen apples. Sweet and sour and free. The night at the temple was chillier than we thought, so our sleeping bags were tight.
Junggo – G Arjuna Peak 1
By 3:00 am we got up and prepared. Breakfast was light and quick but hot. By 4:00 the porters arrived on their motorbikes and very soon we marched up the hill from the small road beside the pura. Still dark but not very cold like the night before.
The 1st half an hour was a farming enclave of carrots, potatoes etc. Then it changed to bushes but only a few minutes. There was a deceiving t-junction where the straight branch which was wide and clear actually was the wrong path. The right path was a steep bush-covered left turn. Anyone unfamiliar will definitely take the wrong path.
Afterwards the jungle appeared with its darkness and magical sound and airs. Unfortunately the majestic darkness of the jungle very soon vanished by 5:30. The trek was steep and many parts of it were dense bushes that told us the trek had not been hiked by many people. Actually it is always great to hike that kind of trek, although you do not like to wear a short. Some thorn bushes hurt your legs. Also, be careful with the surface irregularities. Some hidden horizontal root can bring you down to earth belly down.
All the way to the pine tree forest, the trek kept its steep mode. Fortunately the late morning was not very hot due to the weather and the trees canopy all along the way up. From 7:30 and on the trek was constantly steep with little spots for sitting nicely. Fortunately the ground was stabile enough and not slippery. The view was beautiful with forested valleys in the west and some higher ridges in the east. The wind swept gently and the pine trees swayed like dancing.
At 11:00 we stopped for lunch under the shade of the giant pine trees. Then at 12:000 we spotted a recent camping remains at a leveled plot of plain. It had to be Jo’s camping site. Jo is a friend of mine from Singapore who hiked Arjuna 1 week before us. She had to have a good time for the camping site was idyllic under a large pine tree, overlooking green valleys and meadows.
The steep ascent made stopped once every so often just to gain our breaths. The last ascent was an open meadow of 45° steep but I saw some large trees at the end of it. By 12:30 we arrived at the Puncak-1 plain that was of 2 or 3 badminton courses size. To the east it drops a little and then descents to the Wonosari (Kebun Teh) route in Lawang town near Malang. From the lower plain we could see clearly the real peak of Arjuna in the north-west. It looked close.
Puncak 1 – Puncak Ogal Agil
There were many trees on Puncak-1 and we took some 15’ rest before continuing to the real peak. The trek after Puncak-1 was a narrow path with edelweiss bushes and the ravines left and right. By 13:10 we got to the Pasar Dieng plain where the Puncak Ogal-Agil or the real Arjuna peak was clearly seen. Two pilgrims camped there by themselves.
We did not stop at the Pasar Dieng and continued to the Puncak-2 which is only 5 minutes away. From Puncak-2 the Puncak Ogal-Agil looked like of the same height. I rushed to the Puncak Ogal-Agil through a stony drop off path and a wide “punggungan”. The distance was only 800 meters or so. The last ascent to the famous Puncak Ogal-Agil was stoned steps of a few meters, and then there was I, on the Puncak Ogal-Agil that I longed for more than 2 years. Our team did not make it to the peak when we hiked Arjuna from the Purwosari approach in January 2008. The trek was long, the team was too large it was not in agreement, the planning was bad and the logistics were in problem.
The Puncak Ogal-Agil (Unstable Peak) was a stone garden at the height. To the other end of the peak plot, a sudden drop was fenced by the large stones. Later on from the descent trek we could see the peak from the back. No bushes, only some weeds. So there is no place to hide over there. At 3339m the wind blew harshly and not long after I sat, rain dropped. Without even taking a single picture on the peak, I rushed back to the lesser peak where the others took a rest having lunch.
The rain wetted us and the wind completed the freezing in the cloudy afternoon. All of use descended 3 meters below the main path and to get a sheltering spot. The place is our porter’s hiding secret. We hid under a rock canopy while cooking our lunch. No one talked much for we sat in cold under the rain. Luckily someone took the fly-sheet we brought from the other gathering point some 1 hundred meters away. We sat together shoulder to shoulder trying to get as close as possible to the small fire. After a hot noodle lunch, cold rice and hot coffee then the spirit came back with the warming body.
The rain stopped at 14:30 or so and we gathered at Pasar Dieng. Over there we lit a fire and warmed our wet bodies and clothes again. Some of us went up to the Puncak Ogal-Agil to pay their tribute to the mighty peak of Arjuna. For some of us, the Arjuna peak experience was a must after a failure in 2008.
The idle time for waiting was used to dry our wet clothes with the fire heat. Then by 16:00 we marched from Pasar Dieng to the north-west descending to the saddle. After a 30’ of edelweiss and cantigi bushes we entered a pine tree woods with initially slippery and leveled path. Afterwards the trek became steeply descending and stony. The darkness rose by 17:00 due to the cloudy weather. I prayed for no rain. The steep stony trek was quite difficult with the mist around us. Wulan fell and hurt her cheek but fortunately not too bad.
Iman and myself, we saw a white object moving around a large stone 30 meters away. We did not believe it was a sheet of plastic or cloth. The movement was different but who wore such a white cloth and danced in the misty dusk alone on the 30° slope of Arjuna? We did not talk about it until much later.
By 18:15 we decided to camp because we were all exhausted. The camping site actually was not ideal since it was slanted but our porters leveled the ground and clear the bushes. It was situated quite nicely with a wall-like background. Although the drop off was only 2 meters or so, at least it broke the wind blowing from behind us.
After a busy cooking we did not want quickly slip into our sleeping bags in the tent for the fire from the tree branch woods warmed use nicely. Slowly one by one we disappeared and slept like logs. Well, at least some of us did very well. Some did not really do. I woke up once every so often, and past mid-night I crawled out for a leak. The full moon shone shyly over the misty Mount Arjuna. The silhouette of the Mount Kembar 1 (Twin Mountain 1) was vague but quite clear. Some rock texture on it slope was shining under the moon. Stars were not many but for sure they appeared long enough to accompany the wary hikers.
The morning was warm and the breakfast was lavish and long. We talked about the plan for the day and decided hastily not to hike Mount Welirang for we got up late and reckoned the time might not be enough.
Camping Site – Lapangan Kotak
By 8:00 marched the team towards Cangar but I still silently wished a plan change to turn right some place later to Welirang. Less than an hour when the steep descent started to change with a nice slope of narrow clear trek. To the right and somewhat back, there stood the might Puncak Ogal Agil or the true peak of Arjuna from behind. But the back was brown for the land slide that must be quite recent. We reckoned that the peak could vanish with the land slide sooner or later.
A little while over by 9:00 or so we got to a junction with a sign on the large pine tree showing the direction to the peak. To the right is the famous Lembah Kijang and then Mount Welirang direction. We took the left turn to Cangar. The trek became dark under the shade of the pine woods. The air became misty and everyone stopped talking like feeling having to.
The trek was not clear, it was amidst a short bushes of our ankles level. Some places over there was open but shady. I did not reckon clearly if it was due to the cloudy morning or the eerie air. There was a sloping plain to our right, wide with a stones pile at the center. The place was called Kuburan Asu or Dogs Grave. They said wolves come to the place for dying.
We turned right and climbed a hill to get into a narrow and sloping trek that clearly was not hiked by many. To the right is the beautiful Kuburan Asu plain and a little further west the plain was said to be frequented by deer. The trek was not descending and we walked fast. By 10:00 we got the Sumur Kembar or Twin Wells. To the right and left of the trek the Sumur Kembar actually were similarly shaped big dry hole of 20 meters deep and 20 meters diagonal length.
Lapangan Kotak – Cangar
Then the beautiful Lapangan Kotak (Square Plain) 3 minutes later. The plain was not very wide but certainly makes a good place to camp. Again, I found Jo’s camping site. The Lapangan Kotak plain actually is a small savanna that ascends to the east or right. And that is the trek to G Welirang shorter than the others but you will have to climb Mount Kembar 2 first almost to its peak over 3000 m and then descend to another saddle and ascend again to G Welirang peak. The trek was not very inviting for the weary hikers from Jakarta in the cloudy morning.
The mist over the beautiful savanna made us hurry a little. Short rest of about 20’ and then we moved to the north west direction across a tall grass trek that reminded me of Mount Argapura but this time the ground was not as cruelly slippery like on Mount Argapura.
Very soon we entered a lower slope forest whose trek was clean in comparison with the other mountains. Thanks friends, you did not litter and all of us enjoy the nature like it was very ours. The bushes were wet so our trousers also became wet but we enjoyed the serenity of place and being with ourselves in the shade of the forest was really an experience I would not trade with anything else.
The descent was mild so our legs were not stiff and our steps were long. At 11:00 or so we passed 2 or 3 earth cracks close one to the others. Sulfuric fume stemmed from the cracks but they were practically dry. The cracks were guarded by 1.5 meters rocks and walking pass them in the night you might wonder what they are. In no mountains else did we saw such fuming cracks besides the hiking trek.
By 12:00 sharp we stopped at the Per-tiga-an (T-Junction), which was a 5m x 5m plot good for camping. The highlight of the lunch was the Jamur Banteng (Buffalo Mushroom) presented to us by pak Sam, the porter. He collected it some hours ago from a large tree. The rice, noodle and the canned fishes tasted incredibly with the mushroom magic. Nothing else actually tastes that delicious. And in no place else other than those 2500m altitude forests does the mushroom grow.
One pm, we hiked the trek again towards the Cangar main road along a dense bushes path. The light shower slowed us a little but not for long. In an hour of mild descent we suddenly spotted the wide brown view of the vegetable land. That is the Brakseng, or the hiking trek end. Brakseng must come from the steel roofed vegetable piling house or barrack situated only 5 minutes from the trail end.
The rain was harsh but we continued our hike to the main road across the macadam jeep roads. Half way we came across some farmers load their crops onto a truck but we did not want to wait for a ride and continued. The jeep road was zig-zag and one could easily get lost for there were no signs and not many people to ask. The slippery soil parts of the road were tricky and some of us fell like kids playing soccer on a very wet field.
Cangar Hot Spring
It was 15:00 o’clock when we got to the main road. Waited for a passenger car for a while then one came and took us to the famous Cangar hot water spring bath some 3 km north. When we arrived we were warned that our dip would not be long for it was already 16:00. But who cares.
The hot water spring water looked inviting after a short descent through a curling stairway amidst the shade of the large trees. The pool was full with the steaming water and with the bathers young, old and kids. Everyone in the vicinity must have dipped there that lovely afternoon.
One can not plunge directly into the Cangar pool for the water was more than nicely warm. The first dip was a little too hot for the legs from the colder height. But 5’ was enough for the gradual toe to head total immersion. And the dip in the hot sulfuric water was curing. Our stiff legs and weary bodies were freshened quickly. Certainly also the steamy water was good for peeling the dirt from all over our bodies.
The hot bakwan soup with its special aroma that you do not find any place else, only in Malang area, concluded our epic journey to Mount Arjuna. The rainy afternoon very soon got into the evening of togetherness in a cramped small car to Malang.