Walk­ing the vol­cano

Girls brave slip­pery trails, rain and Su­ma­tra – and miss a vol­canic

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OUTDOORS -

Would you like to write about your ad­ven­tures? Or want to share some tips on in­ter­est­ing out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, safety, equip­ment or eco-friendly prac­tices? Please write in to our out­doors co­or­di­na­tor, an­drew Sia, at star2@thes­tar.com.my made some bad judge­ments and slipped, but we were lucky to have our guide, Ri­jal who en­sured our safety along the way.

But it wasn’t slip­pery and slimy all the way, what makes a vol­canic hike in a trop­i­cal re­gion unique is its di­verse ter­rain. From the main tar road, we took a short­cut by climb­ing up some whi­tish lime­stone, a route punc­tu­ated by branches which stuck out and over­hang­ing shrubs. My friend ac­ci­den­tally knocked her head into one of the branches.

Even with an LED torch light, each step we took was risky as we weren’t sure if the ground was solid, or ac­tu­ally a muddy pool of wa­ter. There were cer­tain parts where we had to dip our shoes into the “stream” but as we went higher, more rocks and boul­ders emerged. It was like go­ing through nat­u­ral foot re­flex­ol­ogy!

An ac­tive vol­cano means that geo­ther­mal ac­tiv­ity re­mains high and it takes the form of hot springs and fu­maroles, open­ings in the earth’s crust where steam and sul­phurous gases are emit­ted. The sound can be quite deaf­en­ing if there are a few fu­maroles in close prox­im­ity.

The sul­phuric smell kicks in as well and it is not hard to spot the yel­low lumps of sul­phur around you. And while you wouldn’t ex­pect to see a pool in a moun­tain hike, craters are another at­trac­tion of this trek.

When we fi­nally reached the top, we were just in time to catch the sun­rise be­fore 7am. We re­alised we were the only peo­ple in the moun­tains and, as how dif­fi­cult hikes end, we reaped our re­ward: a spec­tac­u­lar scenery of cas­cad­ing moun­tains with a clear view of Mount Sinabung which looked as dor­mant as a hi­ber­nat­ing hedgehog.

With the sun up, trekking down was eas­ier and we moved on with our plan to visit Lake Toba af­ter sub­merg­ing our­selves into the hot spring nearby.

the town of berastagi, 65km from medan.

mount Sibayak has di­verse ter­rain. at the foothills, there are lush forests in­ter­spersed with lime­stone. at higher al­ti­tudes as here, noisy fu­maroles belch sul­phurous fumes.

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