Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Study Abroad: Ijen and Bromo

We took the ferry from Bali to Java. Mt Merapi loomed in the distance on the east end of Java. Mt Ijen sits right behind (to the west) Merapi.

Looking back to the west end of Bali. 

We were picked up by Blue Flame tours. Our first activity was  driving up into the foothills to see plantations of coffee, rubber and cloves. We then visited a beautiful, but cold water fall. 

The taller trees shade the understory coffee trees. 



We stayed a a lovely hotle north of Banyuwangi looking out over teh strait. There was a large wedding going on while we had dinner.--so many women decked out in beautiful, colorful, sparkling wedding like dresses with matching jilbabs (hijabs)

We slept  from 8:00 pm to about 11:30. At 12:15 we headed out. We started from the Ijen trail head at about 2;00. It was a straight up steep climb, but at least the trail was well worn and easier to follow than Tambora. Once on top we then descended down a rocky rough trail into the crater where sulfur rises on the shore of a turquoise lake giving up blue flames as it solidifies into yellow cakes of sulfur. The sulfur is then mined by local men who then carry the sulfur up out of the crater and down the mountain on their backs. The sulfur gives of nasty fumes so most hikers were gas masks. These two photos show the miners hauling their quarried sulfur up out of the crater as a line of head-lamped hikers walk down. What a tough way to make a living.

There are only two places in the world where these blue flames are found--Iceland and Ijen, One of our guides joked and said there was a third place--the blue flames on our kitchen gas stoves. 

Four photos of the blue flames by Will. Notice the yellow sulfur.

Someone's head lamp casts a shadow and illuminates the yellow sulfur in the distance. 

After seeing the blue flames we headed up and out of the crater so that the continuing parade of tourists (mostly Indonesians) could all get a look.

The Dutch damned up the crater at the depression on the far side so that there would be water near the emerging point of the sulfur, Water helps it to solidify. 

Notice the miner's hut, people on the shore of the acidic lake and the yellow sulfur oozing up with no longer visible blue flames, but visible smoke/steam. With the shifting winds we never knew when we would be enveloped by stinging sulfur gas. 

It was such a beautiful morning, watching the changes of colors. 

The crater rim with tourists and sulfur miners. 

I bought a small piece for my rock collection. The hard working miners, have my respect. It is a tough climb. 

Looking down to the east coast of Java.

Mt Raung, another volcano.

The trail down.

It's steeper than it looks.

Pointing the evacuation route down if there is an eruption. 

Porters are available to pull non-hikers up and down the mountain. Another tough job.

We were back to our hotel by 9:00. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast, showered, rested and then were on the road by 11;30. Next stop (after a six hour drive) was a small, cheap hotel half way up our next volcano--Bromo. We slept a few more hours this night but were on the road by 3:00. 

We hiked down from the rim (a string of lights) of the outer crater of an ancient volcano, across a sand sea and up to Bromo rim in about an hour. Four of us and a guide ventured forth and walked about a third of the way around the crater. Five years ago I did not dare follow this path because it traversed across freshly deposited ash and did not seem stable. This time, the ash had been packed down and washed away and so the path out to the far point was wide enough for nervous me to proceed. Most others remained behind where the rim was wider and there was a protective fence. Read about my 2016 visit to Bromo here: http://beitemmett.blogspot.com/2016/08/bromo.html

On July 4, 1977, a group of us missionaries climbed Bromo and watched the sunrise (the one time on my mission I felt cold). We were then stupid enough to walk around the whole rim. On the far side, on a narrow trail with steep slopes on both sides and unstable rocks underneath us, I remember thinking that my mom's prayers for the safety of her son may not cover crazy 20 year olds thinking they are invincible. We were however, smart enough to turn down an offer by a local Tenggerese man to lead us down into the crater--which at the time was mostly solid rock, unlike the current slope that is eroded ash. 

Here are four photos from my 1977 climb. 

He offered to take us down into this crater. It did look safer back then.

The rising steam gave off a constant loud roar. 

Looking to the outer rim. 

Our guide and my three fellow adventurers. They were about forty yards beyond where I dared to go.

Will called for me to stop so he could take my photo (below). I love it. 

Heading back to the steps down.

Rain eroded ash.

I was surprised to see a new lake. We couldn't see it from the far side. 

The local Tenggerese are related to the Balinese and are also Hindu. Here Ganesha receives offerings. 

During the pandemic the stairs were refurbished and cleaned of all the ash that has been deposited on and off over the past few years.

Followers for offerings. In 2016, I cast a flower offering into the carter. 

A little wind on the sand sea and the Hindu Temple.

The jeep parking lot. Some in our group would have enjoyed a jeep ride in but they come later and bring crowds. I prefer an earlier departure and the solitude of an early arrival on the summit. 

Steaming Bromo on the right and a cloud covered Mt. Semeru peeking out in the distance (the tallest volcano on Java and also a holy mountain for Balinese and Tenggerese). 


We walked from the stairs on the far right all the way along the rim ending just as the photo ends. 

A classic photo of smoking Bormo and Semeru.

We drove back to our hotel for breakfast and by 9:30 we were on the road to Malang. The road down the mountain through Tenggerese villages passed through steeply cultivated hill sides growing cooler climate crops of onion, cauliflower and potatoes. Two early mornings of volcano hiking wore us out, but in my book, it was worth it. 

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