Atop Gunung Agung
November 19th, 2020
After our overnight at Sacred Mountain Sanctuary, today we’re climbing Gunung Agung in Bali.
The good news is that even though we started at 3:00 a.m. to get to here by sunrise, it’s been an easy virtual journey to the top. We encountered a little rain at the beginning of the hike as the trail snaked through the damp jungle full of dripping leaves and slippery tree roots. We moved gradually up the slope of the mountain until the terrain transitioned to solid rock with no plants or trees. We scrambled up the surface with hands and feet, being careful in the light of the moon. We reached the top as the sky warmed with sunlight and Gunung Agung threw a sharply defined shadow toward the horizon. From the top, Bali looks so thoroughly green.
It was 2002 when I climbed this volcano and it certainly shows in the grainy quality of the photos. Two guides led the way and we encountered a handful of other local climbers on their journey to the top of this sacred mountain. When we were there, the last major eruption had taken place in 1963 but Gunung Agung has more recently erupted between 2017 and 2019, disrupting travel and air traffic around Bali. Doubtful we would do this hike again, knowing the potential danger.
Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple of Bali, is located on the slope of Gunung Agung, west of where we made our journey. I can’t believe we didn’t pay a visit but at the time I was only starting to realize my interest in world cultures, traditions and beliefs. We did begin and end our hike at Pura Pasar Agung Sebudi, where a split gate at the top of the stairs marks the entrance of the outside world to this holy realm of the dragon god, Besakih. The top of the volcano reaches nearly 10,000 ft/3,000 m and upon arrival, our guide made an offering. In Balinese culture, Gunung Agung is strongly associated with Mount Meru, the center of the universe in the cosmology of several religions.
Enjoy the views! Tomorrow we’re going back to the future.
Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.