A big part of the reason we are out on this crazy adventure as a family is because Jamie and I believe it is a great way for our children to grow up, to appreciate the world around them and our place within it. But we wonder what memories will stand out for them in the decades to come, what experiences are etched or shape them. Every once in a while, we find ourselves living moments that resonate in that space. They are reminders that- for now, at least- this is the right path for us.
Climbing Gunung Api will surely be one of these indelible moments. It was this image of Mairen at the summit that brought it home. It’s not like we’ve had to train for weeks and wear special equipment or hire a guide or any of that other baggage. It’s that the volcano is a massive, looming presence in our view. The sides plunge down from a little over 2100 straight down to the bay where Totem is moored. No massive peak, but with a drop straight to the sea, it beckoned us! And climbing it was hard. We were soaked, jelly-legged fools at the top. She was triumphant at the achievement: climbing this peak that hovered behind the mist above us all week.
In each of their very different personalities, the children experience it in entirely different ways, but each one feels like a marker. For Niall, it was stepping into Explorer shoes, and documenting every step with our GoPro (we have got to get smart with the editing on that thing so I can start sharing video!).
Ryan picked us up in his boat, to head to the trail
Siobhan, our youngest, has not been our strongest hiker. *cough* …by kind of a long shot. And being the youngest, that’s sometimes been the limiting factor for places we go and hikes we tackle. So for her, it was simply doing this. She did a fantastic job, and she knows it. Yes, Ryan gave her a lot of help, but she still got to the top on her own two feet.
Ryan and Siobhan the summit. Yes, he was barefoot the whole way.
The words Gunung Api are, literally, fire mountain- and translate from Indonesian as volcano. This particular peak last erupted in 1988, and black streams from the last lava flow still mark sides of the peak.
Much of the hike is under a jungle canopy, the shade helping us keep cool. However, it’s nearly straight up. No switchbacks ease the strain on our thighs. The trail turns quickly from humus and leaves to a talus-like volcanic rubble, and eventually to a finer scree as we come out of the lush forest and into the exposed top stretch.
When we reach the top, about 90 sweaty minutes later, we are soaked and exhausted, but the view is exhilarating. Mairen nailed it with her exultation at the top.
There's nothing really specific to the cruising life that lets us find moments for our children where they can tackle a challenge and learn about themselves in the process. But I feel lucky to find really unique opportunities that build their life story, fill out their role in our family narrative, with strength and interest and achievement. These kids have some stories to tell.
A few more pictures from our morning on the mountain...
Jamie takes in the view