The Year Starts Off With The Snazziest Yet
Lauren Joins Me For A Sunrise Hike To Remember
Who knew? It turns out I write a hiking blog. It’s been a little while, I almost forgot all about it. I kid, of course. But seriously, between having a blast on vacation and putting some serious focus in to getting a) the YouTube Channel up and running and b) the new pages on the blog created and posted, I wasn’t sure I’d even have a chance to WRITE about my sunrise trek of Mt. Batur. Speaking of those new pages – check em out: a whole new page introducing our whole team, Meet The Squad. And a (never complete) list of my hopefully-in-the-future Bucket List Adventures. On top of that, I went ahead and planned our entire 2020 Schedule too. And how can I forget the other thing keeping me super busy: Eminem dropped a new surprise album I’ve been busy dissecting. Forgive me. It’s 10pm, Lauren’s snoring, I ‘m watching The Office and I realized – hey, I miss writing. Let’s go.
Early in 2019, Lauren and I had been watching a whole lot of travel channels on YouTube. We knew travelling was something we wanted to dedicate some serious time to. Before any research, Bali always sounded like a place rich celebrities went. And while that may be true, it’s not entirely like that. Obviously, that was a little ignorant of me to think. So, with a little research, it was decided that our first real big, international adventure together would be Bali. We generally go to Cuba once a year, to a very no-frills type resort, mostly because we know all the locals around the area and it feels sometimes like going home. But this was going to be different. We wanted to travel for a month and avoid much of the tourist-trap stuff. We wanted to live like we live at home – cooking, chillin’, connecting with each other and just enjoying life. All without the everyday rat race of work and responsibility. To get our mind, body and souls back in touch with ourselves and each other. To de-stress. To me, naturally, one of those building blocks of de-stressing meant finding something to hike. As soon as the flights were booked and the trip was official, I started looking for something to climb.
We started under moonlight and hiked until sunrise. Click each photo for a better look
How Active Can A Volcano Really Be?
Hiking a major mountain for Lauren is like going to a Backstreet Boys concert for me. Like, would I if Lauren had no one to go with? Of course. But would I enjoy it? Maybe like a corkscrew through my earholes. So, being on the other side of the world, without my trusty Johnny Mountaintop with me, she wasn’t about to make me do this thing alone. I would have, but she’s got my back like that. The hike started off with a 1am pickup at our villa. We’d been still getting used to our 13-hours-ahead-of-home sleep schedule, and this was going to throw us off a little more. My excitement had prevented me from sleeping, so by the time our pick-up happened, I was already awake for about 20 hours. The two hour drive to the mountain was pretty smooth and without a hitch. We were joined in the van by a couple from Australia, Tilly & Alex. At 1am, they were not in the socializing kinda mood, they were in the let’s-get-a-final-nap-in-before-hiking kinda mood. I was amped up, Lauren was pretty awake and we were attempting to be chatty. We were probably soooo annoying in these first few hours. Like, shut the eff up already, Canadians.
The hike itself started off real tame, just a dirt road with no incline. Now obviously this couldn’t continue. It’s a 5,600 foot mountain after all. But I’d heard some expectations from both ends of the spectrum – it’s a super easy hike and it’s much tougher than you think it is. After about the one-third mark, the mountain really began to reveal it’s secrets. It was full of switchbacks – basically a zig-zaggy trail up the mountain, rather than a straight line – meaning we would have some serious incline, followed by some level ground. Then we’d zig back up some incline and zag back across level ground. And zig. And zag.
I tried to motivate her, but anyone who truly knows her, the real her, deep down, knows in those tough situations she really just wants to be left the fuck alone to deal with the situation. Our guide kept stopping and waiting on us, despite us asking him to keep going so Lauren could have the space she so craved. She broke a few times, wanting to quit, reducing to tears. I suck in situations like this. I hate feeling helpess, I hate not being able to just make her world feel normal again. But truthfully, for a non-hiker, this was one big, badass mountain. It is a monster and not to be taken lightly. Toughing it out started to quickly pay off. The moon was falling away. Reds were starting to creep up over the horizon, when suddenly Adi, our guide, called out “five minutes”. And we were there. Presented our own private bench and blanket, rewarded with hard-boiled eggs, hot mashed-banana sandwiches and coffee, we’d made it. Five thousand, six hundred and thirty-three feet up, the summit of Mt. Batur. And suddenly every step was worth it.
We kicked around the summit a while. I snapped photos. Recorded the sunrise. Had some quiet time. I cried a little. I thought about home. I thought about the past. I thought about the future. I missed Johnny Mountaintop, wishing he’d been on the summit with me. I thought about my best friend Matt and knew how proud he’d be of me. Ditto with my family. But mostly, in complete honesty, I looked beside me at the champion of a wife I had sitting by my side. She literally climbed above the clouds with me, just to see that child-like smile on my face. What the actual fuck, for real. She’s every bit of amazing I make her out to be. This trip – being alone, just the two of us alone on the other side of the world – is not paradise every minute of every day. We drive each other nuts sometimes. No one person can spend every minute of every day cooped up with only one other person for company. It’s contrary to human nature and we’re not immune. But on that day, she gave every piece of her physical capabilities because she knew how much it meant to me. And it’ll live in my memory forever.
So lemme give you a shoddy video to give you an idea....
Seriously, turn your volume waaaay down before watching. It was windy AF.
In My Head, I Was Thinking Like Snoop Dogg - Bitch Please
Of course I didn’t say that. But when Adi was guiding us on the way up and I mentioned hoping to see some monkeys at the summit – I’d heard there would be monkeys – he was skeptical. It had been raining and somehow it had been “cold”. Whatever “cold” means over here. I think “cold” means, like, 32 degrees or so. But I wasn’t having it. Imagine being told to show up somewhere and there would be punch. And pie. And then there was no punch, or pie.
Not on my watch, Adi. I came across the world to hike this volcano. And I expected monkeys. And then it happened. In all their glory, a good six or seven monkeys walked right by. One was a baby monkey. One was stealing food from one of the hikers. This was when I snapped what I feel is my best photo to date.
I spent the rest of the downhill part of the hike filming, capturing sick views for the YouTube video of the hike, chatting with Alex, watching Lauren make new friends and enjoying the beauty day it turned out to be. It was the most perfect day, all I wanted it to be. The end came too soon. At the beginning of the trail, we did a bunch of posing. I had wanted to snap a photo of the City of Cornwall flag at the summit, but knowing the Indonesian national flag was flying at the trailhead, I took the opportunity to take a much better photo instead. I hugged and thanked Adi. And just like that, we were back in the van – my first real bucket list adventure checked off the list. My 2020 hiking season started with an incredible day filled with memories and amazing people. I couldn’t ask for anything more. And this is just the beginning. While on vacation, like I mentioned way at the top of this page, I’ve planned our team’s 2020 adventures. We have some big time adventures on the horizon, including a ton of new Adirondack High Peaks, the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, maybe even the highest peak in the Rockies. The YouTube channel is picking up and the blog is better and busier than it’s ever been. I can’t help but think that it’s only up from here. Up next, once I return home, Johnny Mountaintop and I are about to push our winter hiking skills and our physical bodies further than we ever have. We will be attempting to complete the entire Saranac Lake 6 mountain group in under 24 hours, what they call an Ultra attempt. You know me – luck is for losers, we got this. Thanks for reading. If you haven’t seen the video that accompanies this epic Mt. Batur hike, I’ll leave it here at the bottom for you. I know it’s a little on the long side. (That’s what sh….stop it…) I don’t expect all of our future videos to be half an hour long. But with this one, I wanted to give you a complete picture of my experience, from before the hike, to packing for it, a little footage from the hike itself and finally my feelings afterwards. Besides, that’s what the fast-forward button is for. If you wanna follow along with all the hikes we plan to film this season, give the ole YouTube a Subscribe. We’d love to have you along for the journey. Til next time. And now, back to Eminem….