Hiking Ijen (A Travel Narrative)

Location: 8.1S, 114.2E
Elevation: 7,826 feet (2,386 m)

In the crater and down by the sulfur vents I could see people moving. Note the person in the lower left for scale (boulders in foreground are big).

Just before we started down to the lake and sulfur vents a man emerged carrying his load of sulfur blocks. He had a stick with two baskets. He said he carried about 80 kg (170 pounds). I later tried to lift a basket and could not. These men carry these loads up the steep crater wall. The trail is ok for walking but crazy for carrying these loads. The men gradually shift the load from one shoulder to the other. They wore rubber boots or flipflops. Most asked for a cigarette. Most were young. They get paid about $4.25US for each load they carry out. One load a day, maybe two. An incredibly small sum for the damage they do to their lungs and spine but a good day's pay in Indonesia.

In general I felt safe. My moment of uneasiness was when I realized that there was numerous car-sized boulders near me. They had rolled from a lava flow that towered over me in the crater wall. I had flashbacks of glaciers calving. So I keep moving, pausing only for photos or to let the sulfur men trudge past.

To continue on the hike click here

To return to the beginning of the hike click here


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