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Gunung Rantemario - A Journey to a Realm Beyond the Earth

Gunung Rantemario - A Journey to a Realm Beyond the Earth

Highlights: Embark on a captivating journey to Gunung Rantemario (3,440m), where mist-shrouded landscapes, mystical encounters, and rugged terrain await. Follow our expedition as we navigate through dense forests, steep ridges, and eerie campgrounds, uncovering the secrets of this otherworldly realm. From encounters with resident spirits to breathtaking vistas from the summit, experience the highs and lows of mountain exploration in Sulawesi. Join us as we push the boundaries of endurance and embrace the thrill of adventure, culminating in a triumphant return to civilization, enriched by unforgettable memories and newfound insights. Explore the hidden wonders of Gunung Rantemario and discover the magic that lies beyond the earth.
Thick veil of mist, which had covered the surrounding areas most of the day, didn't seem to go away any time soon. The sun , which we had missed for days never seemed willing to turn up too.  As the daylight had gone, darkness came quickly and  temperature dived. It was cold at this altitude, 3200m asl.

Damp winds blew across the grassland where we put up our tents. The cold crept in as it was able to seep through our flysheets. I bundled inside my sleeping bag, as stiff as a mummy.

Rexy was preparing for our dinner, he was squatting in front of his tent.  My watch shown 7 pm, already  passed Maghrib. It was peach dark outside. The overwhelming mists dampened further our visibility.

It was quiet except the sound of wind ripping through the forests.  Then, out of sudden, a strange noise shouting from the side of our tents like a haunted voice.

Everyone was shocked and frightened.  Those who were chatting immediately silenced. There wasn’t anyone outside. Everyone was inside the tent. Rexy, who had been to this part of the mountain a couple of times, know exactly 'what' was happening'.

He quickly threw a few spoonful of rice on the ground from where the noise came.  And immediately the surroundings got silence.  It could be from an unseen being, who was a 'resident' in the area,  came to us for food.

Rexy told to us later that he fed the spirit or jinn with rice.  The alun-alun (grass field) camp site that we were sleeping was actually an 'other worldly place'. Many spirits believed to leave in that area.  It was actually a saddle, right below the peak of Mt Rantemario, the highest peak of Latimojong range and the rooftop of Sulawesi.

At the 'alun-alun', there was a pool of water which would appear in the evening and then disappear before sunrise in the morning. It was said to be 'strange' phenomena of Mt Rantemario. Not every climbers would be able to see it.
'Rante' in local dialect means 'Place', Mario means 'Happiness'. So Rantemario means a place of happiness. A place for 'bersantai' or 'bersenang-senang'. Perhaps it was believed to be the home of the departed souls, a realm beyond the earth.

This was our third night spent camping in the mountain. Tomorrow we would be going to the peak. Armed with a small torch, I braved the cold to venture out after dinner. The air was chilling, and I couldn't see anything 10 foot in front of me. There was no sign of weather going to improve the next morning,  so no sunrise again for third day...

We started from Baraka, a small interior village located South of Sulawesi; In was a cool morning. We were waiting downstairs at a teacher's hostel where we spent for the night before. The hostel is the only 'public' accommodation available in the village.

When a 4WD arrived, 6  from my team and 5 from  another team from Jakarta and Makassar, were too eager to get ourselves packed into it. We tied up a dozen of our backpacks on top of the 4WD.

After having breakfast at a warung nearby, we were driven up to the mountainous areas of the Latimojong. Our destination was Karangan village, the last village for our climb to the summit of Mt Rantemario.

Clouds started to gather along the mountain range as our 4WD snaked along the dirt road to Karangan
. It was located deep in to the valley.

We reached Karangan at Friday noon, many of the villagers, who were predominantly Muslim, were having their prayers at a mosque, situated at a prominent site at center of the village. My altimeter shown that it was 1500m asl. 

It was still sunny and dry when we arrived at Karangan,. But soon the weather deteriorated and rained fell heavily when we were having our lunch at a village house.

Time passed as we waited. It had already rained for more than 2 hours.

 A few villagers gathered at a 'pondok' after their Friday’s prayers watching us.

Looked  like we were destined not going to have a good time ahead of our expedition.

Our leader, Imbar asked,

"Tashi, mau jalan ke ga? kalau tak jalan, nanti tak sempat sampai Pos II, perjalanan masih jauh".

Watching at the curtain of rain  pouring down from the roof. I was hesitating that if we should go on in to trekking. 

We had been waited since 12 noon then. Now, it shown 3pm. At the altitude of 1500 m ASL, it was cold. when rain  On seeing that the rain was unlikely to stop any time soon, and we had to catch up with our climbing plan,  so we decided to go ahead to trek in the rain.

Donned with plastic rain covers, We walked into rain, even if the rain soften a bit, but it didn’t take too long for my Gore-Tex trekking boots to get soaking wet.
2 hours of walking under the rain and wind. We arrived at Pos I where there was a hut marking the end point of the coffee farm trail. It was also the entrance to the rainforest.

From Pos I to Pos II.  The terrain was getting more difficult. It was up and down along the riverine slope. The vegetation was thick and the trail slippery. About 1 and half hour, we arrived at Pos II at 1900 m ASL, soaking wet.

Pos II was a campsite sheltered by a huge boulder, overlooking a raging river below.  It looked like a cave (Gua).  The 'gua' was said to be the 'official resident' of a long hair and red-dress 'cewek jinn'.  They said that they saw 'her ' in some photos taken at the 'gua' by some climbers in the past.

The rain had now turned into drizzle. But the drizzle lasted into the next morning. 

We woke up to a kind of weather that you would rather continue sleeping than to wake up to change into wet clothes, wet socks, wet shoes and climbed in the wet forest. Dekey even sounded that she would tender a resignation letter to the mountain.

However cold it might be, we had to continue.

While we were having breakfast and repacking. A thundering sound cracking from across the river. A huge landslide occurred on the opposite slope. Giant trees crashing down one by one to the river. Falling leaves rippling across the gorge. It was a shocking scene. Luckily, it was still  quite a distance away from our campsite. 

For Pos II and Pos III, it was the steepest section of the trail, at part, I was scrambling on all four.

After 2 hours of hard climb, we reached Pos III. We rested for awhile and  then trudging on to Pos IV and then Pos V.  As we gained in altitude, we started also to display symptom of "5L" - (letih, lemah, lelah, lesu, loyo).

We reached Pos V around 2 pm.  Pos V was a pretty campsite surrounded by evergreen cloud forest wrapped with mosses.

We decided to camp at Pos V because most of us were already tired. There was a water point 20 minutes down from Pos V . I didn’t go to check it out. Saba,  our local guide went down to take water for all of us.

Same with Pos II, Pos V was also a realm of spirits and unseen beings. It was said to be a 'central market' or 'bazaar' for all the spirits(jinn). The night was unusually cold, perhaps it received little sunlight throughout the day. It was in the middle of towering pine trees.

At night, everyone was very excited. It was like a setting in the mountainous areas, far from the nearest human settlement.  Sutan, a climber from Sulawesi was chatting with his friends deep into the night. He drank a 'local brandy' to warm himself up to stay in the cold night. 

However, he got himself into trouble. It aggravated his suffering of mountain sickness. He complained of headache, 'perut kembung', 'sengal-sengal'  and even complained of his Lafuma tent, of not being able to proof the cold air from  seeping into his tent.   He decided to stay at Pos V; So Dekey, our 'de facto' expedition medic prescribed him with some medicine. He took everything even.

He recovered a bit and then he could follow us to the summit. The weather was as misty as the day before, though without the rain.  

"Kaki Kaki Telanjang Bergoyang goyang, Pesta Pantai..."  - the 'official' raggae song sang by Rexy, accompanying us throughout our climb. 

Hiking up from Pos V, the trail was like a realm of constant cloud cover, with air filled with moisture and mossy smell alive.

Orchids were abundant with lichens and a ground cover of shrubs, colorful herbs, and grasses. Rhododendron dotted amidst the otherwise eerie mosses forest. A  land where trees encrusted with lichens and mosses carpeted floor. 

Many of the plant here are endemic because Sulawesi is high in endemicity because of its long isolation from Asia and Australia in Wallacea. 

We took an hour to Pos VI, a campsite surrounded by low shrubs. We rested for awhile, while Dekey again, play to role of a medic to help many of us who were suffering from muscle strain.

From Pos VI, another hour of trekking along mossy cloud forests, we crested the ridge at Pos VII.

Here we were hit by wind (badai), which were blowing across the exposed ridge. 

We were supposed to camp at Pos VII. But the strong coastal winds which traveled from low lands, swept through the campsite.

There was no tall tree to shelter the wind. The sound of the wind battering the ridge was like a troop of horse-riders marching through. 
Indeed, from those who had camped at Pos VII before, said that they had seen spirits ‘imposing’ Dutch army riding on horses (Askar Belanda menunggang kuda). 

Unable to stand still under battering wind, Saba advised  us to hike up further 200m to  'Alun-alun' grassland.

15 minutes later, we arrived at the alun-alun, a saddle below Mt Rantemario. As in Pos VII, the alun-alun was also a habitat for supernatural beings . It was surrounded by pine forests which sheltering us from the winds.

It also had a mists wreathed mystique pool;  
it would shrink and expand like the tide, and sometimes completely disappear in the day and reappear again at night. Most climbers wouldn’t be able to see it. We saw it, but decided to put up our tents a distant away from the lake, afraid that we would got flooded when the water level expand.

It was about 2PM, but it was pretty hard to stay outside in the cold weather. The mists persisted, and when it got thinner for a while, we could see a gray shape of the peak in the distance. The temperature dipped as darkness blanketed the campsite. I wore all the clothes including a fleece and a jacket  but still shivering inside my sleeping bag wrapped with a emergency blanket. The long night went with no sunrise. But we had to go to the submit.

‘Fortunately’, early in the morning, the mists cleared for a little longer,  opening 2 hours of window, for us to went up to the peak and able to see superb view  of the horizon.

The valley of Enrekang to the southwest, and to the north, the high plain of Tana Teroja.

The summit is big, big enough to sleep hundred of people. The is a concrete structure which marks the highest point. We could also  see the rolling Latimojong range, which has a few other peaks.

As with other climbing, upon submitting the peak, it is mandatory to come down. We spent an hour in the peak and decided to come down as mists again wrapped the surroundings.  For us, it was a 8 hours tumbling down to Karangan Village, a drop of 2000 m.

Everyone managed to reach Karangan village at 7pm, and in

We spent a night at Saba's house. The overnight rain cleared th the process, overused our leg muscles, resulting in zombie walk for few the following day.
e mists.  So we had sun shine on our way out, our first since the past few days. Due to bad condition of the dirt road, we had to walk for 4 KM to Rante Lemo to catch our truck. So we ‘charted’ 2 horses to “caar at a warung for dinner. It rained again after having our dinner.

And our ‘Petualang’ had yet to finish.  To complete it, news came in in the evening thrry” our backpacks. 
We arrived at Baraka at 6pm and had a famous  and  most delicious Coto Makassat a massive mudslide occurred, cutting off the road connecting Baraka village to the main road to Tana Toraja. So we were forced to wade  across 100 m of 'knee-deep-sticky mud-thickly-pasted' road to reach our vehicle parked at the opposite side.  It was believed  that a wall of slope had collapsed after the deluge.

Finally, at midnight, we could check in to a hotel at Tana Toraja ,  and rewarded ourselves with a 'Touch of Toraja' - A gentle, nurturing ad relaxing massage where gifted hands incorporated stretching long strokes......
Sebuah Petualang Bisa Usai, Tapi Expedisi Belum Berakhir”
Author: Tashi 
Latimojong Trekking - Mount Rantemario
Duration:10 days/ 09 nights
Start/finish Makassar
Grade: Moderate-Difficult

DAY 0: Arrival Makassar
Check in Hotel Yasmin

Day 01 : Makassar – Enrekang – Barakka (500 m asl)
Visit Fort Rotterdam Makassar in the morning, then start the adventure trip from Makassar to Enrekang by land drive. Lunch at Pare-pare. Continue to Enrekang, the land journey will continue to Barakka village.Stay overnight at local hostel with very basic facilities.

Day 02 : Barakka – Buntudea – Karangan (1500m asl)
After breakfast, continue the adventure driving trip to Buntudea and up to Karangan Village by 4WD jeep. Arrival at Karangan village for lunch, trekking to Pos II, overnight camping

Day 03 : Pos II (1840m asl) - Pos V (2540 m asl)
Trek to Pos 5, trekking 3 hours on steep and slippery terrain. Overnight camp at Pos 5.

Day 4 : Pos V - Pos VII (alun-alun)
Continue climb to Pos VII (3100 m asl) and proceed to camp at alun alun (3200 m asl), 100 m above Pos VII.

Climb to Summit of Rantemario, then return trekking down to Karangan village en counter shelter post VII, VI, V to II and I. Stay overnight in villager's house

Day 07 : KARANGAN – BARAKKA – Rantepao
Early morning, after breakfast trekking back to Buntudea and proceed transfer to Baraka, and then Rantepao. Stay Overnight in hotel.

Day 08 : Rantepao
Sight Seeing at Rantepao (Tana Toraja)
Day 09 : Rantepao - Makassar , Hotel Citra Wisata

Day 10 : Makassar - Kuala Lumpur

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