I checked my watch. It’s only 700m from the gate but the track made me feel like I have been walked from 3km. To reach the summit of Ijen, we have to hike 3km where the first 2km will be the toughest one since the track inclination is about 45 degree. There were 6 people in our group, encouraging to each other to keep the spirit high. “You can do it, never give up, the view up there is amazing, it’s worth every effort!”
There are 41 people joined in this trip. Not all of them have experienced in reaching the top of any mountain. But we do have the same goal at this time, conquer the Ijen and see the famous blue flame.
Ijen volcano is located in Banyuwangi, East Java. The volcano has one kilometer wide turquoise colored acidic crater lake. The lake itself is the largest highly acidic in the world. The pH of its water is 0.5 due to sulfuric acid (source: Wikipedia).
I took quick break every 15 minutes to drink and eat some candy or chocolate. On my second break, I realized that I forgot to bring my insulin. I don’t want to turn back. I will get to the top. No matter how hard it will be. Thousands of stars were welcoming us after 2km hiked. That was one of the most touching moments in my life. I was so grateful to have a chance seeing this scenery, the painting of stars.
It was 3 AM in the morning when I reached the top of Ijen. I cried for a while. I never thought that I’m able to reach this place. After 15 minutes rest, I decided to hike down to the crater, to see the blue flame. Vertical wise, it’s only 200m. But it was the most challenging 200m in my life so far. In some spots, the track is only 1 meter wide, made by rock, no hand rail. And it’s two way track. So, if you meet the sulfur miners who carrying 80 kg solidified sulfur in their shoulder, you should step aside.
45 minutes later, the blue flame was dancing in front of my eyes. Some people tried to get close to the source to take picture, but not for me. I was just sitting on the rock, enjoying the moment. As said by Sean Penn in the movie “The secret life of Walter Mitty”: If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
You may find this blue flame only at two places, Iceland and Ijen. The glow is actually the light from the combustion of sulfuric gases. Those gases emerge from cracks in the volcano at high pressure and temperature—up to 1,112°F (600°C). When they come in contact with the air, they ignite, sending flames up to 16 feet (5 meters) high (source: Olivier Grunewald for National Geographic)
The best part of Ijen crater is when the sun starts to rise. You will see the beautiful turquoise lake surrounded by caldera cliff and also the yellow solidified sulfur at the left side of the lake.
People may think that the difficult part of hiking is the way up to the top, but it’s not. The way down back to the base is even more difficult. It’s because your knees have to hold the body weight as well as the gravity force. Hence, it is recommended to always use trekking pole. The pine forest and coffee plantation will entertained you on the way back to the base. You will also see the Raung mountain, it’s amazing!
The one thing you have to do is to look back to the way you hiked. You will see how you should proud of yourself by reaching the top of Ijen. Maybe because you don’t see how difficult the track will be so you don’t give up so easily. Moreover, it’s about how to survive what Ijen had taught us. Like in real life, never think what the future will hold, just enjoy your life, try to survive from every problem because in time, every thing will fall rightly in its place.