Hiking Harau 2: Going Solo

The successful group trek around the top of the canyon was all I’d hoped for. But still, there were cliffs and jungle everywhere and I wanted more.

There is one trail to the upper plateau that is visible on the approach to Harau from the road. The upper section of the trail is exposed red earth, very visible contrasting with the greenery around it. It seemed to lead to a structure at the top, I thought maybe a temple.

So, after I got back from the Friday excursion with the Aussies, I decided to see if I could find the base of that trail I’d seen and hike to the top for another view.

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I didn't get a photo of the trail, but here's one I took while I was walking over to it.

This trail was not as obvious at the bottom as it was as the top, but still not too difficult to find. I’d already passed the trail head several times without noticing, but once I knew where to look it was easy. I scooted up the hill in 20 minutes. At the top was not a temple as I’d thought, but a simple structure with just a metal roof and some basic benches for resting and admiring the view. The views were nice but not as amazing as those I’d already seen earlier in the day.

I noticed that the trail continued on past the viewpoint back into the plateau jungle. I checked my watch. Three hours until dark. I was on my own and knew it wasn’t the greatest idea to hike off through the upper plateau jungle by myself. But the trail looked well trodden. I decided to give myself an hour to walk along the trail before turning back, enough time to make it back before dark with some cushion. A little risky, sure, but after all I am not just a wonk any longer.  Time to let my wild side out.

This track was well defined at first. Then, it faded as it also wound through some gambir. Other tracks were branching off through the fields, but I made sure to keep to the border of the fields and the jungle so it would be easy to find my way back. Eventually, the track became a clearer again and headed off into the jungle.

After some time I came to a fork. Though I was on the upper plateau, it’s normally impossible to tell any difference with the lower valley because the vegetation is so dense and the plateau is so large. It just seems like a hike through the jungle. I really wanted to break through that jungle to the edge of a cliff again, so I took the path to the left where I knew the edge of the cliff was relatively close.

I crossed two creeks and my self-imposed time limit was upon me when the trees parted and I saw I’d made it to just the spot I was hoping for and had a view out the other end of the valley.

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A break in the trees, finally!

And not just a view.  There was an alternate route down the cliffs, meaning I didn’t have to backtrack the way I’d come.  Just a bit further down, the view opened up even more and I got some great light filtering through the clouds for these photos:

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One of my best photos from the Harau Valley. The light was incredible, filtering through the clouds softly and emphasizing the nicest part of the valley floor.

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Vegetable gardens from waaay up high.

It was an action-packed Friday:  A failed motorcycle tour followed by two wildly successful hikes.

That evening, eating Ikbal’s delicious food, I decided to cancel my plans to go to Kerinci national park and stay in this hiking paradise for the rest of the week instead.  I wanted to see Kerinci but those two ten hour bus rides would have really cut down on enjoyment.  With such a short stay there, bad weather could have made it impossible to do anything at all.  And, Kerinci National Park is wilder and more pristine than the Harau Valley.  That definitely appeals to me, but it also makes guides more expensive and necessary.  I was willing to accept the risk of hiking alone in the Harau Valley where I’m never more than a couple of hours from civilization on tracks that are hiked most days, but it would be a different story down there.

So, I have a couple more posts about Harau to share when I get time to write.  I never matched that first Friday for single-day exertion, accomplishment, and photos.  Instead, I spread it out evenly over the next week with plenty of porch-sitting in between.

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