Next stop on the tour around Berastagi was Sipiso Piso. The area is most famously known for its 120m waterfall (the tallest in Indonesia). Even still, the surrounding area and mountainscape are also an attraction in their own right.
(Okay, I might be a bit biased in this statement, having spent a summer in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and being flooded with summit-conquering nostalgia the minute I laid eyes on my surroundings, but they WERE pretty stunning.)
However, a view from the ground wasn’t going to cut it for me (no matter how nice), and I quickly took off for higher ground at a nearby building. Getting closer, I noticed the building had been abandoned and covered (quite heavily) in graffiti. Probably a victim of the post-tourism boom economy much of the area had fallen to around the end of the 1980s, the building, which appeared to have served as an event venue, was now fully open to exploration.
It was four floors of open windows and increasingly panoramic vistas. The cream of the crop, however, had to be the roof. Providing a direct view of (the slightly fogged over) Lake Toba, it was the perfect venue for (posing for a photo, where you pretend to be deep in thought and) taking in the full beauty of the area.
Now that I had conquered the aerial view, it was time to get down to the base. Our guide, who had found a friend at our first vantage point, told us that the hike down to the base of the falls was about an hour down and just over an hour up. Our driver was planning on leaving before this time, but I figured I’d done enough treks to be able to shave some time off this quote (even with my less-hiking-experienced co-travellers) – challenge accepted!!
We began our descent half skipping down the slope, partly because it was too steep to “slowly saunter” down, and partly because, well, why wouldn’t you want to skip down? Skipping is fun! Closer to the end of the slope, I noticed that the trail occasionally split off its regular route down steeper (read: you basically need to rappel down) paths. Whenever I encounter shortcuts along hiking trails, I hate to wimp out and take the “easy mode” route and knowing I couldn’t lose this challenge (in my mind, I had put my whole hiking reputation on the line!), I informed the group that we would now be taking these shortcuts, no matter how steep! The can-do attitude went over well, and we soon reached the bottom in record time! This gave enough time to snap some extra photos at the base (before the camera got completely covered in the waterfall’s spray – I had learned a little something from my experiences in Tioman!) and dip my feet in the stream (I don’t feel like I can actually say I was AT a waterfall until I actually experience the water).
Soon enough however, it was time to turn back and begin our re-ascent. As I scaled down some of the short-cut cliffs on the way down, I couldn’t help but realize the way back up was going tough. At that point though, I would just turn my head a couple degrees, and catch another glace at the falls, forgetting all future worries. On the way back up, the falls were out of view completely, so there was nothing to separate me from the steep climb. After what seemed like hours of twisting into contorted footholds and climbing seemingly endless amounts of stairs, we had made it back to the top!
Our guide gave us a bemused glace and informed us we had only been gone for an hour. I assumed he just thought we got halfway and turned around, his expression turned impressed when we told him we took the shortcuts to make it all the way and back.
We then greeted our driver (taken by surprise from his smoke break), and continued on our way.