With seemingly inexhaustible energy, the young boy was trekking up and down a rocky path, holding onto nearby tree roots now and again for fear of slipping into thickets, beyond which steep valleys gaped on both sides.
Unlike most mountaineers, the 6-year-old was barefoot as he pushed his way through the curtain of tall grass with great zeal in the forest of Mount Mbeliling in order to reach one of the highest peaks in West Manggarai regency in Flores.
The awaited moment finally came when the innocent-looking child, holding the Red and White national flag, scaled the summit at an altitude of 1,325 meters at 7:15 a.m.
This brave boy was Onesimus Patrio Nyamang, the fifth child of Agustinus Suhardin and Yuliana Haul, and he beamed with joy while flying the flag on the mountaintop.
Simus, as the kid from Lamung in Golo Ndaring village is commonly called, is indeed remarkable. He was bold enough to join over a dozen hikers from Flores, who on Aug. 16 climbed Mount Mbeliling to spend the night in a tent and mark the nation’s Independence Day the next day, Aug. 17, by flying the national colors.
With the other climbers, on the eve of the holiday Simus slept in a tent not far from the summit, sharing a blanket with his father.
Braving the cold night in his torn T-shirt and red shorts, the fifth of six siblings told The Jakarta Post he frequently gathered firewood and hunted boar in the forest with his parents, but this was his first experience mountain climbing.
“This is my first trek to the peak, but I don’t feel tired at all,” said Simus on that day at the Mbeliling summit.
The first grader at Rangat state primary school was born in Lamung hamlet on Jan. 6, 2007, to a very modest family.
A diligent student, Simus’ parents originally forbade him from climbing the rough terrain of Mbeliling lest he encounter any trouble. Agustinus Suhardin, 44, his father, was worried about the boy’s determination to mark the holiday atop the mountain.
Finally, Agustinus and several villagers joined Simus and the group of journalists. As some of the trekkers began to get weary, Simus remained fresh and agile. “I doubted at first as he might retard the progress of the rest. But he made it. I’m very happy and proud,” said Agustinus as the entire team reached the peak.
A tourist from Germany, Philipp Wiener, and a West Manggarai councilor, Bernadus Barat Daya, were amazed by Simus’ achievement. They couldn’t believe the boy was capable of conquering the mountain, one of the favorite destinations of visitors to the regency.
At the highest point of Mbeliling, all the trekkers, including Simus, celebrated the nation’s 67th birthday by flying flags.
Onesimus said he was accustomed to walking barefoot as he couldn’t afford to buy sandals or shoes. But he was very pleased to climb along with all the hikers.
Showing no fear of the tough forest path on the way, Onesimus arrived at his destination with relative ease, showing no signs of exhaustion, while his adult counterparts were drained of their energy as soon as they got to the top.
At the apex of Mount Mbeliling, Simus was lifted by Wiener to sit on his shoulders as an indication of the German tourist’s pride in the courage of the boy, who had dared to walk, starting at dawn, scaling mountains.