Trip Start Oct 20, 2004
44Trip End Apr 26, 2005
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With very little to do for the boat project from Monday to Friday, we agreed that it might do us some good to explore a bit of Sri Lanka's beauty - as tourists. Becca and Joel invited us to accompany them on a mini-excursion to Dalhousie, where they would meet up with friends to hike Adam's Peak very early Tuesday morning.
We left Colombo on Monday afternoon. After a long and crazy bus ride through Sri Lanka's winding mountain roads, we arrived to the small town of Hatton. We made it there in better shape than many of our fellow passengers who, along the way, had emptied the contents of their stomachs from the bus windows. From Hatton the four of us hired a puke-free van to take us into Dalhousie, where a couple of rooms in a guest house awaited us
Adam's Peak, also known as Sri Pada, has been one of Sri Lanka's most important religious pilgrimage sites for over a thousand years. It is known to Christians as the place on earth where Adam first set foot after getting the boot from heaven. To Buddhists, Sri Pada ('Sacred Footprint') is the place where the Buddha took his last step before reaching paradise. There is a huge footprint in the temple at the top of the mountain that is speculated to be that of St. Thomas or Lord Shiva, though no one knows for sure.
The climb begins in Dalhousie, and is about 14 km (9 miles) total up and back. The walk from the base is very lit up, and lined with stalls selling food, water, hats, and souvenirs for the pilgrims. It was strange to be starting a 'holy' pilgrimage at three in the morning, hearing techno music blaring from souvenir stalls. Yet in a way it was also energizing, and I was excited for the long night - or rather morning - ahead.
The hike was long and arduous, and at times very steep. We climbed through the night, enveloped by pockets of warm and cold air as we huffed and puffed up the mountain
We finally reached Adam's Peak around 5:45 am. It was cold and windy at the top; people huddled together throughout the temple grounds, staying warm while patiently waiting for the sun to rise. When the sun did finally reveal itself, the view was spectacular: distant peaks floated for miles on a vast sea of clouds. It was like seeing the world from an airplane, yet the wind against my face reminded me that I was, indeed, outdoors. We watched as the morning was born, reveling in the endlessly changing view from the top of the world. It was fantastic.
After sunrise, most people began their journey down the mountain. Andy and I stuck around for the temple's sunrise ceremony, continuing to revel in the morning's magnificence
As the crowd thinned out and the sun began to cook the earth, we began our descent with shaky legs. Our climb had been a physical fitness test (a 2 ¾ hour cardiovascular workout); however, the descent proved far more challenging, as our cranky knees prevented us from moving quickly. After thousands of steps and over seven hours of pilgrim and climbing fun, we reached the place where we had begun our climb. At the rest house we joined the group for a tea, toast, and fruit breakfast before packing our belongings and parting ways; they returned to Colombo and we continued on to our next destination which was, quite possibly, the most beautiful place I've ever seen.