Adam’s Peak: Hiking Through the Mist
“I pay homage to the sacred mountain Samantakuta which resembles the crest of Lanka and where the Lord Buddha having gone from Kelani through the air put his footprint adorned with the noble mark of the wheel.” – plaque at the top of the mountain
So there we were in the gorgeous Hill and Tea Country of Sri Lanka. We’d come to climb Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada, a sacred place of pilgrimage. It seems to be sacred for most religions: Adam first stepped here when being cast out of heaven and Buddha left his footprint here as he went to paradise. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the 2 a.m. start time, climbing in the dark or the drizzling rain. But that’s where traveling with a friend comes in handy — they hold you to your promises (and take lovely photos of you sitting in tea fields, thanks Chloe).
Our three-hour hike in the dark, up uneven stairs, was challenging. But what made the hike worth it, was the trip down when the sun was out and the mist lifted. We realized we were surrounded by tea plantations and the women pickers were about to start their arduous day:
Everyone told us, and for days after, that we’d come during the off-season. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage in December, January and February. During those months, the way is lit and crowded. Now, all the tea houses along the way were shuttered. The pilgrims watch magnificent sunrises, instead of the fog and mist we encountered:
It was freezing at the peak. So the handful of groups of Europeans and Canadians and us, took a few photos, felt sorry for this doggie, and then started back down.
When dawn broke, I got a good look at the steps we had climbed up. I’ve hiked some difficult volcanoes in Indonesia, but over 6 hours of stairs was killer…or so we’d discover in the coming days.
As we started our hike, it began raining so a monk lent me his umbrella after I gave him a donation for a prayer bracelet. On the way down, another monk, for another donation, let us ring this giant bell (it was very heavy). It produced a wonderful sonorous sound that echoed throughout the area. We had heard it on our way down:
And in case the tea isn’t enough, here are three waterfalls, not too shabby:
I returned the umbrella to the monk. He smiled. I smiled. And we went on our way.
Where to Stay: We chose White House (077 791 2009) in Dalhousie (base town for the hike). It’s located on the river and run by a friendly guy who will give you perfect instructions on how to reach the start of the hike from the guesthouse in the dark at 2 a.m.