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Published: January 24th 2007
Adams Peak at Sunset
The night before the climb. You can just make out the square edge of the temple at the top.
We hobbled into town, our shaky legs responding like jelly, refusing to carry us forward with any dignity. We must've looked closer to 80 years of age instead of 30 years, and our state engendered amused looks from the locals. Most were sympathetic - like they'd seen people in this condition a thousand times before, and a few laughed, and the rest tried to to sell us cool drinks or offer us a place to rest and a cup of tea.
Adam's Peak or Sri Pada (sacred footprint) as it is variously known, is thought to be the place where Adam first set foot on earth, or the site where buddha left his footprint on the way to paradise depending on which legend you believe. The 2243m peak soars above the valleys and mountains below and has been a site of pilgrimage for over 100 years.
We began our own pilgrimage at 2am in order to make a pre-dawn summit ensuring a premium vantage point to watch the sunrise. The climb started fairly easily and we mistakenly remarked that it didn't look too bad! How wrong we were!
The undulating path eventually gave way to a continuous flight
We made it!
Outside the temple of the sacred footprint
of stairs reaching upward into what seemed like infinity. Officially there are about 5200 steps and as we gained altitude each one was worse than the last, challenging us mentally to continue to climb higher. Buddhists obtain merit for doing the pilgrimage, and we were considering a quick conversion in order to get some real benefit from the climb!
The path was lit by lamposts every 10-15 metres and we set our sights on reaching one lampost at a time allowing ourselves a small rest as a reward. We met some locals who pointed out the numbers on the lamposts and told us that they numbered 100, and when we reached 100 we would be at the top. When we were told this we were at lampost #55 so were relieved to know that we were over halfway.
From sign #90 onwards we powered forward with newfound strength excited that we would soon be at the top. However we came to 100 and it was quite evident that we still had a long way to go - we'd been lied to in the most cruel way! There were still at least 30 more lamposts to go - each
one corresponding with an even more gruellling set of stairs!
A final restop with a cup of delicious tea marked the penultimate part of the climb and before we knew it we had reached the top - and what a view! It was amazing to be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise, and from the temple we had a 360 degree view of the mountains, valleys and lakes below.
Before the heat of the day set in we began our descent. Coming down we walked through tea plantations and pretty mountain scenery which we hadn't noticed during our night climb. The descent was pretty tough on the knees, calves and thighs so we opted for a commando style tactic of running down the steps until we tired and our legs could only muster half a step at a time! By the time we reached the bottom we were wrecked, and cursing the steps at the guesthouse which stood between us and a shower!
Delhousie was a cool little town to chill out and we'd spent longer there than planned, but since the adrenalin was still flowing we decided to make the mission onwards to Ella. In the last
blog we remarked that we'd always been lucky about getting a seat on the busses - but murphy's law meant that our very next bus ride we were without a seat and ended up standing for 2.5hours out of the 3 hour journey! Standing on the buses requires great upper body strength in order to stop your body hurtling around the bus and squashing other passengers. With the bus ride and the climb we'd had a complete overall body workout, and we were aching!
We just missed the train to Ella, by seconds which is pretty unfair considering that was the only train that has run on schedule since our time here in Sri Lanka! No direct busses to Ella so we opted to head to Nuwara Eliya instead and would try for Ella the next day.
Nuwara Eliya is a little town set high in the hills and has a cooler climate than the rest of Sri Lanka. It's an old British colonial hill station and still has a very English feel about it - with Tudor style buildings, rose gardens and manicured hedges. The racecourse is nothing flash (not a spot on Flemington) and
when we visited it was mostly full of cows.
The usual thing to do from N'E is to visit a tea plantation, or head to Worlds End and Horton plains. We did neither given our sorry state and that walking took quite a considerable amount of effort. We did however have the best shower we've had since being here which was piping hot and with water pressure that nearly blew us out of the bathroom. Bless - a hot shower in a cold town was definately the order of the day, and we'll always remember Nuwara Eliya fondly for it.
The same train that we missed the day before was now running 40 minutes late, and we were half an hour early so we loitered at the train station befriending the locals.
There wasn't a whole lot to do in Ella - which suited us perfectly. It was a great place to chill out and continue our rehabilitation. There's some waterfalls there but we took the more sensible option and had a full body massage and steam bath. Between the R&R we also managed to squeeze in a visit to a local tea plantation to see
This dog climbed all the way to the top and back down with a girl we met. We're guessing he's trying to earn enough merit in this life so he won't come back as a dog in the next!
what all the fuss is about. It was quite interesting to see the tea making process but we were rather disappointed that we weren't offered a cuppa during our visit.
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