Adam’s PeakPosted: May 3, 2012
Around 5500 steps.
We climbed and summited in about 3.5 hours,
about 7 hours of walking total.
We “stayed” in a volunteer’s inn in the Hill Country town of Dalhousie, about a 5 minute walk from the start of the climb. We didn’t exactly stay there so much as we rested for a few hours, woke up at 2:00 in the morning, and then began our climb. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline, the excitement, or the fact that it was shockingly cold, but I was surprisingly not tired at all… at least for the first hour. We started out confident, lively, a little fast-paced. I even tried to hack it like the locals and try the pilgrimage barefoot. The mountain’s path was relatively lit up, which was pretty romantic. Tea shops littered the path. There was constantly an aroma of chai, incense, spices.
After one hour, all of us were just about winded. (Suffice it to say, I had my sandals back on by now.) It got increasingly steep, dark, and the terrain got a little rockier. We stopped at one of the many all-night tea-shops, and enjoyed a deliciously aromatic tea. I got my second wind, and made my way again. My rests became more frequent as I climbed. Elderly men and women, nearly doubled over, were climbing up alongside me barefoot and singing. Some were even already making their way down. The women’s chanting and singing was beautiful. Reminiscent of the Charlie Brown tune, it was a sort of call-and-response song; one woman singing, and others responding, as if they were encouraging one another. Several parents were carrying their babies, and a lot of children were climbing up and down. Looking at these determined locals, who probably make the trek frequently, I couldn’t even begin to complain, or feel sorry for myself. Every step was as inspiring as it was exhausting.
When we finally summited around 5:45 AM we were freezing and about an hour too early, but the sunrise was well worth the wait. There were three bells outside of the temple, which climbers rang to indicate how many times they had done the pilgrimage. My one ringing sounded rather measly compared to the 5 or 6 rings other climbers had, but I rang proudly all the same!
We waited around for dawn, and listened to the monks drumming, chanting, playing flutes. I realized that a service was beginning, and not wanting to be a tourist intruding on a holy moment, I opted to start my descent. The climb down felt much easier, although I was all but running down to keep my legs from collapsing beneath me. I was jello by then, but somehow feeling revived, elated. The views going down were spectacular, and I felt like I had earned them. We descended in about the same time we took to climb, and the end started feeling farther and farther away until we finally saw some recognizable landmarks – giant Buddha statues – which were very welcome sights.
We dragged ourselves to the hotel.
We scarfed down breakfast.
And then we slept and slept and slept.
Somehow between sleeping and a fairly rocky ride, we ended up back in Ja-Ela. One beer and one arrack later, I had the best night’s sleep I ever had since I arrived in Sri Lanka.