By Team Sri Lanka 2015
“You, ok?” That must be the 10th time he asked. I showed him a thumb up. A broad grin spreads across his face and off he goes again, disappearing into the mist engulfed steps.
Yogaraja knows Adam’s Peak well. He’s been going up and down this beautiful mountain for three years, at least once a day. He may be 49 years old and a father of three, but don’t let this fool you, he is an absolute beast when it comes to the hiking trail.
Although looking unassuming in his polo shirt and jeans, Yoga, as he is affectionately called, is so physically fit that he can complete a round trip in 1.5 hours (the average timing for fit hikers is 4 to 5 hours). He is always surveying the scene, making sure the hikers are on the right track, going back and forth, up and down.
Yoga knows Adam’s Peak well; it is his life and he would love to share its glorious moments and stunning beauty with every visitor and pilgrim.
A Guide to Adam’s Peak
Also known as Sri Pada, Adam’s Peak is a classic hiking trail that has religious roots. Devoted Buddhists are most known for taking the trek and with them as well as other interested hikers, the mountain has seen people for over 1,000 years. As the journey grew in popularity, King Vijayabahu (ruled 1055–1110) began to build shelters, Parakaramabahu (1123–1186) built roads and bridges. The jungle was cleared away to make the peak easier to travel.
The peak is also equipped with stations that are secured to the mountain with chains, showing evidence that the peak was climbed long ago. Additionally, the mountain is said to be that of Sarandib and is believed to be the spot where Adam was dispelled from paradise and descended to the peak. The mountain contained Adam’s footprints and was visited by one of the greatest travellers of all time, Ibn Battutah.
- The high season for trekking runs from December to May where there will be a high traffic of climbers.
- Hiking is possible from May to November, but the peak is not typically used during this time and the roads are not lit.
- During the peak season, you will come across many locals taking this trek as a form of pilgrimage.
- It is a three-hour one-way hike to the top and many starts early to reach the top for sunrise.
- Buddhists believe that the depression in the rocks is Buddha’s footprint while Muslim’s think it’s Adam’s footprint, and the Portuguese recognised it as the footprint of St. Thomas The Apostle.
- The hike can be a cultural cum educational experience for trekkers.
Choosing a Starting Time
- Start before noon to reach the peak by sunset.
- Start during the wee hours of the morning to reach the peak at sunrise.
- Many hikers prefer to leave during the day so that it is cooler and less physically demanding when reaching the peak.
Taking The Hike
- The hike usually begins at Dalhousie (Hatton’s trail).
- During high season, the trail is lit by a string of lights.
- Hiking during the off-season requires a torch.
- Casual hikers often take the shorter route while more experienced hikers take the longer route that is a more physically intensive route on a seven-hour long journey starting in Ratnapura and travelling through the Carney Estate.
- The hike involves 5,000 steps and then a path that is 7 kilometers long.
- Pilgrims often hike with no shoes, wearing traditional white clothes and with a prayer string.
What Lessons Do Hikers Learn From The Trek?
That It’s About The Alone Time
One hiker treks up during off season where they hardly met another soul, giving them heaps of time to think and reflect.
That It’s Also About The People You Share it With
Dave thinks that climbing as a group is more motivating than climbing alone. Doing it with a partner is even more memorable. Another believes that while you can reach the top alone, company along the way gets you up there in a brisk with less suffering.
It’s About Your Self Development
As Mala puts it, One step at a time and Its all in your mind. Jake laid out these wise words; I think it’s similar to life’s journey. Sometimes we want to move towards a goal but we don’t have enough information/resources on whether we can make it. There are also risks involved. But we just move on and gather more information on the way, keeping options available. Friends along the way help to make things better as well. And without knowing, we could reach our goals.
It’s About Learning
Paulene recounts her lessons of developing staircase climbing skills experience, learning to have team spirit/helpfulness/encouraging one another along the way and experiencing Buddhist teachings about life
It’s About Being Prepared
Merryn assured that Kampung Adidas hiking shoes work great and that there are quite a few leeches so invest in a pair of leech socks.
It’s About Looking on The Bright Side
She also summed up why you should always look on the bright side. The downpour affected not just views, but also clouds my mind with disappointment at times – that I wasn’t able to see the sun rise on AP, nor a panoramic summit view (a reward many climbers hope to get out of a climb). It is quite often that I forget there is always a rainbow at the end of the rain. (coincidentally towards at the end of the trip – seeing the rainbow on the last day after the climb, on the way to the airport serves as a timely reminder. And it’s more rare to see rainbows than to see a sunrise).
Adam’s Peak is has been a significant trek for years and continued to hold that status today. The hikers that take on its challenge can’t even begin to imagine the lessons they will learn by the time they reach the top. From legends to Buddhist teachings and the hardships that will teach them about their character, they will all find their way into these trekker’s souls and shape them for years to come.
Our hike now immortalised in Yoga’s journal
The Sri Pada, Sri Lanka – Sacred Mountain series was organised by TravelledPaths.com and supported by the Singapore Adventurous Nature Lovers’ meetup group. Interested in joining TravelledPaths’ organised meetups? Please subscribe to our events here