Sri Lanka 19: Adam’s Peak

There are reasons for particular travel seasons, and even more important reasons for off-seasons.

Adam’s Peak is one of the holiest sites in Sri Lanka, considered the place where Buddha last set foot in Sri Lanka.  Or, the first place Adam set foot on earth when he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden.  Or, the place where Shiva set place on the earth.  Even St. Thomas Aquinas gets some play in the game of “Whose Footprint Is It, Anyway?”  Regardless of whose foot it is, there is a large footprint on the top of the mountain, around which has been build a temple.

Today was not the day to see that footprint and temple.

The pilgrimage season for Adam’s Peak is from December to April, and if you go during off season, you stand the chance of seeing…. not too much.  A lot depends on weather, but even on a beautiful Dalhousie day like we had yesterday, the peak was completely clouded over, making amazing views of Sri Lanka below (you can even see the coast on a clear day) an impossibility.

We were hopeful as we set out this morning at quarter past two, as it had just rained, but looked like it was going to clear right up.  The first part of the walk was pleasant, and even as we passed a few temples, got a blessing from a monk, wandered past waterfalls that we barely saw but could easily hear, it looked like the weather would be our friend and that the mist, maybe, would part with the sun.

Then it didn’t.

In fact, it started to rain.  Quite a bit.

Fortunately, during the first rainfall, we were close to some shelter.  Depending on where you are on the trail to Adam’s Peak, there are rest stops, restaurants, even a massage therapy stop – only open during pilgrimage season, though.  Subsequent rains… not so much.  So, by the time we were at the top, we were wet with sweat and rain, after taking almost three hours to climb the 5200 steps.  Quite a few tourists were up there waiting for the sunrise that never came, and a few gave up hope and turned back almost as soon as they came up.  I think a couple actually didn’t realize how “sunrises” work, as they got up there, looked around, said “Nice sunrise”, then stomped off in a huff.  As if it was rising just for them.

That said, Daina and I were the last two to leave at 6:30 am, because I had thought that, maybe, if I waited out until the bitter end, whoever left the footprint might say “Okay, we got you”.  Not so much.  D was an absolute champ, too, as I could tell the cold and wet was getting to him and he almost turned back until a couple shots of 100 rupee tea got his system back in order.  Temple was locked as well, so you don’t even get to see the footprint.  We’ll have to add this to the “Return to…” list, along with Mount Fuji and the Uyuni Salt Flats.

The walk down was much more pleasant, as even though the peak remained clouded, the clouds had parted on the way down, revealing those waterfalls and temples we couldn’t really see before.  We made friends with a trio of dogs we named Limpy, Foxy and Butch, after feeding the trio some of our Lemon Puffs.  The walk was beautiful, but was absolutely knee-smashing, and I was glad D made the call to get a couple of walking sticks for the hike, because otherwise, my legs would probably be even stiffer than they are right now.

Tomorrow, we’re taking another train!  Hopefully the weather holds well for then!

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