Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adam's Peak

Sara and Super Money

We have done a lot of hikes, but we have never started one in the middle of the night!  Our adventure began at 11:30 p.m. when we were dropped off at the base of Adam's Peak, also known as Sri Pada.  There are two main reasons to climb the mountain:  to see the sacred footprint and to see sunrise.  We were excited about both!

The mountain -- specifically the footprint at the top of the mountain -- is many things to many people.  Buddhist tradition holds that it is the footprint of Buddha, Hindus that of Shiva, Portuguese Christians that of Adam after he was cast from the Garden of Eden, and other Christians that of St. Thomas the Apostle, who brought Christianity to Sri Lanka.  For Buddhists in particular, Adam's Peak is an important pilgrimage site, and they arrive by the hundreds every night to climb to the top.

Adam's Peak at night

The mountain is so steep that the 8 km trail up is one long stairway.  Because we were hiking in the middle of the night, we brought along a tracker, who had hiked the mountain many times, and who also happened to be the gardener on the tea plantation where we were staying.  His name was something like Subrumuni, but when we tried to say it, it came out like "Super Money."  And so that's what we called him.  He didn't seem to mind!

David at a tea house

After 7,400 steps and a few stops for milk tea, we made it to the top at about 2:40 a.m.  It wasn't too crowded yet, so our first order of business was the footprint.  It was about five feet long, draped in cloth, and surrounded by sticks of incense.  Quite a sight, as were the throngs of people, many old and barefoot, who had summited just to see it.

The footprint is inside - no photos allowed

After seeing the footprint, we settled into seats along a wall for a good view of the sunrise.  Only
three more hours to wait!  The last time I stayed up all night for a sunrise was six years ago in Punxsutawney (Phil saw his shadow).  This was a little different.  For quite a while we were the only Westerners at the top, which gave us a nice chance to talk with some local university students and to do some seriously-good people watching.  The three hours went by faster than we expected.  Lots of people, including lots of Westerners, started showing up shortly before sunrise.  As the sky lit up, it illuminated dramatic views over the mountains of Sri Lanka.  Taking it all in, knowing how far we had come and how long we had stayed awake, was an incredible experience and one that we will not
soon forget.  Spectacular!

The hike down was great once we made clear to Super Money that we weren't up for jumping over railings and racing down the mountain.  The man was wild for a few minutes.  We made it back to the car at 8:30 a.m., drove back to our tea plantation, and had a fabulous Sri Lankan breakfast before settling in for a nap.  Sara even commented that staying up all night wasn't as bad as she had feared -- good thing considering our upcoming night of flights!


A view back up the mountain on the hike down
We made it!

No comments:

Post a Comment