A Mountain a Month Challenge - No 1 Adams Peak, Sri Lanka
It’s 2.30 am dark, hot and stuffy but I already love it! The mountain’s lit by lights the whole way up which from where I’m stood looks like a magical zig zag of twinkling lights heading straight up into the pitch black sky.
Full of energy and enthusiasm it’s hard not to start off on this hike too fast. It’s a gentle and atmospheric walk at first with a gradual incline. The smell of Jasmin and Cherry Blossom incense on every twist and turn with music playing from the coffee shops keeps me excited.
Half way up I got that kind of headache you get when your hair bands too tight. It wasn’t till I mentioned it to Matt that he pointed out it wasn’t my pony tail… we were at 4000 ft!
Having never experienced this before I was actually quite excited by it, for about 2 seconds, before my head throbbed again!
I was told about ‘coffee shops’ on the way up but expect a vanilla latte and a comfy chair! These are tarpaulin cover shacks with wooden benches and the worst coffee of my life… unless grey water and grit is your thing!
The slippery and dark toilets are even worse and take some navigating but this mountain has a friendly and fun vibe to it.
A Sri Lankan women wearing no shoes and a skirt pauses by me to catch her breath, she must be around 80 years old and smiles at me before carrying on. If she can do it then so can I!
As I approach the top there’s an obvious change in incline, the final 500 steps are steep but thankfully there’s a railing to pull myself up with. I’m surprised by how many young children are here and seem totally unaffected by the 7000 feet as they leap two steps at a time past me.
It’s a lot quieter now, no one is really chatting, the winds picked up and it’s noticeably colder.
As I took my 5000th step of the morning I turned around and instantly got goose bumps. It was obvious I was above the clouds but the black expanse that sat on top of the silver layer was so huge it was one of those moments that instantly puts you in your place.
Like everyone else we found a spot to watch the sunrise from. Hoods up and hunkered down we waited. A cuppa Yorkshire tea and digestive would go down a treat right now as the colourful Buddhist flags flapped in front of my eye line as the sky started to gradually brighten.
I pictured myself in cartoon form standing on a peak above clouds holding a flag on a pole and naturally gave myself Disney princess eyes.
In Sri Lanka, Adams Peak is called Sri Pada, which means "sacred footprint" because of the big imprint in the rock at the top.. not that I saw it, I was busy insta gramming the sunrise (obvs), but this footprint apparently belongs to Adams…. As in THE Adam, first guy on the world story. Impressive! Unless you’re Buddhists in which case of course it’s Buddhas, or Hindu and it’s Shivas.
Either way, I like the story! I think if God was Trip Advising ‘Top Places to start the world’ I can see why this would be #1.
At that moment what looked like an orange lazer beam broke through a gap in the clouds right in front of me casting incredible colours onto the sky above. Because of the child like design of this very triangular mountain it casts an impressive shadow across the land below. You have to be sat on the other side to see this (obvs) but you can ‘hear’ it from the sunrise side which I almost as good! A chorused ‘OOOOO’ from the other side made it obvious the shadow had hit. (Next time!)
With as many pics as my phone could handle it was time to head back down which as with all hikes is often the hardest part. The repeated shudder on my knees started to take its toll and my legs began to shake involuntarily. With only one way down I had no choice but to ignore it and keep going.
I like how ‘in your own head’ you can get with hiking, maybe it’s the breathing or counting of the steps but I completely zoned out.
When we finally reached the bottom and avoided spending any money on random giant baby posters and massive slabs of jelly (weird) we reached the van!
I couldn’t have started the year with a better hike.
Sri Lanka is sometimes described as ‘The Garden of Eden’, I’ve been here 5 days and I have to agree this is the most ‘Eden’ like place I’ve ever been! (apart from The Eden Project maybe)
5 Top Tips for Climbing Adams Peak
Leave early (2.30am) to make it for sunrise, yes that means hiking in the dark but it’s worth it!
Go slowly. It’s 7,359 ft.. you’ll feel the altitude!
Drink disgusting local coffee and barely edible snacks on the way up #bealocal
Take a little tri pod if you want to hyper lapse the sunrise and not get arm ache
Use a hiking pole to help with your knees on the way down (or experience this… link to vid shakey legs)