To Inifnity.... and Beyond!
Trip Start May 06, 2006
81Trip End Mar 23, 2009
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We left for Adam's Peak at about 12 on Friday with a slight hangover after a night of drunken goodbyes to the 5 volunteers leaving us. Just for the rest of this entry - the future references to 'we' include Gina, another volunteer I arrived with, and Gareth, a guy she met on the plane on the way over who turned out to have absolutely zero personality and was probably harder work than the climb itself!! (okay a total exaggeration but you get the picture!).
To give you a little background - Adam's Peak is the 4th highest place in Sri Lanka
To get to our destination we had to take a tuk tuk, 3 buses and a taxi - a total of about 7 and a half hours (a journey which, by the way, if the roads were anything like ours, would've taken about 4 hours!). Buses over here are by far the cheapest way to travel and have, so far, proved to be the most humorous! All was fine with just a few stares that we're used to and windy (as in winding, not the weather!) roads until we stopped in a town called Hatton. We found the people in this remote town quite comical with their complete fascination with us. One grown man kept sticking his head round the corner and shouting "hi" before rapidly disappearing in giggles, another decided to stare and smile at us while walking quite a distance and then another went and got all his friends from the shop and brought them out to stare at us too! Anywhere else we could've been quite offended by this, but not in Sri Lanka!
The next bus journey was almost like a horror movie! We were rammed on the tiniest seats while we went round the most corners I've ever seen on a really narrow road going uphill on the edge of a long drop. I'm very glad my view was obscured for most of the journey! Of course, we were going two miles an hour for the easy part and then sped up on the scary bits! Crazy drivers over here! We also nearly ran a tuk tuk clear off the edge 'cos it decided to speed round a corner with no warning and right in the middle of the road! You can always tell something's close when the bus driver makes a noise 'cos while we're making them for almost the whole journey they only do when something unusual happens! Why they have sooooo many bends in the road I don't understand at all. I know it's easier to go up a hill when it bends but that was just plain ridiculous!
We were then met by the hotel taxi driver who took us via his house because he hadn't told his wife (?!) and picked up his kids who proceeded to swear at us and practice their English loud enough for us to hear. I think we were just a zoo act to be honest but we found the humor even after a stupidly long journey there!
Anyway, we made it there in one piece and put it down to experience and we got to go through some beautiful tea plantations - finally out of the polluted cities we've come to know
I should probably tell you that we were warned it wasn't the best time of year to go as it's off season so not many people would be doing the climb and only a few guest houses and tea places on the way up would be open. Being as we weren't gonna be here in the peak season we figured it was our only opportunity so went against the advice! After a fairly good nights sleep we explored the 'village' we were staying in. It was quite seriously a ghost town... I was fully expecting a cowboy to jump out with his hands on his guns and shout 'draw'. Instead there was a little police station and about 10 people around the whole time we were there! We took a 1.5k walk in the pouring rain up to a tea factory but couldn't take a tour 'cos it was closed for the day! Great!
We didn't have much choice but to chill out for the rest of the day and prepare for the climb. We found two cute kittens to play with - like little grey and white versions of Gismo which made me miss him lots... although I'm pretty sure he's grown a lot by now so is probably nowhere near their size!
We watched some of the England game with our Sri Lankan hosts and retired to bed early. 2am the alarm went off and what a shock that was! That gave us 4 hours to get to the top for sunrise. We got up in our tired state and ventured outside in the rain to start our walk. We were a little nervous at first due to the total darkness with just our torches but we were excited about the whole thing too. We passed the reclining Buddha we were supposed to and went under the bridge before getting slightly confused at the two ways we could've gone (which later led to the same path anyway!).
Then the real climb started. According to our guidebook there are 5200 steps to the top. I have no idea where the genius that wrote that was counting from but there were quite clearly more than that! It was fairly easy at first and then the endless steps began. We decided to stop and take a break as we were knackered. It had been raining on and off so we put our waterproofs on the floor to sit on... stupid idea! We got up and were covered in leeches! How pleasant! We'd put this paste on us, which is supposed to stop them attaching themselves to your skin, but it didn't get them off of our clothes!! Gina and I freaked out and as we were doing so an American woman zoomed past us with her guide - the only other people we were to see for the whole thing!
We climbed and climbed and kept thinking the end must be near and then we hit the real steps! I've never seen anything so steep and so many of them. I began counting here thinking the peak must be soon... 2500 steps later we finally hit the top! My torch died so we were left with just the one torch but we were all sticking together (me trailing behind!) anyway so it didn't make too much difference! I seriously thought I was going to die up on that mountain and was very tempted to just sit and wait for them to come back down 'cos it just seemed endless! We were dripping wet - not due to rain but 'cos we were in the clouds and it was getting colder and colder... then we entered steps in the rock and finally hit the top at 5:30am!! I have never been so happy to arrive somewhere in my life!!!!
There were two guys living on the top of the mountain (total idiots if you ask me!!) who took us in and offered us tea - we saw the American woman who had gotten there an hour before us!! We thought we'd be warming up but sitting around in wet clothes just made us colder. We waited an hour for sunrise but the view was plain awful 'cos of the clouds. Like I said, we were warned about it being off season but we thought we might see a little bit of it! Still, we all felt satisfied that we'd climbed it and rang the bell at the top before beginning the descent. Something we thought would be easy... how wrong we were!
The steepness and the pure amount of steps made my legs shake like nothing I've known! I had to keep stopping just get the blood moving back around them - not great for someone with knees like mine! Again, the steps were never ending and the pain was getting unbearable! However, we saw some beautiful views on the way down (which I'm pretty sure would've been appreciated much more if we hadn't been so tired!) and then when we were near the bottom we turned to see the distance we'd just climbed and all felt amazing. We trekked on to the end and made it back down in about two hours with rapidly stiffening calf muscles!
We slept for a few hours before making the 7 hour trip back to the Elephant Foundation - not such a comical ride back but I managed to keep myself awake for the whole journey 'cos I didn't want to miss the views! We got back and crashed out to wake up this morning with unbelievably painful, aching leg muscles - some of which I wasn't even aware I had! We've been laughed at all day 'cos if we have to do any movement that involves walking up and down steps or hills we look like complete fools! We're very proud of ourselves and it doesn't seem as bad now as it did at the time (isn't that always the way?!). However, that's definitely not a climb I'd do again - no matter how amazing the view can be and any other climbs I plan on doing are going to involve training! (Apart from the one this weekend but that's only a 2 hour climb and no steps so we should be fine!).
And that's my Adam's Peak story! I hope you've made it to the end without being thoroughly bored. Another entry will follow soon about the week's happenings but I wanted to get this done while the pain was still fresh! Hope you're all well - keep the emails coming!