Climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) in a thunderstorm…

Train to Hatton
We woke up early and headed to Kandy railway station, not quite sure where we should buy a ticket to. Adam’s peak was on the route and “to climb or not to climb?” was the question. Wowed by tripadvisor reviews and after deliberations about the weather, we took the plunge and bought a ticket to Hatton. As the train set off we secured a place standing by the window in third class, with the chance of a seat seeming very slim. For over two hours we stood, the breeze coming in against our faces as we watched out the window the whole way, taking in the breathtaking scenery- So Much Green! We continued to deliberate as to whether we should actually get off at Hatton or stay on until Nuwara Eliya as the daily rain came down. But Hatton it was to be, as we climbed off the train (a Massive jump down!) and headed onto the final leg of the journey- Hatton to Dalhousie. We were planning on taking the bus, but with it being off season it seemed like quite a bit of hassle with a change and long wait meaning the 30km trip would take about 3 hours. Tuktuk it was, as we haggled down the price and managed to get the hour long drive for 1200 rupees for three of us (we picked up a Chinese guy called Chao at the station)- 400 rupees each = Bargain! We still had nowhere to stay but had read about Green House being the ideal place with its herbal baths ready on return from the climb. However the tuktuk man had other ideas (encouraged by a hefty commission I’m sure) he assured us the White House was the best place, with big rooms and a cheap price. We were wooed in by the private room with big bed and promise of hot water. White House it was to be. Despite all the locals appearing confident about good weather for the climb the coming morning, the rain continued to pour. Megs and I made a deal that if it was raining in the morning we simply wouldn’t climb, there would be no view and we would be wet- what a ludicrous idea climbing in those conditions would be…
Beautiful Views
The very detailed map!
We had a curry in the local village, which except for the little empty restaurant was completely dead. The woman was eager to know why we weren’t married and if Megan would use her physiotherapy skills to sort out her knee. I was eager for Megs to give her a massage in exchange for a free dinner negotiation, but Megan wasn’t so amused by this suggestion. We returned to the White House in an attempt to nap for a few hours as we had an early start ahead of us. We settled in our big bed only to find it either very cold or damp and we weren’t sure which one it was. We took the executive decision to sleep on top of the blanket and cover ourselves in our towels instead of delving under the damp cold sheets. After dinner, the man working at the guesthouse took us to his map to explain the route for tomorrow, as it was going to be pitch black with possibly not many people around. We were told to pass the police station, a lying down Budha, a Japanese temple, a small bridge and a red bridge, to find the start of the walk. We had a general idea of where we were going but we teamed up with two other girls, just for good measure, hoping their sense of direction was more on point than ours. 
Our alarms went off at the unwelcome time of 1.50am and we clambered out of bed, grotty and tired. I donned on my leggings. knee brace and linen trousers, along with my t-shirt, jumper and waterproof, just in case. Megan spotted a rather large spider on the floor, but in our rush for time and her unwillingness to have to be near it to kill it, we decided we would deal with it later. And off we went at 2.15am to climb the 7km, 5500 steps, to the top of Adam’s Peak in time for sunrise…
We felt slightly underprepared as Faye and Jayde met us donned with their headtorches as we clutched our little handheld ones that we had hired from the guesthouse the night before. Had it been the peak season the route would have been well lit and we would have been joining hundreds of Sri Lankans also making the pilgrimage to the top, with shops and teahouses open en-route to make the journey more enjoyable. But it wasn’t peak season, it was pitch black and for about half an hour we barely saw a soul as we started our walk. Nevertheless the torches did their job and after looking out for the statues, bridges and temples we found our way to the bottom steps and began the climb. It wasn’t long before we found the rain coming down again, albeit only a drizzle that we were sure would pass. I’m sad to say, it didn’t pass and an hour later we found ourselves half way up a mountain in a thunderstorm. The unpredictable, uneven stairs that were being lit only by our torches were made slightly more treacherous by the river that began to flow down them as all the water accumulating on the entire mountain seemed to be heading our way.  The lightening would light up the entire sky in quick flashes and the thunder that followed seemed to be getting ever closer. We wracked our brains in an attempt to remember if we had ever been taught anything about being on mountains in thunderstorms- of course not, who would be that stupid!? Our shoes began to squelch and our trousers stuck to our legs. And this, I am sorry to say, remained the situation for the remaining 2 hours as we climbed to the peak. However, this situation did provide the first of 3 bonding moments on the trip where me and Megs clung onto each other’s hands thinking we might die whilst a gust of wind, clap of thunder and flash of lightening seemed determined to knock us down the steps we had just climbed. It was this point that we took shelter for a few minutes in a corrugated iron, electricity conducting, hut hoping for a lull in the rain. It never came. So up we continued, pretty miserable at this point and desperately hoping that the trip would be worth it. 
“Sunrise” and the blanket of cloud
The Locked Temple- God wasn’t in that day!
As we reached the summit at about 5.30am we found a lot of people near the top steps simply hanging around. We sought shelter from the rain in a smelly room underneath the teahouse which was full of similarly cold wet people who didn’t really look like they knew what was going on. Apparently the temple at the top didn’t open until 6am- no-one had bothered to tell us! The sun rose, well we assumed it did as it became light, revealing simply that we were in a blanket of cloud that forbid us from any chance of a beautiful view. 6am came and went and the temple failed to open- maybe because of the rain, or maybe it was simply not our day. Either way, the man at the guesthouse had promised that if we rang the bell at the top, God would look down on us and write us into his book. It wasn’t going to happen. Drenched and now very cold from the wind at the top we had no option but to go back down, sadly without being able to change into our spare clothes and they had also been drenched through our bags. The descent began, holding tightly onto the rails when they were available, we carefully tackled the downhill steps, every one of the 5500, right to the bottom, looking back to see only cloud above us. It was ever so slightly gutting and we felt like we had been cheated. As warned by the guesthouse man a leech also managed to successfully nibble at my ankle- the icing on the cake you could say! 
The descent in daylight
Steps, steps, uneven steps!
The silver lining had been the promise of a hot shower when we arrived back- a promise that shattered, or froze you could say, as Megan turned on the shower to find that the hot water was simply not there. One of the quickest showers in history was had and as Megs wrapped herself in her towel the spider from before decided to reappear on the inside of her towel. Megs shot out of the bathroom, without towel, and soon appeared outside the front door in my towel, much to the delight of the Sri Lankan men working on the building site next door who waved and shouted “hello- where are you from!?” The damp beds were no more appealing after the 14km trip and despite our plan of a two night stay we made the best decision of the trip so far and packed up and left, of course not before a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast.  
That little leech bite!

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