- A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
This was taken on my way back down. I think most people would have said "Screw it" if they saw how hard the climb was in daylight.
At 7,336 feet, Adam's Peak is only the third or fourth tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. But, it is possibly the only place in the world considered sacred by four major religions. At the very peak, legend has it, is an imprint of Adam's foot created when he was cast out of Heaven and landed on Earth, or where the Hindu God Shiva once stood, or where the Buddha once stood (although Buddha never came to Sri Lanka). Adam, being the first man mentioned in the bible covers for Islam and Christianity since he is the first prophet. Hey, if you buy "Creationism" I guess you could buy this. But essentially it's a Buddhist thing.
At any rate the place has been a pilgrimage for over a thousand years. Although people of ALLages make the ascent day and night, the deal is to get to the top in time to see the sun rise. So you have to start in the wee small hours (about 3AM) to make it in time.
We booked this little place, "The Green House," at the base of the mountain for our stay the night before the ascent. One of two places in Sri Lanka where I got a hot shower. The lady of the house was very nice and provided a huge breakfast after we had finished. I think the total cost was about five bucks, give or take.
Three AM and off we go. The path is mostly steps, some stone, some concrete, many broken or irregular. But the way is lit by flourescent lights. It's still a good idea to carry a flashlight, because there are gaps in the lighting. Over there they call flashlights "torches" (British influence) which always threw me off. When I hear torch, I think of a thing with fire on the end. Angry villagers with pitchforks going after the Frankenstein monster kind of thing.
Near the start of the trail pilgrims receive blessings from both Buddhist and Hindu priests who are there 24/7. Like me.
They had all these little tea shops along the way. We stopped for a cup. But, the tea was TERRIBLE! It was more milk and sugar than tea. And this place is smack in the middle of Sri Lankan tea country.
Sri Lankan ethno-techno music blared from every shop and was with us all they way to the top. Some complained, but since I kind of like that music anyway I didn't mind.
Made it to the top with time to spare. Nearly every inch of the peak is covered with people waiting to see the sun pop up over the clouds. I guess in the heavy tourist season many can't even get to the top because the crowds are so thick. This day was pretty good.
Here Comes The Sun... With the cloud layer below us the sunrise was a beautiful moment. Now it was time to see what this footprint business is all about.
The shrine of the footprint is at the top of the stairs behind me. You weren't allowed to take pictures of it up there. Actually, you can't even see the footprint itself. Its covered with a sheet in order to collect the monetary offerings tossed by pilgrims. They keep talking about all these pilgrims, but I never saw anyone wearing those big black hats nor square belt buckles nor muskets. (Sorry)
Anyway, you climbed the steps and had about ten seconds to look upon it. The priest instructed each to bow three times (The Buddha, the Sangha, the Dharma). Then we moved on.
The fellow to the extreme left of the picture was one of the few Americans I met over there. He was from Bala Cynwyd, a suburb of Philly. After talking to him I realized I had pronounced the name of his village wrong all these years. If you try to say it while pretending to cough up a hairball, you'll just about have it right.
Another big thing with being on top of Adam's Peak at sunrise is to capture the shadow of the mountain cast by the sun against the hillside. It's supposed to be a perfect triangle. Unfortunately you need a clear day to get the effect. So this was my shadow picture. One of the volunteers who had climbed Adam's a couple weeks earlier got a beautiful shot. I thought I had copied it to my folder, but I can't find it. So here's one from Goggle image.
The hardest part for me was the descent off the mountain. Shades of Macchu Picchu! But, now that it was daylight we could see what we had just done. The views were spectacular! But my thighs gave me the business for the next three days. Still it was a great little adventure.
Here's a clear picture taken from the air of Adam's Peak. I boosted it from my old friend Google Image:
Sonofagun if I didn't find a picture of the uncovered footprint on Google. Some footprint. Where do people come up with this stuff?