Climbing a Sacred Mountain at the Unholy Hour of 2am- Adam’s Peak

Blending into the crowd

Buddha’s footprint, Shiva’s footprint, Adam’s footprint, apparently the path to Adam’s Peak was well traveled, and we were determined to join the crowd.

Attempting to leave the highs and lows of Kandy, we bought second class train tickets for Hatton, where we’d switch to a bus to Dalhousie, the town at the base of Adam’s Peak. Unfortunately, we weren’t as lucky as our last second class train ride, and with our big bags, fighting for a spot with the unlimited number of ticket holders both Sri Lankan and foreign travelers, we looked at each other and headed for the bus a block away. Half an hour later we each had our own window seat and enjoyed the views we certainly would have missed being stuck standing in the middle of the train. We weren’t too worried about the $1 we lost on our train tickets.

Great view from the bus

After grabbing some delicious South Indian dosas (woohoo!), we jumped on a bus to Dalhousie, which was a stunning ride past lakes, hills and tea plantations. Having not pre booked accommodation as we knew it was a small town, we were happy to have a lovely woman from a guesthouse the bus dropped off us at offer us a room with a view and patio, for much less than the price we found quoted online.

There are two things to do in Dalhousie: Climb Adam’s Peak and prepare to climb Adam’s Peak. The common areas at the guesthouse were a hilarious buzz over what the weather might be like, how many steps there actually are, where the path starts, where the best sunrise viewing spot was, and the best time to leave in the morning (also known as middle of the night). Luckily the guesthouse was smart and had a whiteboard displayed that had everything we needed to know (including a warning about eating in the food stalls which made everything with river water, which we preceded to ignore, and had a tense moment before bed).

Everything you need to know about climbing Adam’s Peak

At 2am sharp we got up and started our walk. We had been warned it would be cold so we had layered up, but preceded to de-layer pretty quick as our climb turned vertical. At this point, the path was pretty sparsely populated, but there were definitely others. We found ourselves taking lots of breaks, but maintaining a pretty good pace. Until the impossibly steep sections of course. Those were fun.

By 4:30am we had hit the last major plateau where we replenished our energy with Cheryl’s trail mix from home and restocked our water at the local food stand. With sunrise not happening til 5:30am and only 15 minutes of walking left, we were worried we’d be standing and freezing at the top for too long, but we quickly realized the 15 minute estimate was only the case when there weren’t a thousand other people in front of you.

First rays of light

Eventually, we made it to the top and made a quick exploration of the site before grabbing a couple of vacant spots on the crowded steps and hunkering down to wait for the sun to rise. Which ended up being for about 5 minutes, as the first glimpses of red appeared in the sky. Despite the obscured view from the throngs of people, it was amazing. And the body heat kept us quite warm. An hour later, we headed down in the daylight, enjoying the magnificent views.

5,500 steps later (or so they say), we completed our trek and celebrated with some overly sweet banana chocolate pancakes. We showered and grabbed our bags from the guesthouse, leaving behind my beloved blue pants, which didn’t actually get fixed in Kandy, and were evidently worn out by the 11, 000 steps, and headed to the bus.

Feeling accomplished and sweaty

Hiking down the 5500 steps

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