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Sri Pada Climb

March 30, 2008

Tom – Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak (7,359 ft) is a sacred site for the world’s four major religions.  Sri Pada means Holy Footprint in Singhalese and there is a stone footprint now enclosed in a temple on top of the mountain.  According to the Buddhists this is the sacred footprint of Buddha as he headed for paradise.  The Hindus believe it is the footprint of Lord Shiva.  According to Muslims and some Christians, it is where Adam first set foot on earth when he was cast out of the Garden of Eden.  So, all four religions have pilgrims going up the mountain.  The pilgrimage season is from Poya Day (full moon) in December to the Vesak festival, which is a two day Poya festival that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha in May.  During this period the fluorescent lights spread out along the trail are lit all the way up the mountain.  We didn’t even need our headlamps!

We were up at 2am and on the “trail” at 2:15.  Early on we gave a monk at a Buddhist shrine a donation for a blessing/chant and the tying of a white string around each of our right wrists.  We also had to make a wish and ring a bell. 

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The trail/stairs where easy early on but as we moved higher the stairs became continuous. 

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The stones and stairs are not regular and range in height from about five inches to more than a foot so you had to be careful with each step.

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The trail/stairs route is 4.5 miles to the summit with a vertical ascent of 3,280 ft.  There were railings on the very steep sections near the top which really helped. 

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We only carried our Gore Tex suits and a long sleeve top for the climb.  When we reached the top (5:15am), we put on our Gore Tex jackets and that provided sufficient protection while awaiting the sunrise.  No need for any supplies because there are “rest houses” and concessions all the way up the mountain!  We again rang a bell on top and then filed passed the sacred footprint depositing an expected donation.  Irene (maid at Ruki’s in Colombo) had given me a 50 rupee bill that she wanted me to donate for her as well.

It was somewhat cloudy in the east but we were able to see the sunrise before it clouded in and prevented us from seeing the famous pyramid shadow on the west side of the mountain that races back toward the mountain as the sun rises. 

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We started down at 6:30

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We took a side trail to a Japanese Buddhist Dagoba (Stupa) and monastery near the bottom

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Start of trail in daylight

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Many stalls and things for sale on the way back to the center of town

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We reached our guesthouse at 9:00, showered while breakfast was prepared and ate outside in the small front garden overlooking the start of the trail.  Brenda said that our 3 hours up and 2.5 hours down was pretty good and that most people take much longer, however, she can still get to the top in 3.5 hours barefoot!!!  She is really one spry lady with a lot of energy.

It was a four hour drive back to Kandy; here is a photo of the mountain as we were driving away.

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We were both tired and cranky (especially Helen!) by the time we arrived.  After much indecision about dinner, Helen found some problem in everything I suggested, she made some noodles with tomato sauce, toast and a small salad. She was off to bed by 5:30 and I followed about 8:30.

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