Adam's Peak: What Happened When I Climbed This Mountain in Sri Lanka by Sheri B Doyle
Looking back now, I am not sure what made me put Adam’s Peak on my to-do list when I was in Sri Lanka. I am not a climber and only a mild hiker, yet I decided I needed to climb to the top of one of the tallest mountains in Sri Lanka. When my alarm went off at 1:30 a.m. to get ready for the climb, which would start at 2 a.m., I shook off the exhaustion and got ready.
For Sri Lankans, Adam’s Peak is a pilgrimage that most people try to do at least once in their lives. They make the 9-1/2-hour, round-trip climb to the Buddhist temple to see the large footprint of Buddha. For tourists, the climb is often done to view the amazing sunrise at 6:30 a.m. This, and the hot temperatures, are why the climb is done at night.
Adam's Peak has 295 flights of steps, some steep, some shallow, some even and some uneven, some are stone while some dirt ones are barely large enough to step on. This made the climb more challenging as I worked my way past the last of the little drink stands and into the heart of the climb.
One of the symbolic things to do on the climb is to buy small balls of string, tie them to a certain point and then unravel them as you walk. It is meant to symbolize the longevity of one’s life. There are also a few points to stop and light incense, putting it amid mounds of incense from people who had stopped before you making the journey.
As all of us made the climb, we started to recognize each other, passing one another as we stopped and started to rest. A bond began to form between us as our muscles began to ache from the intensity of the climb. As tired as I was, there could be no complaining as the locals passed by with no shoes on, carrying children or grandparents on their backs, or for some, large bags of rice or supplies. The sheer will they possessed to make the climb was one of the most humbling things I have experienced.
The sunrise was truly magical as I reached the top. Tears began to flow from exhaustion, pride and the overwhelming spirituality that surrounded all of us. During my descent, the feeling of accomplishment, pride and peace was the only way I made it down, as the 29,800 steps I made took their toll on my knees, calves and thighs.
In the next few days, as I could barely walk, I was glowing from the extraordinary experience and accomplishment.
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