December 30, 2012

Hike to Horton Plains from Belihul-oya (Ihalagalagama)

It's too late, hiking-mania has already carved in our minds and this hike was like one of our dreams come true, so without any goofing off here's our next hike, to Horton Plains from Belihuloya, Ihalagalagama.
With a crew of 4, we arrived at Fort bus station to catch the Badhulla bus (no. 99). It was around 1.00 am and the bus left at 1.45 am from Fort, after a journey of 4 hours we got off right in front of Belihuloya Rest and you can see the road to Ihalagalagama running uphill. It was exactly 5.58 am and our hike began. Plan was to go across Non Perial Estate-Nagarak division, Horton Plains through World's End observation point to Ohiya and catch the night mail train back to Colombo.

This hike is considered to be one of the toughest in Sri Lanka, so we had be more cautious than our previous ones and also this trail is prohibited after 2006 and a special permit must be obtained from the department of wildlife to do this hike and also this is supposed to be the longest hike, 23 km we've done without a returning trip with an elevation gain of  about 1.5 km. So we did all the homework :) made all the preparations, the food, the equipment and other necessary stuff and even bought two 1:10000 maps from the survey department.

After walking about 3 km along the Ihalagalagama Road, found the trail head, the scenery was already indescribable. The trail head started from a pine forest, actually there was no such visible trail and we lost our way couple of times. Then we found somebody from village who was kind enough to give us directions. It was a straight climb from the start, about 60 degree angle and the land covered with a thick layer of pine bud scales but as we climb up just couldn't believe our own eyes and our brains were stuck trying to figure out the difference between reality and imagination because the surroundings were very much like a painting.

Ok that's it, well the moment I started writing this post I was not sure if it was even possible to see an ending, that much things in my mind to say, so instead, it says 'A picture is worth a thousand words' so here it is 'my few thousand words' :)

The pine forest

Next was the most difficult part of the hike  about 1 km with an angle of more than 60 degree

September 20, 2012

Hike to Uthuwankanda and Bathalegala- part 2

Continuing from Hike to Uthuwankanda and Bathalegala- part 1

Then we came back to Mawanella, had our lunch and luckily after getting some directions we could catch the bus to Bathalegala junction when it was just about to leave, there was only one bus for few hours in that route otherwise we had to get off at Gevilipitiya and travel 4km to Bathalegala junction which we had to do after returning. From Bathalegala junction there was 2.5km to the trail head, it was a small concrete paved way and starting from the junction it was one continuous climb.

The concrete paved way
A glimpse at our destination

September 14, 2012

Hike to Uthuwankanda and Bathalegala- part 1

After the off-season journey to Sri Pada this is our next hike, climbing Uthuwankanda and Bathalegala (aka Bible Rock).

Our first destination, Uthuwankanda; this is famous for a hide-out used by a local hero named Deekirikevage Saradiel better known as Utuwankande Sura Saradiel who fought bravely against British colonialism. Actually our destination was the Saradiel Rock located in Uthuwankanda area.

So it was 7 in the morning when we got off the bus at Mawanella with a crew of three, had our breakfast and hired a three wheeler to Uthuwankanda junction (1.5km from Mawanella), turned right at the junction to Uthuwam Mawatha. It is possible to travel in a vehicle along this road to get closer to the destination but since we needed to see the surroundings we started our journey on foot from the junction, after about 1km turned left to a concrete paved way which was heading toward Saradiel Gala and about 500m ahead we found the trail head.

The trail was through a small rubber estate and from there it was a continuous climb to the peak, not too hard but not too easy either. Within 45 minutes we could reach an open area where the peak was located in a side but the moment we saw it what was on our minds was how the hell are we going to climb this. It was just like a cuboid with a stone  fist carved on the top(about 10m in height, 12m long and 5m wide). This part of the hike was really challenging. Three of us spent some time in the open area enjoying the scenery. It was quite windy but had some fine weather. At first climbing the peak was not in our minds since it seemed quite impossible but that's when another crew of three arrived one being a local guy. He showed us the way to climb the peak and with the help of him we could get to the top. It was  a pure 90 degree climb and when we stood on the top there are no words to express the thrilling experience we just witnessed.

A glance at our destination..

August 31, 2012

Off-season Journey to Sri Pada(අවාරයේ දෙදිනක ශ්‍රීපා ගමන)

Amidst strikes, out of bound universities me and my friends, at home spending not-so-enjoyable free time with fading future hopes :'(  we decided to free ourselves by doing what we love most-exploring and hiking. So here it is, our first hike, a two-day off-season journey to Sri Pada aka Adam's Peak.

There are 6 routes to reach Sri Pada. Among them the most popular route and of course the easiest and probably the one that I hate most is the Hatton-Nallathanni trail which has now become a 99 percent concrete paved short way. Since we sought some adventure we chose Erathna-Kuruwita trail. More than 80 percent of the journey through this trail is dense undisturbed forest and if you want to stay close to nature while you travel this is one of the best.
It was almost 6 in the morning when we got off the bus (route no.99 Badhulla-Colombo) at Kuruwita with a crew of five, had our breakfast and got some directions from a local. From there the town closest to Sri Pada is Erathna. Fortunately we could catch the bus to Adavikanda which lies in between Kuruwita and the trail head and get closer to our destination. Within one hour the bus reached its final stop, Adavikanda (It was 7.45 am) and there on it was a 20 minute walk to the trail head.

The trail head, it was a tiny footpath. Beyond this point there were no civilization until we reached the peak. So we took our maps out and had GPS ready. It was a 13km journey, the elevation at the trail head was 300 meters and trail end was 2250 meters. That is almost 2 kms straight upwards to reach the peak.

Right from the beginning it was a continuous climb. We could clearly see 'Kuruganga' flowing down the valley right besides the trail. As we climbed up it was just a matter of time when we found out that the leeches had already begun to trouble us, so stopped by a little resting place we found, removed those blood suckers. It was only about a 45 minute hike from the starting point and we had an added crew member! It was doggy dog! and believe me when I say that this guy turned out be a real low-cost guide for us and stayed with us throughout the entire journey till the end.

So the resting place, this is where we met a guy, a technician working in the hydro power plant, water collection center(located 2km from the trail head, there were 2 working 2-day shifts). He told us to
apply salt as a precaution against the leeches and truly it was like a magical repellent that the leeches were trying to move away from the salt.

July 17, 2012

The Long Awaited Second Year Batch Trip to Hanthana

Aah...! I'm back at my blog for the first time in 2012.. wow! what should I say?  :O  Once again I proved to myself to be a genius at doing LONG-WAY-BACKS. Really for the last few months It was like I was suffering from Amnesia. I had almost forgotten about the blog, but thanks to our second year batch trip I was cured :-)

So just like our first year batch trip, this was also a hike. Our journey started from the uni of Pera after having listened to both presidents of the students' union and the explorers' club and blah blah blah (most of us considered the speeches were more like something close to greasy liquid fatty stuff 8-) ) it was about 11.00am when we started our journey.

Actually something important was done before starting the hike which we hadn't done last time. Some of us were separated into two groups as head and tail of the hike and were assigned specific tasks. I became one of the tail guys. We were supposed to maintain our formation till the end of the hike.

Oh.. Man!! So much to tell.. I'm gonna make this real short..!

Hanthana is a mountain range which consists of 7 mountains and out of that 7 we were supposed to climb 5 of them. We were able to go half way of the first mountain by the bus and then on foot. Unfortunately we didn't reach the peak of first mountain since our guides thought it would pass midnight to climb down considering our pace (That wasn't quite true u know). So we just went round to the first mountain when the peak was even clearly visible and reached  the second where there was a tea plantation. From there on it was a peak to peak journey.

Have a look at some of the photos of the journey. Some of them were taken by my friends.

Up there is the peak of the second mountain......