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