“We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”
For this year’s Week Without Walls Expedition, I opted to go hiking to Sri Lanka’s top 3 highest peaks: Pidurutalagala (2,524 m), Kirigalpotta (2,390 m) and Totupola Kanda (2,360 m). I wanted to go this trip since last year and this year when I got the chance to go, I was extremely happy. The trip was full of climbing mountains, hunting for lizards or frogs, and taking photographs all the way.
- Trip to 3rd Highest mountain (Totupola Kanda)
We went to Totupola Kanda Mountain on the fourth day of the trip, when we started early morning at around 7 and reached the top in about no time. Or rather it felt like no time, because we were comparing it to the hike to Kirigalpotta, which was almost fatal. We saw sunrise on the way up, and the way up was very steep. My calves got exercised during the hike, and at a point just before reaching the top, they started burning so much that I had to take a break. Though the whole way up was accompanied by beautiful scenery: mountains, clouds and purple shaded flowers. It was interesting how most of the
flowers on all the hikes we did were purple or lilac shaded, we couldn’t figure out a reason for this. But there was one thing I could say for certain: the view from the top of the mountain was extremely beautiful and worthwhile. The time we reached up was a great time for photography because the sun had just come up so there were distinct areas of highlights and shadows created by sunlight. We stayed for like an hour on top, took pictures, ate a few biscuits and then climbed back down. This was our last trip before we left for Nuwara Eliya, and it was really remarkable.
2. 2nd Highest mountain (Kirigalpotta)
The trip to the second highest mountain in Sri Lanka- called Kirigalpotta, was the toughest climb I had done in several years, at least in Sri Lanka. The trip was so exhausting, that I could feel my body giving up and my mind telling me to sit on the next rock I saw. The only hope or motivation I had, was the idea and imagination of getting to the top and watching the supposedly breathtaking view from there. We walked approximately 16 km through grasslands, jungles, muddy land and steep slippery hills. We saw leopard droppings on the way, and also saw a wide range of flora in the area. This included endemic species of Sri Lanka like Elephant plant. There was a point while going up, that my water got finished, and my body just couldn’t take another step. I had to
sit down for like 5 minutes to let my body gain energy to even open my eyes. This hike was very challenging for me, yet at the same time, it is what made me the most proud during the trip- the fact that I made it up and back down to near base of World’s End where we started from. Bhavye lost his camera during the hike, and we searched for it when we came back, but couldn’t find it. This hike helped me realize how powerful sheer will can be, and also how I need to start long distance walking because clearly I wasn’t very good at it. During the whole trip, all the people kept encouraging each other, and that was really good to experience, because for me personally, it made me feel less unfit in a way, because I knew there were more people like me, and that was another key reason for me making all the way to the top of Kirigalapotta.
3. Highest in Sri Lanka (Pidurutalagala)
We didn’t exactly hike to the highest mountain in the country, we went up by vans and then explored a bit up there. The reason for this is that there is an army base camp on top of the mountain, and they don’t allow anyone to climb up there under normal circumstances, but fr
om what I know, the top mountaineers of Sri Lanka train on that mountain for their greater expeditions. Like there were two people who went to climb Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, and for that, they trained on Pidurutalagala. We could see Adam’s peak and a bit of Kandy city from the top of the mountain. We took loads of photos from the top, but obviously we didn’t go to the extreme peak of the mountain, due to it being an army camp. While we were there, we also experienced the hosting of Sri Lankan national flag at exactly 8 o’ clock followed by the national anthem. It was really amazing seeing how disciplined
the army soldiers behaved in and around the camp, including their walking style. They walked in straight lines and when two people walked, their footsteps would sound as one, and watching all this, all I could think about, was how I looked very casual when I walked. But apart from this, we also spotted a Black lipped lizard, which is a
beautiful reptile endemic to Sri Lanka. We took a lot of photos from the top of the mountain, but that concluded out hiking part of the trip.
To conclude, the Highlands trip was one of the most fun and interesting trips I had in a long time, and I am very grateful to have experienced these parts of the country I’m living in. I will never forget these experiences, and I have truly learnt the value of willpower, teamwork and hope, which I am sure will help me in future.