“May I join you on your vacation to Sri Lanka?” my best friend asked me out of the blue. Since we had travelled together before, I readily allowed her to accompany me. She seemed relieved. I knew that her two-year-old relationship was going through a rough patch—on one hand, she was in love with her boyfriend, and on the other hand, their religious differences seemed irreconcilable. Both were conservative individuals with strong opinions and neither was willing to give in easily. Perhaps, she felt, a holiday would clear her thoughts and do her good. So, we booked her tickets to Sri Lanka and were all set.
This vacation together was a tad different from the earlier ones. Even after landing in Colombo, she seemed lost in her own thoughts. She wasn’t her usual cheerful self. So, when a local tour guide suggested a midnight trek to Adam’s peak, I was instantly sold. An adventure, I felt, would cheer her up and help her forget her problems. So, the following day, she and I headed towards the quaint town of Dalhousie, the gateway of Adam’s Peak. We checked into a budget hotel there and geared ourselves up for the midnight trek. Upon arriving at the base of the hillock, we realised it was the pilgrimage season. And, therefore, the entire trail, comprising 5000 plus stairs, was illuminated by a string of lights. Several tea shacks and stalls lined the pathway.
The gateway to Adam’s Peak
It should be a piece of cake. How hard can it be to climb a fleet of stairs dotted with eateries and shops? I thought. But little did I know that Adam’s peak would prove me wrong. The first leg of the trek was easy—the ascent was gentle, and the stairs were wide. I could alternate between climbing and walking. We took it easy, interacted with eager hawkers and stopped to admire colourful prayer flags that swayed in the night’s cool breeze. However, the second leg of the trek, after the Peace Pagoda, got intense. The steps gradually became narrower and narrower, and the ascent too became steeper and irregular. We huffed and puffed as we climbed the never-ending stairway.