The First Trip — Keepin’ it Simple.
“Here. Since we’re going to Wellawaya. Can we stay an extra day and do a bit of hiking in Ella? We can hike Little Adam’s Peak — sunrise is supposed to be glorious.”
Or something along those lines were said when a couple of friends and I were planning to review a hotel in Wellawaya. We cobbled together a quick plan — waterfalls and mountains were on our list, but we were hoping to cover the falls during the course of our review (will write-up a small piece on that, soon-ish).
The three of us had never actually hung out together and we’d no idea how well we’d get along; this was more of a last minute curation of people who’d be chill with anything and keen on roughing it, rather than getting together a gaggle of friends. To cut a long story short (or to make this less-long): we got along brilliantly. It helped that all of us were keep to explore, travel, and photograph on a backpacker budget. This involved eating nothing but murukku and biscuits on the go as well, but that’s okay. We survived.
To get back to Ella - we managed to book a tuk to pick us up from the hotel at 3:45AM, and had about a half hour’s ride from Wellawaya to Ella at that time of dawn. Saying it was chilly is an understatement, especially as the roads were deserted and the tuk (fully open btw) whizzed along at the speed of a gazelle running away from cheetas. We froze nearly everything off, and tumbled out at the beginning of the path at 98 Acres nearly frozen solid.
The hike in the dark with two borrowed torches and mist engulfing us, was something.
Keeping an eye out for leeches and snakes, we managed to maintain a steady pace despite being hunched over with all our travel gear(because we had nowhere to stash them). Realizing the futility of this, we kept an eye out for a large enough bush and then buried all three bags in the middle of it halfway through.
We were about 5 minutes too late to see the sun rising over the rolling expanse of hills laid out below us, but what we did see was still absolutely stunning: that magical morning light!
A friend and hardcore backpacker had told me of a secondary, less popular peak — albeit with a better view and much more privacy; and unsure of where it exactly was, we tried hopping over to the next crest, which proved a bit arduous given that there was nearly no path. This was back when we actually cared about paths a bit. The instructions given to us were squiggly lines on a piece of paper, which roughly told us to keep to our left and ascend the peak found there.
This involved a bit of proper climbing and tumbling, and pushing Lini to stop being afraid of falling headlong down rubble and whatnot (proud that she’s not, anymore :P ).
It also involved a short walk through some very tall grass, where we worried that we’d lost Daran for a moment before finding him at the summit of an absolutely fantabulous location.
This was the highlight of the day. We spent a few hours there just soaking up the wind, views and sun, then headed back down.
Digging our bags back from the underbush, we hauled those heavy packs all along to the Ravana Falls and the Ravana Caves as we bus hopped the whole day.
Mind you, we still hadn’t figured out how to get back properly, until we managed to book seats on the Superline express from Badulla.
Half our journeys comes with a side of heart-attacks, but that’s okay. We’re learning to chill a bit more and trust a bit more, and backpack a lot more. It seems to be working, given that we managed to cover a few more great places in the upcoming months.
Best of all was discovering that we had similar interests where tripping was concerned, and we were a no-fuss trio who got along well together: and this led to many more sudden plans most which worked out, and some which didn’t.
Rather unsurprisingly, our main mode of communication is WhatsApp, through a group which initially called itself Ella Gallivants and is now rather (again) unsurprisingly titled Tripping Balls.
What followed next in the TB Chronicles was a 3 day exploration of the North, and then a haphazardly mashed together tour of Ella again, this time for a railhike and Ella Rock. More on those in the next posts ☺