I had the greatest teamwork experience during our off-season journey to Sri Pada couple of weeks back. Our team consisted of Kaushalya, Nandika, SanjayaR, Dinesh, Dushshantha, Amila, My brother in law(Upul) and Me. We choose the route along Kuruwita which is the longest(11.5km) and the most difficult of the three main roads leading to the the top. We set out early in Saturday morning hoping to comeback in Sunday evening and make it to the office by Monday morning. In the off-season the stoney steps are wowen with moss which cause a slippery serface slowing the progress. It was about 7pm when we make it to the top finally. We spent the night in a hired room with minimum facility of some mats on the cold floor. But we were lucky to watch the sun rise in the early morning which I must say is a very rare experience which only you can enjoy freely only in the off-season. But the problem in the off-season is that you are often prevented from seeing it by clouds and mist but in our case we were lucky. When we set out the return journey it was sunny all over the mountain range but at the middle of the journey heavy rain began to pour down. We were all equiped with rain coats so it did not hinder our progress, but the danger was awaiting us!.
Amila, Dinesh and Upul Aiya lead rest by about 20 minutes and they managed to cross Seetha Gangula before us. Seetha Gangula is a small river across the Sri pada path. It is about 30 meter’s wide and normally you can wade it with water upto your knees.
But by the time rest of us reach it, it began to overflow making it difficult to cross. Infront of our eyes the water level was rising rapidly so we decided to stay in the Ambalama nearby(Ambalama is the sinhala name to the resting place for people to use for rest in long journeys) . Luckily there was Ambalam in both side of the river. I think this was built on purpose because the rising of water is a usual thing to happen and people caught in it can stay on these Ambalama’s until the water level reduce.
Nature has done a nice separation between us on the two banks. All the matchbox and lighter was with us. Firewood was with them!!!. Raw Noodles we took with us to cook for lunch were with us but the pot to cook with was with them!!!. So SanjayaR, Kaushalya, Nandika, Dushshyantha and me who were trapped in this side had nothing to do, but pray for the Rain to stop. The time was 1pm. There was no sign of stopping the rain. There was a great chance that we may have to spend the night there. There were no signals to our phones so that we could not inform our families that we may get delayed. It was unimaginable to stay the night with no food and in the cold and dump Ambalama. We need a fire somehow!!!. All were hopeless for some time and everybody looked bewildered. But slowly but gradually the team started to get it’s spirit back thanks to Sanjaya who managed to make some fire by using small leftover’s of some firewood and papers. But how we are going to keep that fire going?. I remembered one of my previous similar experience and knew that wet logs can be make good wirewood if we can dry them for some time in fire. So Kaushalya and me collected a good amount of wet logs from around the Ambalama. That worked very well and after some strenuos effort we were having a good fireplace promising to give warmth for a whole night. Now we are warm next problem is food. Then Nandika came with that great innovation of making a pot using some left overs of a rectangular Aluminum sheet which he managed somehow to find from within the Ambalama. So we managed to cook the noodles using his primitive age cook pot. I have never enjoyed such delicious noodles !!!.
By the time the rain stoped it was about 8pm. The rain was so heavily pouring non-stop for about 8 hours!!!. For water level of the water to reduce it took about another two hours. By the time we crossed the river it was 10pm.
We managed to come to the office by Monday 2pm.