Dethanagala is a two peaked mountain ( higher peak of 1858m and shorter one of 1837m) located at the boundary of Samanala range and Horton plains. It is named such because it is like a breast of a woman as seen from far, having the best angle of view from the town of Balangoda. The known hiking route to go to the peak is in the south side of the mountain, starting from the Dethanagala village.
We; 43 members of the Hiking club of University of Moratuwa gathered at the front gate at about 3:30 a.m and took the bus in we hired to the town of Balangoda, where we had the breakfast and collected the lunch packets. Then we took the route to Dethanagala village via Pinnawala and Marathanna. The bus ride was kind of scary as the road was so narrow, just having the width of about the width of a regular van. But the bus driver managed to take us to the Dethangala village safely.
A special fact I noticed was that there were so many noble and ancient looking houses all the way from Balangoda to Pinnawala and the other houses were also at a good standard than I expected while we met several buses working on the route from Hatton, Marathanna, Pinnawala to Balangoda and Rathnapura.
The participants were briefed about the hike we are about to begin, how to behave, safety precautions, discipline etc. by the executives of the club. Then, the participants were divided into four groups and a head and a tail were appointed. At about 10 O’clock, we started our journey on foot.
The village was at the bottom of the high slope area of the mountain. So we started to walk along a road leading a far end of the village towards the left flank of the mountain, where the route into the wilderness begins. On the way to, we had to take a turn at a dolomite factory.
It took about twenty minutes for us to reach the far end of the Dethangala village on foot, where we took a little break before entering the tea cultivation. There was a little playground and a school in the Dethanagala village and we noticed that most of the people living in the village were Sinhalese unlike the other hillside villages near the tea cultivations where the majority is Tamil.
The hike along the roads in the tea cultivation took about another 20 minutes for us to reach the end of the tea cultivation. There, we took the official group photograph of the team and had a good rest before entering the wilderness as the hike ahead was categorized as a moderate one by our pilot hikers of the club.
The trial into the wilderness stared near a local worshiping place. The route was clear at the beginning and slope was about 60 – 70 degrees in the first part of the hike. It took about 2 hours to cover that part as there were 90 degree climb ups at some places and some of our crew were newbies for hiking. Then the route became easier as the slope decreased.
Then we reached the last water way of the area. The water flow rate was good enough for drinking. So we filled up the bottles and refreshed ourselves while having a little break. Then it was a hike with a novel experience as the mist came up and the only thing that we saw ahead was the person in front and a little distance along the route.
The next way point was at the Y junction, where the route split into two, leading to the two peaks of the mountain. There, the crew divided into two and each two groups took each route; mine took the right, which leads to the higher of the two peaks. The route got hard again as we had to climb on sloppy rock faces and loose soil to get to the summit.
At last we were able to reach the summit in about 3 hours of hiking. But we were not lucky enough to enjoy the 360 view at the top; the greatest pleasure of a hiker as the mist had been risen. At the summit we had our lunch and started hiking back down to get onto the other summit as the sensed a rainfall.
On the way, we were able to see the other peak through the mist for a while and came across the other two teams and then took the left at the Y junction to get onto the top of the other peak. The route to other summit was not so hard.
At the top, a heavy rainfall started. Experiencing my first encounter of rainfall at a hike, we started hiking back down. The route was so slippery and the crew faced a real challenge to get down safely. As I came in the head, I am not the perfect person to explain the hardness, but still I am glad to say that all of the crew got down safely without a serious injury other than some scratches and bruises dues to slip falls.
All were soaked in water at the end of the hike. So we got cleaned ourselves at the village of Dethanagala and started the journey back. We reached the university at about 11:30 p.m. after having the dinner at Balangoda on the way.
As a whole, the adventure part of the journey was covered very well due to the rainfall we encountered, but had to give up photography due to the same reason.
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