As usual, the members of Mora Hiking club gathered in front of the University main gate at about 3:30 a.m. and took off to Hawagala on the bus we had hired. We reached Balangoda, had the breakfast there and headed to the University of Sabaragamuwa to collect our lunch packets. Then we came back towards Balangoda and took the road towards Udagalagama to reach the mountain. It was about 10 O’clock when we reached Udagalagama as we had to wait until the breakfast was prepared and wait some time to collect the lunch packets as well.
We had to leave the bus near Udagalagama co-operative and started trekking on the road under a little shower of rain. After trekking about three kilometers along the tar treated road, we took a left turn to a concrete road as directed by villagers who were very friendly. The concrete road had a dead end and then on, there was a foot path along the edges of the paddy fields with two concrete ‘A-dandu’ over small waterways. Then, the foot path went along the tea plots and at a point, it turned towards the wilderness.
Then on, the trail went through several types of vegetation (Thick forests, short grass lands; mainly Kalanduru, isolated Pines and small shrubs and bushes) towards the peak. At some areas, the trail was not so clear and made us to go straight towards the direction of the peak off the trails via short grasslands until we catch a glimpse of the trails again.
Halfway to the peak, we encountered another group of hikers (there were about 150 people) whom were a batch of undergraduates of a private educational institute. We took the lead overtaking them and reached the peak in about two and a half hours since we left our bus. At the peak, eight members of our club who were camping there for two days joined us. Along the way, it rained several times. But we were lucky enough it to be sunny by the time we reached the peak.
While we were on the peak, we got the news that one of the members of the other group of hikers from the private uni have been attacked by wasps. So we gave some piriton, which was the simplest first aid possible at the time.
Then we had our lunch at the top and rested there for some time, appreciating the glamorous view around us. From the top of Hawagala, which is a relatively flat peak, a person can clearly observe the southern end of the central highlands, Nonperial states, World’s end, Aadara kanda, Pareiyangala, Haputhale range and Bandarawela south side, Samanala wewa, Udawalawe area, Balangoda area and Dethanagala. And I think that even the coastal line off the Hambanthota area would be visible in a clear day.
Then we took the group photo. By that time the other group of hikers had started descending via another route as they had brought a guide with them. Considering the consequence of fevered wasps by the large group of people, we also took the other route to descend. But as they were no hikers, their descend was to slow to tolerate. So we overtook them and made our own way towards the village.
On the way, we took a long rest until all our members are gathered as some of our members were stuck behind the other hikers, unable of overtaking. After all the members were gathered together, we took off again and we encountered a set of other hikers who have been left behind with no clue of the guide they brought. So we let them follow us and descended rapidly towards the Belihul oya basin. On the way, we encountered a tea plot and then the rest was easy as it was just to follow a foot path.
Following it, we came to a beautiful waterfall and it had several natural stone pools on top of it, which were deep just about six feet. So the members took a bath there in the shivery cool water and refreshed ourselves. Then we left that glamorous place and took the way to the bus along the foot paths, then a concrete road, the tar treated road and finally to the bus.
Then we left the Udagalagama area with a mind full of memories and happiness. We had the dinner at Balangoda and were able to reach University by 1:00 a.m. safely.
p.s. : I made some personal observations and deductions on this hike;
- Hikers need to have a good physical fitness so that it will give you time to enjoy the hike without wasting it for panting.
- Seeing the other hikers re-filling their water bottles from slow moving water stream; first, a person must be we aware of some simple facts like not to drink water from water ways with low flow rates and secondly, hikers must have a good discipline in water consumption as it is a critically limited but an essential resources in the wild.
- A kit of first aid is a must to be carrying with a hiker and a hiker must be well aware of what first aid to be given in relevant situations considering the members who faced minor injuries and the wasp attack.
- Other essentials ; a knife is a good friend when going via wilderness with no trails. A torch won’t be useful on a one day hike if the hike goes on good timing as expected. But it is good to be ready for the odds I suppose and it turned out to be correct on this hike where we were off the trails and was about 6:30 p.m. when we returned to the road and had to trek about 3 k.m back to the bus in the dark.
- Finally; bring only memories, leave only footsteps. If you cannot comply with those simple guidelines, do NOT visit these places.