Whom would you rather accompany on a hiking or a camping adventure? A set of friends or family members or a bunch of strangers? The answer would definitely be “friends or family members” right?
Well, last February, a bunch of Rotaractors from SLIIT had the chance to drag themselves through something beyond the mainstream camping or hiking experiences, as we set out on an adventure where we accompanied more unknowns than known!
ALTITUDE a cluster projects organized by Cluster 01 which included RAC SLIIT was set to take place at the Narangala mountain range on the 1st and 2nd of February 2020! Whilst many would’ve been celebrating the end of what would’ve been a hectic week, we Rotaractors allocated our Friday night to depart from Colombo to our initial destination -Badulla. Once we had introduced ourselves to the new faces we met in the bus and had settled down, not long after the bus hit the road did we begin the baila sessions that are authentic to us Sri Lankans, which lasted for a few hours until everyone was weary enough to shut their eyes for a few hours.
Upon reaching our first destination–Badulla, we stopped by to refresh ourselves and were joined by a another bunch of Rotaractors all of whom had breakfast and set off to get what we really came for. Our next stop was at the base of the Narangala mountain range where we were briefed on what lied ahead and what was expected of us to successfully complete the hike! Furthermore we were divided into teams and were given a few challenges of what having to carry and protect an egg was the most difficult!.
Once the briefing was done the hike began, which was along a rocky path that constricted as we reached the top. A few pooches who roamed in the surrounding neighborhood joined us too. The hike was filled with many difficulties which caused it to be tiring and challenging and sometimes painful, but with proper guidance and team spirit we managed to safely carry ourselves to the top with only a few scratches and bruises.
As we reached the top all we could see was a mesmerizing view of the surrounding landscape. As the winds carrying the mist hit us it simply took away our exhaustion. Once everyone was done posing for photographs and relaxing, we were briefed on the significance and history revolving around a few notable things that belonged to the surrounding landscape.
As many more adventures and activities awaited and time was running out, we began our descent and halfway through we stopped by to engage in some team activities which simply tested our creativity, strength, timing and teamwork. Back on track all of us scurried down the rocky pathway to mark an end to what was am unforgettable hike.
As a result of the hike our bodies were thoroughly exercised and exhausted which caused us to sleep our way through to the next stop, which was the Uva Wellassa University – a place many of us had only heard of! After lunch we were accompanied by a few of our fellow Rotaractors who were also students of the same university on a tour of the unfamiliar yet beautiful place.
As the initial signs of dusk began to appear, it was time for us to set out to execute our plan for the night – Camping! For most of us our previous camping adventures might’ve been quite relaxing as the campfire and everything else might’ve been previously setup and you just had to start the party. Well at Altitude it was totally different! Each of us were given some items which included food, water, two portable BBQ grills, portable tents etc. From that moment onwards we realized that on that night camping was not going to be easy as there had been no preps! And yes we realized that we had to go on the lookout for firewood too!! Darkness had already come upon us and after walking for a while along a rocky path with the help of a few emergency lamps and flashlights of our mobile phones that drained every bit of battery power left on them, we came across an open area which was to be our campsite.
A challenge is something that would bring out the best of you! Again as teams we were given one out of three challenges and even though we were weary after the day’s activities we were still ready for them. The first team had to be in charge of preparing the food and it was time for our self-esteemed chefs to shine! Starting off with setting up the BBQ grill, we had a hard time trying to lighten the coal as it was a bit too windy, but with some good hands and team effort we were off to roast some meat! The next couple of hours was simply each of us taking turns to deal with whatever was placed on the BBQ grill and even though surrounding temperatures continued to drop but the team in charge of cooking barely felt it.
Whilst team one was busy dealing with the food, team two was supposed to set up the portable tents. It was no easy task as it was windy and it had to be made sure the tents were setup in a way that the tents wouldn’t be carried by the wind in the middle of the night! To make things worse, the ground was hard and dry making it difficult to dig into it and we had a hard time trying to push the tent pegs deep into the ground.
Well if you’ve been closely following me, by now you probably would’ve correctly guessed the task that was given to team three – to gather firewood and setup the campfire! I personally consider it to have been the hardest and the scariest because not everyone would want to wander off in a dark, unfamiliar wooded area looking for firewood. It too was a difficult task as they had to worry about their safety and of course carry the gathered firewood including huge logs back to the campsite to setup the campfire.
One thing that was clearly evident was the fact that even though tasks were allocated separately to each time almost all participants played a role in successfully completing all tasks reminding us of the fact that we Rotaractors are one big family and we always help each other even during the hardest times!
Once the campfire was lit and the food was served everyone sat down to feast on the delicious food while enjoying the warmth of the campfire. Soon after a singing session followed that brought life into what would’ve been a dull and spooky night. A while later one by one decided to call it a night and dragged themselves to their respective tents whereas a few of us were a bit more curious and adventurous to explore the surrounding at a time when the sky was simply galaxyesque!
The next day began even before dawn, as we were woken up for a promising surprise! Still yawning and half asleep we strolled to the edge of a steep rock where we witnessed the sunrise for the next hour or so! To be honest it was probably one of the most scenic sunrises one could ever set their eyes on!
Once we headed back to the campsite we managed to prepare some coffee and bread for breakfast after which some of us used up a little bit of time to showcase our acting skills!
Follow the link below to check out the adventures of the Rotaract Club of Mahiyanganaya! https://www.facebook.com/RotaractSLIIT/videos/517874462266667/
A cleanup session ensued after which we glanced one last time at our campsite before we set off to our next destination. It marked a brief moment of sadness for all of us as it was where so many beautiful memories were made in just a single night.
Since we never really got a chance to completely freshen ourselves up and we were desperately looking for a way to evade the heat, our next stop was simply the ideal solution – a waterfall! Having climbed up a stairway that led to a portion of the waterfall we soon started off with that we came there for – to have fun! The best part was having to jump off a rock into a pool of water similar to a frog splash! The time spent at the waterfall was so good that unaware to us we had spent too much time that it was past lunch time, but the experience was worth every second.
Back at the Uva-Wellassa university for a short stay time somehow brought us close to the last few hours of an amazing two day experience. A small gathering was called upon where we talked about what we experienced and the teams were awarded gifts based on their performances. Finally a few speeches from our participants and organizers marked the conclusion of the project ALTITUDE!
Speaking of it as a whole, it was really an amazing and unique experience and was certainly full of surprises as well! Taking back the beautiful memories, new friendships, knowledge and experiences we expressed our heartfelt goodbyes to a place we would never forget!
Written by –
Rtr. Priyan Jerome