Hike to Five peaks conducted by Mora hiking club was held on 25th of August 2019 in Knuckles mountain range with the participation of 55 club members. Mora Hiking Club explored many mountain ranges with its members. But we didn’t explore Knuckles mountain range so far and also most of the club members were looking forward to exploring the Knuckles mountain range. That’s why we choose Knuckles mountain range as our next hike location. So this became the first time that Mora Hiking Club explored Five Peaks in Mora Hiking history.
Knuckles range is located in the northern end of the central highlands of Sri Lanka with a wide range of biodiversity. To the south and east of the mountain range, Mahaweli river basin resides while the west of the range is Matale plains. Knuckles range is named so because of the appearance of this mountain range resembling that of a set of knuckles in a closed fit. 'Dumbara Mitiyawatha' is another name for this mountain range which means 'the Misty Valley'.
On the day of hike, most of the members of Mora Hiking club gathered in front of the University main gate at about 2.00a.m. Our plan was to depart from university around 2.00am, but it was delayed 30 minutes because of the heavy rain. Then we started our journey from the university at 2.30am as a one day hike. First, we came to Kottawa. And then we passed Kadawatha, Peradeniya, Katugasthota & finally reached Digana at 6.45am. Our journey took sometimes than we expected. We took our breakfast from Digana & restart our journey to knuckles around 7.30am. We came to Bambar ella small town via Wattegama around 8.00am. We had to leave the bus in Bambarella. In here we divided into five groups. Each & Every group had a team leader, a pilot & Health & safety committee member with a first aid pack. Before we started trekking, our club president, Hasitha Disanayake gave a brief explanation about the knuckles mountain range and the five peaks.
Then the first group started their journey around 8.30am & 10 minutes after their leave, 2nd group started the hike. We took the state road to the trail head. Firstly we had to go through a small village, and foot path was along the edges of a tea states. At a point, foot path turned towards the wilderness. Few minutes after, we entered to the knuckles natural trail. On the way to the trailhead, we had to cross several water streams. There was a considerable amount of leeches also.
The trail went through several types of vegetation (Thick forests, small shrubs and bushes) towards the peak. After passing a few 100 meters of knuckles falls we met the last remarkable water stream. We filled up our bottles from this ultra-fresh cold waters emanating from the misty peaks, since this is the last water source until reach the peak and get back here. We didn't go to see the knuckles falls, so it was save for the return journey. There is a three-way junction before climbing the first peak, if you take a right turn, you could reach Thangappuwa & Alugallena.
Weather in the knuckles mountain range is unpredictable & cloud transforms within a few minutes. We experienced different landscapes & different climates every minute. Then again we entered the forest trail & started ascending uphill. There were few natural resting places but the view was unclear due to the mist. We took quick snacks while climbing the first peak. At some areas, the trail was not so clear and made us to go straight towards the direction of the first peak. From this point onwards the trail got tougher and tougher. Along the way, it rained several times, but we were lucky enough it to be sunny by the time we reached the first peak.
It took more than 4 hours to reach the first peak. The climb was steep at most parts of the trail, and sloping upwards at a near 45 degree angle most of the time. And also the trek was treacherous with loose stones and soil because of the rain. The trek continued through ascenic low-level vegetation until we reached the first peak. The trees are not tall but grown so close that we had to bend down to avoid getting our head banged against millions of thick branches.
After few hours, we reached first peak. First peak had only a small viewpoint like a window & there was a cleared area which was used for camping. We weren’t able to see the view from first peak, because as usual the area was fully covered from the mist. After a little break we took off towards second peak. Most of the groups took their group photo in the first peak.
The way to the second peak was too much slippery. Again the slope get steeper and the shrub line between the footpaths showed us no love either. Then finally we reached the Second peak, which is the highest peak, among these five peaks. The area was fully covered with the mist, but in here, mist was gone for a few seconds, so we were lucky enough to see a small view. We sent only about 15 minutes there & start trekking for the 3rd peak. There is a clear footpath till the second peak & trail can be easily traced after this.
The surrounding flora changes to that of a mountainous forest. So the way to third peak is a bit marshy & because of that, there are more leaches on that area. The climb from their was comparatively hard because of the heavy wind. So most of us couldn’t able to stand straight and walk without slipping and kissing the earth. At some points we couldn’t able to see at least 10m away from us and we had to follow the footpath, wherever it takes us. Finally, we reached 3rd peak around 2.00pm. Then we won’t able to go to the 4th peak, as we were already late. It would have been a real adventure if we had climbed further, but we had returned before dark. It was around 2.30pm & we returned back. There was no other root to come back, so we had to come back in the same pathway.
We took our lunch on the 2nd peak in the returned journey. Few members did suffer with on and off cramps but it settled. As most of us were tired, our descend was quicker. We took in a small detour to knuckles falls, which meets in the trail to the first peak, 150m away from the starting point of the trail. It was smaller in height & width but creates a magnificent scene. Some of the participants took a bath there in the shivery cool water and refreshed themselves.
We could reach the bottom around 6.30pm. There was a cool water stream, just beside where we left our bus. So some of participants are took bath in there, while others went to see the saree Ella. We cleaned ourselves and had a quick refreshments from the small shops nearby. We leave Bambarella at 7.30pm & took our dinner from the Pilimathalawa. We came to university around 1.30am on the next day, 26th of August 2019 with the satisfaction of a great hike. The trail of five peaks represents the beauty of Mother Nature along with small streams, waterfalls, forest covers & a wide variety of flora & fauna. Unpredictable weather conditions made the trail really challenging, but the five peak trail will remain in us as one of the best experiences that we had.