The mist flowed in mid-day, as promised by our guides. We sat around a long wooden table in the aptly named Misty Mountain Lodge, exchanging glances of mild concern. The lodge, in the middle of tea plantation country had little to do, and the mist brought with it further sense of isolation. The more adventurous of our group decides to venture out anyway to explore as much as we could with low visibility.
Earlier that day we hiked in, though “hike” might be an inaccurate term. Perhaps, stroll is more apt. It was a visually stunning 9km hike along a small road with vibrant blue sky against technicolor green hills. But because the walk was so short we found ourselves faced with a day with nearly nothing to do. We had to carry in anything we’d need for the night, so we didn’t bring much, including books and iPads, thinking we’d be spending the whole day hiking.
Outside in the mist the vibrant scene from earlier changed dramatically. Now, everything was shrouded in white, we couldn’t see more than 50 meters ahead and trusted our guide to weave is through the plantations. It was nearly completely silent, save for the crunch of ground beneath us and the occasional dog bark in the distance, an eerie feeling hung in the air. We passed abandoned tea factories that looked like they might be the setting of a horror movie, with whisps of mist crawling along the walls and we swiftly moved past. We climbed up, and up, and up. We passed villages with families huddled inside. We watched women fresh from picking leaves in the fields descend from plantations perched high above us. A few hours passed, we traveled through the same area hours before, though none of it was recognizable now. Satisfied with our additional 9km hike we headed back to the lodge to warm up, drink tea, and play cards well into the evening.
The next day the mist was completely gone, revealing a spectacular view. We spent the day hiking 12.5km down the mountain and on to the next city. Apparently up until our arrival it had been raining every day. Looking at a weather map, the center of Sri Lanka was nearly completely covered in rain clouds, except a small break exactly where we were, offering us a an incredibly lucky window for hiking. And good thing too, this part of Sri Lanka has proved to be one of the most visually stunning countries I’ve visited.