I was too lazy to write and was expecting someone else to do this. But, I guess Senthil got busy eating!
The monsoon trek through Mullayanagiri-Bababudhanagiri-Kemmangundi has not gone well, the group had to return midway. “We should go for Kumara Parvatha”, said Senthil. I did not give it much thought. A few months passed and suddenly there was a mail chain but for god’s sake there was no chain! The Mullayanagiri gang didn’t reply to the thread; Senthil and myself decided that we would go about with the plan of Nov 15 & 16, even if no one else joined. Few days later I checked the availability of 3 of my close football buddies and they were game to the idea! That meant Anoop, Mahesh kini and Mohan would join the trek. Senthil on his part got couple of his office-mates, Chandra and Rakesh. And thus the seven of us started.
We reached Subramanya Road railway station in the morning and hired a jeep to take us to the town, for Rs.25/head. We had a tough time finding a lodge to freshen up. Understandably, the temple was attracting quiet a lot of devotees and all the lodges were full. At last, we found a place; A home, providing the ‘service’ for Rs. 50 per head. With the morning mission(s) completed, we started the trek around 10AM. The internet is flooded with the details about the trekking trail which I won’t cover. The path was a bit tough to negotiate and more than the path it was the weight on our shoulders that was causing discomfort. Probably, I got carried away a bit while shopping at More Megastore and bought more than what was required. Add to this, a tent and a sleeping bag.
The beauty of the landscape, the aroma of the green algae with their meticolous contortions and the sound of a distant stream dripping through the tree trunks made me forget the world, why not the pain? We reached Bhatta’s house around 2PM and had our lunch near the viewpoint (hoping to lose some weight!). We met two other people near the view point who informed us that it would take another 6-7 hours to reach the peak, in ‘our’ speed. Also, we need to cross the forest checkpost before 3PM. The forest department charged Rs. 200 per head for entering the Pushpagiri wildlife reserve.
We concluded that we may not reach the peak before it gets dark and the consensus was that we would reach Mantapa and move further towards the peak till it gets dark or we find a place to tent, which ever comes second! Few of our folks got terribly dejected at the sight of the Mantapa. I thought it would be quiet spacious to be called a ‘Mantapa’. The rocks near the Mantapa offered breathtaking view of the valley(s) we crossed. It was around 5PM and the mists had started to settle for the night but not us. The group moved with much more determination and they had to.
Inquiries with few of the gangs who were coming from the summit gave confusing accounts of the travel time and the place to tent. At last it was a gang of three who gave a more confident estimate. They told that we shall see some flat ground and a stream nearby in some 1-1.5Hrs of trekking and that shall be the excellent place to trek. They told not to try to scale a steep cliff, which will take us to the summit, at this time.
By this time, the footballers had started to gather speed and Senthil, who usually stays ahead, had to slow down because of his shoes and his office-mates. The three (Senthil & Co) coming behind were now convinced that we shall camp very soon and they spent some time taking photographs. The other four got caught by the misty anxiousness and treaded too far. At last, we saw some flat ground good to tent, but there was no water source in the vicinity. Suddendly, we saw another group at the top of a nearby peak. We could recognize the group as the one lead by a guide from basecamp. The four of us decided we should follow those folks as they definitely have a better knowledge about the place. Picking up pace we closed on them and the other three were left far behind. The guide (a lady) was mentioning that they shall camp in the next 5-10mins. This gave, the four of us, hope that the trailing three could find us easily.
And then, the path led us to a forest. I was in two minds whether to stop for the three to join or move ahead. The problem was, all the 3 tents was with us and we had no torchlights. The other three only had sleeping bags and the torchlights were left with them. By now we had crossed all the most-likely-places-to-tent. The basecamp guide kept saying that we were so close to the camping site. We had no other option but to follow the guide as we didn’t have any lighting options. It was darkness all around and I could only hear my own echoes and there was no reply from Senthil. The forest trail ended with a steep cliff and I could now recognize it. This was the cliff I was warned against and all through the path we were moving towards the peak and not a camping site midway.
This is it and there was no point going forward. The other 3 could have easily picked-up the trekking trail so far but not from here. The absolutely steep cliff shall make it look as though there was no route further. In the pitch-darkness, it can be impossible for someone to find the path if it was their first trip to the place. The four of us decided to stay put and not proceed unless we find the other three. Those were frantic moments, we 4 were perched on a slope and were saved from absolute darkness only by a faint pen-torch light. Such was the situation that I even prayed! In that chaotic mind I could hear a frail voice calling my name. “God”, I whispered. It was no frail voice but someone literally scowling and it was Senthil’s voice. It was not that those three were just underneath us, they were quiet a distance away but the fact that we were standing above the forest helped. The basecamp guide was just meters away and I asked her to help us. She said that the peak was only 5mins away and shall return after leaving her group there. My temper gave way and I said, “Lady, you have been saying this (the 10min thingy) for the past 45mins”. Again she said that she will come and started to climb further. It took us another 15mins to help the other 3 negotiate the terrain and at last the 7 were together. With the help of torch lights we found/made the way and reached the peak in 30mins, around 7PM. The peak was a bit crowded with tents and we found some place for three tents and I slept like a baby.
The tent woke me up. Yes, it collapsed unable to bear the weight of three damp jeans trousers. We thought leeches might sneak-in and decided to hang the jeans outside; unfortunately, it rained overnight and the dress was all wet. Now my bag was heavier than before, even after eating so much, because of the wet dress! The ultimate truth was, sunrise wasn’t that great!
We started to descend by the same route around 8AM and had good view of the path we came by. It was incredible! We reached our starting point around 3:30PM and were completely drenched in rain. The sense of achievement was immense and I vented the emotions in the wild in a wilder way! It has been my best trekking experience and I hope it doesn’t remain the best.
p.s: It would be interesting to hear Senthil’s account of the adventure!