It was one of those trekking experiences which I would not forget in a long time. It had some of the best and worst experiences. The whole trek was arranged by the Chennai Trekkers Club which organizes weekend treks to places in and around Chennai. Me along with four of my friends, Somnath, Badri, Arun and Prasannawent for the trek along with 180 odd strangers.
This was a two-day trek which was divided into 5 levels. With such deceptive descriptions for each level I was pretty confident that I would easily reach at least level 4. We had pick up points at various locations in the city where buses arranged by CTC were waiting for us. I reached Guindy pick up point by 4.20 with all my luggage and trek gear. The organizers checked our names with their lists and get the signed disclaimer forms from us. We got into the bus and set off positively for the trek.
We reached the base camp at around 8.45 and joined others in the queue for eating breakfast. Then had to hurry and gather food items for the next two days which we had to carry all the way to the top. So after stuffing our bags with all the food we started walking towards the hills at around 10. The heat was unbearable. After walking quite some distance on a flat slope, we started having some moderate ascent. That was when I placed my left foot on a loose stone and slipped and ended up spraining my ankle. After resting for a while, I started moving again. By this time Badri and Prasanna had taken a considerable lead. It was just Somnath, Arun and Me walking all the way with fellow trekkers.
The whole group was allowed to trek at their own pace, following ribbons tied at few locations along the trail. It was after a long while that all of us walked this distance and it really tested our endurance. Somnath had a bit of headache and Arun had cramps. We had to take rest quite a few times on the way to drink water and consume some glucose.
The organizers essentially followed the carrot and stick approach to keep us moving. Well I wouldn’t say it was bad, but still it made us swear a lot at the organizers. We walked for about 5km after they said that we’d reach level 1 in 1km. We almost emptied our stock of water before we reached level one. About half a km away from campsite, I slipped again and had to rest for another 10 mins or so. Then I resumed walking and it was downhill most of the time now. At the end point we found a stream of water redirected from the falls at a higher level. It was a great feeling to taste some water after a long time and I should say the water was really really good.
There was a small waterfalls a few meters ahead. Badri and Prasanna had reached that spot an hour before us. They got out of the falls by the time we entered it. We rested for about half an hour there before going to a shack like structure. We rolled out our sleeping mats and went to sleep for sometime. Meanwhile, Badri and Prasanna started their trek to level 2.
I got up at around 5 to see Prasanna coming back. He said he had cramps and couldn’t go further. There were three others who were regular trekkers with CTC and had camped with us. The rest of the group had camped at a higher level next to Sada Siva Kone temple. We didn’t go there since it was dark by the time we woke up. It was getting dark and we had nothing to do. O_o. So a few of us started gathering firewood to light a fire. After a lot of struggle we found some suitable dry wood and some kerosene. Now the next huge task was to get the fire burning comfortably. We did all sort of tricks like adding dry leaves, newspapers and such to get the fire burning. After some half an hour struggle we could get the job done. Fortunately one guy had a pot in our group and we boiled some water. We then mixed our noodles packets with hot water and completed our dinner. After some chatting, we started our second innings of sleep. It was just eight when we went to sleep. (It had been ages since I’ve slept before 10 ).
We had a couple of dogs roaming around the place we slept. They occasionally started barking and howling to disturb our sleep. We slept for a long time and woke up at around 5.30. After brushing, pissing and all that, we went to the waterfalls to take bath. Then we boiled water again to finish the remaining packets of noodles.
Initially we thought of waiting for the rest of the gang before we went down. But then the remaining guys persuaded us that if we start early we can walk at a leisurely pace and take photographs on the way. We started out return journey at around 9. We now had to walk quite some distance uphill. There were a few places where there were a few turns, but Somnath assured us that we were walking on the right path and kept moving. After walking a lot further we realized that it was the wrong path. This new path would lead to a small temple at ground level and Puthur was nearest spot there. This was a shorter path and was usually travelled by the pilgrims. After cursing Somnath for a while we started walking again following a group of pilgrims who were on their way back. We reached a small temple at the bottom and had to wait for sometime till a ‘gult’ bus came along.
Now we had two options. Either to go to Vadamalapet and wait for the other trekkers. Or to go to Puthur and then travel to Chennai on our own. A few guys felt that it would be a waste of time to go and wait for others and instead we could reach Chennai a lot earlier, take rest, and go conveniently for the next day’s office work. So, we reached Puthur station at around 1 and got a ticket to Chennai. Dadar express came to Puthur at around 2 and reached Chennai Central at 4.30. We got local trains to reach our homes and I was at Velachery station by 5.45.
We later got to know that Badri reached Chennai along with the others at around 11pm in the night. And he had gone up to level 2 which was one km away from level 1, though on a path which didn’t have trails and was more difficult to climb.
One of the worst things about this trek is the ankle sprain I had. I felt that if not for the sprain, I could have gone to a higher level. The trek also was a sort of endurance test. Add to the list a hot blistering sun on top of our heads. It was the only reason for making our trek too tiring. I have now decided that I would be going for a lot more such treks in the future and at the same time develop my stamina by regular running and regular work outs in the gym.
I am thankful to Peter and other CTC members for organizing the trek. I know how difficult it is to organize such a trip and the amount of preparation that it takes to get the job done. There were a lot of glitches here and there. A lot of things could have been done beter. But all that adds to the adventure too.
Update : I started clicking photographs only on the way back to base. I have uploaded those photos to my facebook album. Click here to view them.