Monday, October 24, 2011

Tryst with Trekking - From here onwards...

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in our lives, when we step out from the taken-for-granted comforts to the new and never-seen-before challenges undreamt of, when notions and stereotypes end, when the spirit to conquer, long suppressed, finds utterance.

It was fitting that at that solemn moment, we raise a toast to our success and take the pledge to go on another trek fairly soon.

We ended that day with some good food after reaching Bangalore and hitting our beds early.

The achievement we celebrated that evening is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us in the treks to come.

Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp and translate this opportunity and accept the challenge of future treks?

Now, looking back, was it a tryst with our lifestyle or a tryst with our destiny?

Well, only time will say, but we are determined to go on more treks in the coming months.

Here is looking at us... Cheers!!!

Tryst with Trekking - Back to Bheemeswari

So, we wallowed in the waters for a good 3 hours or so. We then calculated how much time we'd need to trek back to Muthati, so Gandalf thought of going back and asking Muthu to start hoping he would have finished his lunch by then.

Gandalf found Muthu on the way, he was coming to meet us as planned. After getting out of the waters and drying up, we headed back to Muthati.

This time, the trek was along the banks of the Cauvery. The terrain was different from what we had taken during the trek to Bheemeswari.

This trail was "by the river", not some distance away from it. The terrain was rocky, there were sharp jagged multi hued rocks with razor sharp edges jutting out which can cut your skin neatly in half if you are not careful.
Climbing a tree on the way among the other points on the trail
There were broken branches to be stepped over, dry leaves to be walked over, mounds of ant hill to be circum-navigated carefully, low lying branches to be ducked to avoid being whacked by them, mossy stones to be treaded with a lot of care otherwise you'll slip and fall into the fast flowing river below, checking and re-checking if the boulder will hold still when you shift your weight on to it, etc. etc. It was a different trail altogether.

Muthu sharpened Gandalf's staff in between. We took 3 breaks in all on the way back, Gandalf changed clothes in between, he held on to his staff all along, the backpack got shifted from one shoulder to another, the distance never seemed to reduce corresponding to the effort we put in, our water supply got exhausted, Reji and Gandalf climbed a tree on the way, Manas missed his step, slipped and fell into the water, he disconnected his brain from his legs halfway in between because of pure exhaustion and no water to quench our parched throats.. Wow, so many wonderful memories of the way back.
Took some photographs on the way
We posed for photographs on the way back. There were a lot of spots we just could not miss to snap.

Cauvery was resplendent in the evening sun, the water continued to flow gently at places, the leaves and branches continued to sway in the evening breeze, the crickets continued with their noise unabated, it was just mesmerising to trek along the banks of the river.
Treading carefully on the treacherous terrain
As we neared Muthati, we saw numerous people enjoying their picnicks on the bank, most of them were drinking and littering the nice serene environment. Plastic Bottles, Beer cans and broken bottles, plastic bags, leftover food, the place was a mess.

We travelled on the main road during such stretches.
Reached... finally... back at Muthati
When we finally reached Muthati, Gandalf had beads of sweat on his bearded face and everyone was pretty much exhausted. Manas managed to connect his brain back to his legs, we all washed up, got to our car, paid a nice tip to Muthu and thanked him profusely for coming with us, and left from Muthati with memories of our first ever successful trek very clearly etched in our minds.

Gandalf got his staff back with him, as a souvenir of his trek.

Tryst with Trekking - Wallowing in the waters

We were in high spirits to wallow around like Hippos in the alluring waters of the Cauvery, so Muthu took us along pebbles and boulders along the river bank amidst exposed tree roots to an isolated spot along the Cauvery.
See the radiance on our faces after lunch... getting to the river
He identified a safe place where there would not be strong undercurrents and left us there to frolic in the waters while he went back for his lunch.
At the banks of the river Cauvery
We stripped and jumped into the water.

Muthu knew the place well, the water was shallow, there were no under currents and we could sit on rocks while being soaked against the gentler currents, the ripples and the waves.

There were rocks sticking up out of the river at many places, birds were standing tall and straight on them. There were flowering plants jutting up in between the rocks.

We saw folks going on their boats for white water rafting and we waved out to them.
Wallowing in the waters
The river was quite wide at that stretch, it was difficult to clearly see the other bank. The sun was warm in the sky, the water was cool and flowing, you can see the bottom of the river at places near the shore, there were fishes who nibbled at your feet at some places if you sit still, you can hear the water gurgling as it made small ripples and waves, it was pure bliss!!!
Manas doing a pedicure with the fishes
It was a great feeling to be there. And as Gandalf said, it was a "natural sauna".

 The water seemed therapeutic and we discussed a zillion things there, for instance, where we should go for our next trek, how the trek back to Bheemeswari will shape up, etc. etc.

Tryst with Trekking - Lunch at Bheemeswari

Bheemeswari is a small hamlet, there are no shops there, there is NOTHING, only a Forest Department run eating joint, the Jungle Lodges Resort and a templae with its music blaring loudly.

We wanted to have our lunch at JLR, so Gandalf trotted up to the resort's main gate and pushed it open with his staff. He then proceeded to do his typical attitude walk... heavy steps... shoulders hunched from the long weary battle... glancing around taking everything in his stride... never missing anything... and his eyes menacingly saying "Don't f - - k with me!"

He proudly walked up to the Reception and thundered to be taken to the Restaurant.

The staff asked for our cottage number and Gandalf gave him the "once over" as if how dare he not recognize from where he is coming from, and how dare he not recognize the scars on his body from the long arduous jugle trek.

Upon finding out that we were outsiders and not staying in the resort, the grim faced staff told us in very polite terms "No Chance!!!".

What a bum... he said we cannot have our lunch there since we were not staying in the resort... the lunch is only for the residents it seems... so we retraced back our steps to the eating joint run by the Forest Department.
Waiting for lunch at the Forest Department run eating place
The folks there were "customer service" personified, there can not be any second thoughts about this at all. They were kind enough to serve us lunch comprising of rice, rasam, chicken curry, curd, pickle and cucumber salad.. all under the open roof on make shift bamboo benches.
Ready for lunch
I tell you this, in full "hosh", and we all agreed unanimously, that was the best lunch we ever had in our lives.

Words of advice to others
  1. Carry your lunch with you. There is no guarantee that you'll get lunch in Bheemeswari if you NOT fortunate. We were plain fortunate. Also Gandalf's amazing persuasive skills ensured we got to eat that afternoon, I was already looking at trekking back on an empty stomach.
  2. Carry your own water bottles. There were no bottled water available, so we'd to drink the water available there.
After a sumptuous lunch, we were ready for wallowing around in the waters. So we called out for Muthu.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tryst with Trekking - The descent to Bheemeswari

After soaking in the view from the Watch Tower, we continued our descent through winding trails of stretches of pebbles, small rocks, and thorny branches jutting out into our trail. The descent was smooth amidst vibrant green grasses and trees. At times, it was quite a steep descent and we had to tread carefully just in case we lose our grip and slide down.
On our way down the hill to Bheemeswari
We spotted many mounds of elephant dung, elephant foot prints, etc. on the way. Often, Muthu would stop and signal while looking towards something, but we never spotted any animals. Muthu mentioned that because it was noon, the animals would not be coming out of their habitat to the open.

We continued to walk, Gandalf was using his staff while walking and there was a sprite in our steps as we knew we were about to reach Bheemeswari. Gandalf looked as if he is out on the infamous Dandi March.
Having fun on our way down the hill to Bheemeswari
I chanced upon a bright red insect sitting on a small flowering plant and I took a photograph. I thought this is nature at its best, the insect was not bothered at our presence.
Busy bee (???)
Muthu knew the trail very well, we had to take detours from the normal trail at times and after clearing a particular thick section of thorns and shrubs we came upon the main road leading to Bheemeswari.

A couple of monkeys were busy enjoying their afternoon nap along the main road and they got startled and ran away when Gandalf parted the thick bushes aside with his battle worn staff and we all strode out... 4 valiant knights... scarred in battle... fighting the jungle trail hitherto unknown before... and smiling triumphantly at the sight of our destination. The monkeys stood at rapt attention to welcome us and gave us our right of way. After all, who can stop the infantry when they have reached their destination?

The road sign said we were 5 kms. from Muthati, but we walked the hills for 7 kms.
5 kms from Muthati, well we didn't tread on the usual route, did we?
We walked for another 15 minutes or so along the main road and reached Bheemeswari. We were hungry, so our first halt was a place to have lunch. We decided to explore the Jungle Lodges Resort first.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tryst with Trekking - Checkpoint # 2

We walked for a good distance without taking breaks. The trek was nice after all that climbing. We walked on solitary trails, it seemed as if it had rained there some time as the ground was still moist and nature was in its best of colours and hues. Sometimes we walked in pairs and sometimes we had to walk in a single file.
Various moments of our trek to Checkpoint # 2
After walking for some distance, Muthu pointed out towards a watch tower which served as a view point to the valley below.

Climbing the Watch Tower

At the top of the Watch Tower
We climbed the watch tower and gazed at the valley below and the Cauvery flowing in the distance. It was a beautiful sight. 

View of Cauvery from the Watch Tower... Splendid!!!

We relaxed there for some time and took some photographs. 
On the Watch Tower
The grass was a hue of green we'd never seen before, in fact it reminded us of Russel Crowe parting the tall grasses as he walks towards his wife and son in the movie Gladiator.

After a halt of 30 odd minutes, we continued with our descent to Bheemeswari.

Tryst with Trekking - Checkpoint # 1

We were pretty exhausted when we sat our miserable selves down on the ground. We were the only ones on that trail, we did not cross any other group trekking on the same trail. This was very exciting.
(L-R): Me, Arvind (Gandalf) and Manas getting some rest
We did some soul searching while sitting under a tree, like Gautham Buddha did under a Bodhi tree and we decided to pursue the trekking bit seriously in our lives.

We made plans of our next trek and how we need to do some things outside of our work and family lives. We all should be able to answer the question of "What we do other than work"!!!

Just then, Gandalf came up with his wise comment on how we should not start revelling on completing this particular trek while we have not even completed one leg of the trek. We checked with Muthu on how far we have come and how much more distance we have to go further. 

It seemed that we have come for 3 kms and we still have 4 more to go before we reach Bheemeswari. WOW, some encouraging news that was!!!
Birds perched on the top of a tree against a perfect background
We sipped some water, took some photographs of the birds and the bees and the trees. Gandalf then decided to catch some quick winks while Muthu was busy in sharpening his sickle on some rock.

We are all smiles after the brief rest of around 30 minutes
We continued after some time and this time the trek was over plain trails and some easy slopes. We marvelled at the greenery and how there was no other soul in sight except the 5 of us walking on the trail.