We reached Muthati at 10 AM, enquired about and reached the Forest Office, Arvind used his eloquent knowledge of the local language to get details of the trek, get us a guide, etc.
There are TWO routes to go from Muthati to Bheemeswari. One goes through the jungle and the other through the banks of Cauvery. Our guide (Muthu) told us it is better to take the jungle route to Bheemeswari as the sun would beat down on us by noon and the jungle route will provide us some shelter from the harsh sun. We can take the river route to come back from Bheemeswari in the afternoon.
|From Left to Right: Manas, Reji, Muthu (our guide), me and Arvind|
This sounded good, so we signed a Risk Form (from the Govt, indicating that they are not responsible in case something happens to us during the trek), packed our backpack, bought some water and we were on our way at 10:30 AM. We planned to carry one backpack and take turns at lugging it during the walk.
Muthu was carrying a sickle and there were many thoughts on what he'll do with it in some desolate spot on the way. :-)
A kind advice to fellow trekkers, please ensure you carry water bottles with you, for the entire trek, i.e. to go to Bheemeswari and back to Muthati, you cannot buy bottled water in Bheemeswari (we didn't see any shops there), so plan for the entire route.
|See the smiles on their faces? This is before we started climbing|
We started walking through non-existent trails and climbing up a slight slope and we started marvelling at everything that nature has to offer. Then we saw the slope increasing at a steeper angle and it soon dawned upon us that we were actually climbing a hill.
The climb started getting difficult and we had to stop to catch up on our breath at frequent intervals. Arvind's legs started shaking like Elvis and he sat down and asked us to continue ahead. He literally threw up his hands in air. We quickly made a make-shift walking staff from a branch lying on the ground and Arvind transformed into Gandalf the Miserable (a.k.a LOTR, the movie).
|Arvind transforming into Gandalf with a makeshift staff|
Muthu then used his sickle to make a staff and Gandalf got a more appropriate staff for his trek. We kept on asking Muthu on how far we've still to climb and he kept saying we are almost there. He made us climb and we kept panting and taking rest while Muthu kept grinning from ear to ear looking at the sad state of our health and stamina.
|Muthu made us climb and he was grinning seeing our condition|
All those days of lazing on soft beds and bean bags, sipping bear, watching TV, etc. came flashing by and we made a lot of resolutions then and there, i.e. to reduce and avoid touching drinks and smoke again.
And all the time Gandalf kept transforming, from being "just miserable" to "more miserable" and "more & more miserable" as we continued to climb up the never ending trail.
He also kept blabbering, accusing and slandering everyone around.
After what seemed like ages of countless pantings and hearing our accelerated heartbeats and poundings (as if they will leap out of our bodies unless we stop), we somehow "managed" to reach the top of our climb.
|At the Watering Hole, after a climb of 45 minutes we were able to relax|
For the record, we have been climbing for a good 45 minutes and it was pure and miserable agony for our lazy bodies. After stopping to gulp some water and breath normally, we continued on a semi-slope path for 15 minutes or so and reached a watering hole where Muthu said that we can rest for some time.
Thank Goodness!!! This is where we had our Checkpoint Meeting # 1.