Category: trek


Wednesday afternoon, I was busy working in office excited about the trek to the Himalayas. Since a week i had been doing enough preparation, buying necessary stuff and keeping myself both mentally and physically fit. At 4PM Synti and myself started for the airport to meet Rena there. We had a flight to Delhi later in the evening. I had been wondering all the while as to what i had forgotten that day – only to realize i forgot my ATM card in the machine @ office!! Just for the record, I had not done atleast one trip till now without forgetting/losing anything!!

We reached Delhi by around 9 PM and in an hour we caught up with the rest of our gang (Polls, Bhargav, Jishnu and Ninoy) who were waiting outside in an Innova. We immediately took off from Delhi and went about talking in our typical IIT-ian way – lol!! We soon changed topic to philosophy and soon Bhargav and Ninoy were in the midst of all the action. We talked about passion, how and where we would find it!, and about what we learnt in the past few years after we all left for our jobs. We went on and on till we reached Chandigarh by dawn and then we had to change into a Tavera.

 

Chandigarh will need a special mention for being the most beautiful and well planned city I have across till date in India. The wide roads and tress on either side to it and hills on one side, with sun just rising over the horizon – It was just magical. Since i hadn’t slept all night I quickly dozed off after clicking a few snaps. I was trying to sleep at the rear end of the Tavera and thanks to the aweful suspension it had i couldn’t sleep at all!! The entire route was very scenic, with amazing mountains, beautiful valleys and rivers. We saw Sutlej and Beas, and close to 6 hydro power projects on them!

 

Then came the best part of the trip where we had to go through a 4 km tunnel just on the outskirts of the town Aut. It was spectacular and as we went through the tunnel freezing winds at 12 in the afternoon greeted us to the Himalayas. We later had lunch and slowly took off towards Kasol. We had to take a diversion at Bhunter from the Kullu – Manali Highway towards Manikaran.

The journey from Bhunter to Kasol was very scary. The driver started to drive rashly as he was getting late for another pickup. Synti added to the misery shouting and screaming every time the driver took a hard turn. The entire route was scenic as we travelled along the Parvati river till we reached Kasol by 4 PM. We were soon done with all the paper work and later we were given couple of blankets and a tent to stay. We had a very good dinner there and slept early as everyone was tired during the 15 hr journey!

Our next 9 days of Trek: Click on links to read more
Day 1&2 : Acclimatization, Orientation, Rock Climbing & Reppelling
Day 3 : Trek to Youth Hostel Grahan– Ht. 7700 ft. (09 kms) 8 hrs.
Day 4 : Trek to Youth Hostel Padri – Ht. 8900 ft. (10 kms) 7 hrs.
Day 5 : Trek to Youth Hostel RatnaPani – Ht. 10700 ft.(07 kms) 9 hrs.
Day 6 : Trek to Youth Hostel Nagaru – Ht. 12500 ft. (09 kms) 6 hrs
Day 7 : Trek to Youth Hostel Biskeri Thatch – Ht. 11000 ft. via Sar Pass (13800 ft.) (09 kms) 12 hrs
Day 8 : Trek to Youth Hostel Bhandak Thatch – Ht. 8000 ft. (10 kms) 7 hrs.
Day 9 : Trek up to Barshani Road – Back to civilization 6hrs

Links to Pics@ picasa

After chilling out at hotel Malabar for a day, we took the evening bus to Delhi. We reached Delhi at 7 in the morning. I went straight to IITD to meet my sister and went about a small tour there. We later took the evening flight back to mumbai. I was so relieved to be back home after an amazing adventure – By far the best i have had till now!!

I got up at 7 AM, pretty late for YHAI standards. Within an hour we were all packed and this time we did not have a packed lunch as they expected us to reach the base camp by noon. We clicked a lot of pics and i got a chance to enjoy the scenic beauty of the camp. I felt very sad i couldn’t enjoy the beauty prior day thanks to my fever. I got a few pics clicked while i was in air and started our descent almost by 9 AM.

 

 

The days trek was so easy and straight forward that there was no guide for us today. The awesome group that we are, Guess What!! – WE got LOST!! SP-12 we rock. It took an hour before we figured our way out again. On my way i was lucky enough to see a white horse and pat its back :) Since Karthik had to catch a bus early we all left others and walked fast. Ninoy was at his singing best with Bhargav and Jishnu helping him. 2 hr walk and we reached a village. We were happy that we reached civilization. One some enquiry we realized we had to walk another hour across the dam on the valley to get to Barsaani.

After a long walk in the sun it was almost 1Pm when we reached the bus stand. We met the Gujarati students there who asked us to wait till the entire group arrives so that we have good fun. I was so hungry that i wanted to take a bus to Manikaran and eat there. Due to some differences we stayed back and hoped to find some hotels there. After a half an hour we realized we had nothing there and took a cab to manikaran. There we had lunch and then decided to visit the hot water springs of manikaran. We went to the hot water springs and they smelled heavily of sulphur. The water were very very hot and bubbling. We all decided that it was too dangerous to take a bath in boiling sulphur water and then took a bath to kasol.

By 5 PM we reached Kasol and were greeted by Mithun.  We were waiting for the others to arrive so that we can shout and have fun. In the mean while we met Adithya, camp leader who suggested we leave the base camp immediately and go to Kullu/Bhunter where we can do White water rafting early in the morning. The water in Parvati river were all dirty because of a de-silting activity near the dam in barsaani and hence all the water at the camp were all muddy. Not risking any further damage we all decided to head to a comfortable hotel.

We all checked out by 6 and left for Kullu. We got onto the bus and then debated whether to go to Kullu or to Bhunter. Our debate was short lived as the conductor said the bus only goes till Bhunter. We reached bhunter at 7:30 and checked into Hotel Malabar near the bus stand. I had an amazing half an hour shower in hot water and really enjoyed a nice 12 hr sleep on the cozy bed. It was one hard earned lovely sleep to end the trip :) :) :)

 

 

P.S: My heart felt apologies for ditching the rest of SP-12 and leaving everyone without a formal Good Bye.

 

We got up late in the morning and for a change the camp leader was a chill max guy and he did not trouble us with the infinite whistles that we had gotten used to. We got ready by around 9 and started our trek to Bhandakthatch. We were briefed that Bhandakthatch was the most beautiful of all the camps and today’s was the easiest of the lot. We were excited about reaching the camp the earliest and then have some good time there.

I had already picked up fever that was draining me. But the briefing about the next camp gave me the courage to give it my all that day. We started with a very steep descent. Quite unexpectedly my knees weren’t paining, apparently knees are the one that hurt the most during a descent. But a few meters down we were in for a surprise. The aunt who was tugging along with us with an ankle sprain found it hard to get down and we had to wait an awefully long time for her. The guide and the group leader then suggested she went back to the camp for the day and then get a porter to get her down the next day. She then put a lot of senti stuff and Tanvir fell for it deciding to get her down with the group. The entire discussion took away 90 minutes and i was starting to get my fever and giddiness back!!

I was happy that we then moved on at a healthy pace. We descended around 1000 ft in the next couple of hours without any big break. the Guide and Tanvir took turns getting the aunty down on their backs (Hats of to them!! ). Around noon we then hit a road block. It was a 200 ft steep descent followed by a 150 ft Steep ascend. But what lay between them was the most scariest part: A melting glacier gushing water at huge speed. We had to cross that on two logs which were placed on 2 boulders on either side. One slip and i would drop down dead some 1000 ft downstream. After yesterday’s trek i convinced myself that the worst of the trek was over and all i needed was a little courage to pull my self back to civilization. But the trail had other plans for me!!

Seeing bhargav and polls go by i finally decided to give it a shot. Firstly i had to rappel my self down 200ft. Which in itself was so scary that i kept embracing myself to the rock every step i took. The guide got irritated with the speed i was rappelling that he caught me by my backpack and asked me to drop down fast. Initially very scared i did as he suggested and then i could get down easily. The technique of rappelling really helps when you do it correctly. We had to lean back and not embrace the rocks like i was doing and keep our feet perpendicular to the surface and use the rope to get down.

 

Even before i could take a sigh of relief, i was faced with the next challenge, the one to cross the stream. I very nervously caught the hand of the guide who helped me cross the stream across the logs. The first few steps were very scary as the logs swayed for every step i took. Midway through the water level was higher the logs and i could feel the force of the stream as i waded my way through scarily with my heart in the mouth. After crossing on the logs i had to jump my way across on small boulders. I wasn’t that scared doing that until i stepped on a stone that moved and i lost my balance. Luckily someone lent me their hand i latched onto it in a flash. I cannot imagine where i would have been if he had not helped me.

I was scared and started to freak out badly. Even though i had done it safely, I was in a trans for sometime. The next 150 ft seemed nothing after what I had done. The lunch point was just after the climb. I got chance to relax, have food and start again slowly after lunch. I had a short nap and soon later i realized all my friends left after ditching me. I started walking at a brisk pace as the terrain was almost flat, with occasional climb over the trees that fell because of the avalanches. After half an hour i caught up with everyone but that brisk walk drained me. Ninoy had a twisted ankle and was struggling to walk.To make matters worse, the climate started to worsen and there were lightnings and thunders. One of the tree’s bark caught fire on a lightening strike and the visual of that was quite spectacular.

People stopped over to prevent the fire, but given my worsening body conditions i decide to move on without any rest. The trail then got a little steeper and that completely drained out any energy that i had. Luckily after that climb i caught up with bhargav, who stopped to have a change of clothes. We waited for a while before ninoy and jishnu had caught up. We kept walking and walking for an hour together under the dark clouds threatening to break lose any moment. I found it had to maintain the sustained brisk pace and very soon i started to feel the weakness in my body. Shoulders started to droop, I often lost my balance due to giddiness. I kept on having glucose and kept going.

Soon the rain started to pour in and for the first time in our trip we opened our ponchos and put them on. The rain was pouring in as we approached the final climb of the day. It was a 300 ft steep climb. Unable to do it i took a break and the rain soon became a hail. Balls of ice started to fall in and it felt we were being pelted by stones from above. Every hit started to pain and the force at which they came upon made life hell climbing up. I wanted to take shelter under a tree and the nearest tree was a few meters away. After some 10 minutes struggle i managed to get to the tree and for a while i looked up to see where we had to go and i got hit by a ice piece enough to knock the left glass of my goggles.

It was frightening and i was draining energy fast. The hail stopped after 20 minutes and i got a chance to climb. I climbed so fast that giddiness got better of me and before i could grab onto something i fell down unconscious. I slid down 20 ft and then my knee got struck in a root preventing a catastrophe. The jolt got me conscious again. Scared and drained i climbed up as the hail came back again. That were the toughest moments of the trip as i was gasping for breath and taking one step at a time. I pushed myself like never before and desperately wanted to make it to the camp. 20 minutes of struggle, 2 more slips later i could see the tents. That was by far the happiest moment of the trek. I managed to drag myself for the next few minutes and as i opened the flap of the tent i fell on my face right on the floor – “As people termed it – height’s of give-up-ness”

Finally gathered some courage to put a pose in hail :)

I must be very thankful to god to have helped me muster enough strength to make it in the end. All my friends had come in by then. I soon dried myself up and dozed off. Everyone had played football as i was sleeping peacefully in the tent. Apparently polls had kicked Synti’s football down the cliff and Synti then had an adventure of his own trying to get the ball. I was so tired that i can’t recollect any other things that happened to me that day!

I am in debt to one and all who helped me survive through this tough day! Thanks one and all!

This time for a change we were served bed tea at 2:30 and we were given an hour to get ready to start the mother of all treks till date – “THE SARPASS”. I got up and just took a stroll down the camp. The wind was strong and it was freakishly cold. Luckily the skies were clear and the stars still visible. Thanks to the near full moon the was enough lighting to see around. The snow reflected more moon light making an awesome sight.

It took me a while to gather up the guts to answer to the longer version of Nature’s call. I should say it was an amazing experience doing that on snow under the moonlight looking at the never ending chain of moutains whose peaks glittered with snow. As i went to a trans admiring the beautiful and awesome sights. My fingers and my A** went numb. I couldn’t feel them anymore. I freaked out and walked back to the camp rubbing my fingers to give them any warmth i could get. After a good hot coffee served at the camp i could get back my fingers. It was my first coffee in my life and what a perfect timing to have one at an altitude of 12500 ft. That will be one coffee i will never forget.. Never..

In a few minutes we were served breakfast and were given some dry sweet to keep the calories running for the day. We packed and were all set to go at 4.00 AM. After we offered prayers to the Almighty we took off. The first few steps to the snow were amazingly difficult and many slipped and struggled to get past. After a few steps my confidence grew and i was now walking at a healthy pace across the snow. Slowly my body was perspiring and was able to maintain a good temperature inspite the freezing winds blowing across the face of the mountain. In a while we stopped in order to wait for the laggards of the group and then i started to feel the cold. I started shivering as i just had my track pants on. The cold started to get intense and i was pleading for the sun to come out and give me the warmth.

Luckily we started moving and my body temperature starting raising again as we climbed the 60 degree climbs one step at a time. A few more moments there sitting would have caused permanent damage to my feet!! As we climbed on and on the gradient got higher. One slip and we would have rolled on the hard ice surface several thousand feet into the valley. It was a scary sight from the top, but the only option i had to was to keep climbing. It soon was a 75 degree climb and i had to literall crawl along the surface of the snow with the help of the stick that i had been carrying since Padri camp.

The guide made grooves along the way with his ice axe where in we could pierce our stick and climb up using that as the fulcrum. Soon it was 6 and the sun had started to come out. With him were the warm and soothing rays that i really enjoyed after all the experience i had in the morning. This was probably the first time i really loved the sun rise and i was literally cheering him on. The sun posed another danger, the one of melting snow and thus getting a slippery track to trek on in the future. Bhargav and gang inspired me to finish the hard climb without any more stoppages and by 7:30 we were on sarpass. We were so happy, we congratulated one another and joined the gujarati gang who were doing Garbha. It was an amazing experience dancing at 13000 ft with snow all around and the glory of achieving the unthinkable – SARPASS.. Oh wait!!

The guide then said there was another 3 hour trek before we finished. We were still happy thinking what more could be there ahead. We had already done the steepest climb till now that too in snow and that gave us the confidence to move on for an hour. Soon the body was draining energy mostly to keep up the body temperature. All of us started to feel weak and after a small 50 ft climb that was ahead of us i started giving out. A good dose of glucose and a frooti brought my spirits up and for the next hour i was trekking at snails pace along the slope in what was a familiar scenario by now ( one slip and you are straight into the valley ~ 2000 ft deep)

We crossed a fools peak in between only to realise what we had a 80 degree climb before us. I wanted to give up but all i had done over the past week would just go to drain. I wanted to do it so badly and be home. I started the climb, it was more like climbing parallel to the mountain face literally. When ever i took a break and stood straight, Rena freaked out as if i were to drop down. The only consolation this time was that we knew we wouldn’t roll down and die, but rather had to do the entire climb again! The second proposition was also scary to think off!!

I crawled my way up the mountain and the end i took the help of the Sherpa who pulled my up. I wanted to stand tall and scream till the end of the world, but had only enough energy to curl up and sit at a corner. I could see the lunch point from the top. 3 kms down, but we only had to go down sliding as if it were a giant slide. I could see people sliding their way through sometimes reaching speeds in excess of 40 Kmph. Jishnu had made a mess of his slide and rolled spectacularly. It reminded me of massa’s crash in formula 1 last year. He was safe as snow was more merciful. I was sliding on my tracks and the guide asked me to brake hard with my elbows as my speeds may get uncontrollable. A few moments later i took off screaming my way down at amazing speed. I was down in a flash but i really enjoyed every moment of the slide wanting to do that again. It only took me another half an hour to do the remaining 2 kms sliding and running down slope on the snow. After lunch (omellette and maggi) and quick nap i took off for Biskeri camp.

It was a bad descent with sticky mud, melting snow and big boulders. All along the way we were treated to awesome waterfalls combining to form a bigger stream parallel to the path. By 3 we reached Biskeri camp and i went straight to bed. I had picked up cold and fever thanks to the one mistake of putting the tracks in the morning instead of the cotton pants.

After a nap, I had nice soup and some aloo bajji with a dose of Dolo 650. It got me up and energetic in a while and then we played Wolf and literature till we got tired and dozed off!

 

 

Even though we all had gotten up early, we couldn’t start till 9:30. Apparently yesterday’s extra climb meant that we had to climb even less. For the first time we had sights on where we had to go right from the beginning. It seemed too easy after all that we endured to get to Ratnapani. The entire climb was very steep and short. We only had to do climbing and very little walking. All throughout the journey we had breath taking views of the entire valley and the trails that we took the past few days.

Midway we crossed the 11500 ft mark which meant we were in the terrain classified as extremely high altitude. The snow was so near to us now that made us all the more exciting. After some good no of pics on the way and some pretty steep climb we came to the Lunch point. We ate the lunch and started on a very dangerous and steep climb. When ever i looked down the view was scary, there was nothing on the sides – just an infinite abyss. Lucky to be at the start of the pack i could climb it without any fuss and just after the climb i was treated to an awesome view that i will not forget for a while. It was simply superb and mind blowing.

I stopped there for a while enjoyed the nature and the amazing wind that blew over. Then we started the climb again. In 30 more minutes we reached Nagaru at 2.30. The camp was in the midst of a snow ocean. Everywhere i looked I could see at least 3 layers of mountains all covered in snow. We were all tired and also happy that we had done a remarkable 6000 ft in 4 days. The remaining time was spent looking at the awesome skies, beautiful peaks and unpredictable weather. It rained for a while and within 10 minutes there were clear skies!! amazing!!

 

We had an early dinner at 6:30 and slept an hour later as we had to get up at 2:30 the next day for the mother of all treks the SARPASS!!


I got up thanking god that i was not eaten up by the bear at night. Thanks to Ninoy and his hypothesis of the bear, we all were shit scared. So scared that we had to go in groups for our morning chores :) After i was done i heard some weird noises deep in the jungle. I was so scared that i literally came running to the camp. A little later we were served good poha which i thulped before starting off for ratnapani. As always the initial part was a steep descent. Like always i was doing the math and something startled me. We had to ascend 2000 ft that day and we already descended like some 400 ft in the first hour or so!! That meant for the rest of the day we had to do an additional 2400 ft. Compared to the 1400 ft we did in the first day this was very scary.

For the next hour we kept trekking up and down until we reached a waterfall. The next climb was terrific. It was a 70 degree climb and that was by far the steepest i have ever trekked.  It was getting scarily steep as we climbed up and up. After half an hour of climb we all sat down till everyone of us gathered. Polls made the mistake of not sitting with us and then decided to go down and give up on the trek. He had a fever last night and that had a toll on him. I kindly offered to carry his sandals and everyone took some bit of his luggage.

We started climbing again and the trek started to get very tiring. The scenes were awesome from those heights but none of us had the energy to admire them. The sandals on my back started to become deadly. Rena had tied them to a side and everytime i climbed a rock, they sway and tilt the rucksack position. I almost lost balance once and if i had not latched onto a branch i would have been down a few hundred feet. Not losing hope we kept going on and on. The climb got steeper and more dangerous after a while.


Every time I convinced myself that the peak i see was the end and mustered enough courage to get to the peak, only to realize there was another peak up ahead. This must have happened some 10 times in all, before i gave up hope that the lunch point was any near. Every 10 steps i took, i took a long pause breathing heavily and then carried on. These long pauses started to make the trekking a lot easier. We were now in excess of 10000 ft and the dip in oxygen levels started to show. After trekking for 3 hours at such steep gradients, we finally reached the lunch camp at 2PM.

We were all so hungry that we thulped chapati and aloo (something i started to like now!!). We even got omelet courtesy a small shop where they sold everything at twice MRP. Still they felt cheaper than what we pay for maggi and omelet!! We started our way again at around 3.30 after taking few snaps and a short nap. We then crossed a couple of very scenic waterfalls and reached a very large meadow which was supposed to be the Ratnapani camp. But then we realized that the camp had been moved to a different location and we were up for a climb that would totally give a different perspective to philosophy all together. :P

Every step we took potentially had a life risk element and for a few steps we know there would be only one way to hell if we slipped. To add to all this the rain god wanted to make the trek more interesting. There were lightening and thunder but luckily the rain held on. We kept climbing up and up before Rena/Polls started to freak out a lot. I was already so tensed, that they freaking out got me to panic. To avoid more tension i got ahead and without thinking about anything and giving up any hope i still had of living i started climbing till I got to the top. I was greeted by the camp leader i was still surprised i had done it. I started to yell at the top of my voice. I was so happy, and the awesome views that awaited us at the top had me forget all the problems i had. The snow filled mountains were only a climb away from where we stood. We had a clear view of the entire panorama stretching from the Grahan Camp till the padri camp and a view of the Nagaru camp too!

I was the first to reach the camp and got to see everyone’s reaction when they finally finished it! Everyone looked freaked out and relieved at the same time. Just as we got to the camp site, the rain started to pour in. We all thanked heavens for the timing or else it would have been GG! The temperatures dropped abruptly after the rain. We were all frozen and shivering in the tents as they served some hot soup and bournvita in our tents. The tent had a slope and it was enough for me to slip from one end to the other hitting jishnu in the process. I freaked out even more thinking bear had my leg!! Rofl!! :)

Getting up early started to become a lot easier as i got up at 6.00 AM with ease. But by the time everyone was ready, had breakfast and packed our lunches it was 9.00 Am. The Camp leader had briefed us that this was a easy and peaceful trek for about 4 hours. We started our trek by a quick descent and then a long walk along the stream. After an hour of walking along the stream, we trekked upwards. The gradients weren’t big and we were going at a good pace. We trekked for next 2 hours literally without stopping anywhere.

My legs started to complain probably because of yesterday’s tough climb, but the sight of snow and we getting close to it urged me on. soon we were at the lunch point at around 12:30. I really loved the lunch but i had packed too less that i was hungry for more. I had an awesome omelette and took a short nap. Then some one suggested if we got to the Padri early we could go to the glacier near by. We all got up in an instant and started trekking again. Soon we hit a small patch of snow by the stream. It was at a 60 degree slope. I was so excited i ran towards it and slipped the moment i put my leg in snow. I tried crawling on lit and still no use, I slipped again. Thanks to Tanvir and Tejamul who taught the tricks of the trade I climbed it up with ease :)

Snow climbing was awesome. But getting off it was even tougher.  After a pose i tried getting down and slipped straight through :P Thanks to the softness of snow nothing happened to me and then we took off. Ninoy tried a stunt with his rucksack trying to cross the stream and slipped right into the stream. Apart from this eventful thing there were no more causalities. We reached Padri by 3Pm and were amazed by the beautiful meadows.

It was a long meadow, from where we could see the wild horses, cows and numerous glaciers. Aditya the camp leader promised to take us to the glacier near by. I was really excited. We had to trek for an additional 30 minutes before we reached the AWESOMENESS. The stream had completely frozen from the top. There was a 10 ft thick layer of ice below which the water was flowing through. It was not as white as i had imagined probably because of the dry leaves that covered the ice. Walking on it was tough as often i used to slip. We walked on for like 10 minutes and soon we saw a small hillock from the top of which every one tried the slide. The child in us came out and was running wild.

My first slide in snow and it was absolutely amazing. My entire pant became wet and even though i wanted to do it again, I did not do it as i did not want to risk a cold or fever. After playing around for a while we came back to our tents. Ninoy was busy drying all his stuff, missing the trip to the glacier. On our way back we found a lot of skeletons of horses and ox and came up some great hypothesis as to why and how they came to being :P

 

 

 

Later Adithya told us that a bear cub was on loose and it’s mother was running wild in the forest in search of its cub. Ninoy freaked out this information and got all of us to panic. We had our dinner and synti then took out his cam and got  some good pics of the moon before we all slept hoping not to have an encounter with the bear.

Even though we knew we had to get up at 6.00 AM in the morning, none of us had kept the alarm assuming that the bed tea will be served to us in the morning. But YHAI’s concept of bed tea was a little weird. Bed tea means that tea will be kept near the kitchen and you had to go and fetch it!! I just ran out straight from bed after we were scolded for reporting in line late at 6.00. After a good dose from the field trainer we ran (walked i should say :P ) till the exercise ground where we were made to do all sorts of exercises. I skipped most of those still yawning and scolding the guys in my mind for waking me up so early in the morning. I later then did a few exercises and ended up almost vomiting, thanks to the frog jump that we were asked to do. It looked exciting at the start but after a few jumps everything went wrong :|

View of the Parvati valley

We then went back, had our breakfast and packed 2 thick woolen blankets in our rucksacks and went out on what was an acclimatization walk, a sample of what we were to face. 2 blankets along with a Litre of water made the backpack very heavy. Our group were named SP-12 (Sarpass 12); It was a such a boring name that we named our own group the “3G” – GG Group :D

The trek was so easy that we reached the top in good shape in about an hour. It was an 3 km uphill walk  with an altitude gain of 500 ft. The view of the parvati river and the snow clad mountain peak through the pine trees was a treat to the eyes. The hustling of river parvati and the koo-ing of the birds in absolute silence was so soothing that i instantly fell in love with where i was. We then had a small social gathering, picked a leader – Tejammul, a six and half well built kashmir lad who had good trekking experience before.  We all talked what we would be doing for the camp fire later tonight and then trekked back by lunch time.

We went to nearby shops to do some last minute shopping for the trek and attended the briefing about the tour by the field director. Later in the night after dinner we had our camp fire and what more — ninoy hosting it!! :)   The programme started with everyone shouting Fire Fire — Camp fire!! As weird as it sounds, the concept of having a camp fire without the actual fire was something beyond me. YHAI had a rule of not burning wood. After some good fun we slept early and this time with an alarm.

Day 2 also began with me getting up late and running for the line with shoes in hand. No alarm has an impact on me.. :D Our Co director decided it was time he took on the exercise duties and started teaching a new set of exercises. They were a lot easy and we could do it without breaking a sweat. After breakfast we went on for a session of rock climbing. The rock face was close to a vertical climb and we were taught the theory of rock climbing.. blah blah blah.. I did not listen to even a bit and then saw the trainers climb up the rock so easily.

Very soon bhargav went up the rock and even he struggled getting to the top of it. Rena and polls soon followed and then went synti. He was the only one who without taking the support of anyone finished the climb. Jishnu then went for the climb and slipped a lot in the starting. That got me very tensed as i was very doubtful of clearing it. My only worry was making a mess of the climb and embarrassing myself. Ninoy went before me and as i saw him struggling i started to get tensed. I could not do a single push up and i weighed a bit more than 80. Those fact made me more nervous as the trainer tied the rope round my waist.

I set off quite slowing and slipping around 3 times in total. I made my way up as my friends kept on cheering. Quite surprisingly i found rock climbing easier than doing push ups and that gave me the confidence of getting to the top. At the last climb i took the help of the trainer who then pushed me up by giving me a good foot hold to climb on to. I felt very happy when i finally finished it that i wanted to do it once more.. (Given the energy it drains, I would have fainted if i did it again :P )

After lunch we came back for rappelling and then there was the stupid boring theory again. But rappelling looked much simpler and easy to do. I soon went up to rappel my way down and on the instructions of my trainer i was asked to lean back and stay almost parallel to the ground. It was very very scary and i refused. The trainer asked me to let go of the rope then. I was yelling back to him. After a while i did as he said and thanks to the safety equipment i did not fall down. This gave me enough confidence to get back down safely.

 

We later went back to our camps and did our final packing. We had dinner and were ready to get on witho our trek starting tomorrow!! Finally some action – Yippie!!

 

After a week of awesome time with my cousins and family, i went to Bangalore, to meet Mayur and Bhargav and Kaki. I reached bangalore from hyderabad on 4th December, in the morning at around 7 Am and went straight to Bhargav’s home at koramangala (near forum). It was a long time i had seen him, and i was really very excited to meet him. A few minutes later Kaki arrived and very soon we were lost in all the tech talk. Kaki had bought an DSLR (first one in our wing! :) ), which me and bhargav explored for a while.

We were to go to Jog falls and shimoga for 3 days, but had not planned anything so far. We decided to book an indica for the 4 of us (mayur,bhargav, kaki and myself) and get away without any plan. And to spend the rest of the day we decided to go nandi hills on bikes. Bhargav and me then went IIMB to meet Mayur and get his bike. Since it was already getting late around 1 in the afternoon, we decided to go to bannerghatta national park. After spending somme time at Mayur’s room ( which i was really impressed with), we had lunch and then again decided that the national park would be closed soon and there was no point going there. And hence we ended up at Lal Bagh!! :) We then started planning on where to go and what to see in the next few days and not surpsingly we decided against the trip (phew!!) (improper planning and the idea that jog falls had very little water because of a dam above!!). We then decided to get to coorg for 2 days and the end the trip with a trek to the top of coorg! :)


We started early in the day (6 AM — Thats way too early by our standards) towards mysore. The road from bangalore to mysore was amazing with the driver touching speeds in excess of 100 in an indica! After a small stop for break fast, we went straight to the KRS dam (Krishna Raya Sagar) in the outskirts of mysore. After a brief session of photography and admiration of the dam, we headed on our way to the district capital of the coorg region, Madikeri.

On our way to Madikeri we stopped at various spots of tourist importance. First amoung them was the Golden temple at bylakuppe, few kms from kushalnagar, enroute Madikeri. Hundreds of Buddhist monks live here. While the exterior of the new Zangdokpalri temple looks majestic with a majestic rainbow arch, the interior of the Golden temple next to it is awe-inspiring. The path to the Zangdokpalri temple passes through a sprawling garden. Around the garden are the residential quarters of the monks. A better write up of the temple for a good read: http://madikeri.org/bylakuppe

We then stopped for a late lunch near Cauvery Nisargadhama. Nisargadhama is forest resort just 3kms from Kushalnagar towards Madikeri off the state highway. Nisargadhama is a 25 acre island formed by river Cauvery with bamboos, teak, sandalwood trees streams and wild life(supposedly!! We could just find deers there :D ) covering it. It is also famous for its hanging bridge which connects the island helping us to cross river Cauvery.

After our lunch we took a small detour towards Dubare Elephant camp situated around 20 kms from the main road. It was supposedly an elephant capturing and training camp of the Forest Department of Coorg. Though we did not see many elephants there, we did some still water river rafting (I couldn’t find a better oxymoron). Never the less it was great fun as we went along the coast of the river dodging our way through the branches that grew low and perpendicular to the river. It was just like playing a dodging game on some video game console :) After a few minutes i took a plunge into the river where the water was deep. It was great fun to be in the water (thanks to the life jacket i had on me) The way up to the raft was again little tricky, but i eventually made it (not before i was scolded a couple of times! lol!! )

After i got myself into some dry clothes, we took off towards madikeri. It was close to 90 mins drive from there and we reached the town at around 7 PM. We wen’t straight to the hotel Hill View (Trust me — there was no great view at all!) and called it a day. We were all tired after the rafting and the journey and were soon asleep after we had our dinner.

Abbey Falls

The next morning we went to Abbey falls around 12 kms from madikeri. The waterfall is located between private coffee plantations with stocky coffee bushes and spice estates with trees entwined with pepper vines. An awesome path through coffee and cardamom plantations leads to the waterfalls. The roar of the falls can be heard from the road itself. There is a hanging bridge just opposite the falls which gives an awesome view to the tourists. We spent an good part of 2 hours and started on our way to Talakaveri

Talakaveri is around 50 kms from Madikeri and is considered to be the source of the Kaveri river. It is located in the Bramhagiri hill near Bhagamandala at an altitude of 1276m. A tank or Koneru has been erected on a hillside, at the place that is said to be the origin. It is also marked by a small temple. We trekked up to the top of the hill and then we were off back to Madikeri. In the evening we went to the Raja’s Seat and tried some sunset photography! (it was an awesome sunset, with the sun going into the mountains. We then went to some temple in Madikeri and took to bed early.


 

The next day, we started very early for a trek that i would remember for a very very long time. After what i had during my previous trek, i was sceptical about this one. But since Bhargav kept saying it was fairly flat, i had the courage to do it! We reached Thadiandamol ( base village for our trek). We started our trek to the highest peak in the district and the 2nd highest peak in karnataka at an altitude of 1750 mtrs above MSL. For a start Kaki also wanted to come as far as we could. The gradient at the start of the trek was a bit too high, and kaki started to break down.

To make things worse we missed the main route and had to take another route which was more tough! But with some determined climbing by kaki we were able to make it to the main path in an hour. All along the way we came across many streams of very pure cold water trickling down the slopes of the mountain. We were treated to some awesome sceneries along the way of the valley and the mountains surrounding it. The path started to flatten out for one Km which we could cover very easily. The trail took us through pine trees and very beautiful streams. In another hour around 11:30 we reached the base of the highest peak. The base had an amazing stream of fresh water, where we took some rest and ate our lunch (chocolates and some biscuits :P ). Kaki decided to stop here, where as bhargav, mayur and myself carried along.

The next few meters of the climb was a very rocky terrain, which we covered in the next 20 mins. We took a small breather and carried along. The trails started to become more and more rocky with each step having to be a bigger stride upwards. I could hear my heart thumping very very fast, and my slippers (A big big blunder not to have shoes) started to wear out! The trail slowly lead us to a very dense forest. Ducking below low branches and climbing along the roots of the trees we were making some progress. The jungle got very dense and at certain places it was very dark and scary even at noon. We were literally running through the forest and in about 15 mins we were out of it.

Me and Bhargav enjoying the view of the valley

Another 15 minutes of painful trekking and we were in sights of the main peak. The very sight of it gave me a new lease of energy and i was in a flash mid way through the climb. I was going on and on frequently urging myself to push it till the end. in my anxiety i started pushing it too hard and in 10 minutes i reached the top only to realise it was a Fool’s Peak (A term coined by me for a local maxima if you assume the mountains were like a graph). The majestic peak stood in front of us, and we were all surrounded by green grass. We took to photography there for 30 minutes and then slowly went to the top. I was leaping in hapiness. My joy knew no bounds. All my pain vanished in a few seconds and was rejuvenated by the achievement.

After spending some time at the peak, we started our way down. We decided not to stop anywhere as some rain bearing clouds were glooming around the horizon. My floaters had given up on me and i was left to the mercy of the sharp stones all to myself. To add more troubles, i was cramping up, which hindered my muscle movement. Very soon i lost both bhargav and mayur who literally ran down the mountain and i was left all to myself. But that was not a point of giving up! I kept going urging myself not to break down. All my effort was having a good result.. we were now descending at a decent pace. We were down to where Kaki was in around 40 mins! After stretching my muscles for a while, we descended all the way to the cab.

We started back to bangalore at around 5 and after stopping for dinner at Mc Donalds on the banglore–mysore highway, we reached bangalore at 11 pm. That was one hell of a trip, something i was longing to do for a while now. It was far too great fun i had in the last 10 days and now i had to leave all of it behind and had to get back to some serious work back at office! :(

All the credit for the wonderful photography goes to KB and his awesome DSLR!
Special thanks to Bhargav for actually planning the trip and taking some critical time off work at some short notice! :)

All of a sudden i was google-ing about the horrible rains in mumbai and i came across some awesome pics. Bewildered i did some research and found out about Korigad fort and its magic splendour especially in the monsoons. Fed up of the routine weekday — weekend way of life, i wanted to get away, to brace the awesome nature beyond the concrete jungle. Since my previous experiences with trekking were horrible i wanted to make a fresh start with an easy trek.
We started at 5:30 in the morning from Malad and reached Dadar, to board the 7 AM Intercity express to Pune.
We reached Lonavala at around 9 in the morning. We hired a omni and started towards our base camp at Peth-Shahpur, about 30 kms from lonavala and a 5 km distance from the Sahara’s ambavane (or the so famously called the Amby Valley)

The journey was spectacularly awesome with dense mist all around. The visibility was as bad as 5 meters even at lower altitudes. All we could see all along was a thick dense mist and every now and then when the wind blew we could see the amazing beauty of the region. Different shades of green was all i could see in what ever direction i looked at. As we went on a few Kms ahead, the mist got thicker and the driver was now driving literally blind folded. It was a thrilling ride and equally scary!!
Luckily there was a good breeze and the mist vanished in a matter of seconds and we were treated to some breath taking views of the entire valley! uncountable waterfalls, continuous stretch of hills fully covered with a thick green blanket. One hour from lonavala we were at shahpur, from where we could see the enormous mountain that stood before us. We could the see the walls of the fort from below. Korigad was a famous fort built at 3094 feet above sea level by Sivaji in 1657. Like every hill we passed on our way, this one was also covered by a thick dense green blanket of grass and mosses.
Before we could get to the easiest part of the climb, the stairs, we had to wade our way through thick confusing jungle full of bamboo trees, small streams of water and loose rocks. After navigating through the all the thick forestation, we reached the stone steps that were laid all the way to the top of the fort. 40 mins of slow climbing, we reached the top of the fort. We were astonished to what we found; a huge flat area that even had 2 very big lakes.

 At the perimeter of the entire mountain was the very long fence laid in stone. One could walk the entire perimeter on the stone fence.

The view from there was just mind blowing. We were at the same altitude of the clouds, possible little higher. As i stood on the fence i could see the rain bearing clouds whizz by. Every now and then i could see droplets of water being blown up the mountain and hitting me like small pellets. I stood there for 30 mins admiring the awesome beauty of the amby valley and the occasional cloud that came by. The clouds were ascending upwards in order to cross the mountain and the very top where i was standing they moved horizontally.
As the breeze started to get stronger i got down and started looking for some shelter.


After sometime i could barely walk. The moment i lifted one leg, i felt as if i would get blown away. All i could do was bend down and hope the winds did not get more stronger. After some struggle i found a small cottage which turned out to be a shiva’s temple. I took shelter for a while inside the small room, and quickly dozed off. In a while the winds subsided and i took a small walk along the perimeter. As the winds started to threaten again, we decided to call it a day and started our way back. The descent was more trickier than we expected. The stone steps were wet and were slippery. 1 hour later we safely reached the base camp and we started our way back at 3PM. We stopped near bushi dam and had a good lunch. It was raining so heavily that we decided to go back.

We reached lonavala at 5PM. All of us were shivering in the wet clothes. We were foolish enough not to get an extra pair. After some shopping we reached lonavala station at about 5:30. We had our train booking at 7:30 PM. My feet started to get cold and turn white. After a deperate attempt to find some alternative i got some clothes at a reasonable bargain just outside the station. Luckily the waiting hall at the station was awesome and warm. We took rest for a while and started our back home.
After reaching at 10.30 I took a good dinner and put on a crocin hoping i would not catch on to any cold or fever!!