Nagala/15 8th March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Peter's Writeup:

50 brave souls signed up for mission Nagalapuram/15 yesterday.

It was a long, long day from Sunday 4am till Monday morning 2am - 22 hours of adrenaline rush. It was an exhaustive but wonderful experience to be remembered for a long time. Nothing compared to the usual/boring day inside the city... Don't expect any productive office work from any exhausted participant today ;-)

Mission target was the first day camp site of our 4-day Nagala-Tada trek (Nagala/10) - a small, scenic waterfall dropping down from a 200 feet vertical cliff into a small pool. A beautiful spot located deep inside the Nagala range not yet discovered by human kind well hidden at the back of the central 800m high peak of Nagala.

We parked the cars near a big mud dam, entry point for N/6, N/10, N/12, which is build next to a conical shaped hill behind which there is a large lake. The team walked around 2km along a jeep track towards the base of the hill where we found a very scenic breakfast spot - a 270 degree rock formation enclosing a scenic, circular-shaped water pool in which a 50 feet waterfall tumbles down from the pristine mountains stream above. 200 feet high rocks on both sides are preventing easy access to the stream.

As it is not easy to climb up along the near-vertical rocks aside the waterfall we decided to circumvent the steep falls and ascended the hill on the left side, climbing up for around 100m till above the vertical rocks from where we could proceed horizontally along a slippery path with loose gravel to the mountain stream which was winding itself from left to right at the bottom of the valley carved deep inside the mountains. The stream was sometimes bounded by lush green forest/trees, sometimes bounded by 300 feet high rock formations forming the base of the Nagala mountain range.

From here we proceeded upstream alongside the near horizontal river through which clear water was flowing. Along the way we encountered many scenic spots - clear, chill water pools carved in beautiful tens of thousands old rock formations, small waterfalls flowing down the river. We walked for around 5km along the river we encountered around 4-5 deep water pools where the team had to climb alongside the near-vertical rock formations at the sides of the stream. Great fun as usual and spontaneous team-work initiating between the CTC members.

The pools were amazing - the water was clear and at times very cool. As usual during any CTC trek nearly all members were jumping in frequently and splashing around. At the top of one pool there was a naturally carved 30 degree slide formed by a 30 feet waterfall. Sleeping mats were used as sliding mats and many were either sliding down or jumping in from 10 feet above into a narrow 10 feet deep pool below. Splash! Bham! Chilling cold water all around. What a feeling!

The trail was quite nice - lush green forest providing shade from the tropical sun above. People walking and jumping over small and larger boulders sprinkled inside the mountain stream. Clear water running down the stream in between the rocks. People frequently drinking from the o-so-tasty Nagala water. We didn't take Glucon-D this time, the water itself was so sweet!

Around 4.5km down the stream we set up kitchen near a small, lovely pool and falls - three big stones, two cooking pots. All stomachs were growling loudly - it took 5 big portions of Maggie Massala Noodles to satisfy everyone. God - the taste of Maggie noodles with Kissan ketchup is simply beyond description. Any 5-star buffet does not come even close to this. Add some yummie Nagala water to this and our stomachs felt in heaven!

When things get though, the though keep going. After lunch-point the boulders became bigger (some 20-30 feet in size!), the incline became steeper and the adrenaline started flowing faster... We split the group in two, team "casual" taking a siesta near lunch point before proceeding slowly back downstream and team "never can get enough of this" proceed further upstream along the steep, huge boulders at the bottom of a 300-400 feet vertical rock formation. GPS signal was very weak at this point, lack of clear satellite view. Himalayan mountaineering skills were activated to overcome the big boulders. The team was awed with a myriad of tiny water drops falling down from the deep green bush at the top of the vertical rock formation. What a sight!

After climbing for a few hundreds meters the stream became smaller, flatter and the bush became much denser. The team had to crawl through dense vegetation, thorny bushes, over and below trees falling across the stream penetrating deeper and deeper inside mystical Nagala land. Around 600m beyond lunch point we finally found our Christmas camp site and the small scenic waterfall tumbling from a 200 near-vertical rock at the base of the central Nagala massif.

The team was excited to accomplish the mission target - everyone took a shower beneath the falls, the camera shutters were clicking generously and the everyone felt more excited and alive then one can ever feel inside a concrete city jungle. CTC - life at its best. The arrows of the clock were pointing at 4 o'clock now. 2 hours before darkness. Time to make a u-turn and catch up with the other group.

The walk down the stream went pretty smooth and fast. Some of us were able to catch up with the front group fairly quick. As usual, Peter had a small complimentary surprise in mind for the team. Instead of spending 1 hour climbing over the same hill at the breakfast pool we decided to climb down along the narrow, steep, near-vertical rocky trail alongside the 50 feet falls. Fear was appearing on the faces looking at the pool 50 feet below, cold sweat on the forehead, legs trembling on the steep rocks, nerves got tense, adrenaline rushing through the veins... CTC trekking at its best!

Some climbed all the way down to the pool. Some could not resist and jumped in from 20 feet into the chilling pool below. What a feeling! What a rush!

Now, darkness was setting in fast and still several members had not returned to the end point of the stream. I took a torch and starting walking back upstream. Moonlight was shining down through the forest cover above on the rocks and water below in the peaceful night inside the dense and dark jungle. What a sight. Total silence, broken by the sound of the running water tumbling between the rocks. Bright stars peeping in between the trees. Fire flies flying all around the stream, shining bright within the darkness of the night. The peacefulness and beauty of the scene is simply beyond words. Felt like walking around in a fairy tale.

On the way, I caught Maria and Biju were climbing up along the wrong slope. In darkness the rules of the (trekking) game become totally different. Everything looks the same inside the dark jungle, every rock, every tree, every turning of the river. It's easy for the mind to get disoriented and miss the right trail. I kept moving upstream further and further. No sign of the guys in the back. In darkness time starts running slower and slower. Every minute becomes an hour. The LED torch provides just a small opening to see in the dark night. Rocks and trees along the stream all look alike. I climbed back over several pools, sometimes mistaking the fire flies for the torches of our trekkers. Mishearing the sound of tumbling water as voices in the night. Leaves of the trees rumbling in the wind high above. Sound of moving branches deep inside the forest. Darkness was playing games on the mind walking alone in the jungle.

After what must have been at least 45 minutes and several kilometers running over river boulders in darkness, I saw what appeared to be the light of moving torches and voices fading in from far away. I finally caught up with Guru and Baskar who were helping out Vijaya who seemed to have trouble getting back. Invisible to most of you but no doubt the most demanding, respectful and important role in any CTC trek is that one of the "silent sweeper". The guys in the far back like Guru and Baskar (and several others) who patiently sweep the back ensuring that any injured, delayed, lost or demoralized participants gets home safely. They typically end up in darkness far behind the front of the group, sometimes missing their train or bus home and never leaving anyone behind. Above any others, they have my utmost respect and admiration. They perform a real men in any given trek.

It took around 1.5 hour to get Vijaya back through the darkness along the stream to the top of the final falls. Another 30 minutes to get the last group of souls to climb down the falls. Everyone was happy to back on "flat land" again, walking on a normal road never felt so easy. We walked back along the 2km jeep trail in the bright lit nearly-full moon silent night. We were chatting and recounting the memory of the day. The Nagala mountains were fading away behind us in the night as we were walked back into the plains. We felt good. We felt alive again.

Hari Prasad's Write-up

Great write-up Peter.

The treks that I sign up are proving to be more and more tough and challenging.My first trek was Wayand and the second one was yesterday's N/15!. Wayand, as Peter himself said, was one of the toughest treks in CTC history and I had chosen it to make my trekking debut! What a beginners luck! :)

The excitement started on the way to Nagala, when guys came out of their speeding cars through the window. You might say 'There is nothing great about that'. Well, when I say 'guys', it is the driver included!! We were 5 guys (including Palani who was driving his Hyundai Elantra) and at a particular stretch all 5 were outside the car. We were chasing Peter's Scorpio which had even more stunning stunts happening on it. There, all guys were out through the windows and Guru was sitting on the top! He later came to our car and lay on the roof as the car zoomed ahead. We were creating quite a scene and all the villagers looked on in shock and amazement.

The most hilarious moment was when the 5 of us in our car got the shock of our lives when a vehicle with sirens blaring came in the opposite direction.We thought it was a police vehicle and in the next fraction of a second BHAM! everyone was back in their respective seats. The vehicle turned out to be an Ambulance!! A outburst of laughter.

Peter has covered the entire trek in his write-up so I am not getting into that much. On our return, we (a group of 5) were not aware of the change in plan for the descent and got lost trying to took for the same way we had used in the morning. We ended up deep inside a thorn-bush infested area and got scratched pretty badly. We were totally clueless about the path. The moon was out and it was getting eerie. My mind started imagining all nonsense and a lion approaching stealthily in the cover of darkness to attack us was one of them! :) We realized that we were pretty much screwed up and guys started shouting 'PETER! PETER!'. It was then we heard his reply "JO! JO!' from somewhere in the darkness below and man, what a relief!! Pretty soon he joined us and we ate some chappatis under the mystical moonlight as fireflies flew all around. Then Peter grabbed my LED and went into the dark jungle in search of the remaining guys who were stuck behind. I seriously was wondering if he was using some secret magic pills for having this high energy level!

The climb back down to the first pool was terrifying. We had to hold to the small rocks by the waterfall as we carefully placed our steps. One slip or misstep - we would be hurtling towards the pool 50 feet below. Luckily everyone held on to their nerves and made it safely back. Seriously thrilling stuff. A huge thanks to all the guys who guided us (Peter, Biju, Baskar, Guru - to name a few) You guys were terrific.

In this trek, I had realized the importance of learning to swim. The swimmers really enjoyed a lot while we, the non-swimmers could only watch them do all stunts. Not only that, in case of any mishap like slipping and falling into a pool, I would not have been in a position to save myself! :(

Looking forward to even more tougher and grueling treks in the future.

Cheers to all CTC-ans.

Prasanna's write-up:

It was on Wednesday when my mobile buzzed with a message from Shekar. He was with me in Skandagiri trek. Message read like this “Nagala 14 was fun. Join Nagala 15?. I didnt have a plan for the weekend. But if Shekar is coming i can join i thought. So I registered for the trek.

i didn’t plan anything at all for this trek. I just checked whether my LED is working fine. I was very late at office on Saturday. I called Shekar then asking for the phone number of Peter. Shekar texted the number to me later.

I went to my house to find my friend Arun busy working for his bank exams. I called up Peter that 4.40 is too early to come to Koyambedu and i asked whether i can join them at padi junction as it would be easy for me. He said okie. I went to sleep at 12.

My alarm buzzed in the morning 3.30. I had a quick shower in not so cold water and started walking towards Padi Junction. I called Peter while walking. Peter said they were on the way to Koyambedu and I had to wait. I walked till the end of the overbridge in Padi and waited there for twenty minutes.

Shekar called me then to inform that he was in Koyambedu and will let me know when they start from there. But within five minutes a Honda Unicorn came and stopped near me. A guy came down loaded with everything. He had tied a hand kerchief to his face. Then was wearing a helmet. Gloves in his hand and a black jacket. He came near me and asked “CTC?” I said yes and he just said “Come on climb over”

This is what CTC is! Instant friends. I learnt that he was Biju. More about him later. I saw behind me 8 cars racing below the flyover reminding me of the climax of the tamil movie “Oomai Vizhigal”. As lot of water involved I didnt carry my camera! Or otherwise i would have captured the whole scene in it.

We stopped at Kolatthur to fill the tanks of their vehicles. Then I was introduced to Biju. Shekar called me and said that he missed the group and coming by his own and i was telling him the way till we had to stop at NH5.

One of the biker got hit in a log which was on the road and fell down. His face got scratched badly and it was bleeding and the friend who was in the pillion also got hurt in his hand. Shunmugam, who was in the car in front of us came with first aid and helping the people. Biju was taking care of the bike and was thinking of alternate ways. The front tier of the bike got flat. Because of this 4 people went back from the trek. I request everybody who is reading this to be careful while driving in Highways. Shekar joined us in this point with his friend Sivakumar.

It was dawn then, and we were zooming to Nagala. The ride was really great. We saw a beautiful sunflower garden. To be frank with you that was the first time I was seeing that much of sunflowers in a single place. The photographers got into action. Biju too got into action. we clicked lot of snaps inspite of a lady shouting at us. 100_23991

After this short stop we went straight to Nagala, A car followed all the bikes to ensure that there is no mishaps. I felt really safe with CTC all the time. Then we reached the basecamp and Peter was in action. He distributed us the breakfast, Maggie for lunch, water and jam. We started walking ahead of mud dam after a small photo session.

We walked for another 2 Km to reach the scenic waterfall for breakfast. I didnt mind taking breakfast. Me and Shekar just jumped into the pool. Man the water was ice cold and it tasted like honey. We spent quality time in water. Swimmers had fun in the pool. I really regret that i dont know swimming after seeing them enjoy in the pool.

When everybody started to climb up the hill. It started easy. But later we realized that the hill was full of loose gravel and very slippery. We scratched ourselves in thorn. It was great to see some people who had fell down warning others about that. We reached the head of the stream again where peter and others were waiting. Shekar and me had some parathas here while we started again.rajesh-shanmugam-and-me

There were so many sceninc pools were on the way and as usual the CTCians just jumped in whenever they saw a pool. I was no exception. I had a very great time in the pool. And then there was a bit deep pool. I chose the way the non swimmers used, that is climbing a near vertical mountain to get the other side. It was fun too.. Then there came the natural slide. Pool number three was wonderful. It was 30 degrees inclined making it easy for the sliders.

We got to see some wonderful dives and slides for sometime there. Nimisha, one of our fellow trekkers fell directly into the pool. She managed to keep herself dry till that. we didnt know that she knew swimming. She came up smiling :) , thank God.

Then Peter said, it was just a few Kms to reach up. This was when when i got to see the butterfly zone. No buddies, this is not some amusement park stuff. We saw 100’s of butterflies flying in the way we had to cross. It was really a wonderful feeling to see those creatures. I had not noticed this kind of beauty till that day. I was bit slow in this part. I had nice talk with Riyaz, Laksmi Narayan, Arun and Navitha when we were climbing up.

When we reached the place were Peter had stopped, they had already started cooking the noodles. I gave the packet which I had with me and sat near Shekar. Shekar’s friend Siva was totally frustrated with the trek. Later I learnt from Sekar that the guy was scared of height, water and speed. He was not in mood to eat too. I had stomachfull of noodles.

I was just going to start my siesta when Peter announced that there is a nice water falls beyond that point. I liked to go there but Shekar had to walk down with his friend as he was scared of more trekking. While I was resting they went down. Me and some other friends like Anand, Shanmugam, Ram, Lakshmi, Navitha, Riyaz and Samyak started to descend.

Unlike the other treks the descent was pretty slow. As we were not sure whether we were heading at the right directions. But yes we were going in the right direction and we crossed that steep climb with the help of each other. Then there came the sound Jo! Jo!.

Man it was Peter. He climbed 200 feet further up and came back to catch with us. We did not want to climb the slippery hill above. Peter said that he had another route in mind. We followed him, as usual he was super fast and I slagged a bit.

Then we caught up with Peter, while he was resting with some other trekkers. As it was growing dark, i asked Peter how long would it take to reach the base peter-wanted-us-to-jump-from-herecamp. He said it would take only two minutes and three seconds to reach the base camp. I thought he was joking. But he kept the word. He took us to the top of the waterfall where the base camp was nearly 50 feet below.

He said to us, “I brought you here in 2 minutes its up to you to make it in 3 seconds from now on” We didnt dare!! Really we used the steep path to climb down, leaving our bag in the top. When me, Manoj and Anish went down we formed a chain the pool and helped others to get down and also transported the bags from there.

It was then we realized that 10 trekkers who went up were missing. Peter went in search of them while we with Diwakar, started to walk to our parking. It was damn cold that evening.

We had a good talk and get together while we wait for Peter and the others. It was another one and half hours when they came back. We learnt that one of our guy hurt his legs in the dark and sweepers baskar and Guru were helping him to get down. The sweepers really did their job. Hats off to them.

Again, I climbed with Biju. What a man he is!! He really took care of everyone who came to trek and was very kind with me. He didnt race faster as he thought it would hurt my back or i would feel cold. He even stopped the bike for a while for me to have some heat from his engine when others were far in front of us. Biju Thank you for the ride man.

We had a great dinner at Andra border, i don remember the name of the place. When we reached Chennai it was 2 at night.

22 hours I have spent my sunday with the people i met for the first time and still i enjoyed like anything. It was soooo good and soooo refreshing.

Cant beleive my words?? Enroll a trek with CTC, i am sure you will accept.

Organised By: Peter

Image galleries:
Ram - Pics, Videos
Hari - Be A Rebel - video, Natural slide @ Nagalapuram



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