CTC picnic (Nagala/18), Apr 18-19, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Picnic -- 1: an excursion or outing with food usually provided by members of the group and eaten in the open; also: the food provided for a picnic – Merriam Webster

That’s literally what the trek was meant to be as defined in the dictionary, word-by-word. One of the longest email threads I have ever seen. Discussions were only about food and drinks while vegetarians and Non-vegetarians were throwing flame war at each other. In fact I took print outs of recipes for Zang’s grilled Chicken and Thai grilled lemon chicken. I could visualize how great the weekend’s going to be. Definitely no trekking but just pure and unlimited fun. Eat like a pig, dance as if no one’s looking at you and sleep like a baby is what I was intending to do. I called up Peter at 11:30PM to confirm everything’s all set and I went to bed dreaming about the great CTC picnic. A nice game of rugby in the cool pool, awesome chicken barbecue, cool beer, a good swim in the pool, wow, weekend can't get any better!!

Rugby ball, paper plates and cups, recipe print outs and pair of dress to change -- Those were the contents of my backpack. An ideal picnic back pack, isn’t it? Three cars zoomed by and I jumped into Peter’s car to find Amal, Senthil and Vikki with Divi at the front having two cute plaits. She resembled a kinder garden school girl. Does anyone still remember your first school picnic? Mine’s still fresh in my mind. Parents used to pack up lots of snacks, water bottle filled and I could be all curious waiting to get a seat by the window in the bus with a cute little girl sitting by your side, waving parent’s good bye as if you are going on a space tour to moon for a very long time. J

En route, we were discussing about taking a new route this time to reach the pool. The closest village to that was Digavakandiga, a village not too far from Pichatoor. We stopped by a small hut where they served hot Poori, Idly and Vada and hot tea for breakfast. It was about 8:30. En route to the village we stopped by to ask directions to a guy asking where the place is in the map. Guess who that guy was, AP forest officer in charge of the check post. He was skeptical looking at us and repeatedly asked why we are heading with a map. Somehow managed to tell him that we are going to see a relative and since we don’t have good directions, we took a map of the place. He somehow got convinced ad let us go but I was thinking whether he would make a few calls to alert anyone. We’ll know only when we are back from the picnic. On our way, we met the village sarpanch (Village head) who was very helpful and kind and in fact offered to help us with food and provisions. We parked our cars at a nearby village and the villagers were extremely compassionate and helpful and offered to take care of our cars. Distributing the food was a big task and everyone had a bit more than their usual treks this time. No sweat no gain. J

We started our trek, with our heavy backpacks and a cool box full of yummy chicken breasts and sausages. Yummy. We crossed a school on our way and Indira awed the kids by her cameo performance. While the rest of us where sitting along with the kids and enjoying the show. Felt like back to school days. Without wasting much time, we headed towards our destination, our exotic picnic spot.

We walked past a very dry ground for quite some time trying hard to figure out which way would take us towards the valley. We walked past the trail couple of times but Peter pointed us towards the right direction in no time. We headed towards the direction, but since the beginning of the trek, sun showed no mercy, I mean no mercy at all. It was cruel and soon our water reserve was going down drastically. Shilpa already started cursing Sheetal and Amal for the nice picnic and she had no clue what was in store for her for the rest of the day. We all were completely exhausted by now, basically because of the heavy backpack. Off we marched to the base of the mountain that would take us to the pool but the climb aint any easy one though, at least not with the heavy backpacks. Peter, Guru and I decided to go ahead and find some water while the rest of the group can take their time. Huge boulders over a dry stream which had a very steep inclination gradient as we moved forward was sucking everything out of us that we had to take constant breaks. After some time we found some water dripping through a vertical fall where we filled couple of water bottles for the group and I decided to move forward. On my way, I saw a long snake skin and it was fresh which showed signs of snakes around. I regretted for not carrying my camera. I started and moved quiet some distance and waited for the group. Sunitha, Indira and joined me in a while. I was glad to have some company but our frequency of taking breaks increased. On my way, I found a ‘Pitch black’ 3ft long snake crawling through my way just couple of feet apart into a small hole by the mountain side. It got me shocked for a moment though but I kept moving. The cool box with chicken was so damn heavy and at time I felt like abandoning it, but at the same time I loved it so much that I told myself that I’ll go any extent to carry it. Indira and Divi carried come grapes and it tasted heaven. Man Vs Wild, Survival skills, Into the wild, was the part of the discussions Indira, Divi, Sunitha, Senthil and I were having along the way. After couple of hours of walk, the rest of the group joined and we reached the peak. The flat surface in front of us looked inviting after the steep hill climb. The ground was filled with ashes of the tress and leaves because of wild fire and there were still some fire devouring the forest at some distance. Peter said that we are going to soon find the water, which gave us some hope which eventually found out as false hope J

We reached a shady place which looked like a stream and found a small pool but the water was not too good to drink. We quenched our heat by washing our face and had cucumber. We finished most of our water supplies here as we were so sure about abundant water supply ahead of us. But whatever happened after this point, I didn’t even dreamt that something like this will happen.

Part 2: Cast Away, not for long….

We headed from the shady trench leaving the pool and climbed to a flat ground from there as the ground ahead was damp with the little water left out in the stream. Walking straight lead to a dead end offering a spectacular view of the valley in front of us and proceeding from here to the stream 50 mts down below, is only through razor sharp vertical rocks. It was 4:30PM by now, with no lunch and no water, we had to find a way to head to the stream below and race towards our picnic spot. 'Heading straight down and following this stream will take us to the picnic spot' Peter said with great confidence and I never doubted those words. It got inscribed in my mind. Vikki and I attempted to head down through the vertical rock to see whether there are any possibilities to get every one down. The climb was so steep and risky that I knew very well that once we start our descend, there's no turning back neither coming back. With Vikki ahead of me, I was being careful about m grips and footholds. The rocks looked solid but they were so deceptive. Some of them were so porous that I missed the grip couple of times and was just hanging by holding onto a rock. With still 25 mts to climb down, it was getting more challenging. Finally reached a place where there was a huge tree inclined to the mountain. Vikki clanged to that tree and headed down, but again, the soil was so loose that Vikki had a good 5 seconds sliding on his stomach yelling "Nareshhhhhh". I asked him to keep both his hands intact to the ground and catch hold of anything that he comes in contact with and in no time he got hold of a root. Else it would have been a fatal fall to a good 15ft solid rock below. I was being careful having learnt my lesson the hard way and moved through thorny bushes, red ants and finally we reached the solid ground below. The view was so beautiful. We looked upon the route that we took to come down and decided that it's definitely not possible to get the whole group down even if we lower the back packs through ropes. I heard Peter saying "Guys, come up, there's an easy way out to the stream", "Damn", I told to myself. Guru asked us to come up but we decided not to do that mistake and risk our lives. We deiced to take care of the back packs later. I was more concerned about the cool box though and you all know why. It felt like as if I am leaving my girl friend back. After a point we couldn't hear Guru as well. Assuming they would have taken the easy route we decided to head straight hoping to catch up with the group somewhere mid-way. It was 5:30 by then. We walked, jumped, ran, across the boulders and streams. After a while we came across a pool and we had no choice but to dive and swim. It was 6:15 PM and started getting dark. With no sign of the team around, we hollered our lungs out but no joy. The stream was covered with dense bushes and tress that though the mountain was looking brightly lit because of the setting sun, but inside it felt like it was night. I suggested climbing uphill and see if we can catch our guys but the climb just looked endless. We decided to descend down again to the stream and follow it as that would offer us a chance to survive the night. Crazy crazy thorns, runners, bushes, loose rocks, were taking its toll on our flesh. It got pretty dark by now. We just headed straight. "The pool is definitely at the end of this stream" was Vikki's statement initially which later became "I guess it is at the end of this stream". When you are left by yourself, our mind starts playing games with you. With no skepticism, remembering that Peter told that the pool is at the other end of the stream we headed straight. We were jumping with so much joy when we finally reached the top of the waterfall and down it looked like the place where we decided to camp. Off I dived into the pool. God, it was so refreshing. I could feel the pain because of the water washing the bruises on my skin but it was short lived. The water pool felt heaven. Swam across the pool to the flat rock and lied down there for a good half hour. 7:30PM and no sign of the team. We took turns and shouted "Peeeetttteeeeerr" "Guruuuuuuu", we heard nothing. Just the gushing sound of water from the nearby waterfalls. I was giving hope to Vikki that the group will definitely be here by 9, they didn’t. Then I told him 10. Still no joy. Just to beat boredom, we discussed about our lives to get to know each other. it was 10:30PM b now. I still had my hope high. I was looking through the deep dark forest around expecting flash lights to appear and to see the group. Well Hope is a good thing and best of all things and I definitely didn't want it to die. No flash lights, no matches to make fire, no mats, no food, nothing at all. Just my digital watch and a companion to talk to.

I wish I had collected some real dry woods on my way so that I would have made some fire with all the knowledge that I gained from reading books on how to make fire in the wild. It was so difficult to go anywhere to look for woods at that point of time with no flash light. Rats were running in my stomach. I am sure the pool had to offer lots of fishes but we had no ways to catch them. Vikki was worried about missing the group and missing the fun and was getting anxious, I asked him not to worry but to enjoy the moment as he won't get experiences like this where he would get lost in the wild. I told him that now he has one great story to tell his kids. He giggled hearing this. I knew why Tom hanks was talking to a Wilson ball when he was Cast Away into an island. Wonder what object I would have been talking to if Vikki wouldn’t have been there. I was thinking about food. The group must have set the grill by now and the chicken breast must be dancing on the grill soon to be devoured by the group. Such thoughts increased my hunger. Huh, I just got up and drank some water.

The next 5 hours was the most beautiful time/night of my life. With no one around, of course Vikki was there but he was sleeping sound and loud, in pitch darkness, with loads of fireflies fling around, pleasant sound of the waterfall. A feeling which I have no words to describe. The feeling of completely lost. A state of mind where I was enjoying the solitude completely and thanking God for having landed myself in such a situation. I was lying down on my back gazing the dark sky above me, full of stars, trying to make up constellations. A dog, Umbrella, smiley, when all of a sudden a shooting star flashed. I tried to wake up Vikki but he was in his sleep world thoroughly enjoying. Between 12-3AM, there were so many shooting stars and one of it came so close that it barely lit the mountain side. I was hoping it to fall but it got burned out even before. I was making my wishes for every shooting star that I saw but none came true. But it was so much fun to believe in such things. I slept for a good two hours when I got woken up b some weird noise. Looked like the wild animals had a huge fight between them. Staying close to Vikki helped me in fighting the cold as the temperature around him was quiet warm. I wonder why though!! By 4'o clock the moon was up and it brightly lit the pool and I slid into sleep until 6:30AM.

No signs of the group still. By this time we were really getting concerned. While we were pondering as to why the group didn't make it to the pool. Even if the group hasn't made it, why didn't Peter come looking for us knowing that we don't have anything? I was so sure that some thing's definitely gone wrong and I was guessing that it must be to do something with Peter himself. Like I said, mind plays games. Vikki said that we should follow the stream that runs parallel to the main pool to look for the group and we did, but no joy. We returned back to the pool and decided to stay there until 11:30AM. If we don't get to see them, then we head straight to the dam to the civilization. Clock was ticking. Each of us looking for a shad place to beat the rising sun. Lost in our thoughts. Silence prevailed.....To let the group know that we were there, I tied my cap and my watch to a tree there while Vikki took a piece of charcoal and wrote “We are heading to the dam”!

Part 3: Cast away….Once again….

At the very moment when we were done writing on the rock, we heard someone yelling at a distance and our joy knew no bounds when we heard the group. Yes, they were there looking out for us. I could see hope when I saw Peter walking towards us. Huh… My mind was completely blank and I had nothing to say but just dived along with Peter into the pool and Guru and group soon joined us. Finally all the mind confusion was gone and I could enjoy the cool water pool. But it didn’t stay for long when Peter told me that Guru got bitten by a snake. His leg was evidently swollen but he looked just fine and was out in that pool swimming. Definitely it must be a non-venomous snake still we didn’t want to take any chance. Then I crossed the pool to visit the group. Everyone was so happy looking at us fit n fine and were asking what we were doing all night. I devoured food after about 30 hrs and it felt heaven. After giving them my story, we decided to begin our trek to the dam. Divi told me that chicken bar-b-q just came out too good and they missed me a lot. Huh, still we had chicken nuggetsJ. On our way we decided to take a break, cook some food. Sunitha and group decided their menu and soon hot veg-bisibelle bath was ready along with some chicken. Peter and Senthil decided to leave ahead of the group along with Guru while the rest of the group followed. It got too late and we were no-where. Vikki and Amal tried locating the trail to the dam, but no joy. We were stranded up above away from the water stream on a highly inclined mountain surface no knowing where to go. We even decided to stay back that night. Darkness everywhere and LED’s were dying out slowly. I got fearsome after locating couple of rats. Rats mean possibilities of snakes around. Mind takes over again. While we were just deciding where to head, out of nowhere, Peter shows up. Everyone was so relieved and happy and looked hopeful. Peter said that he got doubts since we didn’t make it out by dusk and he located our LED’s from a distance and decided to come. If not Peter, we would have never made it out. It was a very steep and difficult climb down and it took a while but we all made it. Meanwhile Peter said that Palani has taken Guru to the Chennai. Finally we reached the base where Senthil was waiting along with a share auto. Too nice of him that he cancelled his ticket to Bangalore and preferred to stay back and if not for him, we couldn’t have got an auto to take us to the car. All loaded, we headed towards Satyavedu. People were so tired that they slept on footpaths and roads and bust stands upon reaching Satyavedu. My attempt to find a Sumo was successful, but 13 people stuffed in with backpacks was giving us hella time. We barely stopped at a place when everyone wanted to stretch out badly, and some of us slept on the road again, by then, police stopped by and started their interrogation. I wonder how these guys can smell CTC. After explaining him and showing my ID for about 15 minutes we were spared to leave, and we headed straight to the village. No cops, this time. Villagers were kind enough to provide water. They took care of our cars too. After tipping them handsome, we headed towards Chennai. Bala, Selva and Indira were behind the wheels. The next thing I remember was being pulled over neat my stop point.

This experience would flash through my mind every time when some would say the word “Picnic”. This is one hell of a picnic to remember and one story of a life time.

Written by: Naresh

I started with a mindset of taking bath, sipping wine/lemon juice inside the pool from Bangalore. I reached Chennai by 3.30 AM . Sometimes the SETC buses are too fast. I wanted to get down by 4.30 but the bus was fast. Slept on one of the Koyambedu benches for an hour and couldnt sleep courtesy mosquitoes. Then I went to buy my favorite weekly (Ananda Vikatan) and got a call from Vikram that the team will be at Koyambedu in another hour. I guessed the team didnt sleep dreaming about the first ever CTC Picnic. First Sunita arrived Koyambedu. Later in next 10 minutes the whole team arrived. I got into Verna along with Bala,Selva and Samyak. We started around 5:45 AM and guess that was the earlier start to any of the trips to Nagala. Super Mami (Indira) was already made up her mind to drive with Peter's Scorpio and she was taking some wild turns too!!! Super Mami. Reached a small towm(Donno the name where we stopped for breakfast) and had Poori, Idly and Masal Vada in a small shop. Meanwhile Divya bought few mangoes and sweet (supposed to be GulabJamoon).

We headed towards the other side of Nagala (Pichattoor). From there a deviation along a small road and into the village. We were taking few U turns before we reached the village. Vikram gave the sense that this will be a trek and Peter and Guru were already giving directions to reach Nagala pool in a new trial.

Atlast we reached the village and dumped few things and took all the food items/ drinks and others in our backpacks. We had fresh vegetables, rice, dal, cucumber, apple, grapes, salt ,pepper, buns, breads, olive oil, cooking oil, wine, beer, vodka, etc. Too many food items. Everyone were asked to carry 2 litres of water. Assuming this as a picnic, I poured out a litre of water and carried one litre of water.

In another 5 minutes we reached the village school, were our Super Mami started giving dance show to the school kids. We joined the school kids and Peter went up the water tank to get a peek at the Nagala Trial. We all had a few photos there and started the trek.

The Sun God wasnt mercy to us and he greeted with his bright sunlight and taking away water from our bodies as sweat. Shilpa along with Sheetal were already cursing Amal for this Picnic. We had few stops as we were draining with sweat and emptying water bottles one by one. We reached the base of the hill where we started climbihng up in the dry stream. Peter and Guru already went ahead and analyzed the scene and said that it is a 440 meter high and we can reach the pool in another 2 hours maximum. We believed and started climbing up the dry stream. We were slowly climbing up the dry stream and we saw Guru and Peter coming back with water filled from a small stream. I joined with the 3 other people who were just behind Peter. They were discussing Man in the wild and other series discussing how to save water/food in a forest. The 3 people were Naresh, Sunitha and Indira. Meanwhile others along with Vikram already finished the fruits and I was in the dream of having grapes up the hill. Finally before the final upclimb I was drained and made my mind to accept this as a trek and had few sips of water and cucumber. The grill carried for toasting fruits/chicken already tasted few blood from my body and made my progress slower.

Finally we reached the top of the hill and Peter told that we will hit the pool by 3 PM and started walking in the grass. We could see some fire happened and could see some of the forest was still burning. There were no water streams for a long time and we were draining our bottles quickly. By 4 we hit a place where water stagnated but clear. We had a refreshing stop where we washed our faces and poured water over heads to reduce heat. By 5 PM we were sitting on one of the valley and enjoying the views. There was a running stream near we sat and filled our water bottles. GPS showed only 800 metres away from the pool and we were excited.

Now 2 persons Viki and Nara went to check the path in a direction and Peter in another direction. Viki and Nara said that they found the way down the valley keeping their backpacks where we were sitting. Peter said the other one is easy to climb down and we went in that way. We found that climbing down that valley was very tough and the way viki climbed down should be hell of the way. We finally reached down the valley by 6.30 PM. We werent able to move to the pool even though the pool was 600 metres away. Peter checked the path and said it is difficult crossing the boulders on the stream.

Meanwhile Viki and Nara never returned to take the backpacks. So Peter , Guru and Amal carried their backpacks to the base camp. The we were preparing dinner (Pulav) . Meanwhile Guru, Amal and Peter went to find Viki and Naresh. They couldnt find anyone and they returned back. While returning, Guru became the first victim of snake bite.

Others including me didnt know about this and we thought that it was due to a fallen rock on his legs and swollen. We were very much worried about Viki and Nara and didnt had good food. Indira and Sunitha prepared Pulav. Sheetal was serving soups and few slept before food was ready. Peter decided to search for Viki and Nara for next day morning. Later Divya, Selva and Peter prepared the chicken grill with sausages and had food. We woke up few people to have dinner. We were in between shouting Vicky and Naresh names.

The place was full of frogs and we could hear them a lot in night. We heard few birds which were different. We slept on the irregular rocks and were much worried about Vikram and Naresh. Vikram was telling that he was hungry where we stopped for last water refreshment in stagnant water and we were sad.

I woke up few times and found Guru, Amal and Peter doing something . I thought that they were worried about searching Vikram and Naresh and making plans to find them.

Morning we woke up and Guru asked to wake Peter by 7.30 AM. I woke him and Amal, myself and Peter went searching for Vikram and Naresh again. We took the way where Naresha and Vicky should have descended and Peter went up the valley and descended from the exact place where they did. We couldnt see any traces of them . Its scary but we were searching if any blood stains are there and checked the pool had any one got slipped into it.

Finally Peter decided to take all the people to the Pool and get all down the Nagala. If we find Vicky and Nara on the way or in the pool we would be happy or else Peter was telling that he will come up again and search the whole place as he cannot leave those just like that. Peter was worried that we missed 2 people even though we were discussing about safety the last week.

We started dumping all the extra food and took only the food item to cook for lunch and we abandoned lot of food items in that place along with Naresh,Vicky , Peter and Guru's backpacks and we climbed the other way up. We decided not to take the stream path. Gurus' leg was swollen and Peter helping him climbed up the hill. All the time Guru was smiling and enjoying the way up. Also we saw the path it was a vertical wall should be 80-85 degree climb up which the two people climbed down yesterday. Divya was very much worried to leave Halwa there as Bala promised to buy her Original Tirunevelli halwa once we reach chennai.

We had few photos with 800 m peak in the background and started descending in a dry stream towards the pool. We had few amlas on the way which had fallen from the tree.

Finally we reached our destination pool by 11 AM which we were supposed to reach by 12 the earlier day. Guru Divya and Peter swam to the other side of the pool where the water falls. They found Vikram and Nara writing something on the rock and atlast we found them. Vikram and Naresh finally had some food after 15 hours drinking only water. They were telling about the experiences and were really sorry for missing the group. Naresh and Vikram need to explain this section about the night and other experiences

We had few dives and swim in the pool and we regained our hopes and were happy. We moved away from the pool quickly as we need to take Guru as soon as possible down the Nagala. We decided to stop down one hour late from the pool and have lunch. Again Sunitha, Indira and Sheetal started cooking Bissibella bath. All others had few sips of wine and beer.

Then we decided that Peter and Guru will descend down the hills ASAP to get Guru in the hospital. I joined with them and the team started 10 minutes back.

All along the way Guru was discussing with Peter about the different trek paths of different Nagala and smiling. We reached the place where we need to swim and crossed it. We had few 5 mins break all along the way. We tried to reach any of the CTC members but we had signal at few places. One point Peter called Palani (our Savior) and he said that he will be on his way in another 1.30 hours. It was 5.30 PM and Guru was insisting peter to get back the team as it is getting darker. But Peter stayed along with us and we reached the dam site. Peter and Guru were talking about buying backpacks for DOA2 and how to prepare during walking. Amazing. Guru was happy to spend 2 days in hospital as it would help to enjoy some TV.

The locals who were working at the dam saw us and they said that the treatment will be available at TP Kotta which is 2 Kms away. Also four of the people joined walking along with us. We reached the small village where the locals treated Guru with few medicines and said treatment will be available at Satyavedu. When the treatment was getting over Palani was there. Amazing guy. Peter decided to go back and get the othe people who were late and I and Guru to go to Satyavedu along with Palani for treatment . Then I take a share auto back to this village to pick up other guys.

Again a turn, the auto's headlights went off. The driver stopped at a place and I went calling Peter and luckily the phone rung. I said Peter that the auto will be at village and Peter said that he would take another 2-3 hours in reaching village as team were way long. Team please explain your experiences during this time as I dont know what happened.

I waited for another two hours at the village and finally found Peter and team coming to the auto. We had a jumpy,little space drive from Village to Satyavedu. One guy had to stand outside for some space. Selva, Peter and few others were sharing standing.

We reached Satyavedu and the auto guy helped in getting a Sumo till our cars parked near to Pichattoor. We started another drive in Sumo to our cars. We stopped in the middle and the police guys coming sniffing us. How come these guys always smell CTC? Naresh explained to those guys and they got convinced.

Finally we reached the cars around 3.30-4 AM without any food. People were screaming to locate a Dhabha but none found. Finally we started our way to Chennai through SriKalaHasti. Peter wanted to take this route as he alone knows the reason. On the way we found another obstacle . A tree had fallen and we removed the tree for space for cars to pass away. After a power drive by Bala, Selva and Super Mami we reached chennai by 7.30 AM.

We were laughing about ourselves and I took a bus to Hosur.

Team please review and add the experiences to this . I had never written so much after my college exams . I might have missed few things . Please add to that.

Team You are wonderful and never in my life will have this Picnic and looking for the Rescue mission of the food items and bags we left. And Peter it is unbelievable story for all others and it is done only because of YOU. Thanks Peter.

Written by: Senthil

Happy to be part of the wonder full picnic… turned out to be a trek and ended as DOA part 1.5 J thanks peter for giving such a great experience.

Thanks for indra, sunita, senthil, sheetal for the wonderfull dinner (veg) and lunch (veg) and for peter for chicken barbeque...

First time in history.. divya carried a bag with good amount of weight(obviously with food items) and also helped cooking…. unbelievable but believe it J

Never seen a guy carrying 3 bags during climbing… yes its guru.. and the bag belongs to viki and naresh.. who planned for hide and seek game and apparently lost or rather reached the picnic spot before us, these guys also made some sleepless nights as no body knows their status.

First time myself carried 2 bags…. God… I can feel the viki, guru, baskar, palani pain during the time… cant include peter in the list or even compare… he does carry people some time…

I am not sure how many first time trekkers can complete this trek… but shilpa proved everything is possible… though its first time she too completed the trek.. thanks for amal for supporting and motivating her.

Senthil.. adventure enthusiast.. only guy from bangalore… came from bangalore with picnic dream.. enjoyed the lot…. if it’s a real picnic… for sure he wouldn’t have enjoyed this much.. :-)

Written by: Selva

Thanks a ton to Peter for the wonderful weekend.

This weekend trek had everything in it like, adventure, thrilling, vertical climb, dry leaves skidding, sleeping on boulders, Night trek with a ton of mental energy, swimming (I dived into the deep pool and swam across J), Team Sprit and so on and on; we have learnt a lot of lesson out of it. A very good experience experienced. I would seriously say that am very proud to be a part of this weekend trek which explored a new trial and a new entry to Nagala.

The sad part was missing our guys in the night; the happiest part was when we saw them the next morning. The sprit showed by Guru was fantastic, he never even panicked even 1%, and I really learnt something from him.

The care showed by Peter upon us was really amazing; it is something like he did Nagala trekking twice on a same day by dropping Guru on the base camp and coming back to pick us up. We all were amazed to see Peter that late night coming back to rescue.

Viki and Amal, the amount of energy they showed in terms of driving the whole group throughout the forest in that late night with just a GPS device.

Indra, Sheetal and Sunitha, the best cooks who cooked our dinner and lunch even after the tiresome climb and walk, the both enjoyed and never hesitated to say yes for cooking.

Shilpa, was on a dream to a picnic and ended up in a typical trekking. Hats off to her for competing throughout the trek with us (Amal pls forward my appreciation to her)

Samyak, lazy photographer; but I enjoyed trekking with him during the night for the light he showed to me while walking (Torch), lol. Waiting for you photos buddy.

Naresh and Senthil, known for their flawless helping to others right from the start and till the end.

Last but not the least, a wonderful human being who was flying all along from Chennai to Nagala immediately after getting a call from Peter to CAR-LIFT Guru. Thanks a ton Palani.

On the whole a wonderful experience, waiting for the photos.

Written by: Bala

Life is for us is out there in the wild

Hey Freaknic guys,

It took me more than 48 hours to recover from the PICNIC! I have been with CTC from July 08 and my first trek was Yelagiri. I was struggling a lot in my first trek. Ok, why do I say all these things now? From then to till now I have done 25 treks with CTC but nothing like this PICNIC. It has given such a wonderful experience and the obstacles we faced are a lot!

Friday night, I called up Divi and told that I will be reaching her place by 10. God damn, my bike got punctured and thank god I found a puncture shop to get my flat wheel fixed. Reached Peter’s home by 12 after having nice Pizza J Peter advised me to get some sleep and I couldn’t sleep. This is a typical syndrome for me! The previous night of every trek, I have never slept and I just said to myself, it’s just a PICNIC and not much of strain will be there. So, I switched on the TV and found RAMBO 3 was running. Pretty excited I started watching the movie and it got over by 3:00AM in the morning. Just an hour of sleep I opened my eyes and saw Peter packing up the stuffs. I woke up and we all packed our stuffs and got ready for the exciting PICNIC. Called up everyone and all were set to the long weekend waiting. The new comer Shilpa did not even have a clue on what is waiting for her!

I messaged Baskar saying that “Life is for us is out there in the wild” and I didn’t even have a clue what is going to happen for us! All set and stopped near pichathur for breakfast. With the US and Russian topo maps, we were able to get the village name where we are supposed to go! Man, believe it! This is not the usual Nagala entry and I could understand Peter’s smile about the surprise. First time in CTC, Nagala conquered from Western side. Yah, we are tired of Eastern entries: P We stopped near a place to ask for the village directions and Guru popped his head out, Peter!!!! We stopped in the Forest department check post! Thank god, Naresh told we came to PICNIC to one of our friend’s home in KV puram! Reached the village, packed all our stuffs! Believe me; we guys were carrying almost 20kgs of weight in all our back pack!

The Sun as usual no mercy with CTC! It started to rip off the sweat and very soon everyone got dehydrated. The steep climb reminded me of Tada, but this is steeper than we expected/calculated! By 2PM, we just checked the GPS and we covered almost 7.5 kms which is not at all bad phase. Soon the souls started to get tired and it’s time for me and Guru to carry the double bag job! Me and Guru exchanging the bags for long time and then Peter came down, Guru went ahead with Peter to find water and got water to the team! Then again we started to trek more, steeper the path, we covered more altitude which is only the good news for us. By 4PM we reached on top the hill and from there it was a flat walk on the grassland :P. Still, the crew does not even have the clue where the pool was and they just kept walking. Everyone forgot their lunch too and we survived with grapes and cucumber. After an hour of walk, at 5PM we found a small stagnated water pool were we refreshed ourselves. Peter promised that from now in 15 minutes you will reach a running water stream which made everyone happy. Soon by 5:30, we reached to a cliff of the mountain and it was a narrow steep rock and the stream which we need to join runs down. I believe to my knowledge, the steep drop was around some 70 feet? With Peter’s instruction, me and Naresh went ahead to check if it is possible to get down.

This is the most fatal mistake we have done. We left the back packs and went down to check the trail. We almost got down and it was just 30 feet left in the drop. I was trying to get hold of a tree, it slipped and for next 15 seconds I was screaming “NARESH”. I lifted my head up so, I prevented my face and was putting my fingers hard on the mud to get hold of something. At last, my leg struck in a rock and my sliding stopped. Naresh got down slowly. I was badly hurt on both the legs. It was 5:45PM, we were down. The game started and we were calling out Peter and Guru’s name! As per Peter, I calculated that the camping site is the PICNIC spot pool, so I decided to take Naresh to the pool. I saw from the cliff were the stream takes a 90 degree turn and where the Pool should. With that calculation, I started to follow the stream very fast. I should thank Peter here. With all the treks in Nagala with him, I gained the knowledge of navigating inside the new trail, my intuitions went very strong. I started to implement the lessons which I learnt/observed from Peter.

1) Did not panic – I stayed cool and started to tell Naresh that we will reach the pool soon!

2) Since we did not have the torch, we decided to reach the pool where we are supposed to camp.

3) We lost our bag packs, so the survival rate is very low. Decided to stay near water which is the only savior for till we meet the crew.

4) I believed and accepted myself that we are lost. I did not get tensed and kept following the stream and alas we found the pool. We jumped and crossed the pool. Reached a flat rock!

5) No camp fire, no food, no mat, no sleeping bag. Just water was the only resource.

Next to myself, I trust Peter! It’s not blind, being with him in the field, navigating, helping, wow, he is the one man army!

Back to story, we reached the pool and started to shout for Peter, Guru and Amal’s name. Every 30 minutes me and Naresh shifted the shouting job. Then we drink some water and then again we started to shout. It was almost 11PM, I lost hope that the crew will never find us here. But again to Naresh I just told Peter has to pass this way and he too assured that he will think the same. We both convinced ourselves and I told Naresh to sleep for a while. I guess Naresh was little scared as we were only two and he heard some fox fighting by 3AM in the night. He holded my hands and slept for rest of the night. I was not afraid and I was very much worried about the team. I know they will be missing us and we were worried as something happened to Peter. That is the reason they did not find us.

It was Sunday morning, the sun woke us up. I quickly decided and told Naresh that only known possibility way of camping is a dead end pool before this PICNIC pool. We started to trek and reached the pool, but we didn’t find any traces of the crew. We were much worried and then we decided that 12PM is the worst case we are waiting. If we are not meeting the crew by 12PM, we will start to move out of this place before it gets dark again. Since, 2 weeks before I came to expat trek with Peter in the same way, I was very confident in getting Naresh out before the sun goes down. It was 11:50PM, we took some charcoal (N10 camping remains) and started to write on the rocks “We are moving to DAM – Viki/Naresh” When I completed the “H”, I saw Peter’s face! Guru scolded me and Amal almost hit me! I could see a gentle satisfaction on Peter’s face. It was first time I felt very bad to see Peter’s and rest of the crew face. I apologized myself for the confusion and immediately we jumped in the pool to relax. Then Amal told me what happened to Guru which made me to feel guiltier.

It was quarter to 1PM and Peter decided to go ahead and cook something for lunch. After 27 hours, me and Naresh saw the food! After 17 hours, we saw our peoples face and everyone was very happy. This core group is not something which is formed by regular trekking, it is more than trekking! The bonding, the courage, the camaraderie shown by them made us really happy. I could see couple of souls shedding tears for me! Peter, I say here that Trekking is my life and for CTC, I am ready to go or do anything on field! I just mean it! Being regular with them and the friendship developed between us has no words! I sincerely thank CTC and my friend Peter.

After a good non-veg meal, Peter decided to go ahead with Guru to get him some medical help. Senthil also joined with them. Rest of the crew slowly started to pack the things. Peter gave the trail responsibility to me. I just Amal, before it gets dark, we need to reach the first pool were we have couple of diversions which is very easy to miss even in day time. Though the GPS has Google map marked trails, it does not have the actual trekking trail. I just closed my eyes for 5 minutes and got ready for the navigation. We have 2 dead end pools and one we need to swim across for sure. I was little worried about the crew as it was already 3PM. By 3:30PM we reached the first dead end pool with narrow gorge and no possibility of swimming. We decided to climb uphill and avoid the gorge and pool. The climb was very steep and one big rock would have blown Naresh’s face and he just escaped. The rock which I was standing moved and it pierced me on the same wound which I got from previous day sliding. I somehow managed to climb up first and went ahead to check the trail without bushes. After 20 minutes of search, I found a decent climb down without loose rocks. The first batch waited for 20 minutes and rest all got down. From there I made a quick check of how many torches were left out. We were totally 11 and we had just 3 torches.

I decided with Amal that I will move little fast and at last I went very fast losing 6 people behind me. Then myself and Samyak went back to search the lost one and found them. Team getting lost got frustrated too! I got scolding from couple of people J but still I stayed calm as I know we have a very long way to go! After 30 minutes of walk, we met the dead end pool where we have to swim. Indira, Sunita, Bala, Selva can swim and cross. Sheetal, Samyak, Shilpa have no clue on swimming. Myself, Amal and Naresh decided to ferry the bags and people. So, we tied the mats together and started to ferry the bags first. For the 3rd round of ferry, Naresh got a cramp badly and we asked him to stay near the shallow region. Then we ferried people and when it was Shilpa’s turn, she slipped from the rock where she was standing. Fortunately myself and Selva were near that rock and she fell on me and I was able to hold her!

It was 6:00PM and I could sense the darkness is ready to play the game with the 11 souls! I asked everyone to take their torches and started to trek. Soon it was pitch dark and as I expected we missed the right turn which we are supposed to take in this tricky trail! Thanks to Amal for getting the GPS and he found the right which we need to take. But again for next 2 hours we were walking on the hill horizontally which was not right for me. I saw the hill on the left and I was very sure that we should start descending now. But it was intuition and I was very strong in it. But still the crew liked to move with the GPS directions and we decided to check the trail. By 10PM, we started to hear a wild life sound moving near to us and it was none other than Peter! He went ahead, dropped Guru with Palani and came back inside in search of us! I could see the smile on people’s face when they saw him and he took us immediately down the hill to stream. From there for 2 hours walk, we reached the village where Senthil was waiting for us with the share auto. His Banglore bus was on 11:45 and he intentionally missed his bus, went ahead with Peter and again waited for us with the Auto! Such a selfless attitude guy!

All the 13 people boarded on one share auto! And then we started our journey to Sathyavedu. Since 12 were fit in the auto there was no place for the 13th guy to stand. So, with shift basis everyone hanged out for a while in the auto. After 45 minutes of travel, we reached the Sathyavedu bus stand and the share auto guy called his friend who has a sumo with him. Just 15 minutes, the sumo came and we all 13 dumped ourselves in the sumo. Dumped means literally dumped! All were damn tired. After 30 minutes people started to ask for break as their legs were in a bad shape. We got down and Peter and few just slept on the road for a quick nap. There came our friend (AP police) and Naresh managed with them and got us out in few minutes. We reached our cars by 4AM in the morning and luckily the villagers were awake and they were so nice to help us. Soon, we got into our cars and started to search for the dhaba for food. No hotels were open on that time and we are almost dead. Suddenly the Scorpio started to do a zig zag and in few minutes Peter stopped and asked Selva to drive the car. I switched to Indira’s car and I was talking to her for a while. On the highway, we saw a tree blocking the road and our guys cleared the tree. I asked Sunita to come in the front seat and I went in the back seat and closed my eyes!

It was 7AM, horns honking everywhere and I opened my eyes it was Koyembedu. I switched to Scorpio and Peter dropped me near Saidapet. With my boxers and Hawaii slippers, I reached my home. Our back packs (Peter, Guru, Viki and Naresh) are still waiting for us up there in western Nagala. My bike keys, our office ID cards, RSA and all other STUFFS are left as it was very heavy for others to carry since we both lost in the jungle.

I came home and sat for a while, recalling the entire two day weekend. The 17 hours missing the crew was an amazing part. We both staying near the big pool, talking all non-sense to keep ourselves awake and I bet none would have called Peter, Guru and Amal’s name more than us! 27 hours of survival with water only. It was another terrific experience. I got dressed my wound by Baskar and all set now. Back to civilization! This was the amazing PICNIC which no one could give us other than the Captain Peter. He is the man and we always learn from him a lot. Keep observing him, but don’t disturb him J this is CTC and I am loving it! Trekking keeps me alive.

Written by: Vikram

Organized by: Peter

Image Galleries:

GPX trail (can be used for Geotagging)

KMZ file (click to see trail in 3D in Google Earth)



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