It was with both great enthusiam and trepidation that I registered with the CTC. I was quite unsure about the effects this would have in my already boring, but bumpy life. But it was a risk, an adventure I was willing to take. And boy! Am I not glad! And what a trek it was! I had not imagined something like this even in my dreams, but I must admit I had a great time in spite of all the initial hiccups that I had.
The registration done with, the next and the tougher part was convincing my mom that though it was not what 'ideal TamBrahm' girls do, it still was something that I wanted to be part of anyway.A wild ride that I could afford to take.I also was waiting for an 'easy' trek to begin with, as I cannot claim to have any sort of fitness. Taking the stairs daily to my office in the 7th floor is the only exercise I give my muscles, and my otherwise sedentary lifestyle didn't augur too well either. I gave one trek - which was labelled easy, a miss because Mom wouldn't say yes. 2 weeks later, I registered for the trek, had her convinced, and shopped for all the stuff I would need. Atleast I could use all the money spent as a valid excuse. ;)
Finally I set off with great expectations to the place where I would be joined by the rest of the group. It was an all-ladies trek, and I met women from all walks of life and ages!
Introductions out of the way, we went yak-yak till we reached Uttukottai where the Bangalore people were expected to join. Piping hot idlis/Puris was on the menu for the breakfast. That done, and we all were bundled up again in different cars till we reached Nagalapuram at around 9am.
The initial look at the place was totally deceptive, and nothing really could have prepared me for all that transpired the next 2 days. I must admit though, that I had a great time in spite of all the initial hiccups. A 2 hour walk/trek crossing the Nagala dam, into the forest, up small cliffs, and a fall into one of the streams, and we reached the first pool.It was all enjoyable, and pretty much matched the expectations I had from the trek. It was at this pool, that I was coerced into expelling my fear of water. Vinodha , Guru and Nisha did all that they could including handing me a life-jacket, wading through the water, diving with me to make sure that I did not remain terrified of water. Their excuse : " There is water all the way, and it would be much more deeper, and there would be no option than to swim across. " I didn't totally believe them, but later realised that what they claimed, was just an understatement. I had to do more than just wade across water, I had to dive from cliffs, right into water really deep, and rely totally on swimmers who somehow managed to get me back in one piece. I would really look back at all that as nothing short of an achievement.
The trek there-on till the dead-end pool was also super fun, with all the girls pitching in with whatever help they could offer, be it the swimmers who ferried the backpacks and the non-swimmers, or the other girls who helped in transporting the ferried bags across the cliff till the end-point. Before we knew it, it was 2 and we broke for lunch. I don't know if it was all the frenzied activity or the mountain-air which did it, but I was ravenous and gobbled up my lunch in minutes. That done, and we started again, and as time passed, the trek got more tough, and the terrain more difficult to traverse.
About an hour from there, we met Peter - he had organized the all-guys trek from the other side of Nagala and our trek took a totally different turn. Agile and nimble as he is, he took us rock-climbing, made us do stuff that I wouldn't have imagined even in my worst nightmares,and had me clinging on to dear life all the way. Those were times when I was thoroughly exhausted and wondered if I had really done the right thing by enrolling for this trek. It was almost 7pm when we reached the campsite, and it was the place where we met the other 30-odd guys who had taken the other, supposedly more dangerous Western route. The guys thankfully had hot noodles ready for us to eat, and I had just about energy to push it down my throat and cave in to sleep. We were allotted places (read big boulders and rocks) to spread our mats and sleep on. I guess it was the first time I had ever been in such conditions where one had to survive with the bare minimum, and it was not all that bad. Night fell, the whole site rang with the sound of falling/gushing water ( the site was beside 2 waterfalls), screeching insects, and I lay below the canopy of a star-studded sky. I guess that one moment made the whole trip worthwhile.
I didnt sleep too well in the new surroundings and I thought I woke up early only to see a lot of guys already up and in the pool. A lot of girls too, succumbed to the alluring waterfall and swam/dived into the cold and pristine water. I was just a mute spectator with a rising ambition to be able to swim one day. The previous evening night, every muscle in my body rang with pain, and I had this lingering doubt about how I would wake up the next day and make it back to the base camp in one piece. But I guess I passed the ultimate test of endurance, and my body proved that it can take more than all this. 2 days since, I m almost ok, and raring to register for my next trek. If on Saturday, anyone had asked me if I would come back, my prompt answer would have been No. But the trek and all the experiences associated with it have taught me to take life with the proverbial pinch of salt.
Back to my account, on the way back, I found it much more easier, maybe because I got more acclimatized to the surroundings and also I was over the initial shocks. It was tiring, no doubt but I knew I had to make it and I would. We had a great time with Peter egging us to take a dip in every pool we came across, citing that the water would do miracles to relax our tired and frayed nerves, which it surely did. I was even hoisted upon Nisha and we took almost acrobatic pictures in the water. Another cliff conquered, and Peter organized a detour to a cave waterfall. The swim to the place took us quite sometime, but after that experience, I can honestly say that I haven't been in a more beautiful place before. By the time we got out, it started pouring cats and dogs, and we literally had to rush back to salvage our bags that we left behind. My wet clothes, heavy backpacks almost pulled me down, and I was left shivering till the bone. The rain also made it very difficult to navigate, with the boulders/rocks getting more slippery and the water level rose dangerously within minutes.
Again the experienced guys stepped in and helped everyone till we all managed to reach the dead-end pool again. There, I literally had to jump off a huge rock, into water between the cliff and another big boulder. Looking back, I still cannot fathom where I derived my courage from, maybe it was the moment or it was Peter's reassuring way of saying, 'Trust me', but whatever it was, I took the Almighty's name and jumped only to be pulled out safely by the swimmers. That out of my way, and my strength renewed, we again passed more bags, jumped off one more cliff, and made our way safely to the banks of the stream. That is when we realised how famished we were, it was almost 3 in the afternoon and we had not had anything since morning. We ate all that we could, and that helped lighten our bags further. From there, it was or rather it seemed pretty easy, after all the adventure we had. I probably just assumed that it could not get any tougher. We were all tired for sure, hence the slack in pace, but we knew it was best if we got back before night fall. The walk back after the dam, to the cars seemed like eternity, but it was so dark that we could not really estimate the distance and effort, plus the company we had, only made it better.
Once the cars were in sight, all I wanted to do was give my poor legs some rest. I was so eager, that I did not even bid goodbye to everyone properly and thank everyone enough. I would have never been able to do something like this, if not for all the people who constitute what is called the CTC. The wild enthusiam, the daredevil nature, the meticulous planning and organization, the selflessness with which everyone operates form the mantra for the success of such a motley of a club. My post would be incomplete if I did not thank Guru - he is a superhuman of sorts to me, for helping me with my sleeping mat, when it seemed all inclined to get caught in every tree and threatened to pull me back, Peter - for leading by example, for boosting everyone's morale, for being the sole motivating factor, for coming up with an organization as unique as this, Vikram - for helping me navigate through the rains, for ensuring that I did not miss a single step, Samyak - for being the official photographer, for telling me that we were only 10 mins away from our destination throughout, even though the truth was much further than that, Ravi - for clicking so many shots, for being a sport and missing a lot of fun just so that he could take all those pics, Vinodha - for being the first person to force me to jump into the pool, Nisha/Angel - for organizing this trek, and to all the others who made the whole experience worthwhile.
I have missed out so many names, but this is to tell you all that all of you were great, and that the kind of team work and positive attitude that you all radiated is enough motivation for me to enroll for my next trek. You guys, rock!
Written by: Dharini
Organized by: Angel, Nisha
Participants: A truckload of beautiful ladies! ;)
Dharini, Ravi, Samyak