Off the pool, by the stream; the 90 ft gorge and the ravines that house the beautiful little water fall; and of course our very own 30 ft diving pool that every CTCian swimmer & non swimmers alike would love to dive deep into the crystal clear waters – add to that, a toast of elephants letting you run loose in the wild just by the sheer presence of them in the vicinity. With just amounts of fun and an equally adrenaline pumping dose of elephant attack from nowhere and garnish that with enough number of CTCians to scare all other wild ones away, We have a perfect cocktail of a weekend in the Venkateswara Reserve forest...
Such is the history of the forest reserve and with all the hype and hoopla that surrounds it, the Sun Gods inadvertently decided in their usual inimitable style to play their part to keep us away from what was justifiably deserved at the end of a 12 km scorching marathon to the beautifully carved deep gorges – water – the elixir of life – finally was available just enough to quench our thirst and a dip to chill ourselves.
To begin the proceedings though, we had nonchalant participants declining in the last minute after a week long effort to ensure food and safety for everyone; and with one bike to follow 7 cars – we set off at a frenetic pace to ensure that we enter the forests before the ‘Sundance’ starts. Almost predictably though – the bike punctured and was left in the shelters of Renigunta and we were now left with 7 cars to catch up with the heat that will soon set foot on the horizon.
We started exactly at noon and no points for guessing this one – Andhra Pradesh is the darling of the Sun and our tete-a-tete with the Sun Gods had begun. While some of us were on a back to back trek – afresh with memories of Kolli 3 – the experienced CTCians formed the core of the party – with Ravi, the forest guide forewarning us of possible elephant activity around our trail, the group moved cautiously in the parched woods and river bed full of pebbles and stones beaten and smoothened further by weathering; expectedly though, the group had more pit stops than the amount of time spent walking towards the destination.
Our first big stop – the 30 ft deep pool – now looked like a trench of algae infested green pit with traces of clean water. A cool dip – a quick brunch – and minutes later, the group set on the march again – only this time to stop by another fresh water trail – with butterflies to add colour to the party; this time our stop was a little longer as most of us finished our lunch; a couple of hours n a half later – with minor stops to ensure that none left the trail, we had reached the gorges of the reserve forest; We took to shelter within the gorge, whilst some took to the trail further to the water fall, some of us contented with chilling out in the left over pools. Soup and Maggi were served sumptuously – thanks to prabhu & Ganesh, and more importantly – there was plenty for everyone cos of the drop outs. The moon struck 8:30 and I was off in the most unusual of fashion – dozing off into Elysium, and did not wake up until 6:30 in the morning. Paari & a handful of others kept the rest occupied with wild roars of laughter until 11 and then there was the usual sync of sleep orchestrated symphony in perfect harmony DTS Ver. 5.1 – And Oh! In lame terms – we refer to that as ‘snoring’ mate!!!
Day 2 began early and we were off to a very energetic start – a couple of breaks and a stopover before the final lap cos of a leopard crossing our path – we were back in the cuddle of civilisation post noon. To me though – this trek was a reminder of many things –
That no matter what we do, it’s the people that we are with who define the outcome irrespective of our choices sometimes... Mrs. Usha at 55, in that respect to me is clearly THE HERO of the trek, for having taught us a lesson or two about strength from the inside... when the younger ones complained about being pushed to the limits & so on and so forth, She with all her courage and strength made it to the destination, took a dip in the pool and walked back the next day with equal vigour in double quick time even though she needed help with her knees...
This in essence defines a CTCian – what passion cannot do to you just cannot be done with another thousand minds working for you overtime when you are just NOT into it... the zeal, the energy and the strength to be what truly deserves to be called a CTCian comes from the inside and no matter what – nothing can bring you this aura and passion of travel, of being amongst people and becoming one of them.
Although oft repeated – Ranjith, Samyak & Lilford did one hell of a sweep job – we all know how important this is and never mind the oddities and the idiosyncrasies of the ignorant lot – you guys truly deserve a badge of honour.
This camping of a trek would not have been fun if not for Balaji and his ‘dostana’ escapades with almost everyone in the group – Samyak and his truly mellifluous numbers on and off the trail – braghadeesh & his flute – waseem and sriram for bringing alive how tollywood pics are made when they discovered that they were neighbourhood pals from adjacent street and got lost in time – Lilford for falling in love with my Canon EOS and effortlessly exploring the aspects of photography – Libu, Bala n Co for a super smooth camp fire and me finally coming to grips with free speech and freedom of choice by adopting a sister in Vinodha - and of course Paari with this so so cool attitude, settling off accounts in a jiffy...
This summer holds the key to the test of endurance and am more than happy to be a part it and no second thoughts mate – when it comes to CTC ... All hail Trekking & Travel!!!Written by: Hari Kumar Balasundaram
Organized by: Balaji Seshan