Wayanad trek - Vavul mala, 21,22&23 Feb 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
DSC_0081_021 Finally there came the announcement “Wayanad trek- valvu–21,22&23 Feb 2009″ I have been spending nearly all my surf time checking for CTC’s (Chennai trekkers Club) trek schedule and wishing that they come more to the south from Chennai, so I could join. It has been more than a month and after a dozen mails Peter (read: Captain-CTC) let me join this trek that is ranked‘difficult’,which is a strict no for new comers, and I am exactly that. The sleeping mat that I had asked my brother to send  arrived on a Saturday, 4 weeks ahead of the trek. The arrival had me on my motorcycle scouting the town for fasteners for the mat which, I came across in the hot afternoon sun. My next stop was the tailor who helped me give the fastener a form. It is 19 Feb 2009, the day before I was supposed to leave on my first trek with CTCians. I find it tough to sit in my chair staring absently in to my laptop, I would have been better off sitting under a neem tree atop a hill staring with life in to the valley at my feet. It is 20 Feb 09, I have packed and repacked my trekking bag so I now know where exactly in the bag will that tooth brush of mine will roll in, much to the annoyance of room mate. I woke up this morning to see a e-mail from Peter on my mobile, that read“Mission-Wayanad, final debrief”, with which butterflies started their ballet in my tummy   but then the rest of his mail is a concrete action plan that boosts my morale.  At 17:16 hrs I receive a SMS announcing “the departure of 50 brave soldiers form Chennai to Wayanad” from Peterji.
“Time to go”  I tell my self.
The clock was racing towards midnight when I boarded the Train to Calicut, to meet Peter and some more of those soldiers who had not dozed off in the rocking train. Just 4 hours to reach Calicut, I am unable to sleep even after securing my cosy upper berth. I forgive those people who stared at us at the rail terminus of Calicut, we wanted it mounting off the train wearing shorts, carrying big backpacks, with sleeping mats sticking out at all possible angles, we must have been a funny bunch of people.
jeep trail…
DSC_0109_025 It would have too normal had the bus we hired was ready for us, but who bothers, we spent the time feeding our cameras and resting after a long sleep. We reached muthalampuzha the last of civilization to wake up the sleepy village fowl. After stuffing our food ration for the next three days in our over stuffed sacks, we embarked on our trail on a steep tarmac path. With in minutes I and we realized that it was a mistake trying to carry our world with us, and we left back all those extra items with out which our survival would not be tough in a friendly villager’s home. We carry only the bare essential. The tar road soon gave way to a winding jeep trail, which lead us to a boulder strewn path. The going was getting tough with the early morning sun shining mildly on our faces.
the climb starts…
Three metal wires running parallel to the ground to keep the wild elephants from entering the hamlet marked the start of our trek. The first couple of hours easy trek took us to an amazing water fall running on a fairly plain rock face , inclined at 45 degrees. Our tired  body wanted a break, but that is not what Peter thinks; he says we have more to go and pushes us to move on. The climb gets tougher and steeper. We discovered our rhythm and we started climbing at our pace. It was a good half an hours trek before we reach another not so steep rivulet. Using the rocks for bean bags we had our lunch of sweet polis and bananas.
vellarimala- 2050meters…
DSC_0064_018 Was that the heavy lunch or the refereshing dip in cool water or the tired bodies I found it hard to move on. The group was getting sober, and was putting their best to keep the person moving ahead in sight. Only strongest and the regular trekkers kept shouting words of encouragement to keep the group moving. The trek up hill was tough and we could hear many wondering aloud on what made them choose this place to spend their weekend. The view that we came across made sure the cameras were not hanging idle on your neck. With many a breaks and encouraging words from the fellow trekkers we could cajole our legs to keep moving. The cool mist that came down on us was a sure sign of nearing the peak, but still the peak was no were in sight until that last turn were it came in to view abruptly. The applause that we received from the seasoned trekkers who had summited earlier was well earned.
After a quick trip to water source 15 minutes down hill, and 40 minutes back (we were tired !!) ‘the cooking party’ set up two pots out of which came steaming hot soups and noodles, to be gobbled up by the croud. The roaring fire set up at the peak was just enough to keep us from freezing. It was not regular bed time but still what else could you do at that freezing temperature after a tough trek than to stretch on your sleeping mat with your blanket to keep off the cold and tarpaulin to keep away the dew.
here we come valvu…
Are early mornings colder than late nights, I am not sure. But looking at the frantic pace at which bunch of us were trying to light a camp fire in the mist would prove that. With little success in trying to warm our bodies, we start the day’s trek towards peak valvu towering over us majestically. We leave back our sleeping mat and back packs in the camping site and move towards valvu with just water and food. The group refereshed by a sound sleep, moved with great energy and enthusiasm  ”here we come valvu” I heared some saying this.
valvu- 2380meters…
DSC_0122_028 A good nights rest and the fact that we had just 400 meters of climb to reach the highest peak of Western ghats north of Nilagiris kept us going. The climb was not as steep as the day past, but it did not help to have to clear a trail among dense thorny bushes, that soon started developing a great affinity to sweaty, smelly T shirts and bare limbs. We walked, we climbed, we swung, we crawled, we ducked, heavily bruised we kept moving to tame valvu. The final climb up to valvu was through a dense bush, where no path existed. The guide said Valvu is just behind this bush, that was the command to CTC to walk right through the bush without an iota of fear. There it was, mighty valvu, and we atop it. The view that these tough mountains offer you is breathtaking. It is defenitely worth the climber’s grit .

the climb down…
DSC_0028_006 Chapattis for lunch at 2400meters, we start our climb or rather our run down. Thorns, bushes, stones, boulders nothing could stop us and we reached vellarimala in less that a third of the time it tookus to climb up. At vellarimala democracy prevailed when the group was decided to be split in to two. One group would continue their descent down and the other group will stay at the summit for some more sightseeing. From here my journey down continues with the first group. 26 of us continued our climb down, our target was to reach a waterfall enroute to camp for the night. 400 meteres of ascent and descent had sapped our energy and the prospect of having to trek 4 more hours to rest was not exactly fun.  The group began its climb downhill. I remember telling on the way up that coming downhill would be a breeze, but it was all but that, to step down a feet every step with a still heavy backpack. The group was slow, thanks to injuries. The journey was tough, thanks to slipping stones. We kept on as very little time was left for sunset.
one more step…
Just one more step, I kept telling myself;  Members kept slipping off their foot, twising your ankle was the last thing you would want in a mountain when you are racing against time. Finally we reached our intended campsite at dusk.  We emptied our backacks for soup powders, ready to eat food. Fire was started and the pot was bubbling, we had the taste of dinner with the marvellous soup (anything hot is yummy after a day long ordeal). Soup was served in cups fashioned out of water cans cut in middle (both the ends were used). Dinner was ready to eat MTR mixtures. Some members of the group had the energy and patience to makekichadi, while some set on make noodles ! 
Soon the group set about securing flat surfaces to sleep in. Though the night was less colder than tah day before at vellarimala, it still was cold for your cosy bedroom. Small camp fires were lit to keep the group warm in their bed and zzzzzz…..
back home…
The next morning (on the third and final day of our trek), we stared our descend down after a chill batch in the stream. The climb was interesting and easy as home was closer with every step we took.  The climb back to muthalampuzhalasted just over 3 hours. A sweet surprise awaited us when we walke in to the home were we had dumped our extra luggages, in what seemed like eons ago. The house keeper was ready for us with steaming noodles. After having our fill we spent the next hour washing off our tired bodies in the small but beautiful waterfall in his backyard.
The second group reached us an hour past noon, and we started towards to the smelly, polluted, dangerous city life.
Written by: Stalin Sathitharan
Organized by: Peter
Image Galleries:
Karthick Ramalingam
Dinesh nair
Ramesh Azhagar
Shyam Ramachandran



Copyright © 2015 • The Chennai Trekking Club