Mission Dead or Alive/5 - DOA/5 - August 14 - 16, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009
Woke up on Sun afternoon 3pm after arriving back in Chennai Sat around 2am after one of toughest DOAs so far. We completed around 30km (approx) in a single day from 6am Fri morning till 9pm in the evening, non-stopping walking (except for 2 breaks) on a dry river bed without a single pool or running water along the trail without any sleep the previous night and just 3l of bottled water.
We started from Chennai around 8pm Sat evening, reached Rayachotti around 3:30am where we parked our vehicles and proceeded with 2 jeeps who dropped us at the Western base of the hills near Mudumpadu. Around 6am, we climbed up with 3L of water and no sleep whats-o-ever along a moderate slope through thorny bushes and reached the top of the hills around 7:30am, took breakfast and enjoyed the cool climate and views on the surround plains. We SMS-ed the 2nd team (which was planning to follow us the next day) the exact location of a narrow corridor where we were able to climb above the 25m high vertical wall which surrounds most of the western side of the Venkateswara hills.
We continued walking across the hills until we met the source of our target stream from where we proceeded downstream. Soon the sun rose higher and was soon beating down on us. The river was dry and the surrounding hills low which pointed to the fact that there was never much water flowing through this stream compared to the deeply cut valleys/rivers in South Venkateswara. Except for two breaks with 1 hour of sleep to partly recover from sleepless previous night we kept walking at a good pace in the search for running water or pools. Our water reserves soon resided and we ate apples, tomato's and carrots to satisfy our increasing thirst.
Around 2:30pm we reached a split where another big stream joins and took lunch. While most where taking a post-lunch 1 hour siesta, a few of us went upstream along the other stream which looked more promising to find water. We trekked for around 2-3km upstream and although it was dry there was clear signs of water below the rocky surface - lush green grass and smaller bushes (with short roots), presence of fresh animal shit and overall more presence of green trees on both sides of the stream. I eventually located two small pools used by animals for drinking purposes further upstream.
As the clock was indicating 4pm and the team was quite exhausted and there was no absolute guarantee to find running water upstream, we decided to proceed further downstream along the main river. The build-in Garmin map in the GPS showed a road around 2km East of the river. As progress was slower across the river boulders and with only 2 hours left before darkness we decided to climb out of the stream uphill towards the jeep trail. Throats were dry, muscles were tired, faces showed exhaustion, back packs with most stuff uneaten food and snacks were getting heavier. We finally reached the jeep track around 6pm where a milestone showed 11km to reach the highway.
We started walking at what seemed a never ending track. Soon it got dark and the time seemed to run slower and slower, each 1km milestone took a giant effort to complete. Arun called up the jeep owner who dropped us the previous day and requested him to pick us up with 30L of cold water near our exit point. We kept walking.... and walking.... and walking. Progress was slow, back packs were getting more and more heavy. We took frequent breaks for our tired feet and legs to rest. Water was no more.... throats were getting dryer...
At 9:30pm most of had reached the highway and we attacked the 30L of water bottles like animals. Around 10pm all of us were heading back towards Rayachotti when we were suddenly stopped near a forest check post and our story of students doing NGO work did not work. We were all requested to disembark the jeep and a long....long... 3hour interrogation followed outside the forest department office. It seemed we were near a location where smuggling and naxalites were common and so the official were very suspicious of our group, asking many questions about our identity and purpose of visit.
Back packs were searched, camera's where played back, trekking gear was investigated one by one and many many questions were asked. The usual lecture followed that we should have taken prior permission before entering the jungle. Our jeep driver was beaten up and a long verbal investigation followed by a several forest department individuals. After they got confident that we were just a bunch of IT professionals/friends who went for regular trekking they got less hostile and more friendly, offering us to stay for the night. Around 1am we all felt dead tired asleep with nearly empty stomachs as our plan to reach a dabha before closing time and enjoy chicken curry with parotta's was shot dead by now. Dead tired, everyone slept deeply and we woke up the next morning around 7:30am under heavy rains. After attending the flag hosting ceremony with all forest officials which behaved less disciplined then a bunch of school kids (the bamboo stick broking while raising the flag... ;-( ) . This was the fourth time we got caught by the forest officials and this time they were so kind to let us go without paying any fine. These guys were more friendly that their colleagues at Kodur.
After a quick group photo and some tea we were allowed to leave and resume our way to Rayanchotti. The entire Scorpio smelled badly as we were all sweaty and dirty from the previous day. We enjoyed a great breakfast around 10am filling our stomachs. It was still raining and chill outside so we kind of settled down to return to Chennai. Along the way we tied a big stick to the front of the Scorpio with an Indian flag which made many people turn heads as we passed through villages. When we drover further South the weather became dry and warmer so all of us, except two, decided to stop over near Talakona and take a refreshing dip in the pools/falls.
We enjoyed a sumptuous lunch at the Talakona parking around 2:30pm after which we climb up to the top of the falls and enjoyed a wonderful aqua massage under the falls above the big pool on top of the main falls. The top of the mountains were covered by misty clouds and it was pretty chill without any direct sunshine. We took another break and finally returned back down around 6pm visiting another small valley/dry stream with some beautiful big, long, twisted tree roots and small waterfall and pool enclosed in a rock formation. After taking some more group snaps in the trees we finally started our return at dusk around 7pm. We stopped over at Bliss and finally reached home around 2am fighting hard not to fall asleep behind the steering wheel.
Went to bed, slept till 3pm, called up a few and went off to Mahabs for some boating, swimming and some yummy dinner at a beach-side restaurant. When I entered my office at 9:30am this morning my GM asked me if everything was ok... seems like the en query on my employee ID by the forest officials had reached his ears also...
From the day peter put on the invite I was intrested  in joining this trek as i have never been to venkateshwara trek before and The pictures of great pools and water stuff ;( ;( he has posted over the past 15 days made me more crazy .... I was even worried that i don't know swimming and how iam going tho make it up ;(  The whole of  thu at office went off by thinking abt the trek with not even a single piece of work done for the day. Evening I reached koyembedu at 8.20 to find i was the first person there. vel reached next and then peter and others came at around 9.20 and finally we started around 10 and the car ride lasted for around 5 hours till 3 at which we reached raichutti ( hope the name is correct ;)) after parking the car at some place we took a jeep and headed towards the mountain base . remember arun telling the driver that we are going to visit a falls there.Poor driver was confused as he was not heard of any falls at that place ...
After getting down we walked around the base of the hills to find a suitable entry point. Most of the places were having veritcal drops and we finally climbed and found a suitable entry point in to the mountain .By the time sun was started to come up and I was very happy that the climb was made before the sun came up I asked peter when would we  be hitting water and the answer was "may be even two days " ;( ;( . i started to use my three bottles of water carefully from that time and was hoping that we would hit some stream soon ...
Then on we were walking in a dry stream which was supposed to lead us to a big stream where we  there could be water......
But all along the way there were no signs of water things were very dry ..
after long walk we found little water collected but was not usable ..
It broungt me thoughts of nagala4 where once we drank such water.....
Seeing that water gave me hope that good water is near and we shoound be hitting it
soon but the hopes vanished and the place was fully dried up the even the main stream
where i was hoping that water would be there was complately dry .
By then  everyone had a small nap because of overnight travel ...
After this the whole groups focus was about finding water and we were walking continously in hot sun with little reserves of water in hope of finding water.. We were then hoping that one more stream which was joinig this stream at some kilometers away would have water as the google maps showed then as watery ... All along the way peolpe used to talk about finding water and how we are going to go ahead with the threee day mission . Even we finished the tomotos and carrots that was to be supposed for nights dinner as we could not eat other food without water  Finally we found that there was no water in that stream also and then we decided to have rest and Peter and some others went in search of water .But they returned after some time with news that there is no drinkable water ...
Mean while the talk of the group was abount how we are going to exit .. i tried to push some cakes and bread as lunch but they dint go inside as there was no salaiva and left with no other option I  quit eating further .... Then Peter sugessted that we should climb about 300 metes and there is a jeep trial the climb was steep and with no water in hand i somehow struggled to reach the jeep trail and found out that we need to walk about 14 km to the road ...;( ;(
Then I started to walk slowly alonng the jeep trail .with no water and no food taken i stared to feel the cramps in the legs and  pain in stomach ...
It was like a endless walk after walking for 30  min i would find that i ahve just crossed 1 km ..;( I was coming at last and at one point the cramps got more problamatic and was strugulling to proceed further .To my luck arun and akshaya were with me and  we were walking slowly and also attempting to phone persons who had gone in frion to find if we can bring the jeep in ....... Then at point  around 7.45 we rested at a watch tower and by then we have informed  bastein and quickly  he dropped his luggage on the way to go faster to bring the jeep in to help me in ....
Then i was wating for nearly 1.30 hrs up to 9.30 without knowing when they are going to come.At 9.30 when the jeep came i rushed to have water after which i felt better ...
Thnks arun akshaya bastein vijay rose for  helping me out in time my need   ...
Then we were stopped at the forest office and i guees the conversations there already has been updated ..........;)
With good sleep the next day was more of a picnic to talakona to enjoy some water
and finally reached chennai at 2...
Great fun guys waiting for the next adventure ........... CTC rocks .....
Written by: Peter, Prasanna
Organized by: Peter
Image Galleries:
Karthick Sundararajan
Posted by: Karthick Sundararajan


Unny on: September 9, 2009 at 5:07 PM said...

interesting experience and nice read. its been a long time since i caught up with ctc blogs.
it will be great if you could put some information on the places (like distance from chennai etc.)
this is the first time i am hearing about all these sanctuaries.

looking forward for updates on ctc blog.



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