CTC's fifth ladies trek, Venkateswara, July 24-25, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The last weekend has been a memorable one for me thanks to CTC. It all started the day i signed up for the Ladies trek LT05 to Venkateshwara hills with CTC. Being my first trek ever, I was totally excited about it and was harping about it to everyone who i spoke to in those 2 weeks! I had already made my first friends from CTC even before I could meet any of them (with the help of Google). I was shocked when Neetha, the organiser, called me a week ahead and told me that there were 35 ladies who had signed up and they are expecting more! I had not even imagined trekking with a group so large!! We were 3 girls from Bangalore who were to join the rest of the gang at Tirupathi. I met Samyukta and Sangeetha at the Majestic busstand at Bangalore and at 11pm boarded our Rajahamsa bus which rolled along at snails pace.

We reached the crowded Tirupathi busstand at around 6.15am (almost an hour late..but I must say it was done in good time looking at the speed at which the Rajahamsa covered the distance). I was all excited about meeting Peter (about whom I had read a lot in all the CTC blogs) and the CTC group. And I dint have to wait too long before a group of people turned up in Peters car. We had a quick breakfast and then proceeded to Talakona. And man what a drive that was!! I did some things that I would never ever have imagined even in my wildest of dreams!! Just as we reached outside the crowded city, people vanished from inside the car and then i see them hanging outside the windows and climbing onto the roof of the car!! I wished I could do the same but held myself back since I thought I should behave like a lady on a ladies trek. All my inhibitions went flying out of the window as I saw Sakthi get up and push herself out the window...This was lesson number one...No inhibitions at CTC! And need I say more? The next minute I was out of the window...the wind blowing onto my face...hair flying wild...the wierd looks from the villagers dint bother us at all. But what did hinder the drive was the cops who caught up with us just as we were reaching Talakona. Peter along with Shailaja and some other guys managed the drama with the cops even as we girls enjoyed a round of post-breakfast Dumbcharades. They confiscated both the cars that we had and only allowed the vans to drop us at the reserve forest and get back to the police station.

We did a lot of climbing and walking till we reached a point where we could have lunch. There was yummy puliyodharai and curd rice that Neetha had brought along for us. Lunch done, we started off the more difficult part of that days trek...along the stream. Boulder hopping sounds too casual a thing but believe me its not easy as it sounds! I fell off the rocks into the water at least twice. We reached the camp site at 7pm and what a place that was! It was a beautiful valley surrounded by steep hills on both sides...a small pool and a waterfall just beside our campsite and then a steep fall in the rocks beyond our site. We had camped bang in the middle of a dry stream...and if the raingod decided to be generous with Venkateshwara hills that night he would be washing 30-odd pretty women right down the hills! Neetha made us some heavenly coffee of which I could never have enough. It was followed by a sumptuous meal of steaming hot pongal and then we plonked ourselves onto the rocks next to a lovely campfire that was lit..Some still had the energy to dance and sing round the fire! Raingod did threaten us that night with light drizzles but our men were ready to combat it with the Tarpaulin tents that they setup for us. I remember the ease with which Thilak said if it rains heavy we just need to climb up these rocks quickly and get ourselves out of the valley! I almost fainted on hearing that...climbing up a 90 degree incline on a rainy night after having walked the whole day...was by no means a first time trekkers piece of cake!!But that again dint deter the ladies from having their fun..there was laughter ringing in the air till late in the night...someone shouting for a game of Antakshari and Mafia...But it all sounded like a distant dream...we were fast asleep like babies in Mother Nature's lap.

I was awakened the next morning with the beautiful song of a bird and the sound of the waterfall next to our camp. It was the most beautiful thing to wakeup to. I spent the next half hour or so in trying to make a recording of the birds song and the music of the waterfall on my mobile (I'll probably use it as my alarm so i can wake up to it each morning!) and then started the day with steaming hot coffee. It was a task to get the firewood burning for the coffee and we techies realised how much we knew (or dint know) about practical living! Then some of the brave souls undertook a tougher trek down the steep hills into deepest valley. Of course they were rewarded with some amazing views but being a first timer and not aware of my own limits, I decided to give this one a skip. Much as I loved the place, I definitely dint want to spend the rest of my life in the deepest valleys of Venkateshwara! We instead played in some of the smaller pools halfway down. And then returned to the camp to make some maggi for ourselves and the rest of the gang that would soon return. The return trek was even more challenging with the last part of it being a steep 100m descent after dark. Some of us got lost on the trail, the GPS stopped working and the maps were almost pulp coz they had fallen into the stream. But why fear with Peter around? He got us onto the trail in minutes. The thought of the narrow paths in the last stretch with nothingness beyond our shoulders makes me shudder even now! I cant believe I did it and came out alive. In spite of all of it I still remember how full of energy i was at the end of the trek. I was mentally ready to do another 2 days..that i wasnt able to budge from my bed the next day was a different issue altogether. Monday was an all-muscle strike and I had to bunk office and sleep at home.

In all it was an exciting weekend that went way beyond my expectation of a first timers trek. Thanks to Neetha, Samyuktha and Sangeetha for making me believe that I could pull this off. Also thanks to Thilak, Alex, Hari and Gouri who helped me live up to that belief and to Aravind for bringing us back on time to the Tirupathi busstand(he drove at mad speeds down the hills to get us on time). Neetha did a wonderful job with organising the food and stuff as well as guiding the group during the last part of the trek. Peter, thanks for the guidance and help at each difficult stretch. Thanks CTC in all for all the lovely friends i made during this trek. Last but not the least, thanks to the UFX guys for the coverage and entertaiment. This was one memorable trek for me and I hope to do a lot more with u guys!


Hi friends,

It’s me Saranya here. I first of all thank Peter for organizing such a great club – “CTC”. Hats off to him!!!

I registered in first few days itself for this Trek to Venkateswara and I was just dreaming for the whole 24 hours abt trekking, as this is “My First Trek”.

DAY 1: Atlast the awaited day has come, its Early Morning 4:00am July 24th ’10, my pickup point was at Madhya Kailash. I first met Shailaja (telugu speaking girl) n we became friends. Then came my dear friend Kirubha (a spl thanks to her as she only invited me for this trek). The tempo traveler came n we all started our journey to other pickup points. We had lots n lots of fun, chatting, making new lifelong friendships. At Koyembedu all the participants met each other, posing to cam, having tea and our real journey started from there. My new friends are Suman (a awesome lady. I really admire her beauty, laughter n speech), Ramya, Sreyaa, Sailaja, Karthik, Thilak, Nithya, Neetha (our organizer) n few others too.

On the way to Talakona falls from Tirupati we were chased by police n caught for the reason we were not sitting inside but hanging outside the two Tempo travelers, Peter’s Fortuner n UFX’s Bolero :). We all have to thank Thilak n Shailaja for speaking in telugu with police officials n saved us from big trouble. Meantime we had our “BRUNCH” (Idly, Sambar n chatni) and again started the journey towards our destination base camp in two tempo travelers.
We started our trek after a photo shoot in base camp. We had a tough challenging 100m stepwise walk towards the top of Talakona Falls. My god we all were exhausted somehow we all made it. Flat walk continued along the jeep trail for more than an hour. Walking-Walking-Walking. We few girls Meena, Nithya, Swathi, Shailaja, Samyukta, Sangeetha, Nivya n myself were leading the team. We walked a bit fast n stopped at some points n waited for others to connect the chain. At a point in between the jeep trail around 3pm we had our lunch (Puliodharai & Curd rice). Peter said “After lunch we will start our real trek, which is not a flat trail” OMG!!!

Now we all followed Peter’s way as he knows the correct trail. We saw awesome scenic around n clicking pics. After some distance a steep falls, we need to get down there to proceed, how is it possible?? But we all made it possible with help of Peter, Alex, Thilak, Karthik, Hari n Gowri. Now starts the boulder hopping along the river bed for 2 kms, again we few fast walking girls were leading the group. It was getting slightly darker. Our aim is to reach the Camp Site before dark. YEEAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! We found it. We stepped into our camp site. All were happy!

After a great struggle of getting all the ingredients, Neetha started preparing coffee and dinner for us. Meantime the fun time of dancing n singing by Kirubha, Sailaja, Ramya, Suman n Priya was around the camp fire with photo shoot by Karthik n Video shoot by UFX with Sheriff. Then we had the tasty coffee and yummy “Pongal n Pickle”. Meantime Peter n Alex went back to bring Ela n Aravind to our camp site. Few girls slept soon n others were chatting n playing. It slightly drizzled. Thilak started building the Tent n we girls helped him. Since I was a bit tired, I slept inside the tent. Few others were still chatting n slept around 4:00am. Thank god the rain stopped as we all prayed for it. Though I was sleeping inside, I woke up in a sudden by hearing Suman’s continuous laughter (don’t know the reason behind it!!!)

DAY 2 : Morning we had coffee prepared by Neetha again, meantime Ela n Aravind with Peter n Alex reached the camp site. All had breakfast n started moving towards the pool. My god what a scenic view!!!!! It was like a dream. We had photo shoot on top of the 50m high falls. And now it was a very challenging task to reach the base of the falls. We have to crawl down the mountain. It was a real risky task as there was more loose rocks. I really have to thank Karthik , Peter, Thilak, Alex n Gowri. Few girls only took the challenge n reached the falls, I’m one among in it :) It was the worth treat we had after the risky task. Had a great dip, enjoyed to the core. After some photo clicks we crossed the same task, with help of the guys again.

Meantime others who haven’t came to the falls, went back to camp site n had a dip in the pool nearby. Thanks to Leo n team for preparing lunch (noodles) as we came back tired from the falls. We all again had a dip in the nearby falls (it was a real fun).

All started packing their things, it’s time to leave the camp site. Now we all felt it easy and took less time to reach all the destinations (like crossing the river bed in boulders, climbing back the steep falls). Thilak was leading us (8 girls), at a point we found that “we are lost from the trail” …. But “NO” we reached the jeep trail. Walking-Walking-Walking. We took a break at the end of jeep trail/starting of challenging 100m step wise down walk. Again photo shoot by Karthik n Video Shoot by UFX with Sheriff. It was getting darker now. All the torches were on. But I dint had one, so myself n kirub walked along with karthik, only with his torch light we could have did it. I’m proud to say “I reached first the base camp with help of my mobile light from half way of the 100m stepwise walk”. All went to their respective vehicle. Went back to the police station to get back the Fortuner n Bolero. I reached home by 4:50am.

Had a great trek!! Tons of thanks to all my co-trekkers to made it a great event.

See u all again in “SAVE TADA - Aug 8th”



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