Peter Van Geit
Difficult Trek Thursday, April 7, 2011
35 registrations, 23 started the trek, 10 survivors.... Sharing a few experiences and visuals from last weekend's mission. CU all in the next one.
[Raj, a 46 year young trekker]
My thoughts on MIssion Nagada....
I have been trekking since Jan and Mission Nagada is my second difficult trek. To me this was the toughest. I am beginning to realise the experience is better in proportion to the tougher the trek is. Since my return my body is in bad shape because of the number of falls i had. The worst was my first fall. I had a back and shoulder pain that's making walking difficult now. i am sure it will get better soon but i really don't know how i managed 3 days. Mind over body may be. The experience is overwhelming. When i relate my experiences to my work or even personal life it makes me a better person and i am almost ready to face any tough situation. I feel gratitude towards a few people. people who looked out for me. Fellow trekkers who watched out for me. The comradeship is amazing.The dependence on each other so needed for survival. The bonding with the final team of 10 survivors was the ultimate. The search for water in the night, discovering a great campsite, sumptuous soupy noodles...its a lifetime experience. Every trek that i have done with CTC, 5 in all since January, is altogether changing my attitude towards life and is altering my perspectives.
I would like to thank Peter for all the effort in planning such an adventure. I am sure he had so much of home work and anxieties to deal with. Sleepless nights thinking about this trek and worrying about how he was going to lead a team of 23 people was evident in the way he led us without a single wrong turn. It was sad to see 10 people quit on the second day. Although it would seem natural to label them quitters or deserters, but i think the people who exited didn't see the efforts a few people had put in to oragnise a trek like this. I think they missed an opportunity to prove to themselves that they can overcome. Please pardon me if i offended anyone...that wasn't my objective. My sincere thanks to everyone. Thanks to all the 20 trekkers. I shall look forward to seeing everyone of you soon on another trek yours sincerely Raj Jacob
[Durai, a regular trekker with CTC]
Nagada mission was a true instance of decoding Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest”. This demanding mission torched us in the blazing sun; drenched us in the pool of sweat; sprained our muscles; tore our skin and nailed our flesh; left us with blood stains and even went on to challenge 13 trekkers making them to exit in the 1st and 2nd days. Still nothing could stop the 10 survivors who went through all these turmoil for 3 challenging days and proved the world that “mind can win over body” and CTCians i.e. professionals turning junglies in the weekend can also survive in extreme and challenging conditions.
On the eve of World cup finals were India was camping for its victory the Nagada mission started with 23 trekkers joining from several parts of Chennai on 2nd April, 2011 to complete the 3 days tough mission.
Day 1 – A gist of the blazing sun and the humid weather
As planned we started at 3 a.m and left to Nagalapuram East and started our trek following a stream and soon reached scenic water falls were we had to make a human chain which spanned across 50 meters to pass our bag packs and to climb the slippery rocks. This initial team work which we did ignited the magic of oneness within us.
The sun came out and started to torch us very badly still we found a pool in between gorges of the mountain and decided to have our breakfast there. Few of us dived inside the chill water and refreshed from the heat. Soon we started our trek and started climbing the mountain through a stream which started becoming thinner and thinner in size as we climbed indicating that there is no water on top of the hills.
In the afternoon the hot and humid weather condition’s effect on us was dreadful which made 3 trekkers to part their way out and leaving us now with 20 trekkers and exited safely.
We started our climb after the send off and soon the stream ran out of water and became totally dry and now we had to only depend on water bottled to survive. Every 100 meters trek consumed loads of our energy and was very challenging. Soon we reached the top of the hill which offered us some magnificent views of the Nagala valley; the Dam and villages nearby. But still we had to face the music of the climatic conditions as we were directly exposed to the Sun rays.
From there we started our hiking towards the 880 meters high Nagala south peak which offered us a view to most of the Nagala valley and astonishing views and made us feel proud that we are now at the top most point in the range. The pure and fresh breeze went through our nozzles rejuvenating our souls and refreshing our mind, may be this is the reason why monks disappear inside forest and tent on hills.
After having our lunch on top of the mountain we started climbing down in search of water and heading towards our camp site i.e. the famous “picnic pool”. Soon the march in the dry stream rewarded us with water trickling here and there and quenching our thirst. In the evening we had an encounter with a gorge which had deep water and quickly we had to transport the bag packs climbing over the gorge again the feeling of oneness and with the exhibition of team spirit we were able to cross another hurdle and we headed towards our campsite. Around 7 p.m we reached our beautiful campsite the “picnic pool” and we set our camp fire and prepared and had yummy soup and noodles.
Located in the central Nagala “picnic pool” is a 20 x 20 meters charming pool with a chill water filling the pool which is quite deep and permits swimmers to dive inside it from good height.
The night passed away very peacefully sleeping on the rocks along the stream watching the sky and I am confident that all the 20 trekkers would have been proud of themselves to realize that when the whole of Chennai got jailed in their respective four walls they had the opportunity to sleep on the laps of nature.
Day 2 – Fried in the sun and nailed in the bushes still undying spirits
The early morning rise up and scenic beauty of the forest was impeccable. We started diving inside the picnic pool and taking bath in the falls nearby and few of them enjoying their swimming and floating in the pool. We never thought that this day is going to be one of the toughest days in our lives and going to push us beyond our limits.
We started from the picnic pool and started trekking through the stream and we had to climb up the mountain because of the steep fall and after climbing 50 meters uphill we had to meticulously and cautiously walk on the cliff of the mountain for 200 meters which was terror some and the same time very adventurous. Sun started torturing us again with the temperature going high and making us to us pour and drenching our clothes.
After a very challenging trek across the gorges, streams and boulders we reached the dead end pool of the Nagala eastern entry and slowly one by one started dropping from the mission and the head count went from 20 to 10 trekkers who wanted to continue the trek and the rest wanted to retire. The retiring souls were sent safely through the eastern entry after ferrying their back packs through the dead end pool. The dead end pool was the last water point and we need to fill in our water bottles until we find our next water source as we head to the Tada range of mountains. The trek towards Tada range of mountains was a very tricky with full of gorges and made us to climb through greasy gorges with much thrill and excitement we successfully crossed the gorges and hit the dry streams. Climbing through these wonderful gorges was a very challenging experience for each and every one of us. We started our hiking through the dry stream filled with boulders and this stream actually divided the Nagala and the Tada range of mountains. While climbing through the mountains we heard a very loud noise of a gunshot and our guess was probably a poacher was hunting for some wild life. Quickly we disappeared from that place and entered the Tada valley. The sun was out and was scorching us to faint and we slowly started consuming little by little all our water and started trekking on top of the Tada Mountains.
We all got totally drained out since we were trekking in a climate which makes one exhaust very quickly and now we needed water and have to find some camp site to rest for the night. After the light fall we found water tickling in a dry stream and drank it to quench the thirst and we found a camp site on top of the mountain quickly we created camp fire, prepared soupy noodles and started having some brilliant conversations about star formations, trekking etc. etc. I should say that this is one of the best nights in my life lying on top of the mountain looking at the twinkling stars understanding their formations amidst chill breeze after a tiring trek in the roasting sun. Day 3 – Conquering the Tada peak The day started with not much target since we had covered most of the distance in day 2. We started trekking down the Tada hills and moved towards the falls before dipping inside two beautiful pools on top of the 200 mts Tada waterfall.
Soon we went on to the cliff of the Tada Mountain to trek along it and witness the 200 mts Tada waterfalls. The tricky trek all through the Tada Mountain was rewarded with beautiful views to the water falls. First time in my life I was exposed to such a wonderful view sitting on top of the waterfalls and watching it sprinkling down and watching the beautiful rock formations on the other side of the mountain. All were simply mind blowing. After enjoying the spectacular views which nature had to offer to us we started our climb down to hit the Tada main stream. I should confess that it was a very rough and bushy terrain and at times we had to cross stepping on the cliff of the mountain but at the end it was really interesting and very adventurous. As soon as we reached Tada we saw the main Tada water fall heavily polluted with garbage’s and bottles. We marched ahead to hit the gorge pool and swam across to hit the water fall hidden inside it and had some best moments in those crystal clear water and we hit back to Chennai through public transport.
It is these challenging days in life which teaches you to face life boldly and courageously and takes one to higher levels. As my body became stronger in every step I took my mind and inner soul also grew stronger with every view I saw and every drop of fresh water I drank and fresh air I breathe. Life has always been good with CTC and this time it was fabulous memories for me to treasure throughout my lifetime. None of the above cited incidents would have been possible if not for our Adventurous Peter who has meticulously planned the entire trek to the greatest possible detail. Thanks for providing us a life which none could even dream off. I admire you a lot for your leadership qualities and for your navigation skills. As usual looking forward for the next trek Peter.
[Vipin, after 2 easy treks in CTC, the experience of his first tough mission]
Day 1- level moderate+ passing the bags forming a line and climbing the slippery rocks was the first surprise I had in this trip. I never thought we will take such a route until I heard Peter saying "Pass your bags"!
The picnic pool was great. nice place to camp. I envied some people jumping into the pool at night before and after having the dinner. I had to wait till morning to jump into pool since I didnt know swimming.
In the whole trip, the journey through the stream line was the most draining and interesting part for me. full of boulders and its so exciting to jump from one rock to another. and some small pools on the way for us to take a dip and relax before resuming the journey.
Day 2- level tough. In the second day, the journey started slow. We spend lot of time, till the dead end pool. It was a natural wonder. so well carved by nature. We didnt take a dip there. The 10 people retired from there. Peter and some others accompanied them for helping them to transport the luggages and show their way. I waited on the other side with others. lied down in water for some time to escape the heat of the sun. hugged a rock for some time asking for help to survive the next two days..:)
Once Peter came back we started the journey, which we never thought will be that tough. Peter asked us to fill all the water bottles. My bag weight increased by around 5 kg suddenly(3 liters of water + some common food items). It gave me a shoulder pain by afternoon. but there was no other option than to walk till the next water source. We had to get to water source before night. Peter kept saying "yummy soupy maggi noodles is waiting for us" and it helped us to forget our pain. After walking along stream for some time, we started climbing a hill and then started walking in north direction on top of hills. the heat of sun was testing our last bit of endurance. Peter kept on updating how long we have to go, with the help of his gps device. knowing that we are making some progress was real helpful for me.
though we were really tired we didnt want to take much rest in between. because once it is dark the speed is gonna drop terribly and it will become really difficult to reach the camp site. So we kept pushing ourselves. luckily by the time it was night we started trekking down the hill to the nearest stream. We reached the stream in some time and started walking along the stream expecting some water. In some places there was stagnant water and for crossing it we had to move along the rocky walls of the stream. It was difficult at night, carrying one LED torch.
Finally we reached the place where we found some running water, and decided to spend the night there. Peter and Bala went ahead to see if some other nice place is in the front. but it was a dry stream and we decided to camp near the stream. Peter still didnt want to give up and after a quick search, he found an awesome place on the hill top(around 50m altitude) from the stream. we went there with our water bottles filled to make soupy noodles. It was great. hats off to Peter's recipe. Peter, please share it man. I wanna cook the same in my home..:)
After food we had a camp fire. there was plenty of firefood nearby , so it went well. Peter took our interviews and we told our experience about the trek. Bala recorded everything. After some chit-chat everyone went to sleep looking at the sky filled with stars. the frequent cool breeze chilled our bodies till our bones. great night..
Day 3 - level average+ (i call it relatively a chillax day) : Morning we had the yesterday nights noodles and awesome tea. Thanks to Durai for making the tea. It was great. We had some buns, rusks along with it. After the breakfast we started moving toward the Tada falls. It was nice trail since along the stream we saw many small pools. As we were closing to the Tada falls we were forced to say "awesome", "great" , "hoohaaa" etc seeing the pools and small water falls. took a dip in most of the pools since we had enough time. comparing with the day 1 and day 2 , it was chillaax day. I liked the way Peter planned the trip.
As Durai said, getting down from the top of Tada falls was a difficult part(we had to go 200m down). More than the terrain it was the thorns that blocked our way. We had to very careful. I got many scratches in my hands in that journey alone. The most depressing part of the journey was when we reached the Tada falls. I couldnt stand there after having peace in the last 2 days in forest. there were lot of people shouting continuously, the whole place was filled with bear bottles and plastics, and it was filled with shit smell. I wanted to take a dip under the falls and get back to the nearby village as fast as I can. I should say that the tourists in Tada have made it extremely unpleasant for me. And thats it. The trek was a great experience. It was my 3rd trek(after 2 easy treks in Nagala) and I realized that Peter's trek is in an entirely different league. Well planned. good leadership. good navigation skills. he knew the forest so well(it was a like a maze for me). If I have missed something, others please fill it in. Hope to see you guys on another trek.
Peter Van Geit
Difficult Trek Thursday, April 7, 2011