Secrets are always a favorite for humans. Secret trekking spot from CTC is doosra. All the Pre-Trek mails said were we will be starting from Bangalore around 10PM Friday, 29th April and return to Bangalore (Majestic) by 6AM Monday, 2nd May. Organizers (Ravi, Aditya, & Vinod) made all the travel arrangements so as the participants are not aware of the destination.
A total of 13 trekkers (so called) assembled at Majestic Bust Stand. As the trek is most suitable only for Bangalorians, and Chennaites has to take two days leave, there were only two participants (vetti guys) from Chennai. Adi, Bala, Benjamin (Monseiur), Chidambaram, Jinu, Karthi, Nagi, Naveen, Ramki, Ravi, Sameer, Saroja (our youngest), and Yugi were all backpacked and excited about the travel.
One of the Pre-Trek mails slightly hinted we will be around Mudigere. Even the regulars had tough time identifying the trek spot. For beginners, ignorance is bliss. Boarded the KSRTC trademark Rajahamsa bus and occupied every inch of the loft in the bus.
One good thing in using public trans is you will get all the necessary attention from the fellow mates (particularly girls). Unfortunately there were very few, but that is okay. Good boys don't have time for that. Last thing remember seeing from the window was 'Yashwantpur' and the next thing was 'Mudigere'.
Fellows said driver was driving like crazy and they couldn't think of sleeping. But for few of us, it was like a lullaby. Knew nothing about what happened in between.
Saturday around 5:30AM, GN4 officially started from Mudigere.A nice cool breeze at the foot hills of Western Ghats. Everyone had Tea/Coffee/Bun from a local tea shop. I thought auto is for (2 + 1). It was redefined that day. 13 + backpacks + 2 in two autos. Ghats road had all the peaks and valleys, twists and turns, and many of us had to alight most of the time for poor auto to move.
Around 30-40Km travel in auto, finally reached the starting point of trek. I guess it is Rotikallu. Distributed all the food and snacks. All set at 7:45AM. We were welcomed by a bunch of dogs and one stuck till the end. We officially became 14 now.
After some discussions and tests, we found the new dog as 'she' and named her Vinodhini (missing participant Vinodh). After some warm up climbs, entered a warm, humid forest region (at the end of the trek came to know it was Kabinale Reserved Forest). Breakfast (Nilgiri Cream bun) was on the move and settled nearby a stream for lunch (Boli).
Pre-Trek mails had some statutory warning signs - Malabar Pit Viper (MPV), Elephants, Leeches (last but not the least). It was the leeches which gave a tough time. At an average walking speed of 3Kmph, there were a hundred leeches that would have successfully climbed over every person. Cannot even think of halting for 5 seconds.
With no eyes and sophisticated radars, they were brilliant in tracking us and having us for dinner. Snuff powder, Kerosene, Salt, and there are quite a few life savers that helped us survive the attack. All were bleeding like a war zone.
First day itself Karthi managed to spot a perfectly camouflaged MPV in a twig. Thought MPV are big (at least 6 feet long). Actually they were no longer than half-a-foot. Such a small majestic creature.
Leaders had chance to witness few more vipers, but for the trailers, they were already into the bushes.
With the kind of humidity, amount of water we drink seems never enough. It sweats like anything and the body feels like in a pressure cooker. Streams saved us cool and quench whenever possible. After nearly 15Km of treks and trails, we camped near a stream. Found one huge rock to accommodate all 14 of us.
Everyone was having a dip in the stream. It was just before dark, people started collecting dry sticks for a fire. As already predicted, thunder was rumbling far. We knew it is not going to be much time before it hits us. Soup was made and served hot. It was like the tastiest soup ever. Then comes the masala papad. Innovative methods to fry the papad. Then preparations for avalakki.
Ground nuts fried, Ravi's magic masala added, aval, salt, oil, chilly - avalakki is ready. Just as the bowls were ready, so was rain. Everyone scrambled to the tarpaulin. First the bags were covered with another sheet. Had hot avalakki inside the tent.
Organizers' fear was heavy rain. That area was famous for weeks long rain and for us, it means tragedy. Stream already started swelling and we were holding the sheet with fingers crossed.
Finally after an hour, rain was merciful to give us a break. Everyone was ready to go under their sleeping bags. Tarpaulin was put 'ulta' and with our sleeping mats over it, everyone was in dreams in seconds. Rain said time out and started again.
People have to wake up from the deep sleep, cover their bags, shoes, and put a sheet over their head. Half-an-hour holding the sheet like this and rain gave a break again. Everyone back to sleep, then timeout, rain, going under the sheet. We were accustomed to the procedure; it was like a pit stop. Everything was so fast. It was around 3AM that rain finally called it off. We saw some stars on the sky, and we were at peace.
Sunday Morning, time for tea without tea powder and milk. Ravi made a trademark drink (yet to be named, patent applied for) with all biriyani masalas. Everyone was afraid this drink make all run to the bushes to take a dump.
But drink was good, best so to say. Had some soaked channa and ready for the day. Original plan was to do 2Km uphill, 2Km downhill and 15Km trail. Organizers were skeptic about participant(s) making it. Ombattu Gudda, the hill which we were supposed to climb was dropped. We took the jeep trail out to Gundya. Leeches again, blood again, war again.
We were fast today and we made to almost the end of trail before lunch. Had enough time to bath and bask. Ravi and Ramki found a new fall cum pool. All fought for Saroja's Tomato Gojju, Two packs of curd is all left. Had butter milk and within few hours we were back to civilization.
Guys had a final dip in Kempuhole-Adduhole and looted a local petty shop. Our dog (Vinodhini) was adopted the shop owner and renamed as Pinky. Some were happy and relieved to have the dog in good hands.
Some were unhappy to chain a free dog and put in bondage. With mixed feelings, all were eyeing for free utta in Dharmasthala. After long search for a decent hotel, at last settled for some hotel and had idly and meals. Only few minutes later came to know there is a very good restaurant near KSRTC bus stand. All were sitting on the steps of the bus stand, with Chidambaram and his torn shoe (we were just missing a plate before us, else would have made a huge collection).
Ravi and his Android displayed how close kin they are to Ramanujam. Around 10:30PM, bus started from Dharmasthala heading Bangalore officially ending our GN4 trek. All dispersed from Majestic with memories of GN4 and hopes of next trek.
Writeup by: Yugender
Photo album by : Ravi S Ghosh
Organizer: Aditya Kambhampati, Ravi S Ghosh, Vinod Varghese
Participants: Aditya, Balakrishnan Vinchu, Benjamin Coutand, Chidambaram, Jinu John, Karthikeyan G, Nagaraj mr, Naveen, Ramki, Ravi S Ghosh, Sameer Denjypady, Saroja Dileepan, Yugender
Expenses: Rs 971