Palani Hills Exploration, Oct 15-16

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mission PX/1 captured by Durai in words and visuals -
Drenched in the melody of the birds; caught in the beautiful sight of the peacock’s; walking beside the huge mass of icy water; loving the aroma of the wet sand; adoring the misty atmosphere; admiring the peak which is penetrating into the sky, a bunch of CTCians started their exploratory trek into the Palani hills. None had the wisdom to predict or the guts to reject the “love and adventure” which the Western Ghats had on store for us.

The outline of this two day adventure was to hit the Permual mountain peak lying at an altitude of around 2,250 mts cutting through one of the side-stream of the Palani hills which is less known to mankind and waiting to be explored. Starting our trek at an altitude of 400 mts to hit the peak, the trek had all flavors which a trekker would aspire for and term it as “this is a trek to be cherished”

Bouldering and splashing in the charming streams:

Like every other exploratory trek this mission also started along the gorgeous stream passing through the wet and lovely woods; jumping on the boulders, running on the grasslands, diving in the beautiful water pools, bathing in the rejuvenating waterfalls.

The size of the boulders as we started our hike started increasing and at most of the places it was wet and gave us numerous challenges to proceed ahead. Unmindful of these huge boulders and slippery rocks we kept heading ahead to discover those beautiful pools and streams which was flowing through the valley. Splashing in the ice cold water pools we moved into the woods to trek along the side of the stream. A perfect beginning until we started facing our encounters.

Encounter with a huge waterfall:

Walking along the ice cold stream and climbing the greasy rocks roughly in the afternoon of a misty day – witnessing the numerous small waterfalls we first discovered that the stream is dropping from a height of almost 25 mts with a big pool in front of the fall – it was a moment of surprise watching this master piece of nature unfurl in front of our eyes. The mere sight of the falls attracted us and provoked us to jump inside the pool and in no time the experienced swimmers were at the base of the falls to feel the spine chilling water hitting them hard. Indeed, the lifelines of CTC treks are these beautiful waterfalls hidden deep inside the forests.

After admiring the beauty and taking couple of pictures I now decided to swim across to hit the base of the waterfall and I should confess “the spine chilling water re-energized my entire body; rejuvenated my inner soul; my body was crying for something hot but my heart never wanted to leave this ice cold water which was breaking my body into pieces, I was completely engulfed with chillness and after sometime getting hit by the waterfalls I reluctantly decided to swim back to the shore to continue the trek. Indeed, this was a sweet encounter to cherish unlike the other ones which were waiting for us in the day.

Innumerable blockades and the rock-hole encounters:

Even in the wildest of our imagination we would have never thought that we are going to face soo many blockades which would stand as threat for us in proceeding ahead. There were places where we had to throw our bags into holes and sneak through them to proceed ahead. Indeed, these challenging moments made the trek even more en-thrilling for the entire squad.

We had to sneak into few holes in the rocks to move ahead, we almost became like rats to crawl through these holes in the mountain. The innumerable blockades did not permit us to trek forward. Once, we encountered a place with mammoth slippery boulders which never permitted us to move ahead and we have to spend around 1 hour to just find a way to get rid of this blockade and finally few climbed up that slippery boulder and we had to pull the group using tarpaulins as the rope. It was one of the best encounters which I have come across in the recent times in my trekking life. While perching on to the rock I realized that if I slipped from there I will fell down just to be broken into pieces but the thrill was rewarding – worth the risk which some of us took.

Endless night on top of a waterfall soaked in chill water; shivering body; witnessing the first flash flood:

The sun was settling down for the day so was our body which wanted rest after a tiresome and arduous trek precisely when we encountered a beautiful cascading waterfall slipping through the mountains carrying chill water. Watching this beauty unfold in front of our eyes amidst a dense jungle in between the mountains was one of the best moments of our entire trek. Indeed, these sceneries pull us again and again to these natural hot spots.

We almost settled down for the day after preparing and having some hot soup and noodles when the nature warned us with lighting and thunder storms creating wearisome in our minds.
Me and my tent mates spreading out a tarpaulin sheet were lying on the top of the cascading water fall close to the stream and witnessing the glittering stars doing the magic on the sky and slowly the stars were engulfed with pitch dark clouds and around 9 p.m it started to drizzle. Within no time it started pouring down ‘cats and dogs’ and we had no other option except to cover ourselves with a tarpaulin sheet. Slowly the ice-cold water started to trickle inside our tarpaulin sheet and completely drenched our sleeping bags and our clothes. Now completely soaked in the chill water our body slowly started becoming cold and there was no sign that the heavy down pour will rest now. I opened up the tarpaulin to see what is happening outside, the stream which was running almost 6 feet away from our side earlier has come closer to the place we were lying down.

Soaked in the chill water and shivering in the frosty breeze our bodies slowly become numb with rains showing no mercy hitting us very hard. Now slowly we started to realize that the water is flowing underneath our tarpaulin sheet and if we continue to stay here we will be washed away in the flash flood. Within no time we just wrapped up whatever we could get in our hands and rushed to an elevation in between the rocks. It poured and poured and we witnessed how flash flood occurs in forest right in front of our eyes. There was not even an iota of dry place for us to even sit throughout the night we had to literally squat underneath the tarpaulin with the heavy rain slashing us apart.

The next day early morning we were shivering with cold had no other option except to wrap up our bags and to continue our trek. Although it was tricky for us to cross the stream we were able to do it and we started our hike through a estate to reach the palani ghat road. Quickly preparing and having tea we left to the Vadakounchi village in a narrow human trail.

The ice-cold bathe in the spilt waterfalls:

Following the trail which is taking us to Vadakounchi we encountered another appealing waterfalls which invited us to take a dip and splash out with no second thoughts almost all jumped into the pool and took bath in the water fall. The chill water flowing from the valley above refreshed our entire body and gave us energy to proceed ahead, with heavy heart we had to leave this beauty and had to trek ahead to reach the remote village in the Palani Mountain.

Deadly hike to the Permual mountain peak braving the bloody leeches and heavy down pour:

It started pouring again when we decided to start our trek from Vadakounchi village. The villagers were starring at us in a weird manner and I can silently sense them saying “are these guys insane to trek to Perumalmalai peak in this pouring rain”. For the kind of spirit we carried with us this rain or for that matter even a thunderstorm could never stop us.

Un-battered by the heavy rains we marched through the heavily leech infected area and within one hour of our trek almost all our legs were bitten by the blood thirst leeches and every one’s leg sported in red colour, with leeches perching on to our skin. Yet, we did not want to give up and we kept hiking towards our target to hit the Perumal mountain peak, within 2 hours of non-stop trek inside the pine forest we reached the peak. It was a moment of glory for the team making this trek successful after passing through several challenges and hitting the peak lying at an altitude of about 2,250 mts.

Still the mission is In-complete:

Due to paucity of time the explorers were not able to complete the trek as planned and missed the 150 meters high waterfall discovered during Ex/4 mission. “Cannot be explored” or “Incomplete” are words which a true CTCian is averse off. With the unconquered palani valley left to be explored am waiting to capture its beauty with my third eye and pen the thrill coupling it with my imagination while walking along with a couple of like minded CTCians lead by the “trek guru”.

Am waiting to fly with the peacocks, sleep beside the waterfalls, listen to the humming birds, walk inside the pine forest, fly high in the smell of the wet woods; stare at the herculean bison’s; escape from the flash flood and take bath in the sky high waterfall. Nature is waiting for me as my heart is still dreaming for Palani exploratory 2 mission….

Happy Trekking,
Durai Murugan

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