[write-up by Santhosh]
“Wooooooooow” is an irrepressible expression that manages to elude my lips every time I think about this magnificent trekking experience.
As a first timer to the trekking experience, I was very excited, not to mention a tad of worry and fear lingering at the back of my senses. These feelings instantly metamorphosed into a confidence as I noticed CTCians gathering together at our start point.
26 Brave Soldiers on an attempt to conquer The Ancient Ruins.
A few of us assembled at Koyambedu and Peter debriefed us on the action plan and gave directions to reach the base camp. We started at around 4.30 AM from Koyambedu as soon as all the formalities were done. On our way, Peter picked up other people joining us from Bangalore and Hyderabad at Puttur.
We stopped at a village near T.P. Kotta around 6.30 AM for a tea break as we waited for Peter to join us. Someone spotted a Petty Home-hotel nearby. We decided to finish our breakfast there. It was a hilarious experience. We were like elephants let into a sugarcane farm. 6 to 7 people shared one plate of food. This was my first time to share food with so many people whomI had hardly known for a couple of hours. The food was damn cheap. Idly was Rs. 1.50 and Vada Rs. 2.00. Yet the gang managed to set the record of hoarding food worth Rs. 150 in just minutes. Everybody enjoyed everything about the food.
After the plenteous breakfast, we set out in our vehicles for the base camp. The car that I was travelling in got a flat tire. I felt that did not appear to be a good sign. But the spirit of the gang was soaring high that the flat tire hardly made an impression on us. We quickly got the tyre changed and reached the base camp. The menu was stuff like Maggi, cream bun, sugar, etc., which was bought in by our volunteers.
Then Peter gave us an overview as to what the plan was. He showed a tall peak in the vicinity and that we were going to climb that. I was taken aback with surprise unlike the CTCians who wowed in glee. Fear and worry shook my confidence again.
We started trekking around 9 am by walking for 3 kms on plane ground to get to the base of the peak. The peak was 600 meters tall. We reached the peak at around 11.30 AM with a couple of stops in between. Vijay became my partner in crime during that climb. It is a big deal to fall back during a CTC trek but both of us did so. All the water that the both of us carried got over even before we reached the peak.
Fortunately, we found a stream nearby. The first thing to do in these circumstances is to refill your supply and drink as much water as you can which we did. We embarked on the long climb down following the stream through a lot of bushes, boulders and loose rocks, which seemed very adventurous. We found another beautiful pool within a few meters of walking and a 300m fall starting from the pool. We had our lunch and started to walk around the fall. The path had a lot of ups and downs. Again we found ourselves walking around in search of water, which lasted for a few hours. Eventually it became dark and we had to settle down in a place where there was no water around. There was a small trickle nearby to manage for the night.
I was completely exhausted and was almost half dead. All I needed at that point was rest. Peter and a few more people had gone to fetch water for dinner. The people who stayed back started to setup the camp site and made the fire for cooking. The people who went to fetch water came back. We started to cook. The menu consisted of soup and noodles. It felt like there was no better food in the world for a person in a place like that. We could hardly see what we were eating but we just loved the food. I was so tired and passed out. The next morning I heard that a campfire had been set up and people had fun till 11.30 PM. We had expected rain but there had been a slight drizzle. But that did not stop any CTCian. Everybody slept like a log.
Everybody woke up around 6.30 AM the next morning. Tea was prepared and we had. We were given two options. People who were too exhausted could exit through a trail to a nearby village. People who still had strength could continue. I opted to quit but people encouraged me to do it. I then decided against quitting.
We resumed the trekking around 8.30 AM. We started walking through a boulder in search of a jeep trail. We reached the exit point where people could head back to the village. But 22 brave soldiers prepared to continue their journey to the peak. Only 4 people had decided to quit. As we set out on our journey, we found 5 to 7 huts built by the local villagers out of which a few were destroyed. We relaxed for a few minutes near the hutments and resumed the journey again. We then spotted an ancient temple with an idol carved out of a single stone. Few shutterbugs crawled around the temple and we continued the journey. We found a pool on our way where we took a dip. We decided to finish lunch in the same place. After lunch we continued our search of the jeep trail.
What we had been deep in search for all this while was finally awaiting us. Yes! The jeep trail… we finally found it. Everybody was excited to see an ancient road. We were following the jeep trail for some time and found a destroyed bungalow, which was built in the year 1913. Again the shutterbugs popped out. We found a destroyed watchtower near the bungalow all the while following the jeep trail. The sun was about to set and we started our search for a campsite. Everyone went in different directions to search till someone in the group found a beautiful space near the stream. The campsite was definitely better than the previous one.
It was time to prepare dinner and everyone started moving around to collect wood and water, setup fire and spread the tarpaulin. A delicious Maggi soupy noodle was prepared. Before we finished the soup, mouth-watering Maggi noodles had been prepared. Thanks to our cooking expert Ram and the fire experts Sridhar and Senthil. After dinner, the campfire was lit. People like me who were exhausted slept.
People woke up around 6.30am. Hot tea was served and noodles were prepared for breakfast. Everything used for the campsite was packed. I started the day with a question “Are we going to continue the climb today?” I got a lot of different answers. We resumed our journey again and reached the nearby jeep trail again. We reached a fantastic viewpoint. We were in a quest to find the fort. So we spent some time in the viewpoint. The shutterbugs screeched once again.
We kept walking for some more time and we were surprised to see 2 small tents, which was used by the local villagers for storage. We moved back to the jeep trail and reached a beautiful pool. There was a huge waterfall from the pool. We spent around 3 hours in the pool and finished our lunch. Most of us were a little sad to see Tada from the viewpoint of the pool. It was just a few more hours of walking back to civilization.
We moved from the pool in search of the fort. We reached the defense wall of the fort. We kept following the defense wall. We finally found the fort. At last the mission for the weekend was accomplished. We spent some time in the viewpoint and took a small nap before proceeding to Tada with a downcast face. We will miss the fun we had for these 3 days.
We reached Tada around 5 pm. Peter and a few people got ready to take a final dip in Tada waterfall which was a 100 m waterfall. Everybody was practically running to get back before dark. There was excitement in everyone to the extent they even forgot to take their torches back with them. We waited for them to get back near a stream and we saw people coming back around 6.15 pm. Unfortunately 5 people in the gang who went to the fall were missing. Peter and Prem started to march again to the fall on a rescue mission.
In the meanwhile our car drivers were sent to pick up the cars from T.P. Kotta. Peter’s rescue mission was also accomplished. We started to the Tada car park and waited for some time. Peter could not sit anymore in one place and so we started walking towards the Tada check post. We set up a campfire in the road during which we shared some of our experiences. The cars returned to pick us up around 10.30 pm. Everybody was excited to get to a Dhaba where we had our dinner.
We departed from there and reached Chennai around 2 AM.
I really like to thank Peter for the wonderful opportunity given to me and for taking good care of us.
Thanks to Ram the chief cook.
Thanks to Nagin the co-navigator.
Thanks to Sridhar, Ramjan and Vipin who shared my weight and carried my bag.
Thanks to Prem, Arun, Ramjan, Vipin, Sridhar and Venkat who were sweeping all the way.
Thanks to Vijay (my Partner in Crime) who was the full time entertainer of the group.
Thanks to the whole gang Abhishek, Naren, Bharani, Samim, Hari (small & big) Muthu, Ravi, Sunny, Chaya (brave and the only girl of the gang) and myself who contributed whatever we could for the whole trek with a selfless nature. Without this wonderful gang I would not have completed my the splendid trek.
CTC’s Tada Trek was a stress buster and a true inspiration. There was indescribable energy in the group. Everybody was willing to push away beyond limitations at times. A million thanks to CTC for organizing such a splendid trip.
I have a lot more to talk about this trekking experience but I do not want to bore you guys more at this point J.
Thanks and Happy Trekking Guys