Post Trek Write Up from Adithya Prasad:
Before I start, let me just insert a statutory warning:
Trekking can get intensely addictive with EMPERORS. Indulge yourself in with care. Whoever agrees with the above cautionary note can proceed to read further.
Destination: Venkatagiri hills, Andhra Pradesh
Date: 19-20 November, 2011
Difficulty level: Moderate +
As the night gave way to the waking hours of the dawn, the sidewalk in front of Nathans café, Koyambedu got buzzling with a couple of energetic folks carrying their trekking gears around 12.30 am, sipping cardamom flavoured hot tea. Soon the groups from Tidel Park, Madhya Kailash and Guindy joined us in front of the café. As usual the regulars got into a friendly huddle in gaiety and started churning out the details of past adventures and the ones to come soon. Newcomers were quickly introduced to the group and all were ready, set to explore and celebrate the spirit of CTC at the Venkatagiri hills.
With a little bit of delays here and there, all the undertaking forms signed and cash paid, Arun - Prem signaled all of us to get into the cars. We had Balaji’s Mahindra Thar jeep, Praveen’s Volkswagen Vento along with good old Maruthi Swift this time! All gears, water bottles, food etc, were put inside the cars and we were ready to take leave. Strict instructions from Arun to the others driving the cars to “ follow the lead car and not miss the route.”
We had to manage heavy traffic on the highways due to a road accident and take a different route. After passing through various toll booths, trucks, and villages we reached Tada where we again got delayed due to traffic. Meanwhile, we all were introducing ourselves and getting to know each other in the jeep where I was seated. Some were listening to songs, some were talking about their previous experiences and others concentrated on the road coming ahead. When we reached the access road to Venkatagiri village we stopped for a while and took a small break. People with DSLR’s were busy shooting the sunrise, others with bottles in their hands went to off to remote places! :P
The common gears and food stuffs were taken out and distributed equally. Excellent food along with essentials like fruits, rotis ,pickle, buns and jam, chocolates etc, were grabbed up by everyone according to the quantity mentioned by the organizers. Santosh was spot on when he later renamed CTC as 'Chennai Trekking and Eating Club'. We were overwhelmed with the extensive food that we carried along that filled our tummies which would make any luxurious buffet serving look pale in comparison. If we were to rate the culinary experience in all of our treks combined this one trek could beat them all hands down. Big cheers to Arun and all the folks who had a hand in the food department!
Even after all this, as we proceeded to Venkatagiri village, we stopped by in few shops to have breakfast. We had super soft idlies and vadas there. The morning looked crisp, fresh and the rays of sun yet to shine through the blue sky and clouds scooting by gently in the breeze. It was further charged by the super energetic chatter that started by Santosh and his shouts of “Oru solo photo machi” being the centre of attention. With Santosh and his solo team engaging the whole group and stepping up the entertainment vibe, this trek looked already ‘ON’!
This being a trek onto hills with no streams made it quite a challenge for all of us. We had to manage with just 3 liters of water till we could get on the top of the peak. Finally we started to move one behind the other following the trail. We were climbing up really high, and within few meters of climb you can actually feel the rise in altitude. Breathing gets heavier and your pace slows down. Few start taking help of the sticks nearby for their support and others moved on slowly following each other and clinging on to trees, branches and stones for support. Introductions, photographs, jokes and water sipping followed up with an intense climb getting difficult by each step. At last we reached the first resting spot, which had a small naturally formed water pond. We all were shocked as no water was flowing through it and imagined the same on the top of the hills where we expected a small stream. Since a very few of us made it early to the resting spot, had to wait for others. We decide to have lunch here and everyone was busy sharing the jam n pickle packets with the rotis.
After few more group clicks, gossips and power naps we further proceeded to the top of the peak. After braving severe cramps on both the legs, hands pricked with thorns, with a heavy breathing and tired body, we reached the top of the peak. The view was mind blowing and awesome. All the tiredness vanished within minutes due to the chill gentle wind hitting on our faces and the breath taking views of the Venkatagiri village and the hills around us. We all were shocked to see the remains of an old fort on top of the peak which was built by the robbers to store their looty. We were informed by Arun later that this was the quickest group to reach the top of Venkatagiri peak ever in CTC until now. I was amazed at Chella sir’s speed and fitness at this age.
Next we started off with a cascade of activities. Some were getting all the water bottles together to fill it up from the small stream, while few were busy collecting dry logs for the camp fire. Others were setting up tents, unpacking the things needed for cooking and as usual few others started clicking pictures. As the sun was setting, it started to become more cold and windy. Arun and co got busy with cutting vegetables and cooking some mouth watering hot and delicious vegetable soup and biriyani. Three huge tents for most of them to sleep were erected. All sleeping bags, mufflers, jackets and torches were out. Finally Senthil called out for few us to assemble with the bowls for the soup. It felt really warm to have the hot soup on that cold night. Next came the delicious biriyani and within minutes it was all over. With our tummies filled, the happy bunch of us started the camp fire activity. People had collected loads of wooden logs and as far as I know, this was the biggest camp fire set up by anyone in CTC. Three cheers to all the emperors!! We had nice fun dancing around, posing for snaps, eating pop-corn, listening to Rakesh play the flute and of course the endless jokes on Santosh! After few hours of fun and frolic, everyone was tired and decided to hit their sacks to energize themselves for the trip back down the next morning. It was a very chilly night and dew was found everywhere around the tent. Anything that we touched was wet. The morning dawned upon and it was amazing to let the sun’s rays fall onto you. When Senthil was busy preparing tea for all of us, another photo session started off.
After a long walk and talk with Prem and Adithya Verma, it was time to pack up.Prem I am not revealing the games we played to find out who will fill the water :D . Hot mouth watering maggi for breakfast was ready and as usual it was licked clean from bowls in minutes. We cleaned up all the trash, packed and rolled the tarpaulins, filled water and got ready for the steep descent down. With the few final clicks on the top we started our journey back down.We were really fast as climbing down was very easy compared to the up. We were asked to wait near the first resting spot as everyone could have introduction session amongst ourselves and for a final group snap. Once everyone reached there, it was fun to let everyone talk about themselves and atlast after the final full 32 member group picture was taken, we decided to quicken our pace and get down as soon as possible.
Arun and Prem planned for an exploration of a waterfall near the foot hills. Another few hours and we were down near the foot hills. One group missed the trail and got lost at the foot hills but with the help of Arun’s whistle, google maps supporting I-Phones and Balaji’s Mahindra Thar, we were all able to regroup soon.Then it was decided to proceed further for the exploration of another waterfalls close by. By this time many were tired and hence only 16 out of 32 decided to go further. We bid goodbye to the group that left and with the help of Balaji’s exceptional driving, we drove off-road for about 8kms to reach the waterfalls. It was amazing to dip yourselves into it after two days of water crunch! After a quick dip and few clicks we left the place as it was getting dark and late. All of us were very equally tired too. After we reached the village, we had an awesome dinner at the village hotel. After paying the bills it was now time for us to bid final goodbyes and of course exchanged our contact numbers. Need to thank Balaji to dropping me back home.
It was indeed an awesome trek to cherish with the ‘EMPERORS’. Personal thanks for every one of them for making this trip a big successful and enjoyable one. Kudos to Arun and Prem for organizing such an ultimate fun filled and one of the most memorable trips of our lives. Looking forward to more such treks and explorations.