Write-up by vinayak jawalkar -
It all started as a planned Trek to Nagala East which eventually turned out to be the most thrilling and adventurous trek of Nagala. Find out how!
Here is how it goes… All the trekkers gathered Saturday early morning around 4 AM. The weather was great; rainy days in Chennai as well. I believe there were few drop outs due to bad weather. They really missed this Trek. Since I was amazed by the beauty of Nagala in October, I expected to enjoy the nature of Nagala once again in November. All of us travelled in three vehicles – 1 Van and 2 Cars. Met new friends during the travel and had tea as usual before reaching TP Kotta. We had our food items distributed and started our way to the Eastern part of Nagala. We started the trek at 9 AM in the morning. As soon as we started we had to cross the dam which had the water level high up to the hip level for all. Our organizers decided to use a rope to cross the dam. This was a just a slight indication of how the water level would be forest in the mountains. We then headed our way towards the mountain further. We walked a bit long expecting to reach our first resting point which would be the First Pool where we can enjoy the water and cool ourselves. Shockingly, there was no such spot visible as the entire place was flooded. Small streams through which all can walk turned out as flooded rivers that had water current to a high level. One of the highlights of the trek was to cross a stream so as to proceed. This was an amazing experience for everyone I guess since the water current was high. We had some brave folks in our trek (Sorry to forget their names) apart from organizers who were a helping hand to cross this stream (supposed to be one!) This was a challenging part of this trek apart from various other obstacles like loose and slippery rocks everywhere. It took a long while entering and exiting the mountain to cross these streams. Great Experience! Worth the time for everyone!
The entire plan changed. As projected, all the spots that were supposed to be visited seemed to be flooded and then raised a question as to how are we going to find a camp site. We had to avoid the stream, hence the organizers decided to climb up the mountain for a long time. It was quite adventurous as the path was not chosen so far (I Guess!). It was really great moments throughout the climbs. The weather was very pleasant with rain at times. After a good climb which gave us beautiful views of the mountains of Nagala, we had to go down for a snack/lunch break. The question about our Camp Site then! Our organizers set us an example of finding alternatives in difficult times throughout the trek. Yes, they found an alternate camp site for us which were not even seen in television. The way to the camp site - it was a bit thrilling itself. We never knew that the actual thrill of the trek was yet to come. We then reached the campsite around 4 PM.
The Camp Site! It was an astounding spot to have been discovered. It was a small cave that was made by the river. I would say that the camp site had kind of three layers. We can call it lower, middle and upper berths but, believe me friends, it was not as comfortable as the berth. Some of them found places to sleep, some of them found places to rest and some of them found places to just sit! It became dark. All we could hear was the sound of the water flowing heavily. The view was really wonderful where we would watch all the time the beauty of the water flowing through the rocks. I never expected that we could have maggi prepared for dinner as the camp site didn’t seem to be ready for one. The Maggi was superb in taste. It was an early dinner around 6 PM. Early to bed; early to rise seemed to work out in this trek. All the trekkers decided to rest their bodies. Luckily some of them in lower and upper level of the cave found quite a decent place to lie down. Unfortunately, the middle ones weren’t fit to lie down. Challenge is a Challenge. I could barely lie down the surface was really not good. I was a bit scared that I may doze off and fall into the river. So I avoided sleeping. Unfortunately, I had a terrible headache for 3 to 4 hours. I tried not to take a pill but the pain aggravated as I had no sleep even in the previous night. Finally I had to take a pill with no choice.
Rain started pouring like anything and the sound of flooded river and rain were good and bit scary in the darkness. Thrill starts now – May be around 10 to 11 PM, the rain became too heavy and the water level started rising gradually. Nature tested the trekkers on that night. The water level had risen to such a level that our friends in lower level had come climb up a level in that small cave. The water disturbed them in their sleep and it was scary. Few belongings were lost. It was a scary moment as the rain never stopped and the water level kept increasing throughout the night. The folks from the lower level managed to someone sit / lie down in a little higher level. The chillness and the water level made the trek amazing adventurous and scary. The question in everyone’s mind - What will happen if the water level increases further? It would definitely come up higher and we may end up just surviving the whole night. I would say – It was like as if we were trapped in the middle of the jungle. It was a real time experience for every one of us in the group. Throughout the night, I could see the lights from the torches flashing around everywhere to check the water level. Somehow I managed to doze off a bit as folks on my both sides were like a grip. We could see a new waterfall from the top of the cave because of the heavy rain. The night was a memorable moment in everyone’s lives. Though it was scary and breathtaking, it was one life time experience for all. Everyone must have had in mind – “When will the Rain stop? When will the Sun rise?” The test by Mother Nature was over. It was around 6 AM; everyone got up and felt a bit relaxed. My headache vanished. We had fruits for our breakfast and started back at 9 AM Sunday Morning. The way back was good with Great Spirit from everyone as all were happy to go back home. However, we still had a stream to be crossed which had high water current. Volunteers helped and it was an amazing experience for all once again while exiting Nagala.
We then reached our spot where vehicles were parked. We had to cross the dam before that. However, no one seemed to bother about having a rope to help after seeing thrilling moments in the forest. Most of them took a bath in the dam water after which we had returned to our vehicles and started back. Unfortunately, Ananavarathan Raj (one of the organizers) seemed to have lost his valuables during night. Luckily the Nature helped him get back his belongings after a few days in the same week.
One the way back home, in Utthukottai a wonderful shop was found. It was a bajji shop. The taste was lip smacking and was served in a teak leaf. One Bonda costed Rs. 1 and one Bajji costed Rs.2. No wonder all of us filled our stomach as much as possible with Bonda and Bajji with great tasting Chutney of 2 varieties.
The Trek was a memorable experience. It was unplanned which ended up really adventurous. The beauty of Nagala is always amazing. This was my second trek to Nagala East and it was completely different. I was hoping for a planned trek to enjoy however this trek provided me satisfaction to a higher level than a planned Trek.
Thanks to Raj Jacob & Anavarathan Raj - for your care and support. You did a great job in organizing this trek. An example of good leadership must be learnt from you. Wish to join you guys in the future treks.
Nagala East Trek – on the whole was an adventure filled with joy!