Write up from Rajendran for SIMPLY EAST: NEW YEAR:
Had enough of those noisy New Year bashes, all night booze and dance in the pubs. I really wanted to celebrate this New Year in a different way. But couldn’t finalize any plan till the 29th of December and I almost felt this New Year eve is gonna be the same as those gone by. But it was then I got CTC`s mail which said that registrations are open for a two-day moderate trek to Nagala East “Simply East”. I didn’t have to think much before I posted my registration. Though I was not sure whether I will be shortlisted, I didn’t even think of a Plan-B for this New Year. Later, I got to know that there is a problem of conveyance for the trek and CTC may not be able to take everyone for the trek. So, I found myself in the waiting list. But we managed to arrange a minivan that could take all of us for the trek. We had one evening to purchase all the trekking stuff and pack my bag up. It was raining heavily and the Thane cyclone had managed to restrict half of the Chennai population to their homes. There were many who tried to dissuade me from going for a trek under this weather conditions. But I wanted this badly. Bought all that stuff I wanted, packed my bag and yippiiieeee!!!!! I’m gonna go trekking the next morningJ.
The next morning, I reached very early at koyambedu and was waiting for van. Hey! I forgot to tell, this was my first trek with CTC and based on what my friend said, I had much expectations from CTC. Came to know that there are a lot of dropouts because of the Thane cyclone and rain. The final head count was just 14. To the guys and girls who dropped out- “You missed a lotttt guys and can’t do anything about it”. We trekkers from Chennai got introduced among ourselves and started from koyambedu a bit later than the scheduled time. En route to Nagala, the Bangalore guys headed by Vishal joined us at Utthukottai. We had tea and biscuits there and we continued. When we reached the village at the foothill of Nagala, the Sun was out there shining. We felt that it didn’t rain much there in Nagala. But there was a lot left to see before we confirm that. The Thane puyal had done its magic on this beautiful mountain range and Nagala was at its Deadly Best… You can very rarely see Nagala this way. Greenery all around, rocky paths turned into streams, little streams became rivers and the places where water used to drip from rocks were now gushing waterfalls. Indeed Nagala is the heaven on earth.
After distributing the cakes and chocolates which Sankarji and vishal had brought for us, we started our trekking. It was sunny and was not so cool at the foothill, but as we went up it became cooler. We moved through thorny green forests, crossed little streams, ascended and descended rocky cliffs to reach the 1st pool. The first pool took us by surprise. The pool which is normally shallow and can be very easily crossed was flooded with water. It was impossible to cross that one. We rested for some time and had cake and chocolates. Our group was a mix of freshers and experienced trekkers, but none fell behind at any point of time. We never had to wait for anyone to catch up.
With the first pool overflowing, we were left with no option other than finding an alternate route. Here started Nagala exploration. We trekked many a kilometres through dense forest with thorny bushes and climbed steep dangerous rocks as we moved ahead. We had to cross certain streams in which water was flowing with such force that if we lift our legs in water for more than a second, we`ll be washed off. The experienced trekkers helped the others to cross such streams. We neared the dead end pool. Sankar and shon went to check the dead end pool while we waited. They were back after some time saying that there is no dead end pool but only a dead end full of water all around. So we headed to the sliding pool.
Camp site near sliding pool
It was almost evening when we reached on top of sliding pool. We decided to camp there. Sankar is a good leader and a great organiser but then we saw another talent in him. He is an expert cook. We were ready to have a late lunch. He made bhelpuri within minutes and it was awesome. Then he made aval payasam and that was yummy too. After lunch we moved around, some dived into the pool while some went up chasing the source of the stream.It was getting dark and we started making the tents. The we started preparing noodles+pasta and tomato soup. We didn’t expect we`ll get such tasty food in the trek, but sankars preparations left us fingerlicking. After a dinner and chitchat for some time, we moved in to our tents wishing happy new to each other. Some of the guys decided to sleep outside. But it was getting colder and colder. Each of them who were lying outside wanted to go inside the tent. But everyone waited for the others to say that. Finally when the cold became unbearable one guy shouted “We`ll go inside”. That was followed by a chorus “Yes, we will go inside the tent”
Tent sleep and the 3 A.M rain
We slept well till around 3` o clock in the morning when it started raining heavily. Even after an hour therain didn’t subside. It was a test of the leak proof engineering design of our tents. At around 4.30 in the early morning, water seeped into one of the tents and we all felt our backs getting wet. We all woke up and it was real fun seeing water running inside our tents. After sometime Sankarji managed to remove the water from the tent and we rearranged our sleeping mats and slept again.
Day two Morning- The refreshing dip and the heavenly falls
We all got up in the morning straightaway we were out to enjoy the sliding and magic pools- some of them slid down to the pool while some dived from top. The water was very cold and it was a refreshing feeling in the morning. After all this fun, it was food time again. Had a strong tea and Maggi. Then came the real highlight of the trek. We decided to go up the stream. As we went up and up, we could see a series of waterfalls. Organizers said these were all formed because of the Thane rain. Standing below the jet of these milky waterfalls, one will forget everything else in the world. Will feel like standing there for the rest of your life. We climbed up again until the start of the seven obstacles. There we could see the highest waterfall of the trek. Sankarji told this waterfall used to be just drops of water dripping from the top, but now it`s a ferocious fall strong enough to wash away anything below it. From there, we started downstream along the falls, streams, rocks, pebbles and thorny shores. The crystal clear water of the streams can energize you to walk any no. of miles. We reached back our camping site, packed our things and were ready to start our journey downhill.
Down the hill
No one in the group would have felt like stepping down from this beautiful mountain top. No network coverage, No contact with outside world, No electricity, No vehicles, Only a group of like minded souls up in heaven showered with the precious gifts of mother nature. And once you enjoy the pleasure of heaven, who would want to part with it. But what to do, we have to go back. We started our way down. This time we did not take the path which we explored to avoid the first pool crossing. Walking past slippery pebbles, sharp rocks and fast flowing streams, we managed to reach the other side of first pool by afternoon. The water had come down a bit. We crossed it this time and halted on the rocky shore of the pool. There, yet again, our master chef Sankarji unleashed the next recipe of his collection- “Pepper Aval”. While cooking is happening on one side, there was Shon`s water yoga on the other side. Even before the Aval cooking started, the man who ate something or the other every half an hour of the trek (Can`t forget that Maggi eating at midnight)- Anand took a bowl of Aval and ran to the clifftop and started performing his duty. Pepper Aval was delicious just like any other dish made by Sankarji.
After lunch we resumed our downhill task. Within an hour, we walked past marshy fields and loose rocks to reach dam. We took one final group snapshot which we can cherish lifelong. As we walked towards the van, i felt my heart heavy. I didn`t want to go back to the busy competitive and monotonous life. Finally we are down to earth from heaven. It was like a preview of heaven before death. I realizes that such no one is lucky enough to enjoy such pleasure through out his life. We got to go back to the world, live our life and when we get tired again, here this heaven on earth will be always waiting for us with its arms open.
We settled the expenditures and started our journey back in the van to Chennai. The Bangalore guys got down at Utthukkottai. Rest of us had our dinner from there. The dinner could not match the taste of the trek food. The van started after dinner. There was music and dance in the van. As we neared Chennai, the memories of last two days were flashing in my mind. I placed them in the safest corner of my mind. The tattoos which the thorns and sharp rocks made on my hands and legs will fade with time. But these memories will never fade. Whenever I feel sad or depressed in my life, I`ll open the these pages of my memory- The best New year I ever had. And I decided- I am coming back again.
Thanks to Sankaranarayanan Venkatesan (Sankar)- The organizer for this trek. I say, a trek cannot be organized better than this. I admire your character and work, Sankarji. You are a good leader. He led us from the front always. Before we stepped on any rock, climbed on any cliff or crossed any stream, he was there to do it first to ensure our safety. He brought all the things needed for the trek by himself. He was an all rounder- He made tents, cut vegetables, cooked food and washed vessels. He never hesitated to do anything and never bothered others. Thanks a lot Sankarji. I never knew this was the first trek organized by you until yesterday when i saw your write up. It was unbelievable to hear that. I will try not to miss registration of all the treks organized by you n the future. Whether ill be selected or not is secondary.
Thanks to vishal- The 2nd organizer for this trek- Vishal, the guy with an excellent sense of humour that will keep you laughing all day. Vishal, the non-stop entertainer- Dude, I admire your spirit. It can inspire any amateur trekker.
Thanks to Shon and Mani- The co-organizers- These guys were there to help the others all through the trek. Whether it was while helping non-swimmers in the pools or while crossing fast flowing streams.
Thanks to Arun, The photographer who captured every moment of this memorable trek. Good work dude.
Thanks to the other co-trekkers who made this new year a fantastic one. I look forward to meet you all in future treks.
We climbed up with empty hearts, came back with hearts full of memories and left no trace there (Not even a piece of paper).
It was “Simply East”. It turned out to be “Simply the best”.