[Written by Bharani]
These were the days I could never forget in my life, I have never imagined that I would be doing this when I joined my first trek with CTC in May 2011. There are two types of extreme treks in CTC which tests your mind and body .They are DFS and Marathon on mountains, where DFS is about endurance and survival , marathon tests your speed in the mountains .The tagline we use in these treks is “MIND OVER BODY”.These are the treks which clearly separate the boys from the men...So when peter mailed about DFS/5 I got super exited and immediately responded with a yes. Then the preparations started and atlast it was confirmed that 13 members have agreed to sign the disclaimer form.
The excitement was high among us , we all were preparing ourself for the 9 days of living in nature. We started on Jan 23 ,leaving all the urban lifestyle, only with essential food and materials ,still it weighed around 6 to 7 kgs .
Day 1 :
It was around 3 when our cab driver from railway station , dropped us at the starting point near a school on the highway .Immediately we started with torches in our hand and said good bye to the human world, After few hours of continuously walking we heard the stream flow. And mountains on both our sides ..we know we had got into an valley .The stream was huge but got dry after a few minutes’ walk. After few more hours of walk on boulders,we got into the dense valley , It was almost around 9 ,we reached a beautiful falls with ice cold water,Peter told us it was our breakfast point. Prem jumped into the pool,followed by rajasekar.they were screaming due to the chillness.Arun, Sridhar started the fire to make milk with cornflakes . After a few minutes of hesitation ,I jumped into the water ,ooooo it was freaking cold in there.After the breakfast ,peter told us we have to go back the same way and climb up , so we had to move immediately ,we walked for another 15 minutes when peter told we have time and can have a power nap.. Everyone within the blink of an eye ,were out sleeping,Me too opened the mat and slept,It was so cold due to the vegetation .then we woke up and started moving .
Peter lead us and climed to left of the stream,Nobody know what was ahead. It was a very steep climb and soon I saw everyone on their four legs,That was crazy ,first day , became the toughest of whole nine days as we climbed rocks ,teared through bushes and atlast we were on the top of the ridge. Nobody had water,but mind over body tagline was ringing through my head .. Moooveeee.. We started walking in search of a stream. After two hours we reached a shady place ,Peter granted us a power nap,, Everyone was sleeping and it was around 3 ,when I saw everyone was wearing their shoes and packing up,I was too lazy ..It was me who left the place last.again a climb but now we followed the trail and it was much more easier ,but we had to keep on walking till 4.30 whe we hit a stream , We had small break till everyone was there. Had some water and since it was getting darker ,peter moved forward and we found an flat rock , when peter called it a day. Then usual camping started ,guys put their bags down ,found firewoods and started making soup and noodles. We made a superb campfire to get us warm. We all started taking about our first trek and our favourite treks and the days experience .. I was telling myself ,Day 1 is over .. Still 8 days to go….
Day 2 :
It was a chill night .But the open sky and the sound of water gushing along gave me the warmth of nature . Woke up on day 2 with the excitement to find some awesome places. After arun made an yummy aval pongal????? ,all of us started along the stream, then prem ,who is in most of the pics ,went near the end of the stream where falls starts and had some clicks on him,Then we climbed up right and descended in few meter again to reach the bottom of the falls..This is the moment we all have been waiting for,an awesome falls which highs over 80 m with a awesome pool under it,everyone jumped in despite of the freezing chillness of the water..This is heaven. After some splashing,swimming,playing ,some folks started a small fire ,everyone surrounded it .After a few minutes, we started again,there was several awesome pools, flatrocks,cuts on the rock ,It was beautiful. After a quite a bit of walk,we reached the most beautiful pool I have ever seen, a pool with a 2 step falls.
Even I don’t know swimming ,the urge made me borrow life jacket from raj and jumped in the pool.Rajasekar was making comedy as he was afraid to jump from that height and atlast after 20 minutes of mocking ,he jumped inAfter all jumping,we had our lunch..khakras with pickles.Now its time for a nap. After a cold bath, we all slept in the sunlight . Few minutes of walk got us into a beautiful gorge with superbly cut rocks on both sides,we had to walk with our bags on the head in someareas,and also had to ferry once. We reached an beautiful falls which is a 2 layer one with the height of around 50m.The falls made everyone admire the work of nature.Since it was only 4.00 in the evening ,peter wanted us to move.But on the request of Arun and many guys we decided to camp there. But since we had lot of time ,some guys decided to go to the top of the falls.Peter was there even before those guys decided.It was a cold evening and night,We had to make a huge camp fire and after our breakfast ,Everyone gathered around it and was sharing many things .Thus we ended the day 2.
Started after our breakfast ,as usual peter debriefed us about the day, After few minutes of criss crossing the stream,we hit a bushy jeep track to our left and immediately started to climb cutting across the track.After climbing and walking along the flat area, we were in spot for the forest guest house,,we couldn’t find anything , we guys put on our bags in a abandoned shelter there and started looking for the forest ruins.After few minutes everyone assembeled back and there was nothing around it seems.Then we got into a dry stream which had some big boulders to get down,Meanwhile Shankar got his knee into trouble and was slowing down, so I had to help him and we were the last to get down from the dry stream,All the guys were waiting in the main stream. It was around 11.30 by that time and we started moving immediately .
After an hours walk we got to a point with a small falls and kutty papa gorge formed by the flow, we formed a human chain to cross the bags.and after getting baga away from water everyone jumped in and moved on.Then we realized thomman was left behind and heard that his ankle is giving him problem, so we planned to finish our lunch and started to take aval.Thomman arrived and he wanted to exit,Sridhar who was one of the fittest guy in our team ,too was suffering from stomach upset and wanted to exit.So peter gave him the map and his gps and guided them with directions.13 became 11, We crossed several narrow cut rocks with pools and final reached a wider stream,with beautiful flat rocks all along the banks,So we found a beautiful flat space and called it a day ,Camp was made and fun began.Hurray we survived the third day…
Day 4 :
Day started with an awesome view of sun adding beauty to the flowing water with its glow,After the cornflakes we started for another beautiful day of exploration.As per plan we had to find a jeep trail goin to left .we had to criss croos the stream once and atlast found it and started walking along it.We saw a watch tower and left the jeep trail and started moving towards it . After almost an hour of jeep trail we descended back to stream to find a beautiful pool and everyone started jumping in.One hour we spend there.We started moving again.The next 30 minutes were feast to our eyes,the natures art work of beautifully cut flat rocks and blue water fully of it ..was definitely feast to us.We reached a end point where we cant proceed further,it was a 50 meter drop with thunderous roaring of the stream. We found a flat rock and had our lunch[rusk+cheese] followed by a power nap.Peter told us we are getting under there.So we climbed to left and reached the ridge , we had a awesome view of the falls, it does stop after dropping 50 m ,it was three more steps with beautiful pools in each of the drop. We definitely wanted to go down there.
When we are up in the ridge ,one of our phones rang, we have signal.surprising… So prem called Sridhar ,who left a day back to know about their situation.we heard that they were on the way to Chennai and all were relieved.Then we proceeded back a few steps and found a place to get down to the falls.It was a hectic descent with thorns tearing us down and with steepness beneath our legs it was scary.All were thinking how we gonna climb back J .When we atlast reached the base of the falls,all the pains were gone,the freshness the water brings along is magical.Everyone jumped ,screamed ,explored all around. Prem was all along the streams,he was always jumping into water ,pools,getting under falls, when he sees one. After some time,it was time for us to start back,all left with our heart back there. The climb was funny, Some started the way they came back, few of us in search of an easy way got into a situation we have to climb straight up. We took a long time to get to the top,since even a single wrong step would result in travel to heaven.Then we started in search of a forest rest house ruins and it took quite a long to find it, We were relieved to see a shed with solar power light . We decided that would be our campsite.All the guys put our bags there and took our bottles to fill water from a stream which is some 300m away from the camp site.We made tamrind rice for the day and pasta for peter with usual soup before the meals.We put on a campfire and we had the most comfortable sleep for the first time in four days.
Day 5 :
A nice morning, I woke up to the camera’s sound ,saw peter clicking all of us in hibernation mode . After the breakfast,, all the evidence for our stay was destroyed,we started walking,peter had already informed us about some surprise,we were eagerly waiting for that. We filled up water as we were informed that we would be walking in a dry stream, It was a long walk in dry stream.I felt it is easy to walk or jump through boulders than walking in small pebble stream..they were annoying.We climbed a ridge and crossed to another stream ,which was quite big .. After one hour we reached a point where a beautiful gorge started ,, we were moving in a pace of snail inside the gorge.The gorge is very narrow,only two people max can walk side by side.. The water dripping from the top and the flow under made it difficult to find grip.We were almost moving like lizards inside the gorge. Since we are moving upstream , there was a 10 m drop, we climbed it up with team work without rope. All were happy for crossing the gorge,but peter’s surprise doesn’t end there,within few meter ,we met with same scenario,this time ,adding to challenge ,we had to ferry a small distance, every thing was ok, we continued our pursuit for the campsite we climbed up a ridge ,where we had a beautiful view a valley intersecting each other ,it cant be described in words, purely artistic.
Then we climbed down ,to reach a major stream,we had our lunch, yummy aval.then all had a power nap. After a 30 min rest ,we started moving. It was a casual walk with small bouldering included , it was nice to walk along with monkeys fighting in tree,the sound of water flowing and the silence which overcasted all the other sounds. Atlast after a climb and a descent we reached our fifth day camp.Everyone was surprised ,it was unbelievable.Those who have seen the picnic pool in nagala ,the pool which we saw was atleast 20 times bigger than the picnic pool, we explored that area and found a quite amazing work of nature in form of rock cuts,caves, falls. We had a dip and started the fire. Everyone settled around ,having chat about the five days we survived,mocking each other.By the time we finishe our dinner.vipin,venkatesh and aditya came with a fish they caught in the pool. After the campfire and dinner were over. Arun,Shankar,vipin,venki,
aditya toasted it and tasted it..I was only watching them.
Day 6 :
Started with a drizzle,as we woke up.Common items were redistributed and we wanted to explore the surroundinds and caves in day light ,so we packed everything ready and started exploring the area.Water freak prem jumped into the pool in one of the cave and started ..After few minutes we came back to our bags ,and found that monkeys have raided vipin bag and took some rice and chocolates .We pitied ourselves and started moving downstream,it was an easy walk with trails and few minutes walk in jeep trails. We had a diversion and kept our bags in a stream from the left and started proceeding upstream, the sky was cloudy and climate was chill. After almost one hour we were astonished to see a beautiful falls which seemed like falling from heaven.It was huge,Peter told us it must be around 150m.It formed a huge pool and as usual prem jumped in first ,followed by raj .they told the water is freaking chill .I was little bit thinking about getting in water and in desperation of posing for pics ,I jumped in …ooooo The water is freezing. Somehow I managed in pusing myself till the falls.and had a great fun .Peter started immediately once we cameback from the falls. Prem,myself and arun started a bit later and joined other at the point where we had kept the bags.As per our plan we started climbing to the ridge in front of us. It was a steep climb,but not as difficult as that of day 1 . We reached the ridge and started walking along it ,till we reached a stream ,which is the one at the top of the 150m falls.. It started raining by this time,we craved for a shelter and found a quite gud place to have our lunch under some dense trees.
So half a day is over,We put on a small fire to warm overselves and everyone felt the luxury in form of fire. The we moved few meters upstream, and left the stream in search of a watch tower so that we can camp. We found a jeep trail and in few minutes we founded the watch tower ,but since it was not a good place of choice to camp,we decided to move further along the jeep track,We found nice flat space and immediately the team was split into three,Camping team,firewood team and water team. Every did their best and the camp was set. A huge campfire was made and the stove was made near by. We cooked rice,pasta and soup, and at the time we were about to finished the cooking,rain started pouring heavily,we somehow managed to finish our dinner and settle down in two tents that were made.. The day is not over yet,we had the most shocking surprise when peter started briefing the plans for the next three days and at the end of session he told us that we have to proceed without him.After a bit of seeing each others face ,we agreed that we will continue the mission.Then everyone went to their tents. The rain was pouring heavily and no one was able to sleep. I was half asleep and heard voices that Shankar is too joing with peter the next day.It was about midnight arun woke me and wished me,since I turned 25.Peter and the other guys in our tent wished me, and I was happy that it was a unique and different atmosphere than the usual cake cutting inside four walls. Mostly none of us were able to sleep due to rain.
Day 7 :
Peter started by 5.00 and two more guys started along with peter and Shankar to the exit. Myself and arun didn’t sleep and were talking about proceeding the next three days.We came out of the tent with rain lashing and decided to start immediately , Now it was only seven of us, Aditya who had thought peter would return (he was asleep when peter told us about the exit plan) was almost crying and we had to convince and encourage him to keep on going. We decided the rain is not gonna stop and started immediately after putting back the stones and clearing the campsite. Now we had vipin to navigate and pushed him to go to the front . He was navigating us and we proceeded along the jeep trail to find a stream which will supposedly get us to the main stream. After few hours of walking in rains and winds along the jeep trail we found the side stream and decided to follow it along the ridge,so we climbed a little up and started moving along, at a point we had to get to the stream ,It was bushy,slippery and we after a small hurdle we reached the dry stream,
Here started the pain, all the rocks were slippery , wherever u keep ur feet,it slips. We started afted filling our bottles and tummy with water and proceeded along the steam downward, as it has been raining from the night there is water flowing in the streams which we encountered along the side stream,After snailing through for almost an hour we decided for lunch ,it was almost one in the afternoon. So we decided to finish our lunch, had aval mixed with pickle and then again started the crawling,we didn’t stop for breaks since it was raining and getting darker , we had to find a campsite , so we walked till we reached a point where it was full of flat rocks and found some sticks which was used sometime before by locals to put on tents ,so we used them and made our campsite tents.It was almost 6 and already half of them were asleep. In my tent ,myself,arun and prem were talking about our college days and sharing our funny experiences during those days ,It was around 10 we decided to sleep.
Day 8 :
Rains were still there ,but we saw some clear clouds which made us happy, We cleared the campsite and started,It was the most earliest start in 8 days, we started by 8.45 J. After walking along the stream for one hour we heard thunderous sound of water ,we immediately know that we were at a falls. It was a majestic falls of 80 m falling as two separate falls . We had a look of it from the top and had some clicks .After few minutes of rest ,we started to climb to the left as we had to get to the other side to reach the main stream. Peter had told us about a gorge that needed to be explored ,so we climed up and the after few hours we started descending ,this is the difficult part , It was steep, Peter had told us about a animal trail which had to be found to get down to the stream.Due to heavy rains and slides the animal trail was difficult to find ,but after a difficult hour of fight with bushes and slippery ,we found the animal trail and started decending down, at a certain point we got stuck and wondering how to get down a steep straight 15 m drop with full of slippery algae’s.
Prem founded thick vine and did a tarzan then we followed him and started moving along the main stream.Since it has rained for the past 24 hours the stream was flooded ,the water flow was too heavy and we were crossing the stream with heart in our mouth .Since it was flooded we decided to skip the gorge and started towards the exit , so we planned to atleast cover some distance ,so that we could exit early the next day . But nothing goes per plan, the stream was flooded and we moved a very slow pace. We reached a place where we had to ferry about 80 m , it was very difficult due to the floods but the swimmers prem and arun did the job with great effort.It was almost 5 by then,but we decided to move and atleast find a good flat space for camping.We had to again encounter slippery flat space with water running in a wild pace. First aditya slipped and fell, followed by myself and prem .The time was around 6.15pm , since the visibility is almost gone and every slipped ,arun decided to call it a day.So we all put on our sleeping mats,bags , and started making the final food we had ,the noodles. We were able to find some dry woods and using almost three packets of camphor,we cooked noodles. First time in eight days,we couldn’t finish what we cooked. We had soaked the dhal and kept for breakfast and felt asleep .
Everyone wokeup by a happy new year shout from nitin. It was a new year ,new day and the day we leave the forest.Everyone was with mixed feelings, one was talking about survival for 9 days,one was talking about the ghee roast for dinner,I was worried that we are leaving a beautiful place and happy for bonding that happened between us during the survival.We started with both happy and sad feeling ,looking back and admiring the mountains where we crawled ,ran, jumped,climed, slept for the nine days.It was a long walk , we had to criss cross the stream several times and atlast managed to find a trail .It was a long walk to the village, we were talking about the days,our favourite part,favourite places.Aditya had a muscle pull and was slowing down.So arun,prem ,myself were at the last ,nitin was almost showing his marathon skills running in the first.We reached the village and with people seeing us with weird looks ,we got a share auto.First time in nine days ,travelling in a road. We waved goodbye to the mountains with a burdened heart and thanked for the mother nature who carried us safely and provided us with all those experience .We reached the highways after a jeep ride and boarded the bus.
It was an lifetime experience for me and I am sure that everyone would have felt the same.Everyone helped each other by lending their hands, sharing their food ,encouraging with words. Eventhough we all are seprated by blood,birth and religion, mother nature showed us that we all are one.I thank everyone nitin,vipin,raj,aditya,venki,
shankar,varadhu,sridar,thomman without whom it would have been impossible.Prem and Arun,u guys always rocks,Prem was very inspiring that he was talking only one meal a day and showed excellent fitness and enthusiasm ,Arun is one who motivated by sharing the jokes and keeping the team in a light mood,also he is the master-chef who provided us with yummy food . Here peter needs a mention.Like a mother who leads their children,he lead us ,taught us and motivated us for the first six days,then he took a fathers role by guiding us and letting to grow on ourself.He wished us to be independent and complete the mission by ourself.We did it peter,without you we would have been sitting inside the walls,and staring those idiotic programs in tv and facebook in computers.Mission DFS/5 completed,expecting the next.