Write-up by Hemalatha
Merely thinking of the trek on the 17th and 18th of March puts me in a great mood. A few thoughts penned down.
It is said that life should not be measured by the breaths we take, rather by the moments that take our breath away. I experienced many such moments on the trek. Some inspired by nature. Some by people.
Nagala East was a place where time lost meaning. We didn't want to look at watches or know how many hours we had been walking. Our focus was mainly on stepping on the right boulders and stones, evading thorn bushes and bending branches out of our way. Pristine pools greeted us. The fastest trekkers stopped at spots waiting for the rest of the team to catch up. I remember when we just lay back on the rocks facing skywards or plopped down into the water,enjoying the caress of the waters. The coolness. The fishes biting away(Its the most ticklish sensation ever). There were those interesting moments when I stepped on loose rocks and almost lost balance and my heart raced.
I, for one, am a walker. I love walking indefinitely. And to walk in a place, which makes you forget that there's a world out there with buses honking, people chattering on and on about infinite pointless things, TVs, loud speakers. It was pure pleasure. Amidst such profound beauty, troubles become trifling.
The spots which really made me sigh, which I sorely wish to see again are the gorge, the dead end pool and the site around the picnic pool.
In the order that we crossed them, first we chanced upon the Dead End pool. This beautiful place will remind you that there are forces that the human mind cannot grasp but merely wonder about. Call these forces God, a super-being or to simple-minded people like me "the thrill that courses through your body when you look at Nature's might". We took a lunch break here and feasted over sweetened flaked rice and cool soothing water from the stream.
The second came the gorge. I remember the extremely patient and responsible organizers who guided us each step of the way at this moment. The trail across the gorge was rather steep and tricky for newbie trekkers. We made our way across by stepping surely and slowly across the trail which was a 2 or 3 foot-wide path with the gorge on one side intimidating us with its stunning beauty and the sure hill on the other side.
The third spot, the picnic pool was our destination. And wasn't it worth it all?! Let your imagination run wild as you read this. A wide crystal-clear pool, with broad flat rocks on either side, a natural diving board, a pretty waterfall, the stream gurgling and skipping across smooth round rocks, the fireflies as night descended and the prettiest canopy of stars. This was where we camped. When we were asked whether we'd like tents to sleep under or the open-sky, "Open-sky!!!" came the enthusiastic reply. We all settled in, made ourselves at home, reserved spots to sleep in. Viji and I, rather like-minded people chose a spot where we had the stream swiftly making its way across stones on one side and the best view of the stars.
After this, we set about making a fire for the night and cooking a dinner of Biriyani. With an inviting pool,it was not long before some of us were simply floating around, eyes sky-ward. Dreaming or simply lost in quiet thought.
Time moved gracefully that night. We gathered around the campfire chatting and warming our hands with bowls filled with steaming biryani. I was meddling with the camera amazed by the glow of the coals and the way the flames cast light on people's faces. In sometime, we were sharing introductions about ourselves and conversations dwindled as exhausted minds and bodies commanded sleep.
Sleep that night was elusive, at least for me, despite the fact that we had had quite a tiring day. Once when I was drifting between sleep and wakefulness, I was greeted by the moon. The moon had finally risen,perhaps at two or three in the morning. It was one big dream that night, the stars constantly shining and the stream lulling us to sleep.
Soon there was light and butterflies began to flutter around. When I could lie still no more, I walked around the camp site looking at odd things and clicking pictures. Even discovered another small waterfall when responding to the call of nature. :P Soon a fire was lit and milk was boiled for breakfast and coffee. And then we got into the water. There, the sun cast its magic and conjured for us, a little rainbow at the foot of the waterfall. This was one moment that I would never forget in my life. I was a foot away from a rainbow and my fingers swept through those beautiful rays of light. I was so excited that I was dragging people(swimming tube en all) through the water to show it to them.
I've done justice to Nature. Now I'd like to pen down my thoughts on the people who made this trek, "a time" that I would hold close to my heart.
The organizers of the trek including Laure and Emma who lead us all the way, were determined to give us a hard-core beginner trekking experience. People new to physical exertion were challenged by the trail. It was an experience that tested the strength of our wills. All through we ensured we were all safely making our way across. Helping each other make big leaps. Laughing at ourselves when we slipped and fell. Enjoying the cool breaks by the pools. Clicking pictures of each other.
The biggest learning was the passion I saw in the trekkers guiding us. Their experiences at treks and survival missions. How they battled with the forces of nature. The dry spells at Tada. Nagala in the rains(thundershowers). Their attitude towards life. How their passion is what life is centered about. Trekking liberates the inner self and gives us a quiet joy. It was so obvious that they so completely loved trekking. Of all the experiences, one that captured my imagination and set my heart racing was when a group had trekked to Nagala East and camped at the picnic pool lit by a full moon and had played cards through the night. So want to do it.
Really commendable work by the organizers was the rope-climb down through the gorge. Getting all the trekkers(completely new to this) to hold on to the rope and ensuring that they lower themselves safely into the water was an amazing feat.
Trekking for two days has serious repercussions. If you can't handle any of the following, don't trek,
The first day after: You feel some amazing pain in your calf muscles. But you're still full of energy from the trek that you want to do something like walk around or talk to everyone you meet about the amazing trekking experience that you had and they didn't and make them go green with envy.
Second day after: Its all gone and you want some more pain. You daydream about the panoramas you saw over the weekend. You miss the crystal clear water.You understand that photos are not even close to the real thing. You google "ctc treks" and see images.
Third day after: You think your job is dumb, that computers are lame. That mobile phones are most companionable when there is no signal. Strong, strong need to switch the world off. You also remember that hard-core trekkers finish their work for the week by Wednesday and start planning and organizing things for the trek the coming weekend.
Fourth-day after: Your friends will start talking about activities for the weekend like movies, sleeping till noon ,driving around and it will sound completely stupid to you. By now, you're wondering which forest the serious trekkers are exploring this weekend.
Fifth day after : Check your email through phone for CTC emails about upcoming treks. Start getting irritated if there's nothing adventurous to do this weekend.
That's how it is. *SIGH*
Lets do it again. Soon.