[Written by Pritham, 11 years]
On Friday morning, we woke up at 3:00 am which was one of the toughest parts of the trek. We left home at around 3:30 and reached TIDEL Park in time. My mother was requested by Peter uncle to take attendance. We were the first people to reach the place. Soon people started trickling in. After a while, Peter uncle arrived. After about five minutes, we all left for Koyembedu. I and my brother went in Peter uncle’s car. We picked up a few people at Madhya Kailash. There was another person called Alex Franklin who had come in Peter uncle’s car. Then at last we reached Koyembedu. Everyone was meeting up there. After about a half hour, we left for Nagalapuram. Two more people came in our car. Their names were Muthu and Radhakrishnamurthy. We all joked and then we stopped at a place to pick up another person. His name was Ram. We were all joking and then we reached a place where we had our tea. We stayed there for about ten minutes. Then we again left for a small town called Sathiyavedu where we would have our breakfast. When we reached Sathiyavedu we had breakfast. Since one restaurant could not accommodate 30 people, 15 people ate in one restaurant and the other 15 in another one.
Then we reached the place where we would start our trek. Peter uncle started distributing the food to everybody. I took my food ration and asked for some extra food to carry. But then I found out that I could carry the extra food but my bag couldn’t accommodate it. So I had to go and return the extra food. Then Peter uncle said that all the car drivers needed to park their cars in the village nearby so that the cars would be safe. So all the car drivers went to park their cars and then we started, Alex Anna in the lead. I think we walked about one km before reaching the foothills.
We were walking on a fast pace and we soon reached the first pool. I was about to swim in when I saw an empty beer bottle floating in the water. Alex Anna told me that since it was near the foothills and there was a temple nearby, the villagers come often near the pool and celebrate. Then Peter uncle came and told us that we needed to swim across the pool to get to our path. I immediately swam into the water and reached the other bank. The pool was deep only in one place. Then we had to climb some rocks. I and my brother quickly climbed up the rocks and reached the other side. Everybody was passing the bags. We were the last and we put the bags in a corner. Soon everyone climbed across, picked up their bags and started walking. Peter uncle and some others were in the lead.
After some bouldering, we reached a small stream. It was fast-flowing water but very deep too. After some time of swimming, we again started jumping and bouldering. It was tiring work and I was behind everybody. After that there was nothing big till lunch. It was really tough. When we reached the place, I was sad to hear that Peter uncle and a few others had already gone somewhere to see some falls. We refreshed ourselves in a small spring nearby and filled our bottles. Then we had our lunch. Everyone was having bholis but I ate the cake which they had given me. Then I lay down on the rocks and took some rest. After some time, Peter uncle came with the others who had gone to the falls and they all had their lunch. After some refreshing we again left on our trek. Here it was quite difficult as soil erosion had occurred in that place. The place was full of thorns and creepers. We had to hold on to the sideways trees and creepers to avoid falling off. It was really tough. Once we reached the top it was just plain walking. Somebody had gone forward and discovered a small water source where we could fill up our water bottles. We rested there for a while and Peter uncle and Dad started talking about different mountain ranges in South India and so on.
After a while we started again. This time too it was tough.
I think we would have walked about an hour before reaching the next water source. From the water source I think we walked for about 10 minutes to reach our campsite. We were at an altitude of about 550 meters. Once we reached the campsite, some people started collecting firewood while others went to fill water. Once sufficient firewood had been collected, Peter uncle and Ram uncle started a fire and placed the cooking pot filled with water on the fire. Soon the water began to boil. Then they put in soup powder first and put noodles next thus making their own ‘soupy noodles’. We all ate our fill and then went to sleep.
At about 9:00 pm, disaster struck! I felt something biting and it was painful. I discovered that it was an ant infested area and ants were biting me. I immediately woke up dad and told him that ants were biting me. He went and woke up Peter uncle and told him about the ants. He came there and took our mats and told us to move near the fire. We picked up our bags and moved near the fire.
The night was extremely cold and even when I wrapped Dad’s bed sheet and mine, it was cold. And I also think that I woke up a couple of times in the night. But somehow the sleep was good. This is how Day 1 ended.
On Day 2 we woke up at around 5:45 pm. We brushed our teeth and drank some tea. After some time, Peter uncle announced that we would be climbing the 800 m peak soon. Those who wanted to stay back could do so. We soon walked upto our water source. Peter uncle said that we would be walking along a trail for only some more time. After some time, the vegetation grew much shorter than it used to be downhill. There were only rocks in our path and I discovered an easier way of walking. It was much easier to walk on the rocks than walking on grass and leaves. With this method I could walk much faster than before. After some tough climbing we reached the 800 m peak. We took some snapshots of the scenery and of others. After some time, Peter uncle came up and told us that there was another nearby peak where we could go to. I immediately took my towel and shirt which I had taken off and started off to the next peak. It looked as if forest fires occurred there frequently and that was the reason why the vegetation level in the top was low. When we reached the second peak, there was a ledge on which we could sit. I sat there and enjoyed watching the whole Nagalapuram range. Soon all the people reached the second peak. The view was amazing.
After that we took a photo and left for the camp, thinking of the yummy pongal which waited for us once we reached the camp. Unfortunately I and two others lost our way and we ended up being lost in the forest for about half an hour until somebody came to pick us up. We went on some path I had not explored and suddenly we went on the path to the water source. We were all exhausted and were refreshed by the water of the water source. After we drank some water, we headed back to the camp. The pongal was tasty but still I was not so hungry. After that, Peter uncle told us that we needed to get to the picnic pool to camp for the night. It was quite easy in Day 2 because instead of going uphill like the previous day, we were going downhill. After some time we reached the open place of Nagala where there was short grass around.
Three people had gone in front to check if there was any water source nearby. The others were waiting for the people in the back to come. The people who had gone in the front came back soon and told us that there was a water source nearby. Then again we started on our trek. I used my trick of going only on rocks and it was quite easy. Then we reached a place where soil erosion probably occurred frequently. Most of the people including me were quite slow in this part. After this part was over, it was very easy because we would we walking only along the stream and there would be only rocks there. But still most of the people had already gone in the front. So out of this group in the back I, an anna called Prem and another anna called Guna were leading. We were going in the front and after some time Guna anna told us to stop for a while to rest as well as wait for the others to catch up.
Soon all the others began to catch up with us. Then again this time an anna called Laxminarasimhan, Prem anna, Guna anna and I were leading. After some time of jumping on rocks, we soon reached the place where Group 1 and Group 2 were meeting. We quickly had our lunch. Someone had unexpectedly cooked rice for us in that place but I didn’t get the chance to eat it. My lunch was teplas. Muthu anna was asking everyone for teplas to eat. I gave half of my teplas and kept the rest. After that I went with the first person who went. His name was Mahesh. We soon went in the front and were surprised to find some people in the front. They said they had been waiting there for about 20 minutes. They too joined our team. As we went further on, we saw some more people. They too said that they had come in front. They said that they hadn’t eaten their lunch. So Mahesh anna stayed behind while I and the others went in the front.
Soon we came to a place where we needed to descend down some rocks. We slowly descended down the rocks and found that there were more people there. We all started as the lead team and were moving at a fast pace except at a very steep descend which was tougher than climbing. After the steep descend we reached the treasure hunt pool. We did not swim in that pool because we were in a bid to reach first of all. So we quickly started. I was a bit tired so someone had to carry my bag and that was Mahesh anna. After we had gone for some time I told them I would carry the bag. So I started carrying the bag. After some time we came to a place where soil erosion had probably occurred. So it was a bit hard in that place. Once we reached the bottom we were only about 50 m away from the picnic pool. But once I reached the place I saw that about some 3 people had already reached about 5 minutes earlier than us. But still we had reached the place early – about 4:00 pm. In fact, even Peter uncle came there only at around 5:00 pm. Then we were all swimming until about 5:30 pm. Then most of the people started showing up at around 6 pm. After some time we had our dinner which was yummy soupy noodles. After that I went to sleep on an uneven piece of rock but unusually I slept very well. This is how Day 2 ended.
On Day 3 we woke up at around 6:30 am. It wasn’t as cold in the night as it was on Day 1. I stretched myself and went near the pool. Prassanna anna was distributing neem sticks to everybody. Peter uncle showed me to soften the area of the stick which we would be using to brush with a rock. I used the stick. It was a bit bitter. After brushing my teeth I went in for a morning dip in the pool. Some other people were also swimming. The water was cool and refreshing to my body. Then I came out and had some tea. Then again I went in for a swim. Then suddenly Peter uncle shouted, “Up, up, up!”. I asked Dad whether he was referring to us. He told me that some people were going up to see a waterfalls. I asked Dad if I too could go. He told me that they had already got ready early and I can’t get ready in time now. So I spent the next three hours swimming and having fun in the picnic pool. After some time, I started coming out frequently to eat yesterday’s leftover noodles since I did not have my breakfast and was hungry.
After some three hours all those who had gone for seeing the waterfalls uphill had returned and they were on top of the picnic pool falls! Soon, everyone started climbing down and jumping into the water. Soon, everyone came and packed up their bags and started leaving. We had to climb a hill to get to our path. Somehow I climbed over the hill and then we went on a normal path. Then we had to follow a stream in order to get to the gorge. It was quite easy in these parts. Then after some time we reached the gorge. There was a steep climb from which we had to descend with the help of ropes. Balaji anna was there at the bottom and told us to keep our feet on his shoulders. With his help, I and many others climbed down easily. Then we came to place where we needed to swim across to reach our path. It was quite easy to swim across the gorge. Once we reached the most of the people who had come earlier were waiting for their bags to be ferried. After some time, all our bags arrived and we all started again. This time again it was only rocks and boulders. We soon reached the dead end pool and it was hard to cross the pool.
After we reached the middle and were sitting on a rock we had another danger in wait for us, this time the BEES!! Once the bees started attacking us there was no option but to jump into the water. We all immediately jumped into the water and swam to the shore. Then we waited for about 20 minutes without movement in the water. Soon Peter uncle came along and (I think) in order to tease the bees he repeatedly jumped into water, climbed back on the rocks and jumped in again. Soon after some time the bees went back to their hives. Luckily, I escaped with 3 bee stings. But Sundar uncle got about 20 bee stings. Soon the people in the back were starting to get ferried. Soon everyone was safely ashore the other bank. I was very hungry and so were many people. I readily ate the biscuits offered to me by Guna anna. Soon we all again started our trek. This time there were no big events for some time. There was only one steeper climb in our trek.
Once we finished the climb and went down we reached the first pool. The water in the first pool was very shallow. After some swimming and filling up our bottles, we again started on the last phase of our trek.
On the way to the cars, Sundar uncle vomited. Since he was sick Dad, Peter uncle and some others stayed behind with him while I and the others moved in front. Soon Peter uncle also came in front. Some of the others had stayed back so Peter uncle told that he would bring his car to the dam to pick them up. We all moved in front. Then Peter uncle told us that were coming near the last water water source. I and Muthu anna went with him to drink some water. After we came back, Laxmi anna and I were engrossed in the topic of computer games. We were talking about all kinds of computer games when I saw that there was another bee sting victim. His name was Arun. Soon after some time, Mom said that she would stay there with him and wait for the others to arrive. Again, we all left and were walking on top of the dam again talking about computer games and other things about computers. Soon we arrived there only to see that we had to walk 4 more kilometers.
Thus began the hard walk. In the middle I changed from my shoes to rubber chappals. I ended up regretting it. The walk was harder than before. And then only did I notice that I had also left my sleeping mat in the place where I changed my shoes. I ran back and shouted to the people coming in the back about the forgotten sleeping map.one of them went and picked up the mat. I ran to them to get the mat. The running was hard because I had changed from my shoes to rubber chappals. After recovering my mat, I picked up my mat and we started the long walk (more like a short marathon with rubber chappals). Somehow we finally reached the cars. I climbed into one of the cars and was talking with others in the car. Then we reached the village where the Group 1 cars had been parked. From there those who chose to go to their homes could go and those who decided to eat dinner at a punjabi dhaba could also come.
But my parent’s car’s key was with them and without the key the car could not be used. So I, the leader of group 2 whose name was Shankar, a trekker who had gone to Tada top and joined us on the way called arun, Prasanna anna, Balaji anna and Alex anna stayed back. After some time Shankar uncle left for getting the key of our car. He came back in about 15 minutes. Our car left with Alex anna driving and Balaji anna sitting beside him. Prasanna anna also left in his bike for the dhaba.I told them that I would come with Shankar uncle in his Bullet. They agreed and left. Shankar uncle took some time in tying a couple of pots and a sleeping mat to the back of his bike. Soon everything was ready and we started to the dhaba. It was a wonderful ride for 10 kilometers. We soon reached the dhaba. Everybody was having naan with chicken. The food was really tasty. Shankar uncle said that he needed to leave soon so he left. After some time the bee bite victims had returned. They had been taken to the nearby hospital and given some medicines for bee stings.
After my family had eaten, Dad asked if anyone needed to dropped in the way he went. Balaji anna asked Dad to drop him at Guindy. So we took Balaji anna and started. I fell asleep on the way. When I woke up I was at our home. I took my bag and went inside. I went in and lied down on the nearby cot and immediately fell asleep. I think I enjoyed every minute of the trek. This is my view on ‘Le grand tour du Nagala’.