Post Trek - CTC Emperors: Freshers trek to TADA top on 17th and 18th march - Ravi & Goverdhan

Friday, May 4, 2012

Who is who – very few of the names I will mention in the write-up

Kanna                                          – the man who kissed the mount Everest peak, kicked an avalanche on its butt till he broke his limbs
Masanamuthu and Marimuthu – organizers / guides / friends
Gaurav and Sindhu                      – “made for each other” - friendly couple
Sandhya                                       – a rookie software engineer @ TCS
Rest of the pack                          – have amazing attitude and will power
Mano and Karthik                       – friends from foodie trek

A trek is not about climbing the summit, its about coming back and having a cup of coffee with family and friends – Kanna  @ sums it all up
A trek starts with a single step, but you can never stop with a single trek – Ravi
Every monkey thinks its drinking water up stream, but there is always another monkey further up the stream doing something else – Ravi
Folks get cramps when they do heavy trekking / running / swimming  or stuff like that, but Mari and Masi get cramps if they sit at home – Ravi
Others please add yours… we will upload them on Emperors team home page – we must create one on CTC website.

This is my second trek with the emperors @ CTC, my first trek was the nagala west foodie trek (foodie trek - I) Feb 25 and Feb 26, I was reminded by Masi what I said during the foodie trek – I “masi - this is picnic like trek, I want to do a real solid trek”. This is the real trek I was looking for and I turned out to be more than what I asked for.

The End - 

Lets start with the end – so that we have the last laugh first. Time is 9:00 PM, 4 of them were too tired and were taking a nap and rest of the pack were busy chatting and reliving the experience. Masi and Mari appreciated the team for successfully completing the trek in style and said it was the best fresher’s trek. We all clapped and cheered for Gaurav + Sindhu and Sandhya for their never say die spirit.  Then we had the introductions – yeah the introduction is done at the end, first intro was short and sweet, our friend introduced himself and recalled  his previous treks. It was followed by my loooooong introduction and Mano beats me hands down with his looooooooooooner introduction. What followed was the best I ever heard – it was Kanna - the man who climbed the mighty and unforgiving mount Everest. we were lucky to have someone who achieved such a feat – he was modesty personified. He was honored with medal of honor by none other than ABJ Abdul Kalam, Kanna had kicked  an Avalanche on its butt and kicked it hard till broke his limbs and lived to tell it all. By the time he was done we reached the first drop point and we started waving byes and exchanging hugs with our new friends.

The Start –

All location coordinators were tracking the arrival of the other participants to the respective locations and we all started pretty much on the dot, 10 minute delay is all we had across 4 pickup points. Everyone was quiet, at best what we had was a hi to the other in the form of a wink. Folks like me and Mano were a little louder as we knew Masi and Mari already and we know how it works and ends, (Karthik is usually quite).

Day 1 – towards the peak 

We picked up breakfast from a hotel in Tada – idli and vada , It was good stuff. We distributed the common gear and food among ourselves and entered and started the trek. The initial walk on the flat terrain was good prep up exercise, we willed our half empty bottles at the last water point and we started on our long journey to the peak – none of knew how long we had to walk. Masi and Mari were really patient and waited for all of us to assemble at critical points before we moved on, we were cracking jokes, discussing on random topics, clicking pictures and so forth. The strangers on the bus who hardly winked at each other were bonding into a team. We had 4 amateur photographers and one of them was little serious, he brought a tripod too  . We clicked as many pictures on the way and at the summit as well. I have seen some of them in the camera display, really good stuff. We reached the peak in about 3 hours, we took a slightly longer break and enjoyed the view. To our shock we were told that the next water point is further down, we had to cross 2 small peaks, by now most of us were left less than 500ml of our 2 liters of water we all carried. So we were driven by the urge to get to the next water point where we can drink, swim, cook and eat. 

Day 1 – we finally saw water

By the time we crossed Peak no 2, we had less than 200 ml or so of water, how much every funny, stupid, weird and awful it might sound – most of the guys whom I was walking along were holding insurance in case we run out of water. As soon as we saw water we drank all the balance water and gave up our insurance. Insurance – I am sure you would have guessed it . Couple of us reached the point a little early and jumped right into the pool and relaxed by the time others joined us. We had sweet polis after the we had fresh water from the stream and played enough in the water. I had small nap on the warm rocks after refreshing bath and energizing food.The rest of the pack came in the next 30 minutes, as it was too hot couple of our friends were dehydrated a bit. Everything was all set once they reached water and after relaxing for few minutes we few of us started off to see the other pools and origin of the stream. We reached a big water fall – it was dried out and pool was dirty with leaves and twigs soaked in the stagnant water. It was a 10 meter fall and the place water landed first appeared like a cup due to heavy pounding. Masi, Mano and Karthik and three more guys wanted to go there for a nice picture, they almost made it, but the decent to the cup was dangerous, they stopped short of one step.  We walked further up and saw the origin of the stream, few more pictures were taken courtesy our amateur photographers. We saw a huge boulder and some of us wanted to climb it. We discovered a strange looking plant, it had a thick root tuber like stem clinging on to the boulder and leaves growing out of it,  each leaf was the size of my palm, it was the trophy. We brought the trophy down and went back to the camp. The time now is 6 PM or so and we started our preparations for cooking.

Day 1 – the evening

Team collected enough firewood for cooking, camp fire and keep fire burning for the whole night for some warmth. A small team was cutting vegetables, one team busy setting up fire and another team led by Sandhya – providing expert advise on cooking, she is also in-charge of the quality control process. We had the usual tomato soup and Biriyani. Sandhya was busy collecting evidence for quality during the cooing process, she even hit Mari for a bad job on one of the important step. She made it loud and clear – that she is the boss and is not going to tolerate any compromises. Thanks Sandhya – the biriyani would not have been what it was if not for you. Mari – no offense the biriyani on foodie trek was the best, you have to catch up – I have to be honest in my feedback and I know you will take it in the right sense. We all had atleast two servings of biriyani, chips, pakoda and salad.  Parallely folks setup a camp fire and having fun, Mari said lets all sit around and play some games around the camp fire, folks were too tired and retreated to find a spit to sleep. It was all boulders and finding a flat surface was a challenge. We settled to whatever we could find suitable – guys with sleeping mat had more comfort than the sleeping bags (But mats come with a trade off, though light in weight its difficult to walk especially when you have to duck under branches and walk). But after such a tiring day – who cares for surface, bed and pillow, we settled in. Suddenly there was this snake snake snake …. A voice echoed in the darkness. One of our friends spotted a phython, that’s it every one sprang out of their spot and came running with cameras, torch. It was indeed a 2 meter long phython – I was craziest of the lot, I wanted to catch it atleast touch it. Mari and Masi gave strict warning not to disturb the reptile, but seeing my kid-like enthusiasm they allowed me to touch. I ran my hand over its body to feel it. It started running faster. Had it been day time I would have definitely caught it. Not sure how well the pictures with the special guest would come out… lets wait and see.  We finally let the snake go, after directing it away from the camp site by showing torches -  , the idea is to put the light so that it moves away from the light. Not sure how many of us could sleep without thinking of the reptile sneaking next to them. The bed lamps we setup in the sky worked perfectly well and AC as expected worked well to our satisfaction. We all slept comfortably till 6 AM. 

Day 2 – the breakfast

Mari called out for volunteers for cleaning the vessels, one friend and I jumped into action. I still remember the hard blow Mari received on his head during dinner preparation. I could not take such a hit, so I cleaned the vessel to the best of my abilities and cleared the QC test. We made black tea, with lime and served generous quantities. Everyone went to greet nature and after that started our small trek to the peak to see the falls from opposite side. It dried up – but traces were visible, the trek was a sample of what was to follow. As usual we took some great pictures with the mountains in the backdrop. We ate wild goose berries on the way and I was busy tasting everything that appeared to be a fruit. We returned from the small detour in an hours time, had a refreshing bath, had corn flakes for breakfast and started off to descent to the base. 

Day 2 – the descent .. part I

It was a different route, following a dry stream rather than go back the same route. It was all boulders and steep ups and downs, we knew there was a point where we had to climb-down with the help of a rope. Thinking of the rope, triggered butterflies in our tummies, still putting up a brave face and motivating each other – we moved forward. The frequency of breaks was more as the terrain was tougher and testing. It was a 41 member pack so ensuring everyone was moving together was critical. We were climbing down on an inclination of 45 degrees to 70 degrees, so it was not an easy task. The hares among us used to cross fast and wait for us while the tortoises among us were just moving one step at a time. None of knew how long it would take and what was the distance to be covered and what % of the descent was completed at any given time. We all were following the instructions. The first critical point was a 2.5 meter vertical drop – which took pretty long time as everyone needed guidance and support. Were clapped and cheered for everyone,  It was really heartwarming to see Gaurav + Sindhu. Others who might be just reading this will not understand what we all saw. It took us almost an hour by the time every one came down safely – one of our friend got bruises on his hand as he took full support of the rope instead of spreading  his legs out on either sides of the boulders to support his body. Interesting lessons on how to use your body to support ourselves in such treks .

Day 2 – the descent .. part II

After few more meters of vertical down climb, we reached the spot where we had to use the support of the trope to climb down as the angle of descent and pretty much vertical and a little challenging as not enough foot holds were available.  The movement was rather slow for obvious reasons, I was assigned the role of sweep – the guy in the last, idea is to keep track of  folk before me, guide them and motivate them. One of our friends was at the starting point and another at the end of the rope trick guiding and motivating the one coming down. The first step towards the rope was the trickiest – butterflies explode in the tummy.  For some reason there was no action for quite some time and suddenly there was shout .. bees bees.. there was wild bee attack.  We are around 10 guys  at the top and all of us did what we could do to protect yourself. I quickly pulled my kerchief to protect my face, pulled my blanket out and covered myself and another friend. Two other guys got into a tarp sheet and 6 others were more exposed than us, they had 10 seconds less to react and were bitten. Inside the blanker I could feel bees hitting my head and my friend shouting in anguish, there was nothing I could or other could do except to head they shout. After 30 minutes – which seemed a lot longer the no of bees came down and one of them pulled a match stick and lighted leaves to make smoke. We saw smoke from below and guessed others are doing the same, we had no idea on how many were hit.

We had no clue what was going on below, later we came to know that they had similar fate. Kanna – pulled a tarp sheet and protected some of them before protecting himself, others were hit. We heard a score 20 and hoped it was the total count and not a some one’s individual score. It turned out to be some one’s individual score. We waited for almost an hour before we could proceed further. I was trying to keep my cool as much as possible. We could hear people playing and shouting from below – we knew it was not our folks. We were losing energy just sitting exposed to the sun – no idea on how long we were from water, I was hiding a bottle of lime juice which I held as reserve, we shared the reserve food I had.  we finally started our descent one at time and reached below to see no one and were knew that we had nothing to eat – but no one cared as we could hear sound of water gushing water. The descent was steep and loose soil and we had to be extra cautious, one stone we push down can hurt our friends.  We all passed our bags first and after coming down no one as carrying their bags, we just picked the bags that were left and came down to the water. We were greeted by four large wild monkeys playing in the water – they were in the middle of evolution process completely becoming human beings, the looked like men but everything else they did resembled monkeys.  So we decided to move further up the stream and every one drank one full bottle water bottoms up. We turned around and saw some of our friends – too tired.

Day 2 – the last lap and the show of strength 

Due to the bee bites and having food after long gap some of our friends threw up all they ate and were tired to walk. Somehow the others unlocked their reserve energies, we carried their bags and gave them shoulder support.  We had two doctors with us and they were helping them to stabilize, we waited for as long as we felt it they were able to get up and walk with shoulder support. Others carried the bags of our friends who were being supported and who were supporting. We were moving slow and encouraging and motivating and supporting our friends. We met Masu and he had my bag, we all savored the lime juice I had for reserve and emptied the reserve electrol I had.  That’s a learning from past treks – always have reserve and hold on till the next source of energy is in sight. Masu told about his bee-story, he was chased as we saw in cartoon movies .. .he ran as fast as he could and hid under water and bee chased him still. He asked for help from a group of drunk spunks, one of them had a bit of humanity left in him and gave his lighter. He came back knowing very well that bees would not spare him. He lit the smoke which saw two hours back from our vantage point before descent.  After narrating this Masi quickly vanished and came back with bottle of fanta, he went into the town and brought some cool drinks and bottle water. We all drank stream water yesterday, it was very thoughtful of him to bring bottled water as when people are week it better to stick to cleanest source. After relaxing a little we got into the bus and stopped by a clinic to get shots for bee sting allergy and those who were throwing up also needed medicine to stabilize the churn of their tummies.

Day 2 – cricket relief

I dunked 5 200 ml cool drinks- any variety which was cold as fine by me. While our friends were getting medical help, one of our friends asked for score and we could hear people shouting kohli and raina. We were sitting on the steps of a TV repair shop and few local chaps gathered there cheering for india. One of them distributed sweets when india won the match – I was curious and thinking what would the guy do to the sweet which he already bought if India lost. I am sure that moron – would have never distributed sweets for his son or daughter passing their exam. In the background masu and others were busy arranging for food for us all and reported the status back to CTC. We boarded back for return journey around 9:15 PM

Lessons Learnt – 

Always carry a source of fire – lighter / match box
Have something accessible to save your face - in treks
Have reserve food / water / source of energy
Wear shoes in good condition – torn soles means losing more energy to keep your balance
Wear full length tracks for medium or above treks – protect yourself from thorns
Swimming in water too consumes lot of energy – learn to balance
Mental strength is more important than physical – remember we only had corn flakes till we came down to the stream
Stay positive and stay and help others stay motivated – that’s the key

Write -up from Goverdhan

  ifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest -Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Robert’s treasure island had something in common with our Emperors Bee attack TREK -01(as I will remember this for my life :P ). We were not fifteen, we were not looking for a chest full of gold, for that we dint even had Rum.

DAY 1:

“Hi I am……..” the very common words while boarding the bus for CTC trek, as usual we had the same kind of intro. After picking people from various pickup point started towards TADA at around 6. Hot idles with 1 vada (not free) had filled mass into our empty stomach and now the guys were ready for action it was a trek time.Clearing the forest check post we started towards the top of the hill. After 4.30 hrs of hiking in hot climate without water I wonder if any one stopped by the pool not for H2O :P.  1, 2, 3…….thuuuddd, one by one guys started to jumping into the pool ……ahhh no words here.  All right guys get your Bowls for soup ordered the LORD (Mari) :P by dusk and the subjects obeyed and queued up with the bowl. Few other guys( like me) were peeping into other’s bowls to check whether it’s empty :P..., Now it was time for master chef TADA special top Briyani.Haa!! I almost forgot the guest of the day, the Indian rock python, for almost 20 min it was in the lime light(Flash light :P). guess It might have blushed for all the flick fans :P. the photo session would have continued if not for Mari and Masi asking guys to switch the torch away from the python and leave it for its way.
Closing the eyes over the rocks next to a lovely stream under the clear sky is not what ALL others can have thru their life. “Gud nite machi…gud nite.”!! 


 Next day woke up with a Tea and started trekking to have a good view of the valley, en route we found an amla tree, in not more than 10 min we might have robbed all the amla’s.  Back to the base had brunch with cornflakes and started down towards the check post. The path here was not that kind as the way we came up hill, full of boulders, cliffs, steep paths, and climb down between the ridges. I saw all the guys loading their guns(water bottles) with lemon juice/ ORS/ Glucose for the Mission. Now it was time for our first ridge, a easy and exiting one, newbie’s might have felt really thrilled about their first climb down the ridge. Mari and masi coordinated from top and bottom for all the guys for their safe climb down. In a short time we were heading for another serious climb down, the place which will be remembered by all, which had left a untold mark for the team.I was sitting on a cliff along few others, when Mari alerted us of the bees, immediately we all sick to ground, covering ourselves with whatever was available, guys were literally hanging from the cliff, holding bushes. Many of them below me were only with little space for themselves, not to make any big moves and they(bees) have declared a kind of war on us. Few of us had time to jus think of the precaution and others didn’t had any. There was loud yell, guys below were attached badly, the panic started among the people on the top for our friends down there, now they spread their line of fire on the complete group, people around me were attacked and many covered them self with towels, few like me were sitting with just our costume . Heard a loud cry from top, We were sitting helpless after learning that no one around us had a match box, and any move would make us more vulnerable for attack. The series of cry and yell continued for some time, slowly they started moving off with smoke filling the air. We started to enquire about each other’s condition, learnt that few were stinged badly. After some time people who were left on the top reached stream and learnt how others were attacked and how they got out. Masi & Mari: You really have a great energy and good leaders, its jus not a point of stamina and energy, that will drive a person back to danger only to get his team back(for Masi), it requires more of a commitment and responsibility. Its great to be in a trek with u guys.By night we reached a local clinic to get our mates some first aid, and here it go’s SIX!!  Virat was hitting hard against Pakistan, and guys line up at a local TV showroom, eating whatever we got, By 9.30 India won against Pakistan and we started back to Chennai.This trek had showed one and all the power of team work, the strength of positive spirit. Hats off to you guys. Hope to see you in future treks.

Point to remember: 
Do not panic, stay calm, we might know what to do in many a situation like this, and panic kills our capabilities.
Do follow your leader’s instruction.

Python video : 



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